The Americans Recap: Season 4, Episode 10 “Munchkins”

Agent Gaad walked into that Thailand hotel room expecting one thing. Lots of sex with his Thai wife, well-cooked Thai food, and no KGB guys trying to extract information from him. Okay, that was more than one thing, but it sounds more dramatic that way. After the whole “my secretary married a KGB officer and put a bug in my pen” incident, Frank Gaad was not having any of it from the Soviets. He wasn’t gonna shoot the shit, talk possible deals, let them know the code for the level-4 Lassa Virus that Elizabeth is trying so hard to get (more on that later).

Gaad thought he was out of the game. So in a ridiculous scene where three KGB dudes casually stroll into his hotel room, Gaad makes a run for it. And we, the viewers, lose a character we never emotionally cared about for more than the time it takes Stan to finish a brew.

My problem with the Gaad scene wasn’t the scene itself. As I said, with the whole Martha incident, it makes logical sense that he wouldn’t be willing to negotiate with the Russians. It’s the inclusion of the scene that’s the problem. I love The Americans. But sometimes it includes scenes, or even season-long storylines, that I don’t feel add anything to the main story arc. Once Gaad is out of the FBI, for covering for Stan and also unknowingly letting a mole in his office, his purpose is served and we can move on. Just like Neena Sergeevna being shipped to prison in the Soviet Union, only to have her killed after spending way too much air-time on her and the scientist.

While Frank was in Thailand, his old co-workers were at a dive bar with Martha’s dad. We last saw Martha’s dad when he gave away his daughter to a cold-blooded Russian serial killer, disguising himself as a normal American dad, disguising himself as an FBI watchdog named Clark Westerfeld. This brief bar conversation left me with two thoughts. One, her dad is asking Stan and Aderholt not to give up, he does realize that if they find her she goes to jail for life right? And two, remember that seven-month time jump two episode ago? Gabriel had said the KGB would get a message to Martha’s parents in six months. So I’m guessing the Soviets haven’t reached out yet. Unless Martha’s dad knows she’s in Russia and is keeping it cool, which would be badass.

The time jump has also had far-reaching implications on the Paige/Pastor Tim/Alice storyline. It’s been months and the Jennings have done a good job keeping Tim and Alice quiet. But now there’s a new development. Pastor Tim has gone missing in Ethiopia, Alice thinks it was the Russians, and she’s now made a tape to possibly send into the authorities a la Breaking Bad. I have lots of problems with this storyline. First of all, how convenient that Pastor Tim goes missing. We know it wasn’t the Jennings (well we aren’t totally sure until Paige leaves the room and they talk), so it’s either under Gabriel’s orders or it’s a red herring.

If Pastor Tim was actually killed, especially without Philip and Elizabeth’s knowledge, it would have pushed the plot forward and forced Alice’s hand. Instead, it’s a red herring as Tim got lost (classic ’80’s, no GPS in the Ethiopian jungle) and is perfectly fine. So why even introduce the storyline of Tim being missing if it wasn’t the Russians? Look, I didn’t want Pastor Tim taken out. He’s a good guy, even if he sucks at mini golf. But I feel like all the storyline did was show that Alice could potentially snitch. I just thought it was cheap.

And how about Alice’s apology to Paige?  “Oh by the way, please tell your parents I’m sorry for almost sending them to jail for life, also, do they wanna get brunch tomorrow?”

But you know who really deserves an apology? Don. The asian dude “Patty” fake-seduced and is now about to blackmail. By all accounts he’s a great guy. He’s a good father to three kids, loyal husband to Young-Hee, and hilarious joke-teller on ski trips. But now he can barely speak a word at dinner because he thinks his moving furniture good deed turned into a wild romp in the sheets.

I’m still upset Elizabeth didn’t take Philip up on aborting the Don mission. He gave her an out but her damn pride got in the way (she’s always prided herself on her loyalty to the cause) and now she’s screwed up the best family on this show (would’ve been second best if Martha and Clarke adopted that baby). Elizabeth clearly does value Young-Hee’s friendship, but as usual, she puts her backwards “Mother Russia” mission above all else. That is until the end of the episode when Gabriel asks if he should ask the Centre to cancel the mission. I thought she definitely would say no, just as she told Philip, but surprisingly she says yes. Maybe she is human? Seems a bit inconsistent to me. Unless the pride thing is only around Philip perhaps. It won’t matter, anyway, because as we saw in the next episode teaser, the Centre kindly rejects.

And finally, where would this recap be without a mention of the sexual tension in the Beeman house. I thought for sure Matthew and Paige were gonna hook up, but instead he just got her a cup of coffee. Smart move, playing the long game I see, just like his father does on the job. In all seriousness, the Matthew/Paige dynamic is actually really cool. He’s unknowingly giving her info on his dad’s pursuits, saying he’s looking into a former secretary who was a spy. But the question is, does Paige relay this info to her parents?

Other thoughts:

-Apparently Gabriel scoops up agents at the library like you or I scoop up munchkins at Dunkin’. Saw a woman at the library was reading a socialist newspaper, and boom she’s a KGB agent.

-I feel like Agent Aderholt actually thought Stan wanted to be friends with that drinks invitation. Classic case of entrapment, as Aderholt says, or as Bodie from The Wire would say “contrapment.”

-There’s been way too much Oleg having sex in recent weeks. If it actually added to the storyline, like Oleg and Nina or Stan and Nina or Philip and that old lady (sorry for bringing that back), then it makes sense. But I feel like real-life Oleg is trying to show the world he gets action. We get it, the guy pulls. No need to throw it in our face.

-But still nice callback joke on Oleg telling his new Russian slampiece “shh,” as she told him to quiet down the last time.

-I would’ve loved if Philip and Elizabeth told Pagie, “Paige, we promise we didn’t kill Pastor Tim. We actually had long conversations about doing so, your mother wanted to at first actually, but we decided against it because we knew you’d figure it out. So obviously this wasn’t us.”

-It was nice to see James back in the fold. I wonder what he would do in his spare time if he were real. Like who is “James,” the guy that hangs around a high school girl, gives her weed and advice, and doesn’t try to sleep with her. I’m not saying he should try to, that’d be weird, but if you’re a dude in your 30’s hanging out with a high school girl, I would assume you’re a pedophile right?

-Maybe Young-Hee should try EST. I’d like to think she’d try it out and befriend Tori, who is in a healthy relationship with another EST man.

-What the hell does the woman Oleg is sleeping with mean by saying she is a “twelve?” Is she an illegal? Am I supposed to know what a “twelve” is?

-I hate Gabriel with a passion. He’s just so slimy. Philip and Elizabeth should’ve just killed him when he contracted Glanders. At the end of the episode, Gabriel seems to show a decent side when he tells Elizabeth he can ask the Centre for another way into the lab. I wonder if this was an empty gesture of goodwill, though, because he knew they’d say no.

-No Stan and Henry hanging out scene? What the hell? How is Henry gonna learn how to get chicks, his dad?

Overall I’d give the episode a “not quite getting an agent to flip, but not getting caught as KBG either,” which roughly translates to an A-.

For more next week, follow @OneSideburn.

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