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TV Recap: The Americans, Season 3, Episode 3, "Open House"

A.k.a. the one with the DIY oral surgery.

Spy—and Scrabble—master Gabriel (Frank Langella). Photograph by Michael Parmalee via FX Networks.

Of all the horrible things Elizabeth and Philip have done in two seasons and three episodes, amateur dentistry doesn’t even make the top ten. That said, there are claw marks in my couch from gripping the seat cushions as tightly as possible during that scene.

Why can’t Elizabeth go to a regular dentist to remove her FBI agent-loosened teeth? Well, as noted last week, the feds are still on the lookout for a female operative with mouth and jaw damage, and they’re closing in. The Jenningses pick up a new mark in the head of the CIA’s Afghanistan desk, and soon as they’re on the trail of their target, a swarm of US intelligence officers are on theirs.

They make it home eventually, but only thanks to Philip doing a barrel roll out of a moving car and calling in backup from what seems like every other Soviet sleeper in the area, and Elizabeth having a stroke of luck in a Blues Brothers-worthy crash of CIA cars. Previous seasons have seen the Jenningses in plenty of close scrapes, but now, they’re just getting sloppy.

And the Paige drama continues to ramp up: Philip is more adamant than ever that his daughter control her own destiny, even to the point of shaming Elizabeth about the more carnal aspects of her work (not that he mentions his own work contains just as much bare flesh). Paige herself doesn’t get too much screen time this week: She waits up for Philip on the night of the car chase; more important, perhaps, she actually has a Henry sighting! Henry’s got a bikini photo of Sandra Beeman for some reason.

Stan Beeman, meanwhile, is still babysitting Zinadia, his new Soviet defector who arrived last week via air freight. As for Stan’s other Russian companions, there are no Nina-in-prison sightings this week, but we do get a bit of Rezidentura intrigue when Oleg gets an offer from his high-ranking father to go home to Moscow. He’ll stay in America. As for Philip and Elizabeth, who knows how long they have left in the free world?

Field notes:

  • Gabriel and Philip appear to play Scrabble by the proper rules—challenge a word unsuccessfully, and you lose a turn.
  • By the way, “stygian” is worth 11 points before multipliers, plus a 50-point bonus if it’s a bingo.
  • Double dose of vintage Washington television commercials this week: an ad for Don Beyer Volvo in Falls Church and a patriotic station tag for WJLA and its parent company at the time, Allbritton Communications Company.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.