The noose tightens in season six episode nine of FX’s riveting dramatic series, The Americans. The heart-pounding penultimate episode begins with Philip (Matthew Rhys) dropping off the message Elizabeth wants delivered to Oleg. As he walks down the sidewalk, Philip leaves a mark on a mailbox signaling a message is ready to be picked up.
At the FBI, Stan (Noah Emmerich) runs a search in the agency’s system for “Jennings, Elizabeth” and no records are found. There is one record found under Philip Jennings, but it refers to a 23-year-old Black male. Next, Stan searches for Dupont Circle Travel and again no records are found.
Philip’s at work at the agency when Stan pays him a visit. They seem happy to see each other, and Philip proudly shows him the expansion they made to the agency. Philip thinks his agency should make a move to get the FBI’s business, and Stan’s taken aback by the suggestion. Philip apologizes for making him uncomfortable, and Stan says he’ll check to see who handles that sort of thing.
They head into Philip’s office to speak alone, and Stan asks just how bad business actually is. Philip admits it’s bad, and Stan – ever the nice guy – offers his own money to help out. Philip appreciates the offer but declines.
Elizabeth (Keri Russell) follows Fyodor Nesterenko out of the hotel and watches as his group heads into the summit.
Stan calls Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin) in Buenos Aires and asks him how things are going, if he likes Buenos Aires, and how his family’s doing. He then gets down to brass tacks and, after stressing this conversation should be kept confidential, asks if there’s anything he should know as an FBI agent about the Jennings family. Pastor Tim says he’s always been impressed with the family, in particular with Paige. He doesn’t disclose anything harmful to the Jennings family.
While waiting, Elizabeth has a flashback to when she was a teenager in Russia. She made a drop and then came upon a person who had crashed their motorcycle into a horse. He asked for help and Elizabeth walked away.
Stan visits Agent Dennis Aderholt’s office and asks if they can slip away for 10 minutes for a beer later that day. Dennis (Brandon J. Dirden) doesn’t think so since he’s planning on being there late and instead suggestions they grab lunch now. It’s obvious Stan has a lot on his mind and Dennis, of course, catches on to it before they even enter the elevator.
Stan admits he can’t stop thinking about Philip and Elizabeth. He remembers that back when he first met the Jennings, he was working on the Timoshev kidnapping. They drove the same car as was described at the scene of the abduction. He forgot about it until now, and he’s been connecting the dots including how Elizabeth left on Thanksgiving and Philip followed shortly thereafter – exactly when everything was going down in Chicago.
Stan then explains he talked to a guy who worked with Gregory Thomas. That person described a woman with beautiful hair who smoked like a chimney. Stan only discovered Elizabeth smoked (and apparently a lot) when he found the cigarette butts in the Jennings’ backyard. Stan realizes it sounds crazy and after listening to Stan’s brief description of why he’s come to focus on the Jennings family, Dennis admits he doesn’t believe Stan’s onto anything. “Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are not Russian spies,” says Dennis. However, Stan can’t shake the feeling.
Stan reminds Dennis of what William Crandall said before he died: regular couple, pretty wife, couple of kids… Dennis still isn’t sold and their conversation’s interrupted when Dennis is called back to work.
Oleg (Costa Ronin) picks up the message Philip left for him.
The FBI calls in Father Victor (Alex Kuznetsov) to discuss the Church’s dealings with the Soviet government. Father Victor takes offense at being questioned since he’s a servant of God. However, he knows people talk and that some people in the Church talk to the wrong contacts about him. It makes him angry because he hasn’t made any wrong associations and doesn’t want to pay the price for other Fathers’ decisions. He specifically names Father Andre and is about to name someone else when the interview’s interrupted and Dennis is called away.
Dennis is notified the team on Oleg believe something just happened, but they’re not sure what. Dennis instructs them to search him and then bring him in.
Cut to Oleg walking down the street when he’s suddenly surrounded by FBI agents. They frisk him and find the message he picked up from Philip. He’s handcuffed and doesn’t say anything as they place him in a car.
Back to Elizabeth’s flashback and she reports to her trainer that she picked up the package and then saw an injured man who was involved in a car accident. She confesses she didn’t know if she should’ve stopped because even in training they’re supposed to never veer from the mission. Her trainer tells her she shouldn’t have left a comrade to die on the street in Moscow. Later in the episode, the trainer tells her she must make the right choices in America but the most important thing is not to lose who she is.
Stan questions Oleg and attempts to assure him he wants to help. Oleg refuses to explain what’s going on, even though he realizes he’ll wind up in jail for 20-30 years. Stan doesn’t understand why Oleg would throw away his freedom and leave his wife and kid behind in Russia without him.
Stan runs down the list of killings that have occurred, including the deaths in Chicago, since Oleg arrived in town. He asks again what the dead drop says and who sent it. Oleg doesn’t respond.
