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'The Americans' recap: Philip too westernized? Nyet!

Has KGB spy Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) grown too comfortable living in the U.S.A.?

By owning a profitable travel agency, is he forsaking Mother Russia and embracing “decadent” Western values?

That’s what spy wife Elizabeth (Keri Russell) fears when Philip buys a pricey Camaro in “New Car,” Episode 8 of the Cold War drama “The Americans” on FX.

The macho muscle car represents power and freedom -- just like America. And that’s fine with Philip.

“Don’t you enjoy any of this?” he asks Elizabeth, referring to their lovely home and expensive clothing they could never afford in the U.S.S.R.

“It’s nice here, yes,” Elizabeth replies. “It’s easier. It’s not better.”

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Philip’s excitement about the sexy Chevy evaporates, however, when he’s devastated by news from his KGB handler, Kate (Wrenn Schmidt). Blueprints for a high-tech propeller that Philip and Elizabeth stole were a ruse designed to mislead Moscow, Kate reveals. Consequently, 160 Soviets drowned when a propeller based on those plans ripped apart their submarine.

Elizabeth also suffers a devastating blow when her Nicaraguan comrade, Lucia (Aimee Carrero), attempts to capture Navy SEAL Andrew Larrick (Lee Tergesen), a valuable Soviet asset. Larrick gains the upper hand and threatens to kill Lucia.

“My freedom for her life -- that’s my offer,” Larrick declares, meaning his days of being blackmailed by the KGB are about to end.

Elizabeth agrees to the deal, providing the naval officer assistance with one more mission -- a risky operation to assassinate Contra field commanders at a U.S. military base.

When Larrick unties Lucia, she grabs a corkscrew and attacks. But Larrick once again overpowers the Sandinista and begins strangling her.

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“It’s either her or me! You choose,” he yells at Elizabeth as she aims a gun at him. Knowing the mission to kill the Contras is top priority, Elizabeth reluctantly stands down and lets Larrick choke the life out of brave but impulsive Lucia.

In other action, FBI Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) turns over surveillance logs to Soviet spy Oleg Igorevich Burov (Costa Ronin).

By betraying America in this way, Stan believes he’s protecting his two-timing Russian mistress, KGB double agent Nina Sergeevna (Annet Mahendru). If anything happens to Nina, Stan warns, he’ll hold Oleg responsible. Stan is gunning for the Soviet “diplomat” in any case, but first he must gain security clearance from the unwieldy federal bureaucracy.

At the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C., Arkady Ivanovich (Lev Gorn) congratulates Oleg and Nina for conning Stan into surrendering confidential information. “Starting to turn a high-level counterintelligence agent is a great accomplishment,” Arkady says. “I expect even greater accomplishments to come."

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Then Arkady speaks privately with Nina. He cautions her about becoming romantically involved with Oleg, a married man. His powerful in-laws can be very helpful or very hurtful, Arkady says, so be careful. Nina ignores the sage advice, however, when she agrees to a wild night of disco dancing with Oleg and a group of dignitaries.

Finally, Philip encounters a problem in his other life as “Clark,” an investigator with FBI internal affairs.

His wife, Martha Hanson (Alison Wright), tells him she’s no longer comfortable acting as a “mole” in the agency’s counterintelligence division. “I don’t feel right about helping your office with them anymore,” Martha says, characterizing the G-men as “good people.”

To reverse Martha’s opinion about her colleagues, Philip alters a tape recording of comments made by Special Agent Frank Gaad (Richard Thomas).

On the doctored tape, Frank calls Martha “ugly” and jokes that he’d have to be “ten scotches deep” before touching her. Think that’ll persuade Martha to keep spying on the FBI? You betcha!

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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