'The Americans' recap: KGB spies target Afghan commander

'The Americans' recap: KGB spies target Afghan commander
Mujahedin commander Abassin Zadran (George Georgiou) attempts to obtain anti-aircraft weapons from the U.S. government on "The Americans." (Patrick Harbon/FX)

KGB spies Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) come face-to-face with an Afghan leader who mercilessly executes Soviet troops in "I Am Abassin Zadran," the Season Three penultimate episode of "The Americans" on FX.

Abassin (George Georgiou) and two other mujahedin commanders are in Washington seeking Senate approval to acquire anti-aircraft weapons. These shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles would give Afghan warriors a significant edge over their Soviet counterparts in this Vietnam-like war.


Posing as CIA officers, Philip and Elizabeth employ a divide-and-conquer strategy to turn Abassin against his countrymen.

To spare their village from fighting, the other mujahedin leaders forged a secret pact with a Soviet general, the KGB spies falsely allege. That's why these Afghan "traitors" will sabotage the arms request.

"My men are honorable," Abassin says, exalting the insurgents under his control. "They want to fight and die as martyrs!"

Seething with rage, Abassin returns to his hotel and brutally murders the other commanders – much to the consternation of their CIA guards (Michael Bakkensen and Gregory Jones).

Paige (Holly Taylor), meanwhile, continues acting out after learning the devastating truth that her parents are spies. When Paige wants to spend the night away from home without asking permission, Mom and Dad rein in their headstrong daughter.

"You asked for the truth. And with that comes responsibility," Elizabeth emphasizes. "Do you understand that?"

"You need to act as if everything's perfectly normal," Philip chimes in.

"But it's not," Paige retorts.

To give Paige a sense of who she is and where she comes from, Philip makes a bold decision. He wants Paige to accompany Elizabeth when she travels to Russia and visits her dying mother (Masha Borovikova).

"I talked it over with Dad," Elizabeth says. "We think you should go with me. It will be the only chance you have to meet your grandmother." But the choice, Elizabeth adds, is up to Paige.

Paige has a great deal to process at the tender age of 15. And she'll have much more to digest if the KGB moves ahead with its plans to recruit her as a second-generation spy.

Striving to keep Paige out of Cold War espionage is KGB handler Gabriel (Frank Langella), who shares this goal with his predecessor, Claudia (Margo Martindale). Gabriel worries that the issue of Paige's future is driving a wedge between Elizabeth and Philip.

"She was much better with him before all this came up," Gabriel points out.

What's more, the KGB's attempt to cultivate teenage spy Jared Connors (Owen Campbell) ended in tragedy when he slaughtered his family.


"And yet with all that, they (Soviet officials in Moscow) still want to try it again?" Gabriel asks.

"They think you can do it," Claudia replies, leaving Gabriel in a pensive mood.

Finally, the marriage between Philip and FBI secretary Martha Hanson (Alison Wright) reaches a breaking point as pressure mounts at her workplace.

Martha planted a ballpoint pen with a listening device inside the office of her boss Frank Gaad (Richard Thomas), who heads the FBI counterintelligence division. When the bug was discovered, relentless Agent Walter Taffet (Jefferson Mays) arrived to identify the culprit.

"I can't take it," Martha tearfully says to Philip. "Everyone at work knows I'm lying!" Now she's packed her bags and plans to stay with her parents indefinitely.

"I need a break," she insists. "We need a break."

"I am with you, Martha," Philip responds reassuringly. "I love you!"

Then he does something that startles his spouse. Philip removes his glasses and slowly takes off his wig. And for the first time, Martha sees her hubby without his disguise. Gasp!