“The Deal,” Episode 5 of “The Americans” on FX, actually focuses on two transactions: one involving a Jewish scientist who fled Russia and the other involving a Soviet spy caught between the KGB and FBI.
The first deal concerns Anton Baklanov (Michael Aronov), a brilliant physicist who develops stealth technology for his adopted country of America.
Initially it appeared that Anton was going to be kidnapped by KGB spies Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell). But the operation goes south when Anton’s mistress (Abby Nelson) and a mysterious man (Cliff Marc Simon) violently halt the abduction.
The mistress steals Philip and Elizabeth’s car and speeds away with Anton in the trunk. The man, who’s badly beaten and then captured, turns out to be an Israeli Mossad agent.
Philip guards his prisoner inside a shabby building as Kate (Wrenn Schmidt), his new KGB supervisor, brings medical supplies.
A bonding of sorts takes place between the spies. Perhaps the agent could return to Israel if Anton returns to Russia, Philip suggests.
“I’m bronze, not platinum,” the agent says, acknowledging that Anton is the far greater prize.
Pushing for an agreement with Israel is Arkady Ivanovich (Lev Gorn), who heads the Soviet Embassy in Washington.
“I’ll get Moscow to make a deal with these people if it costs me my career,” he vows.
When negotiations conclude, Philip drives to a rendezvous point, where the agent is swapped for Anton.
“You’ll be home for Passover after all,” Philip tells the spy, whose future suddenly brightens.
Anton’s fate is far darker, however. He begs Philip to let him go, saying he’ll covertly work for the USSR. But Philip maintains a stony silence while carrying out his orders.
“You’re a monster,” Anton sobs. “No feeling, no humanity. You may as well be dead!”
As the handcuffed scientist sails toward Russia, news breaks that the USSR will release 1,500 Jewish “refuseniks” so they can migrate to Israel. Does that mean the Soviets changed their stance on human rights?
If you ask Anton, the answer is nyet.
The episode’s second deal concerns KGB double agent Nina Sergeevna (Annet Mahendru), whose life grows more perilous as she finagles secrets from her lover, FBI counterintelligence specialist Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich).
Oleg (Costa Ronin), a fast-rising officer at the Soviet Embassy, uses his higher security clearance to probe Nina’s clandestine affairs.
“What’s really going on here?” Oleg asks Nina, knowing Stan is a veteran G-man not easily swayed by feminine charms.
To delve deeper, Oleg pretends to be unaware that FBI agents are following him to the Port of Baltimore. He parks his car and waits for Stan to show himself.
“Are you going to shoot me?” Oleg asks, referring to Stan’s killing of Vlad Kosygin, Oleg’s predecessor at the embassy. “I’m a diplomat, a guest in your country.”
Then Oleg stuns Stan by telling him that Nina “is at such great risk.”
“Everything can be traded,” Oleg says. “What can you give me in exchange for Nina’s safety?”
What indeed, wonders Stan, fearing he may have to choose between abandoning his lover or betraying the United States.
“We’ll talk again,” Oleg says ominously.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, continues her pursuit of a Navy SEAL suspected of murdering two KGB agents and their daughter.
A young sailor, Brad Mullen (Jefferson White), copies the SEAL’s personnel files for Elizabeth, thinking he’s landed a new girlfriend. But following an awkward kiss, Brad knows he’s been used and dumped.
“I’m not going to see you again, am I?” he asks.
“I don’t have anything to give you,” Elizabeth gently replies. “I wish I did.”