Elizabeth watches as the men leave the summit. She follows from the opposite side of the street until they cross in front of her. She notices another woman exiting a vehicle and carrying a newspaper. The woman quickly closes in on the men. As she’s about to shoot, Elizabeth shoots her in the back and continues walking.
Stan speaks to Oleg again, but this time Oleg’s in a small cell, alone. Oleg glances up at the speaker on the wall and then whispers to Stan that people in the KGB are trying to get rid of Gorbachev. He reveals he’s in America because they suspect KGB agents are making their move during the summit. He thinks the message is about that and if it is, they need to get it. “You need to help me get it there. I can tell you how,” says Oleg.
Stan can’t believe Oleg wants him to send a coded message to the Soviet Union. Oleg claims he can’t decode it or reveal who sent it. He also refuses to give up the names of any spies currently working in the area.
Stan takes a hard line and tells Oleg he doesn’t care about Gorbachev. Oleg suggests he think about it and that he’s willing to spend his whole life here, if necessary. His family and friends all want a future, just like Americans, and that it does matter if Gorbachev is ousted. He risked his wife and baby to come to America to stop the take-down of Gorbachev.
Elizabeth checks in at Claudia’s and refuses the food that’s offered. She says she stopped Nesterenko from being killed and that she contacted Gorbachev’s people and told them the plans. Claudia (Margo Martindale) can’t believe Elizabeth did this, reminding her The Centre will be dismantled and everyone will be thrown in jail.
Claudia confesses she had faith in Elizabeth, no matter what. However, now Claudia believes Elizabeth doesn’t understand what she was truly fighting for. Elizabeth replies, “You lied to me. If you knew me, you’d know never to lie to me.”
Claudia isn’t really listening and instead talks about sacrifices and their joint time working with Paige. She believes all that was for nothing and Elizabeth has destroyed everything with her actions today. What she did by saving Nesterenko is far worse than all the good she’s done in the past.
Claudia reveals she’ll return home and fight for her country. She wonders what’s left for Elizabeth now after all this. She then returns to eating, dismissing Elizabeth without another word.
Philip walks through the park in disguise. He takes a seat next to Father Andre on a park bench, confirming he’s taking Elizabeth’s place for this chat. He also admits he doesn’t miss the work. They then discuss his marriage and Philip says he hasn’t been as honest as he should have been. Father Andre’s aware Elizabeth doesn’t trust easily and that there must be something in their marriage worth staying for.
Father Andre then drops the news he was going to tell Elizabeth: Father Victor was going to speak with the FBI today. He adds that Father Victor’s always been jealous and suspects his ties to people in Russia. Philip tells him to buy a ticket and return home today, suggesting he’s probably being watched and will be picked up soon.
Philip hurries away, glancing at everyone in the park. He makes it to the city streets and then sprints away from the park. An agent a block behind calls in that the suspect is on the move. Other agents pick up the chase as Philip continues running. He tosses takes off his jacket and glasses and is now in a knit cap and black turtleneck. He gets into a cab and is able to evade his pursuers.
Back at home, Elizabeth washes her face in the kitchen sink. Paige arrives and tells her Brian the intern came over the night before. Brian told her about this other intern who got super drunk at a party. He was sick and crying, and then revealed he slept with an older woman who tricked him and ruined his life. He’s quitting working for the Congressman and is heading home.
Paige asks if it was her, and Elizabeth lies and claims it wasn’t. Paige warns her if she lies, she’ll never forgive her. “Paige, I swear to you I’m not,” says Elizabeth. Paige then admits she always knows when her mom is lying, and she knows Elizabeth is lying now. She calls her mom a whore and says she should have gotten away from her as soon as she learned what her mom and dad are.
Elizabeth has had enough. She yells at Paige, telling her she was raised differently and did whatever she had to do so that Russia would survive. She claims she would do it all again, even the sex, and that it meant nothing. No one cared about it, including Philip. Paige doesn’t reply and instead just leaves.
Over at the FBI office, Dennis leads a meeting of his team and instructs them to get to every garage, every suspected safe house now. They’re all told to leave whatever they’re doing behind and to concentrate on garages and safe houses. It’s confirmed Father Andre has in fact been picked up and will be brought into the station in 10 minutes.
The phone rings while Elizabeth is inside the house, smoking. Philip calls her from a pay phone and gives her a coded message that he’s in trouble. After she hangs up, Elizabeth rushes into the garage and pulls a bag from their secret hiding place. She lays out the contents on the table and then opens the hidden compartment behind the electric panel. She pulls out license plates, stacks of cash, passports, and guns. She also grabs their wedding rings before leaving the garage.
More on The Americans:
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 1 “Dead Hand”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 2 “Tchaikovsky”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 3 “Urban Transport Planning”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 4 “Mr. and Mrs. Teacup”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 5 “The Great Patriotic War”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 6 “Rififi”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 7 “Harvest”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 8 “The Summit”
- Recap of The Americans Season 6 Episode 10 “Start”