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The third episode of FX’s The Americans offered up the most backstory yet on either Elizabeth or Phillip while also tying in some exciting espionage action. The façade of the KGB’s control is slowly crumbling as “Gregory” at least asks the initial question of who you can trust and what they should be trusted with. “Gregory” furthered the relationship between Phillip and Elizabeth while also showing the continual slow crumbling of the KGB’s operations.
The main plot revolved around the discovery of Robert, the agent who died after being stabbed the night Timoshev was captured in “Pilot,” having a wife. Not only were Stan and the FBI tipped off to her existence by Nina, their recently turned Soviet spy within the USSR’s embassy, but Phillip and Elizabeth received an encrypted message that was usually Robert’s way of contacting them. This forced Elizabeth to make a trip to Philadelphia to enlist the services of Gregory to find out who this woman was. The caveat, though, was that Gregory is Elizabeth’s former lover who she had turned back in the mid-60s.
Gregory and his surveillance team discover Joyce and her baby at the designated meeting spot. They also discover that Stan and the FBI has surveillance on her as well. This leads to a well thought out and executed extraction plan during the FBI’s attempt. Gregory’s team creates a distraction by having someone shoplift some fruit and take off down the street. Meanwhile Gregory has a couple of guys parked on the side of the street in a delivery truck and as the FBI is forced to make their move on Joyce the truck pulls out and blocks off both the road and their view of Joyce. Gregory quickly sweeps her away to a safe house where Phillip and Elizabeth are waiting to question her about what exactly she knows.
Phillip, Elizabeth, and Gregory question Joyce only to discover that she suspects Robert was a drug dealer and was unaware of his death. She also hands over a note that Robert had instructed her to give Phillip which he decodes and discovers it is a name and a number of someone Robert was supposed to buy some intelligence from. During the questioning Gregory approaches Phillip about whether he loves her or not and then reveals the relationship that Elizabeth had with him.
Phillip becomes upset, of course, and has to go out for a walk where he is met by a woman that has been following him since the opening scene in which he and his daughter were eating breakfast at a diner. She reveals that she is now his direct superior, taking the place of Gabriel. This is all news to him but they trust each other based off of the note Phillip just decoded. Joyce ends up figuring out that Robert and the rest of them are spies that gives Elizabeth a tough decision on whether or not to kill Joyce, which Gregory prods her to do.
Phillip returns long enough to get in a fight with Elizabeth about her affair with Gregory and reveals to her that he never lied about any romantic dalliances to her. He then drives off to the meeting with a briefcase full of money and a gun. Once he arrives at the meeting Phillip ends up beating up two henchmen of Robert’s contact because they refuse to stay out of his blind spot. This was a nice bit of action and had the added effect of money exploding from the briefcase as he subdued the last henchman. The contact quickly gives up the intelligence and Phillip inspects it to see that it is classified plans for the USA’s intercontinental missile defense system.
While this is going on Stan is trying to figure out who was behind the diversion to extract Joyce. As he is investigating the truck that blocked off the street he notices that he is being followed by one of Gregory’s guys. Unfortunately for Stan he slips away but it could end up leading to the FBI’s determining whether or not Joyce was an agent or not.
Before both Elizabeth and Phillip leave Philadelphia Gregory gives Elizabeth a piece of advice basically saying if she is going to be married then she has to love Phillip, it can’t just be in name only. Elizabeth and Phillip give the new boss Granny, as Phillip has dubbed her, both the plans for the defense system and Joyce and her child so that she can be transported to a safe haven. As the episode closes, however, the KGB is revealed to have their own disappointing traits as Stan finds Joyce dead in a car from an apparent drug overdose (which was clearly set up by the KGB) and a scene from the USSR where Joyce’s and Robert’s baby was given to Robert’s grandparents while lauding Robert’s service to his country.
Elizabeth offers up more of the story behind her and Gregory as she was 17 when she joined the KGB and was immediately thrust with Phillip before she had ever had a boyfriend. She had a connection with Gregory because he was much like her in that they were young and both believed in the cause without wanting anything in return. They seemingly reconcile while she holds Phillip’s hand (her go to intimate move with Phillip thus far).
“Gregory” was a pretty good episode for this young series. It managed to maintain the good balance the show has exhibited by offering an espionage heavy plot with a good amount of relationship troubles with Elizabeth and Phillip. The action wasn’t over the top like the opening of “Pilot” and the extraction scene was very well executed and tense. It also was a good contrast with last week’s “The Clock.” Elizabeth and Phillip were back on the “good” side of things as they wanted to protect Joyce and help her and Stan and the FBI didn’t abuse their powers like they did last week. Instead the KGB were portrayed negatively with their handling of Joyce and the replacement of Gabriel out of the blue.