Soviet spies Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) finally have the big talk with their teenage daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) in Episode 310 (“Stingers”) of “The Americans” on FX.
Sex isn’t the topic of this explosive conversation. Instead, it’s about Mom and Dad’s real careers – which have nothing to do with running a travel agency.
“I’m not stupid. I know there’s something going on,” says Paige, referring to strange phone calls and other late-night occurrences.
“I need to know the truth,” Paige tearfully insists. “I don’t care what it is. But if you love me, really love me, then just please tell me!”
Her parents don’t reveal that the KGB is targeting Paige as a second-generation spy. But they do share information that changes her life forever.
“We serve our country,” Elizabeth admits, adding that “most of what you hear about the Soviet Union isn’t true.”
“But we also serve the cause of peace around the world,” Elizabeth contends. “We fight for people who can’t fight for themselves.”
As Paige struggles to process this revelation, her dad emphasizes that now she’s responsible for keeping a critical secret.
“If you do tell anyone,” Philip cautions, “we will go to jail – for good.”
The next morning, Elizabeth worries about leaving Paige alone.
“We go to work, we hold our breath,” Philip advises. “She won’t do anything stupid.”
Paige does call Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin) to let him know she had a frank conversation with her parents. She makes no mention of the KGB, however.
Paige also holds her tongue when next-door-neighbor/FBI Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) comes over for dinner. When Stan asks Paige if anything is wrong, Elizabeth nervously sharpens a large kitchen knife – just in case the unthinkable happens.
Enjoying a meal with the Jennings is a rare low-stress activity for Stan, who’s bracing for a divorce from his wife, Sandra (Susan Misner).
Stan is also conspiring with his KGB counterpart Oleg Burov (Costa Ronin) to prove that Soviet defector Zinaida Preobrazhenskaya (Svetlana Efremova) is a spy interacting with high-level U.S. officials.
If Zinaida is exposed and arrested, she could be swapped for Nina Sergeevna (Annet Mahendru), a former KGB double-agent loved by both Stan and Oleg.
Nina is no longer confined to a Moscow prison on treason and espionage charges. But to fully pay her debt to society she must gain the confidence of scientist Anton Baklanov (Michael Aronov), who’s forced to develop stealth technology for the Soviet military.
To frighten Zinaida into revealing her true purpose in America, Oleg vows to kill her unless she retracts widely reported statements condemning the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
When Zinaida relays this threat to Arkady Ivanovich (Lev Gorn), director of the Soviet Rezidentura in Washington, he mistakenly blames compartmentalized KGB officials.
“They’re screwing things up,” Arkady complains to KGB officer Tatiana Ruslanova (Vera Cherny). “They need a procedure to keep this from happening that doesn’t blow the operation.”
Meanwhile, Philip reluctantly continues his seduction of 15-year-old Kimberly Breland, whose father, Isaac (Frank Deal), heads a CIA unit helping Afghan rebels battle Soviet troops.
Philip planted a recording device in Isaac’s briefcase and must enter Kimberly’s house on a weekly basis to retrieve the tapes. He seizes the opportunity when Kimberly gets drunk at a raucous party and needs a ride home.
“I think you’re the only one who really cares about me,” Kimberly says as she collapses on her bed.
Even though Philip exploits Kimberly, he worries about the future of this troubled party girl, just as he worries about the other 15-year-old in his life – the confused and increasingly vulnerable Paige.