KGB spies Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) target a CIA agent beset with marital and financial problems on “Open House,” Episode 303 of “The Americans” on FX.
It’s the early 1980s and the KGB is determined to infiltrate a high-level CIA unit that is helping mujahedin rebels battle the Soviets in Afghanistan. The most likely way to compromise the U.S. intelligence agency is making a KGB asset out of Ted Paaswell (David Furr), a divorced agent forced to sell his home.
When Ted’s real estate agent (Liz Larsen) stages an open house, Philip and Elizabeth don disguises and pose as potential buyers. This gives Philip an opportunity to plant a listening device before Ted arrives unexpectedly.
Convert the home office into a den, Ted ruefully advises his visitor, so your family won’t feel neglected and resentful.
To discover Ted’s behavior patterns, Philip and Elizabeth follow him in a car. It’s a perilous undertaking, however, because CIA security officers also track Ted’s movements to determine if he acts suspiciously.
“They know who we’re targeting,” warns Gabriel (Frank Langella), Philip and Elizabeth’s veteran KGB handler. “Be very careful.”
During a late-night surveillance mission, Gabriel’s fears are realized when a joint CIA/FBI operation zeroes in on Elizabeth’s car.
“Get a roadblock, pull her over now before it’s too late,” urges FBI Agent Dennis Aderholt (Brandon J. Dirden), who nearly arrested Elizabeth for obtaining secret information from a disgruntled CIA employee.
After injuring two teeth when Dennis slammed her head onto a car hood, Elizabeth fought back with a vengeance and narrowly escaped.
Now she’s in even greater jeopardy as federal agents converge on her vehicle. But when a KGB accomplice intentionally causes a traffic accident, Elizabeth manages to slip away once more.
While kissing her worried husband that evening, Elizabeth cringes in pain from a sore mouth. This prompts Philip to perform some grim DIY dentistry involving a shot of malt whiskey and a pair of pliers.
Despite the danger of following Ted, the Soviet spies decide to venture out once more. Tuned into their listening device, they hear an intimate exchange between Ted and his teenage babysitter Kimberly Breland (Julia Garner).
“I need someone more mature,” Kimberly flirtatiously says, because the boys at school are “just boys.”
“This is an inappropriate conversation,” Ted nervously replies as he threatens to tell her father.
And who is Kimberly’s dad? He’s Isaac Breland (Frank Deal), head of the CIA Afghan Group that KGB officials desperately want to penetrate.
“Well, how about that,” Elizabeth says in amazement as she watches Ted drop off Kimberly at home.
Meanwhile, at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, KGB officer Oleg Burov (Costa Ronin) has a major decision to make after being approved for a transfer to Moscow.
By tapping his family connections, Oleg could secure a lofty position working for Yuri Andropov, the newly installed Communist Party leader -- or Oleg could remain in America.
After some soul-searching, Oleg informs his superior, Arkady Ivanovich (Lev Gorn), that “I’m staying.”
How will Oleg’s powerful father react?
“He’s been telling me to grow up my whole life,” Oleg says. “Let’s see.”
Finally, KGB handler Gabriel subtly tries to pressure Philip regarding the future of his 14-year-old daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor). The KGB wants to recruit her as a second-generation spy, but Philip is adamantly opposed.
“Paige will have a choice,” Gabriel maintains, plus she’s “strong, like her mother.”
“I just want Paige to make her own decisions,” Philip replies as his anger swells.
“Paige grew up here. Her life has been easy. She’s not equipped to deal with this!”