'The Americans' recap: Spy life takes toll on Philip

Wracked with guilt over murders he commits as a KGB agent, Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) falls into a deep, angry depression on “Martial Eagle,” Episode 9 of “The Americans” on FX.

His latest killings occur at a camp where Navy SEALs covertly train Contra field commanders intent on overthrowing Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Philip and spy wife Elizabeth (Keri Russell) assassinate the Contras, but innocent lives are lost.

“You didn’t have a choice,” Elizabeth says, trying to ease her husband’s pain. “This is war.”

“I know it’s war,” he coldly replies. “It’s just easier for you.”

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Philip’s pent-up emotions explode when he discovers daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) took $600 she saved for a European trip and donated it to her church.

“You respect Jesus but not us?” he yells, ripping pages out of her Bible.

Later, Philip confronts Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin) and warns him to stay away from Paige. But the church is a sanctuary, the preacher responds, and no one is turned away. Not even murderous Philip.

“There is grace and forgiveness for you -- for everyone,” Tim says.

Does Philip buy it? Hard to tell, but he does leave the pastor unharmed.

When he’s not killing Contras, Philip tries to steal cutting-edge stealth technology that renders U.S. warplanes invisible to radar. For this assignment he poses as “Clark,” an investigator with FBI internal affairs.

Clark is concerned that his wife Martha Hanson (Alison Wright) no longer wants to act as a “mole” in FBI counterintelligence. She changes her mind, however, when Clark plays a doctored audio tape on which G-men appear to make cruel remarks about her appearance. 

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Hurt and infuriated, Martha promises to help Clark learn more about the stealth program -- no matter what the risk.

On the other side of the Cold War is FBI Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich). Fighting to keep American tech secrets out of Soviet hands, Stan interviews attendees at a hush-hush meeting involving aerospace giants Lockheed and Northrop.

He’s also probing a triple murder that occurred on the same day and in the same city as the meeting. Stan doesn’t know it yet, but the homicide victims were a KGB spy couple and their daughter.

While Stan’s making progress on the espionage front, he’s losing ground at home as discontented wife Sandra (Susan Misner) is about to take off with a man she met at a New Age gathering. Is their marriage over?

“No, I’m not going to leave you, Stan,” Sandra says while packing her suitcase. “But I’m not going to sit around and wait for you to get the courage to leave me.”

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Finally, FBI Special Agent Frank Gaad (Richard Thomas) fears his career is kaput as he prepares to testify at a closed-door congressional hearing. The FBI killed Soviet diplomat/spy Vlad Kosygin (Vitaly Benko), and Frank is taking the fall.

Refusing to go quietly, Frank approaches Arkady Ivanovich (Lev Gorn), leader of the Soviet Embassy in Washington. Frank wants the USSR to reverse its public stance and pretend Vlad was the “tragic victim of a mugging gone wrong.”

“I could lose my job or even go to jail because of it,” Frank says of the Senate investigation. “If either of those things happens, I’ll make sure you go down with me.”

How so? Frank would release confidential information to the news media detailing illegal activities at the Soviet Embassy. Moscow would not be happy.

“You see,” Frank says, “my problem is now your problem.”

Arkady remains polite but noncommittal during the tense encounter. But thoughts are racing through his spymaster brain, just like a chess champion protecting his king.


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