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Stingers is the tenth episode of Season Three of The Americans on FX, and the thirty-sixth episode overall.

SynopsisEdit

Philip and Elizabeth deploy a plan for the C.I.A.’s Mujahideen visitors. Tensions at the Jennings’ home escalate.

PlotEdit

Pastor Tim shows up at the travel agency, asking to book the summer mission trip to Kenya through the Jennings' company. He then pressures Phillip to consider having the entire family go, not just Paige. Phillip, annoyed, declines.

Stan and two security agents accompany Zinaida to a movie theater to watch “Tootsie.” When she uses the restroom, she leaves a written message under the counter of the sink.

Phillip responds to a phone call to rescue Kimberly from a party, where she is inebriated and has no ride. Phillip takes her home and puts her to bed, then switches out the tape in her father’s briefcase. When he later listens to it, he learns the I.S.I. is sending mujahideen to meet with the CIA at a hotel in Crystal City in a few days.

In the Soviet research facility, Nina gets Baklanov to interact with her a little more by speaking to him in English. He complains he needs photographs and she explains how complicated that simple request can actually be. He asks where she learned English and she replies “Here … and in America.”

The next day at the travel agency, Paige unexpectedly shows up, “just to say hi.” Meanwhile, Stan drops by the Jennings and finds only Henry home. He gives him a bootleg copy of the movie “Tron.” Observing Henry's electronic football game, he tells him about a board game called “Strat-O-Matic” and agrees to play it with Henry sometime. Later that evening as Stan is trying to sort through his and Sandra’s possessions, Henry shows up to return the movie and asks if he’ll play the game. Stan agrees and they talk. Henry's motivations for seeking interaction with Stan are complicated; he doesn't receive much attention from his own father, but he also keeps a picture of Stan's wife in a box hidden under the floorboards of his room.

The Jennings don disguises and drink in the hotel lobby bar in Crystal City, watching the front desk shift change. Once they determine the manager on duty is man, they know Elizabeth will be the one to check in to the hotel. In her room, she calls the front desk to complain about a (planted) stain on the bedsheets. She flirts with the manager, getting his business card, and an offer for dinner "the next time she's in town."

Phillip meets with Gabriel who tells him Yousaf contacted the Rezidentura in Islamabad, but refuses to talk to them. Instead, he’s flying to the US to meet with Phillip directly. Gabriel also tells Phillip that Elizabeth asked for Mischa to be sent home, but he turned down the early release they offered him. Gabriel says they can force Mischa to go home, but Phillip says to let him stay.

The Jennings arrive home to find Paige still up. She confronts them about their bizarre absences and weird behavior, begging them to tell her the truth: “I’m not stupid, I know there’s something going on. The phone rings and you’re gone. We have no family here, no aunts, no uncles, no cousins … this isn’t normal. I’ve felt it for a long time and I thought it was me. I thought I was crazy. But it’s not me, it’s you.” She sobs and says if they really love her they will stop lying to her.

Phillip and Elizabeth fall silent for a long time before Phillip nods slightly and they sit down on either side of Paige at the table. They tell her they were born in the Soviet Union and that they work for their country, getting information that can’t be obtained any other way. Paige is flabbergasted: “You’re … spies?” She tries to flee upstairs, not wanting to hear the rest, but Elizabeth warns her what she knows comes with a great responsibility. Phillip stresses she can’t tell anyone – not Pastor Tim, not Henry – or they will both go to jail, forever.

The next morning, Paige, still wearing the same clothes, is in bed saying she doesn’t want to go to school; her parents agree. When they offer for one or both of them to stay home with her, she declines. Suddenly, Paige demands: “Speak Russian.” Elizabeth hesitates, and then begins talking. Phillip translates: “She just said we love you very much.” The Jennings then sit in their car in the garage, debating whether it’s safe to leave her alone. In the end, they decide to trust her, and spend a long, anxious day at work. Paige calls Pastor Tim while they’re gone, to tell him she talked to her parents, but she doesn’t repeat what she learned.

Stan meets with Walter Taffet, who asks if there’s anyone he thinks might have placed the bug in Agent Gaad’s pen. Stan says no without hesitation: “Plenty of people had the opportunity, but I don’t know wh-“ Suddenly, he falls silent. Taffet asks if he’s thinking of someone, but Stan says no. However, after he leaves the interview, he asks Aderholt if he’s seen Martha.

Oleg meets with Arkady, who’s frustrated by Moscow’s demands for photographs of a bomber plane. Tatiana interrupts and kicks Oleg out to tell Arkady that Zinaida left them a message saying she was threatened by “one of our people.” Arkady wrongly assumes that whoever did this had approval, but that operations are so compartmentalized, the person who okayed it didn’t know about her mission. He leaves to send a message to The Center.

Stan comes over to the Jennings for dinner. Paige stares at him awkwardly, thinking about his job in the context of her parent’s roles, but Phillip covers for her and everyone sits down to eat.

NotesEdit

  • The title of the episode is likely a reference to portable surface-to-air missiles, which can fell aircraft when fired by a single person using a shoulder harness. The mujahideen commanders spoken of on the recording obtained by Phillip are brought to the US in the following episode, to negotiate obtaining Stinger missiles from the CIA (although, their visit does not go as planned). The CIA eventually (1985) armed the mujahideen in Aghanistan with thousands of Stingers, whose use were likely instrumental in ending the Soviet-Afghan war. The word "stinger" also has other connotations; someone who carries out a "sting" is involved in duplicitous, entrapment activities. The Australian television show "Stingers," which aired from 1998-2004, was a police-crime drama with prominent deep cover elements, including how various agents' personal lives became entangled with their jobs.
  • Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Dustin Hoffman, as a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman in order to land a job. The film was a major critical and financial success, the second most profitable film of 1982, and was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture.
  • Tron is a 1982 American science fiction action-adventure film starring Jeff Bridges as a computer programmer who is transported inside the software world of a mainframe computer where he interacts with programs in his attempt to escape. It was released July 9, 1982, becoming a moderate success at the box office. Over time, Tron developed into a cult film and eventually spawned a franchise, which consists of multiple video games, comic books and an animated television series.
  • When Paige stays home from school, Phillip and Elizabeth return home from work to find her watching a soap opera, which appears to be a General Hospital episode involving the characters Susan Moore and Scott Baldwin.

MusicEdit

Song Title Performer(s)
Stand and Deliver Adam & The Ants


VideosEdit

The Americans - 3x10 Promo "Stingers" FX HD

The Americans - 3x10 Promo "Stingers" FX HD


Season Three
#301 "EST Men" #308 "Divestment"
#302 "Baggage" #309 "Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?"
#303 "Open House" #310 "Stingers"
#304 "Dimebag" #311 "One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov"
#305 "Salang Pass" #312 "I Am Abassin Zadran"
#306 "Born Again" #313 "March 8, 1983"
#307 "Walter Taffet"