“The Deal” picks up exactly where “A Little Night Music” left off: Philip and Elizabeth watching as someone drives off with Baklanov in the trunk. To add to the suspense, the couple is caught by the cops as they practically drag the agent but quickly claim that he’s drunk. To his credit, and because he knows this could be terrible for all of them, he plays the role and launches into a rendition of “The Gambler.” And that’s about as jovial as this episode gets.
Philip has a problem: Baklanov is missing, there is an agent tied up in the next room, he is a block from the abduction site, and all three have been seen by the cops. He’s on babysitting duty much of the episode, dealing with the Mossad agent. It mostly goes smoothly, or as smoothly as one can hope in this sort of situation, aside from one bathroom scuffle that Philip quickly wins. There is also the introduction of Claudia’s replacement who is not as experienced as Philip would hope. It’s not the most memorable introduction, especially considering Claudia’s first scene last season (something that has stuck with me), and I’m not sure how I feel about this new woman just yet.
At home, Elizabeth has to deal with Philip/Clark’s mess from last week when a drunk Martha listed Clark on her job application. After receiving a tip-off (I’ll always love a reference to Columbia Record Club), Elizabeth dons her disguise and heads over to Martha’s to fix things. The two of them bond over wine — what else? — and some gentle poking at Clark’s expense. Elizabeth is so easy to earn Martha’s trust and to diffuse the application situation. It’s actually not hard to picture the two of them being friends, in a completely different life, where they aren’t both married/”married” to the same man. There’s a darkness there, however, when Martha brings up the her sex life — “Your brother is a gentleman, but not in the sack. He just makes me his.” — and Elizabeth has a careful “Hmm” reaction that has layers and layers underneath it, as does her expression after carefully putting Martha to bed. If we’re being honest, the biggest takeaway I’m getting from this season is that Martha isn’t too great at holding her alcohol.
Elizabeth isn’t done. She has the better scenes this episode (apologies to Philip’s brutal babysitting, but I’ll always gravitate more toward Elizabeth’s plots). She meets up with Navy Brad who has finally gotten her the files that she needed. Elizabeth no longer needs him but is polite in her explanation. She tells him how changed she was after the rape, how she had such a hard time feeling things. It’s unclear how much of this she’s playing up for their “break-up” of sorts and how much of it is reflective of her actual reaction.
And finally, there’s a bit of Elizabeth and Paige tonight, too. It’s not as much as I want — as I’ve mentioned, Paige is increasingly interesting every episode and I always long to see time devoted to her confused adolescence, her curiousity and searching, her need to find out who her parents are and, in a way, who she really is. It’s a brief but poignant scene; Paige tells her mother that this newfound interest in religion is unrelated to Elizabeth. “My crazy life … I don’t know where to put everything,” she says carefully, hesitantly, unable to properly explain her feelings. Paige can’t fully clarify what she means but reassures Elizabeth that it’s not her fault — I’m not fully buying this and I doubt Elizabeth is either.
“The Deal” does end on a season high note, though, and I won’t soon forget that wonderful end scene: Philip and Elizabeth entwined on the couch, exhausted after a long day of espionage, and thinking back to their homes in Russian — a theme that ran throughout the episode with Philip and the Mossad agent, and a theme that runs throughout the series with Philip and Elizabeth often exhibiting somewhat conflicting feelings. It’s a nice scene in itself but then they are interrupted by the sound of the alarm clock and the children waking up, Paige demanding to know where her shirt is. It’s a much different world than the world they were just in and it’s what’s best about The Americans, this insane disconnect between their careers and their home lives, and how to keep it all together.