TV Recap: The Americans, Season 3, Episode 6, "Born Again"

In which everyone gets religion.
TV Recap: The Americans, Season 3, Episode 6, "Born Again"
Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings as "Jimmy" the scummy lawyer. Photograph by Craig Blankenhorn via FX Networks.

True to its title, “Born Again” opens with the dreaded payoff from that awkward dinner two weeks ago, with Paige, draped in a white, ceremonial robe, getting dunked in the baptism tub in front of a church full of applauding worshippers and two very uncomfortable Soviet spies. And that’s just the first of several appearances the big guy upstairs makes in the latest installment of The Americans.

Philip and Elizabeth aren’t fighting nearly as much this week, but their duel continues over Paige’s potential future as a second-generation KGB plant, with their spymaster Gabriel (Frank Langella) pulling all the strings. Philip disguised as “Jimmy” the sleazebag lawyer, is spending even more time with Kimmy, the hormonal 15-year-old daughter of a high-ranking CIA official on whom he’s supposed to be eavesdropping. “Jimmy” plies the teenager with weed and Pink Floyd tapes, she attempts to return the favor by offering a shared bathtub.

Unfortunately for Philip, Gabriel’s still got the upper hand. In callback to a first-season episode in which Philip is informed he fathered a son just before entering the KGB’s sleeper-agent program, Gabriel mentions the boy is now a 20-year-old serving on the front lines in Afghanistan.

Langella has been a phenomenal addition to The Americans this year. Like Margo Martindale, who he replaced as the Jenningses’ supervisor, he can speak softly but make every line an icy threat. His sitdown with Elizabeth about Paige’s progress is no different, and by the episode’s end, Paige is getting a somewhat sanitized tour of her mother’s past. They visit where Elizabeth recruited Gregory, a black militant and her lover from Season 1 who was ultimately killed by police. (In this version, Gregory is a civil-rights activist and a friend of Elizabeth’s and Philip’s.)

And pleas for salvation are invoked again back the USSR by Nina’s cellmate, Evie from Belgium, when the guards haul her off after she admits her crimes. Eliciting the confession earns Nina a nice steak dinner, and possibly an increased chance of getting back to Oleg or Stan.

Field Notes:

  • Stan brings his EST girlfriend Tory (Callie Thorne) over to the Jennings house for dinner; everyone except Tory thinks EST is bullshit, even Henry.
  • Speaking of Stan, he gets some rough news at work when a former partner of his dies in a plane crash. Does it bring him any closer to getting back with Sandra? Nope.
  • Gabriel: Still the world’s deadliest Scrabble player.
  • No synthpop or new wave, just an unnamed Pink Floyd track that only Kimmy can hear.

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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.