Well. That was an episode. “Stealth” is not the most tense or the most action-packed episode of The Americans (though it certainly features both) but more of a filler hour. This isn’t a criticism because we’re in the home stretch of the season and The Americans is now concerning itself with setting up the plots that will drive this season home. It’s an episode that sets up the puzzle pieces that we’ll put together within the next two weeks, an hour that is designed to fill its viewers with a feeling of unease — and it works.
The haunting deaths of Emmett and Leanne have yet to go away, mostly lingering in the minds of the Jennings, and last week it came back in a big way as Stan decided to pay a visit to the Connors’ surviving son Jared. This week it’s Elizabeth who visits Jared, dressed once again as the Child Advocacy Center worker, after she revealed to her husband that she didn’t deliver the letter like Leanne had asked her to. She gently grills Jared on the visit from the FBI and he explains the sketches, but claims the faces on them weren’t familiar. But Jared isn’t stupid; he knows that something is going on and he wants to know what that is. Elizabeth doesn’t tell him. But Elizabeth also can’t shake the feeling that he recognizes her, that there was something in his eyes as he examined her face. Things only got more confusing when she saw Jared meet up with Kate — an undisguised Kate, no less. What the hell is going on?
But before we dive more into that, let’s get back to the family drama that I love! Actually, there isn’t much drama in the Jennings’ house this time around. Paige is still upset and still isn’t talking to her father despite his attempts to make things better. Elizabeth isn’t budging on the church camp ban because she’s worried that the church will indoctrinate young Paige. Paige does later talk to both her parents though it’s less of a conversation and more of a Power Point presentation sans the actual Power Point. She wants to go on a chaperoned trip with a church buddy to a nuclear protest. Surprisingly, it’s Elizabeth who is quick to say yes to Paige’s request. Later, Elizabeth mentions that Paige is similar to herself — which yes, of course, Elizabeth. We all know this. “She wants to make a difference in the world,” Elizabeth says. “She’s just looking in the wrong place.”
Meanwhile Henry appears for a little bit as he has to interview Stan about his job for a school project. Stan plays up the FBI gig but he’s quick to point out that he’s no hero — a sentiment his wife would surely agree with.
Philip keeps himself busy this episode working John Skeevers, a far gone veteran played by the great Zeljko Ivanek (you know, that guy you always recognize but never remember his name). Philip plays nice to get close to Skeevers and then later visits him at his apartment in order to successfully get information. It’s reminiscent of the plot a little while ago featuring Elizabeth attending an AA meeting to work her mark; both Philip and Elizabeth are playing a role to gain their marks’ trust but they’re also including a lot of truths about themselves in the process. There was an underlying sadness in the Philip and Skeevers scenes in “Stealth” that was only made deeper by the talent of the actors.
“Stealth” also kills of Kate. This wasn’t a surprise because over eager Kate has been doomed from the start, introduced only for tragedy, and the season has been a countdown as to when she would die — and who would kill her. The answer is Larrick, The Americans‘ wildcard who is out solely for revenge and who has been increasing his death toll (and increasingly worrying me) as the second half of the season goes on. Here he strings Kate up to the ceiling fan and tries but fails to get information out of her. So he brutally snaps her neck (ugh, that sound will be in my nightmares).
By now, Philip and Elizabeth are concerned because they haven’t been able to contact the dispatch guy (remember, Larrick killed him last week) and rightfully have a bad feeling about Kate. So they visit her apartment where her body has completely disappeared but they do find one clue, smartly written inside of a carboard toilet paper tube: “Get Jared out.”
That’s how you build suspense.