The Americans, as great as it is, isn’t a show with “holy sh*t” moments. It’s slow and deliberate, and when something big happens, it’s usually uncomfortable (like Philip’s continued relationship with an underage girl) or happens so quickly that by the time you register Elizabeth dropping a car on someone, the episode’s already cut to a different character. So, the fact that last night’s fantastic episode had a “holy sh*t” moment was itself a “holy sh*t” moment. In Episode 36, “Stingers,” a truth is finally revealed: Henry does a GREAT Eddie Murphy impression.
Also, Paige knows that her parents are Russian spies.
This confession is something most other shows would save for finales, not with three episodes left to go in the season, which is why it caught me off guard, though not as much as Paige. She knew something was up; she just wasn’t sure what that something was. Are Mom and Dad aliens? In the witness protection program? Was she adopted? About the only scenario she didn’t list was spies because, c’mon, that’s crazy. What happens next is a different kind of crazy: Philip and Elizabeth tell her everything. They weren’t born in the United States, they send information back to the Motherland, and if she reveals anything about their other, non-travel agent profession, even to Pastor Tim, EVEN to Henry, they’ll be thrown in jail. The responsibility they’ve been carrying with them for decades now is hers, too. Is she prepared for it?
That question, along with a few other lingering plots (including Sad Stan getting his revenge on double-agent Zinaida for making him walk out on Tootsie during a Bill Murray scene), is presumably what The Americans will stealthily answer for the rest of the season. It changes everything. Even interactions with Stan are fraught with the possibility of what Paige might say; one wrong sentence could upend their entire lives. It’s worth mentioning here that the actress who plays Paige, Holly Taylor, was devastatingly good. So was the directing. When the three Jennings sit at the dinner table, Philip and Elizabeth are never in the same shot; they’re framed like the Devil and Angel on Paige’s shoulders, except to her, they’re both carrying pitchforks.
In summary, holy sh*t.