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After last week’s intense episode, “Behind the Red Door” slowed things down a bit by focusing on Elizabeth and Phillip’s relationship and reintroducing the character of Lucia, a Nicaraguan spy.
“Behind the Red Door” saw The Americans shuffling some plot lines around and add some new ones to ramp back up for the last half of the season. It was not the most compelling episode of the show but it certainly contained some of the show’s most impassioned emotional moments.
Sometimes things are better left alone, as Elizabeth learned this episode. After her chat with Martha last week, Elizabeth just couldn’t let the notion of Phillip being a “wild animal” in the sack go. Throughout the episode she teased Phillip about Clark’s sexual acumen, the identity he assumes when with Martha, in what was a very sexual episode that allowed Keri Russell’s butt to be fully on display for an entire scene. Once she finally got Clarked, however, everything imploded.
It seems that Phillip is rough with Martha and after Elizabeth finally cajoled Phillip to not only remain in the Clark costume but also have sex to her the way he does with Martha everything imploded. While it isn’t exactly clear why Elizabeth breaks down after Phillip starts getting rough with her it most likely has something to do with her sexual past in which she was continually raped by a KGB trainer when she was first starting out. Phillip is almost equally as emotional as he realized he should not have caved into Elizabeth’s demands knowing full well how he acts. It was a powerful scene that reminded the viewers The Americans can have intense moments when not fully immersed in the espionage aspects of the show.
Another such moment was between Lucia and her mark, a congressional aide. Lucia was the girl who Elizabeth had helped earlier in the season when her boyfriend had overdosed in a car in an alleyway. With Elizabeth trying to guide and help the young agent out, Lucia decides she must kill this congressional aide. Luckily he has a drug problem so she taints his heroin with something to kill him. And while she was not very good at hiding her lack of enjoyment from sex with him it was clear she had some emotional attachment to him.
Lucia looks like she will be taking the role of Nina, which looks like it will be greatly diminished after Stan asks her to take a polygraph test. Oleg is extorting Stan for files of Oleg being surveilled by the FBI, which Stan delivers with the help of an FBI IT guy who is entering the FBI records into a new-fangled computer – not good to leave a trail of where you’ve been Stan. All of this has Stan very worried about Nina’s safety and he wants to protect her but Frank imparts some wisdom that maybe Nina is not as innocent or naïve as Stan believes her to be. He asks her to take a polygraph and she angrily walks out on him, breaking up with him in the process. It should be interesting to see what happens if and when her double agent story arc ends.
If the romantic plot between Elizabeth and Phillip wasn’t enough they also got to continue some of their ongoing missions. First, they meet with Larek pretending to be CIA. They use Larek’s file against him and find out that he is a part of a special operation, Marshall Eagle, which is later revealed by Kate (their new handler) to be a training mission between Larek and some Nicaraguan Contra fighters. Elizabeth and Phillip are then tasked to use Larek as an entry into the training camp so that they can kill some of the higher military officials.
During their meeting with Larek, they also find out that he was working for the KGB as well. This means that Phillip and Elizabeth reveal themselves to Larek as KGB operatives, as Larek is hooking up with a man outside of a Gay club, in hopes of gaining access to him and the camp. Once they do this Claudia reveals that it may be her fault for Emmett’s and Leanne’s death as she had a former lover to whom she revealed her KGB ties. But it certainly seems as though Larek is still a suspect.
Also, Elizabeth uses Lucia to get into the congressman’s office to take a look at some of his secret files. What she finds are plans(?) for the Arpanet, the military’s early version of the internet. This seems to tie in with the mission Phillip was on in the early parts of the season. It also is the reason why Oleg was sent to the USA. What exactly the Soviets plan to do with the information remains to be seen.
“Behind the Red Door” was not as intensely dramatic as last week’s episode, which is more than okay to balance dramatic tension across a season. It did, however, move several storylines ahead and gave proper introductions to new characters who look to factor heavily into the final half of the season, at the very least. Lucia’s character, especially, could have many interesting applications as she could become Elizabeth’s surrogate daughter in the espionage world. Paige has been mildly rebelling against her parents all season so perhaps Paige’s distancing coupled with Lucia’s relative inexperience in the field could end up playing off each other.