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The Americans: Salang Pass – Season 3 Episode 5

The Jennings continue to develop their assets to take the fight to the CIA.

The Mission:

Philip and Elizabeth are working a bunch of different angles to penetrate the CIA. Elizabeth’s trying to get Lisa cleaned up so she can use her to get into the Northrop factory. She sets Lisa up in a new house and crushes a guy with a car to facilitate an opening at the factory. Just as Lisa gets the good news about her new job, Elizabeth starts to present the idea of her working as an asset by pretending that she’s working as one in order to make extra money. Philip is still working Yousaf, who’s trying to figure out a way to get out from under him. Philip is also working Kimmy to get access to her house so they can spy on her father. His task gets more difficult when he realizes that Kimmy is even younger than he thought she was. Actually, I can’t tell if that was legitimately a problem for Philip or if he was just acting in order to get Kimmy to hangout with him alone. Either way, he gets the invitation to come to her house while her parents are away. He comes over and spends the evening with Kimmy (not sexually) and thinks he might be able to get away without doing anything to her  when she passes out after the two smoke pot. Philip almost gets away with it, but is interrupted when Kimmy’s parents come home early. He escapes from the house before they find him, but he now knows where his target is.

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The Prisoner:

Following up on his idea about Zinaida from the previous episode, Stan goes to meet with Oleg. Stan believes that the defector is actually a KGB agent who’s using this as a cover to get close to someone. If Zinaida is an agent, Oleg should be able to prove it and give Stan the evidence to arrest her. A KGB agent in his custody would allow Stan to make a prisoner exchange for Nina. Oleg takes some interest in Stan’s plan and tries to get information from the new girl at the Rezidentura. It’s a pretty thinly veiled attempt to find out if the KGB had already trained an agent to pose as a defector. Oleg’s brief investigation turns up no leads, but Stan isn’t quite ready to give up just yet.


This episode could’ve been called “The Many Faces of Philip”. It was heavily centered around his character and the psychological complications of his multiple lives. He’s juggling so much and you can see that aspects of his life are really starting to weigh on him. There’s strife in his marriage…actually both of his marriages. Martha’s still pushing for children or an adoption while he and Elizabeth are still trying to one-up each other for Paige’s affection. He’s still trying to support Stan through his divorce and is helping him re-enter the dating pool. On top of all of that, he’s expected to seduce an adolescent girl. In the middle of the episode, Philip meets with Gabriel, who throws him a bone and acknowledges that this isn’t an easy thing for someone with a conscience to pull off. When even Gabriel is going, “yeah, this is pretty messed up”, you know things are bad. However, he also points out that there are thousands of lives depending on Philip’s relationship with an adolescent girl.

Philip’s also constantly being bombarded with reminders of how messed up things are through his conversations. Stan’s situation with his son reminds Philip of how he’s competing with Elizabeth over Paige. It reveals how Philip really views Elizabeth as a corrupting influence when it comes to their daughter. Elizabeth clearly feels the same way about him, but it doesn’t look like either side is going to give up on Paige. The real dagger in the heart had to be the conversation with Kimmy where she talks to him about her dad being gone all the time. Kimmy’s just like Paige. She has a father that’s gone all the time and even starts to suspect that he has a 2nd family. It’s bad enough that you have to try to seduce a child, but then to have her start sounding like your own daughter is just an extra level of creepy.

For the audience, the kicker is seeing the flashback to Philip’s sex training in the KGB. Most people would have the same reaction that Elizabeth did, thinking that learning to have sex wouldn’t be that bad for a man. However, we see that it was no cakewalk for the guys either (we don’t see what happened to the women). Philip was forced to have sex with pretty much any woman or man, regardless of age,  that the KGB brought into his training room. I guess they never thought to prepare him for a child.

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Other Observations:

  • I loved the line at the beginning of the episode where Stan tells Oleg that he doesn’t care enough about him to try to set him up. Not sure if that’s completely true after Oleg pulled a gun on him.
  • Philip tells Elizabeth that he does have to pretend with her sometimes. Meaning that he’s doing what they taught him in his training in order to keep the relationship, but he’s not doing it right now.