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TV Review/Recap: The Americans “Cardinal” Recap (Season 2 Episode 2)

“How are we going to live like this?” Elizabeth asks Phillip in the final scene of this week’s episode of The Americans entitled “Cardinal”. After the brutal murder of fellow KGB sleeper cell agents Emmet and Leigh Ann (and their young daughter Amelia), Elizabeth and Phillip are even more fearful over what may happen to themselves and their family. After all, whoever killed their friends must have known their true identities. Could they also know the identities of other agents working in the United States? It seems this fear is going to be the main conflict this season on The Americans.

This Week’s Dose of Poor Martha

Because Phillip is leading a double life, secretly married to Martha (a secretary in the FBI’s counterintelligence office), he has to spend a few nights every week with her. Unsurprisingly, being home alone with the kids doesn’t work well with Elizabeth’s paranoia; it’s hard for her to even look out the window without thinking she is being watched. Phillip is just as afraid, but he also has the added stress of acting “married” to Martha.

Over breakfast one morning, Martha tells Phillip that she is thinking of applying for a higher paying position as a senior clerk in another FBI office. Of course, Phillip can’t let that happen since the sole reason he is even with Martha is to use her for information about the FBI’s counterintelligence office; the bugged pen Martha placed in the director’s office is a major source of information for the KGB. Quickly, Phillip squashes her ideas for advancement, encouraging her to forego the extra money and continue to serve her country through counterintelligence. Martha, always easy to manipulate, agrees with Phillip and asks her boss to keep her mind in case a clerk position opens up in their office.

Phillip’s Mission

Due to the time-sensitive nature of the intelligence document Phillip received in last week’s episode, Elizabeth is forced to “drop” the information for her comrades in a local park. The KGB then sends Phillip to Chesapeake, VA so he can investigate Emmet’s contact Fred, the man he received the intelligence document from in the “pass” at the carnival. Did Fred have anything to do with Emmet and Leigh Ann’s death? As Phillip is investigating Fred’s house, he finds a loose floorboard and underneath is a metal box. Of course, like in Indiana Jones, nothing is as easy as it looks. When Phillip grabs the box, he is immediately electrocuted and wakes up with his hands tied and Fred standing over him with a gun. After some intense talking, Phillip convinces Fred to untie him and it becomes clear that Fred had nothing to do with Emmet and Leigh Ann’s death. Fred also lets Phillip know that the intelligence document he gave him needs to be acted on immediately; this is the Russians only chance to read the settings on a particularly important machine.

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Credit: SpoilerTV

Elizabeth’s Mission

While Phillip’s mission is out of town, Elizabeth sticks close to home. When she’s not busy looking out the window, she is trying to have family time with the kids. It seems she is so scared she is going to lose her family, she wants to spend as much time with them as possible.

Unfortunately, an issue comes up with a young female KGB agent in the DC area and Elizabeth has to tend to it while Paige and Henry are at a movie. Apparently the agent, who is posing as a college student, was working a congressional aide for information. However, the aide drank too much and started to overdose on drugs. Elizabeth quickly springs into action, saving him and the mission. With a few helpful, almost motherly words, “Don’t party with him anymore, be his girlfriend,” the young agent is sent back on her way and Elizabeth is able to go back to her family.

One of the last shots of the episode shows Paige investigating a postcard her parents received from someone in Cresson, Pennsylvania. She calls information to get the number of the sender, Helen Leavis. Before she can call, however, Phillip comes home. I can only imagine what will happen in the next episode. Road trip?!?!

Stan Stan the Murderin’ Man 

Unfortunately, thanks to Martha’s bugged pin, Nina and her comrades find out that Stan was the one that killed Vlad. This information only solidifies Nina’s plot against him.

Martha’s Got A Gun

By the end of the episode, although Martha has a pretty severe temperature, Phillip decides to go home to Elizabeth; he can tell she is not doing well in this newly agitated environment. Before he can finish telling Martha he won’t be coming home, however, she informs him that she’s going to get a gun, “Clark, I don’t want to be a victim!” She saw the news report about Emmet and Leigh Ann’s murder and doesn’t want that to be her. Foreshadowing, is that you?

The Walk-In

The last major storyline from tonight’s episode is “the walk-in”, a man who walks into the Russian embassy claiming he has information to help “the cause.” Nina tells Stan this information and based on surveillance pictures Stan is able to figure out that the walk-in is Bruce Dameran, a Vietnam veteran currently employed at the World Bank. Instead of the FBI busting Dameran, they decide to wait to see what he does next. However, because Nina gave the FBI the lead on the walk-in, this has to be a Russian set up, right?

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