After a string of increasingly intense episodes, "Mutually Assured Destruction" was rather subdued. While it was enjoyable, it didn't hold my attention as much as previous hours of The Americans. The hunt for the KGB-hired assassin felt more like a procedural investigation, rather than a high-stakes spy chase.
After eight episodes of the show, the use of sexual manipulation for information is starting to feel overused and stale. The assassin, of course, changed it up by hiring a prostitute to sex up the FBI agent, so he could plant the bomb. Though, I have to wonder if FBI employees were really that gullible in the 1980s?
The FBI agents weren't the only ones being manipulated, so was Elizabeth. Claudia knew exactly what to say to mess with her head. Elizabeth and Philip finally got to a place where they were happy and loved each other, but that wasn't good for the KGB. If they emotionally bonded, their top priority would no longer be to the homeland, but to each other. Since Elizabeth shared her doubts about Philip's allegiance to Moscow, their closeness was an even bigger threat.
I wouldn't count the Jennings out though. In a short amount of time, Elizabeth was already missing the closeness that she had developed with Philip. It may take some time, but Elizabeth will see that Claudia played her. Yes, Philip lied, but he did it with noble intentions and that means something. He mentioned the possibility of separating, but there's no way she would go through with it. She showed that she deeply cares about their kids and their family.
While Philip got in trouble for sleeping with Irina on a mission, he has free reign it seems to bed Martha regularly. Philip's relationship with her is getting complicated. He really should have stuck firm and not fallen into her bed. In the short term, it got him the information he needed to catch the assassin, but at what cost? The scientist and FBI agents were still killed and Martha wasn't discreet enough about stealing information.
Chris may be a jealous ex-boyfriend, but he is an FBI agent. The way he stalked Martha was creepy and proved that he will stop at nothing to find out who she's dating. When he looks into it, Philip's cover could be blown. I foresee an awkward neighborhood barbecue in all of their futures
If only Chris knew his partner was cheating on the side. Stan now has a safe house to meet Nina. That's convenient for the exchange of information and much more. At first, I thought Nina was seducing Stan strictly to manipulate him, but after their exchanges this week, I think she does have feelings for him. She's feeling isolated and Stan listens to her. He's the one person she doesn't have to tell lies. If she is careful, her new promotion could be a goldmine for the FBI and be her ticket out.
The FBI and the KGB each have offsetting sources in Martha and Nina. Each week, it's a matter of which side gets the information first and then if a countermeasure can be put in place quickly. In an odd twist, this time both Beeman and the Jennings were working towards the same goal. The Jennings prevented additional deaths by killing the assassin, but the one killing was enough to spark an intense, but quiet war between the two countries.
It ended up as a no-win situation for both sides. The Jennings failed at their mission even though they blew up the assassin in spectacular fashion. Elizabeth felt responsible for letting her feelings for Philip distract her and will take on that weight herself.
How will the United States retaliate for the killing of the scientist and the FBI agents? As Agent Gaad said, it won't be with tanks, but something much more discreet. And, will the Jennings be forced to pay a price for their failure?
Has the sexual manipulation been overused at this point? Will Elizabeth come to recognize Claudia's manipulation and forgive Philip? Or, will she continue to push him away?