Gosh, this was a good episode. Philip and Elizabeth are following up on the intelligence they received last week from Emmett’s source. Wigged up, obviously, they go to a warehouse and Elizabeth is trying to find the relevant piece of machinery when she’s interrupted by one of the workers – a regular guy with, we find out, three children. Elizabeth has a tyre iron in her hand. There’s genuine tension here, because we really don’t know what Elizabeth is going to do: we’ve seen her being utterly ruthless in the service of the cause before, yet we know her to be preoccupied with matters of family and parenthood; her later visit to Emmett’s orphaned son, for example, is deeply moving. The resolution is ingenious, deeply chilling, yet not perhaps entirely watertight.
While that’s going on, in one of the very few teenage girl plot arcs on TV at the moment which isn’t irritating, Paige is investigating the “aunt” Elizabeth was “staying with” while actually recovering from her gunshot wound. She plays truant in order to travel to where the aunt purportedly lives. Suffice to say I didn’t expect any of what happened next, yet on reflection it’s both neat and staggering. And Stan tells Nina that he loves her. This storyline continues to draw much of its strength from the apparent ambiguity of Nina’s attitude to Stan – does she really hate him as much as she tells Arkady she does?
And the subject of the episode title, ‘The Walk-In’ – Bruce Dameran from last week – rounds things off nicely. It will be recalled that for some reason the Rezidentura was quite happy to disclose his existence to Stan through Nina, and thus Stan has the jump on him: after some detective work, Dameran’s plan becomes clear. Did Arkady know this beforehand? Was it just luck? Either way it strengthens Stan’s position and his trust in Nina, thus making Nina’s connection to Stan more valuable to the Soviets.
It even gets away with ending on a musical montage, partly because of the strength of the episode, and partly because the choice of music – Peter Gabriel again – is unexpected yet inspired. The more I think about this episode, the better I think it was. The Americans is a great show.