‘The Americans’ recap: Is family or Mother Russia more important?

In the Season 2 premiere of “The Americans” on FX, KGB spies Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) grapple with an agonizing dilemma: Should they protect their family or remain loyal to the Soviet Union?

Remarkably, the couple avoid capture as the Cold War escalates. Not only do they carry out risky missions from their suburban home in Washington, D.C., they’re raising two kids in an arranged marriage while running a busy travel agency as a cover operation.

Moreover, Elizabeth just recovered from a gunshot wound sustained in an FBI pursuit. And Philip, in his alter ego as Clark, recently married Martha Hanson (Alison Wright), executive assistant to the FBI’s head of counterintelligence.


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The latest episode, “Comrades,” features Philip posing as a Southern patriot who offers to help a pair of Afghans rid their country of Russian troops by supplying weapons and money.

The encounter doesn’t go well -- for the Afghans. Philip kills them both, along with a hapless busboy.

Next for the Jennings is a sting operation aimed at Roy (Daniel London), a Lockheed employee developing high-tech military aircraft.

For this assignment, Elizabeth and Philip collaborate with comrades Leanne (Natalie Gold) and Emmett (Jeremy Davidson), a couple living in Virginia with their children Jared (Owen Campbell) and Amelia (Gracie Bea Lawrence).

As the spy gals engage in a threesome with Roy, the spy guys burst into the hotel room pretending to be Air Force security officers. All is well, Philip and Emmett assure the mortified aerospace worker. But of course they must monitor future phone calls and social encounters.

The next assignment is supposed to be a routine document handoff at an amusement park. When a surveillance team arrives, however, Emmett turns over the job to Philip. He looks inconspicuous walking with son Henry (Keidrich Sellati) but endangers the 11-year-old in the process.

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The extent of that danger becomes shockingly evident when Philip and Elizabeth go to meet their spy buddies. To their horror, the Jennings discover the bloody corpses of Emmett, Leanne and Amelia, with son Jared the only survivor.

Paranoia mounts for Philip and Elizabeth as they wonder if their family is in the cross hairs.

Adding to their anxiety is 14-year-old daughter Paige (Holly Taylor), who suspects her parents are more than travel agents. When Paige snoops around the house, she walks in on mom and dad during a bout of lovemaking. Breakfast the next morning is awkward at best.

At FBI headquarters, Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) and his boss Frank Gaad (Richard Thomas) reflect on the spies who got away in a dramatic car chase.

Those escapees, unbeknown to Stan, are his neighbors -- the Jennings.

FBI informant Sanford Prince (Tim Hopper) could have linked Philip and Elizabeth to traitorous Air Force Col. Rennhull (Victor Slezak). But that won’t happen now because the colonel, claiming self-defense, shoots Sanford twice in the forehead.

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“You’d think one in the head would have been enough,” Stan observes suspiciously.

Stan, meanwhile, is falling for sexy Russian Nina Sergeevna (Annet Mahendru) from the Soviet Embassy. He believes Nina is a “mole” spilling state secrets but she’s actually a double agent playing Stan for a patsy.

As for Nina, she has a new office mate -- Oleg Nicholiavic (Costa Ronin) -- who’s pursuing U.S. science and technology secrets. Youthful Oleg seems more American than Russian, however, while listening to rock music with headphones.

Embassy leader Arkady Ivanovich (Lev Gorn) is less than impressed.

“The moronic kids of these top officials are rushing into the KGB these days so they can enjoy a foreign posting,” Arkady gripes to Nina. “They’ll be the end of us.”