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Review: ‘The Americans’ Season 3 Episode 6, ‘Born Again,’ Finds a Universal Religion

Review: 'The Americans' Season 3 Episode 6, 'Born Again,' Finds a Universal Religion

LAST WEEK: ‘The Americans’ Season 3 Episode 5, ‘Salang Pass,’ Makes it Real

Briefing:

The consequences of “Born Again” far outweigh the individual actions, so let’s get right to the juice. After successfully spying on her cellmate, Nina was rewarded with a top-notch meal (steak, fries and wine!) before being forced to watch guards drag the unlucky — and excessively devout — woman away for God-knows-what punishment. 

Speaking of our Lord and savior, all three of the eldest Jennings used God in one way or another to further their lot in life. Paige went through the “celebration” of baptism, much to the horribly-masked chagrin of her parents (who are spies, meaning maybe they should have better fake smiles at the ready?). Philip used “James'” newfound devotion to God to get out of sleeping with Kimmy, even after Gabriel all but ordered him to commit statutory rape. In doing so, he also confessed one of his darkest secrets — the unproven fact he had a son with his teenage sweetheart — to a girl both he and Elizabeth are (at the very least) uncomfortable with.

Finally, Elizabeth used Paige’s church-sponsored activism to create a parallel with what her and Philip are doing when beginning to tell her daughter the family secret. Even Stan got in on the religion conversation by consciously/unconsciously (depending on your interpretation) drawing parallels to the Reed Street Church and the motivational support group known only as EST. 

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Philip’s Loyalty: Neither

Philip’s decision-making this week wasn’t fueled by an allegiance to either Russia or America — instead, he used his conscious as his guide. He again pivoted away from his KGB ties, refusing to follow Gabriel’s advice and start a physical relationship with Kimmy. Both he and Elizabeth showed skepticism about another young lead brought to them by Liz’s trainee, and let’s not forget they both went along with Paige’s baptism. The troubled parents may not have been happy about it — as shown all too plainly on their tortured faces in church — but they didn’t shut it down.

Philip made a point to tell Paige how much he respected her for sticking to her decision no matter what her parents thought, but that’s as close to American idealism as he got. He stuck his neck out pretty far while a fellow agent placed the bug in Kimmy’s father’s briefcase, and Philip’s mocking of traditional Western religion (especially in the ’70s) put him at a distance from full-blown American patriotism. Moreover, Philip told us exactly how he felt during his masked confessional to Kimmy: he’s “lost.” He doesn’t know what to do, and what’s to come will likely decide his ultimate allegiance.

Elizabeth’s Loyalty: KGB

She finally did it — or at least started to do it. After being called out by Gabriel, Elizabeth picked up Paige from school and started telling her about who her parents really are, from their activism to one of her past lovers (though that’s not how she described Gregory). What’s most intriguing about the scene, though, is how it ends. Paige looks confused and a little hurt by the information, which leads Elizabeth to appear worried. Is she having second thoughts? She’s set the stage to tell her the full story, possibly right there and then. But will she finish, or instead wait for Paige to absorb the new information before giving her even more?

Stan: Savant or Square?

Ah, Stan. Will he ever be happy? Things started well enough for the separated FBI agent, as his date with the Tory from EST went swimmingly…despite having four hangers-on in the Jennings family. Were they needed to make Stan comfortable? Obviously. Were they the best aphrodisiac? I would have guessed no, especially after Henry’s blunt questioning of EST’s legitimacy, but the only thing in the way of Stan taking a trip to lucky town was his own feelings for Sandra…who showed back up when things took a turn for the worse in Stan-land. His former workplace associate (maybe even a friend?) died, and Sandra and son stopped by the house to check on their former family patriarch. Things must be a mess upstairs for Stan, who had reservations about sleeping with someone else in general, and then did so in his family’s home, having to see his family there shortly after. He handled it all well this week, but change is undoubtedly on its way.

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Wig Count: 2

What a weak week for wigs. We’ve seen both Philip’s pedophile mop-top and Liz’s bangs-focused blonde cuts before, making for the only aspect of the night that wasn’t totally captivating. Here’s hoping we double up on new disguises next week.

Quote of the Night:

“But you’re not going ahead.” – Gabriel

Last week, we discussed the conundrum that is Gabriel at some length, and this week we got some answers. For one, we saw how he treats his agents as individuals and not a couple. After their first joint meeting with him, each has seen their contact separately and never was the “why” more obvious than this week. Gabriel told Philip about a son no one knows is his, though just the suspicion that it might be is enough to keep the Centre, Gabriel and Philip from telling Elizabeth of the possible conflict. If the army man is Philip’s son, it could provide extra motivation for the U.S.-based spy to carry out his missions — something Gabriel feels is needed given the lack of trust between agent and handler.

Later, Gabriel challenged Elizabeth on her actions with Paige. “He knows I’m going ahead without him,” Elizabeth said. “But you’re not going ahead,” Gabriel countered. Quite literally the next thing that happens is Elizabeth picking Paige up from school, unexpectedly and with purpose. Perhaps she went in a little too hastily, and that’s what lead to the confusing conversation that ended the episode. Or it could simply be the most impossible conversation any mother could have with their first-born child. Either way, Gabriel got the process started, and he’ll be a big factor in where it ends up.

Grade: A-

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