KGB spy Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) struggles to manage the females in his life while remaining true to the Soviet Motherland on “Salang Pass,” Episode 305 of “The Americans” on FX.
The title refers to a Hindu Kush mountain pass where Soviet troops suffered devastating losses in a 1982 tunnel fire. As the war in Afghanistan sinks into a Vietnam-like quagmire, it’s critical for Philip and wife Elizabeth (Keri Russell) to infiltrate the CIA and score a Cold War coup.
Accordingly, Philip must seduce troubled teenager Kimberly Breland (Julia Garner), whose father Isaac (Frank Deal) heads a CIA unit supporting Afghan rebels.
Kimberly is just 15 years old, however, which presents a moral dilemma for Philip but not for veteran KGB handler Gabriel (Frank Langella).
Keep in mind, Gabriel counsels, “that when people’s lives intersect with our operations, it’s the operation that’s crucial” -- even if that means exploiting a hormonal teen with a daddy complex.
“You have a conscience, Philip,” Gabriel observes. “There’s nothing wrong with that. But that conscience can be dangerous.”
When Kimberly’s parents leave home for the evening, Philip drops by with a bag of potent Afghan weed. After a case of the munchies and a spirited food fight, Kimberly dozes on the couch while Philip photographs Isaac’s briefcase in preparation for planting a bug.
Philip’s relationship with Kimberly nearly goes from casual to carnal when she awakens and kisses him. But the parents arrive unexpectedly and Philip scurries out the back door.
The other 15-year-old on Philip’s mind is his daughter Paige (Holly Taylor), who is targeted by the KGB as a second-generation spy. Elizabeth favors the dangerous career choice. Philip is steadfastly opposed.
In this battle for Paige’s soul, Philip gains an edge by taking her shopping for a baptism dress. Despite Paige’s objections, her dad picks one of the most expensive garments.
“Just try it on,” Philip says, his eyes welling with tears of fatherly pride.
Another female Philip wants to keep happy is his second wife, Martha Hanson (Alison Wright), who works in FBI counter-intelligence yet is clueless about her husband’s true identity. Martha’s maternal instincts bubble up as she coaxes Philip to become a foster dad.
“We’re not buying one today,” Philip jokes while watching children in a playroom. But his resistance weakens as he nostalgically recalls when Paige and son Henry (Keidrich Sellati) were babies.
“I could almost do it,” Philip tells Elizabeth, if serving as a foster parent “kept Martha on track.”
Elizabeth, meanwhile, tries to pilfer stealth aircraft technology by cultivating a valuable asset, Lisa (Karen Pittman), an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor beset by marital and financial problems.
Posing as a fellow AA member who also works in aerospace, Elizabeth invites Lisa to stay at an empty house near a heavily guarded Northrop factory. An assembly line position becomes available after Elizabeth mangles an employee during his car repair chore.
Now Elizabeth shows off her pricey clothes and handbag, prompting Lisa to ask: “Did you win the lottery?”
No, Elizabeth replies, as she makes up a story about being paid to answer questions from a “consultant” who helps defense contractors submit bids.
“Is he cute?” Lisa asks with an excited laugh.
Finally, FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) attempts to free KGB double-agent Nina Sergeevna (Annet Mahendru) in a prisoner exchange. But first Stan must prove that a Russian defector (Svetlana Efremova) is actually a spy.
“The FBI will go to bat” for Nina, Stan assures her lover, KGB officer Oleg Burov (Costa Ronin). “She was an asset. They won’t leave her to rot in the gulag if they have a choice.”