Will tormented FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) betray the USA once more to save his Soviet girlfriend? That’s a critical question in “Operation Chronicle,” the penultimate episode of “The Americans” on FX.
Stan’s mistress, KGB spy Nina Sergeevna (Annet Mahendru), could face execution in Moscow for sharing confidential information with the FBI. That’s why Stan buys her a car -- so she can escape.
But Stan is shocked when he finds Nina bound, bloodied and surrounded by KGB agents.
“Your lover has committed treason against us,” points out Arkady Ivanovich (Lev Gorn), leader of the Soviet Embassy in Washington.
“And you have committed treason against your country,” he adds, referring to FBI surveillance logs Stan surrendered to the Soviets.
Arkady promises to let Nina and Stan “go off together, free and happy” on one condition. The G-man must hand over top secret software that determines if stealth warplanes are invisible to radar.
What Stan doesn’t know is that Nina is the key player in an elaborate con job, which is why she submitted to the beating.
“They tried not to make it hurt too much,” Nina tells her other lover, KGB agent Oleg Igorevich Burov (Costa Ronin). “But it had to look good.”
Nina is trapped in a deadly game. She’s trying to “turn” Stan so he divulges increasingly important information, but if he doesn’t deliver the stealth software, Nina will stand trial and likely receive a death sentence.
Aware that Nina’s life is in jeopardy, Oleg slips her an envelope stuffed with cash. He speaks words of encouragement because the room is bugged. But his eyes urge her to run.
“I know of no officer smarter or more capable,” Oleg says. “I believe your future is bright.”
If Nina has a future, that is.
Also out to steal military technology are KGB spies Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), who must obtain a sample of radar-absorbent aircraft paint.
For this op they lean on aerospace accountant and Soviet sympathizer Fred Timbrook (John Carroll Lynch). He’s reluctant at first, since the paint is kept in a secure area. But Fred says he’ll wander onto the shop floor and pretend he’s lost.
Meanwhile, ruthless Navy SEAL Andrew Larrick (Lee Tergesen) is on a mission of vengeance for two reasons. First he was blackmailed by the KGB. Then his comrades were murdered by Philip and Elizabeth.
Larrick’s immediate target is teenager Jared Connors (Owen Campbell), whose sister and KGB parents were mysteriously gunned down.
After that, Larrick will take aim at Philip and Elizabeth – and probably their children Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati).
Ordered to get Jared into a safe house, Elizabeth intercepts him on the way to school and drives to a train station.
“You’re not going to be able to go back to your old life,” she tells Jared, cautioning that it will be difficult initially as he adjusts to a new identity in a foreign land.
With Larrick closing in, however, Jared might not make it out of America.
Posing as a police detective searching for a runaway teen, Larrick learns from a ticket agent that Jared is on a train bound for upstate New York. With his gun at the ready, Larrick arrives at the remote depot where Jared disembarked.
Deeply troubled by Jared’s ordeal, Elizabeth fears her kids are next. If Paige and Henry faced similar circumstances, Elizabeth predicts, “they’d be dead in an alley in a week.”
Philip tries to ease his wife’s anxiety, but to no avail.
“One day it’s coming,” Elizabeth exclaims. “You know it is!”