A close call at work causes distraught Martha Hanson (Alison Wright) to doubt her unconventional marriage on “Walter Taffet,” Episode 307 of “The Americans” on FX.
Martha believes she’s wed to “Clark,” an undercover FBI employee keeping tabs on the bureau’s counterintelligence division. That’s supposedly why he’s gone most nights and their marriage must be kept secret.
But her mysterious husband is actually KGB spy Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), and he persuaded Martha to plant a listening device in the office of her boss, Special Agent Frank Gaad (Richard Thomas).
When the bug is discovered inside a ballpoint pen, Martha fears she’ll be sent to prison. In a panic, she destroys a recording gadget and holds her breath as an electronic sweeper scans her desk for spy gear.
Martha thinks her arrest is imminent when Frank orders her to speak with FBI investigator Walter Taffet (Jefferson Mays). Fortunately for Martha, Walter just wants a list of Frank’s recent visitors.
How likely is it, Frank asks Walter, that an employee planted the bug? Could be a disgruntled janitor or agent, Walter speculates. Or it “could be you.”
That evening, a rattled Martha has some pointed questions for her hubby.
“Do you think we’re ever going to live together like a normal married couple?” Martha wearily asks.
“Normal is for everybody else,” Philip glibly replies. And as for their odd relationship, “I think it keeps getting better and better.”
When he’s alone with his KGB spouse Elizabeth (Keri Russell) later that night, Philip alerts her that “something’s up with Martha.”
“I don’t know, it could be the foster kid,” Philip says, referring to Martha’s desire to care for a child.
But Philip already has two children with Elizabeth. And he just learned from KGB handler Gabriel (Frank Langella) that he has a 20-year-old son serving as a Soviet paratrooper in war-torn Afghanistan.
“I don’t think I’m really up for another kid,” Philip says with a sad smile.
In other developments, South African freedom fighter Reuben Ncgobo (Dwayne Alistair Thomas) arrives in Washington after being trained in military tactics by the KGB.
Reuben occupies the No. 3 spot on his country’s most-wanted list. That means he’s perfect bait to draw out a South African intelligence officer conspiring with college student Eugene Venter (Neil Sandilands).
The KGB suspects that Eugene will detonate a bomb on campus and put the blame on students active in the anti-apartheid movement.
Donning a hippie wig, Philip grabs and eventually subdues the intelligence officer by throwing him in front of a van driven by Elizabeth. Then the spies speed away with their bloodied captive.
Finally, Philip is surprised to learn that Elizabeth told their 15-year-old daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) about participating in the civil rights struggle, and that one of their close friends was gunned down by police.
This is all part of Elizabeth’s mission to recruit Paige as a second-generation KGB spy -- much to Philip’s chagrin.
“What made you stop believing in change, making things better?” Paige asks her dad, thinking he’s nothing more than the nonpolitical owner of a suburban travel agency.
“I still believe in those things,” Philip replies. “You just get older and other things become important.
“And you realize there are a lot of ways to make a difference,” he emphasizes while looking lovingly at Paige and her younger brother, Henry (Keidrich Sellati).
Later, Philip angrily confronts Elizabeth about sharing secrets of their past with Paige.
“Am I going to come home one day and Paige will just tell me she knows who we are?” Philip asks accusingly.
Elizabeth’s reply? She honestly doesn’t know.