Synopsis of The Americans 3.02 “Baggage” from the FX network’s Website: Elizabeth and Philip come together to deal with a mission gone wrong. Stan welcomes a Soviet defector, Zinaida, to America. Nina acclimates to her new living arrangements. After my review of Justified 6.03 in which I failed to discuss Garret Dillahunt’s beard and/or Sam Elliott’s lack of a mustache, Psycho Drive-In’s managing editor, Paul McCoy, insisted “that there be more attention paid to the facial hair, or lack thereof.” [Editor’s Note: DAMN STRAIGHT.] I’m not sure if Paul meant that directive to only apply to my reviews of Justified or if it should apply to all reviews I write. To cover my ass, I will first point out that Philip (Matthew Rhys) wears a mustache when he and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) have a beer at a bar where Yousaf Rana (the Pakistani ISI agent who killed Philip’s asset Annalise in the previous episode) is meeting with several CIA agents. Anyway, Philip’s mustache in this scene is very . . . dude-ish. Okay, with the requisite facial hair review out of the way, let’s focus on all the baggage that is being lugged around in this episode. As one would expect, the title (“Baggage”) has one literal and several figurative meanings within the context of the various subplots that are covered this week. However, if the episode had not been given this title most of the subplots would have just seemed to be following the logical progression of where they should be heading. There isn’t anything that screams “baggage” at any one point other than in the specific scene where there is an actual piece of baggage—or luggage, to be more precise. After Yousaf murdered Annalise in the previous episode, Philip’s method of acquiring information about the Mujahedeen from Pakistani intelligence had to be adjusted. Annalise was killed when Yousaf figured out she was working as a spy to get information from him, so it wasn’t a shock when Philip burst into the hotel room and immediately ingratiated himself to Yousaf by agreeing to dispose of Annalise’s body. Philip even admits to Yousaf that he works for the KGB (rather than for Swedish intelligence, which is what Annalise believed). The disposal of the corpse involves bringing in Elizabeth to help, and she arrives at the hotel with a large, empty suitcase. She and Philip then get to work by breaking Annalise’s spine and the bones in her limbs. At one point, Elizabeth feigns the need for help and has Yousaf come over to also break the bones in the corpse. While he works along with Philip, Elizabeth takes a picture of Yousaf that clearly documents his role in the disposal of Annalise’s body—just in case he was thinking of a way to avoid working with our two KGB protagonists. Once Annalise is properly broken down into collapsible sections, Philip and Elizabeth stuff her into the empty suitcase so the corpse can be taken through the hotel lobby without drawing suspicion. It’s an innovative way of disposing of a body that I don’t recall ever having seen before on television or in the movies. Thus, Annalise quite literally became baggage in this episode—baggage that was easy to remove from a hotel room. However, for Yousaf, her murder became political baggage that could have affected his ability to do his job. Thus, Philip and Elizabeth have helped Yousaf with both forms of the “baggage” Annalise symbolizes in this episode. While the disposal of the body was an interesting scene (particularly with Annalise looking like a ragdoll with her broken spine and limbs flopped about all akimbo), the more intriguing scenes involve the symbolic baggage in the subplots—particularly the subplot involving Stan Beeman and his former Russian double-agent lover Nina Krilova (who, we learn, has not been executed back in Mother Russia—which means we will continue to see the beautiful Annet Mahendru on the series for at least a while longer). Instead, Nina is apparently awaiting execution at Lefertovo Prison, which was an actual KGB prison and torture facility that housed political prisoners in the Soviet Union. In this case, Nina is the “baggage” that both of her lovers back in the US are lugging around in their hearts. However, Nina seems to be weighing on the heart of Oleg Burov far more than she does on Stan’s heart. As Stan exits a downtown Washington, DC video rental store (possibly a video porn store, but it’s difficult to tell for certain) and heads down a dark alley toward his car, Oleg comes up behind him—but not quietly enough for Stan not to notice. Turning around, Stan sees Oleg with a gun. Oleg intends to execute Stan for allowing Nina to be arrested and sent back to Russia rather than provide her with the political asylum he so often promised her. Oleg orders Stan to his knees, but Stan just stares Oleg down and says, “I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but I did love her”—a confession that causes Oleg to raise the gun and point it at Stan’s head while once again ordering him to his knees. However, Stan steadfastly refuses to die on his knees. Instead, he says, “Screw you, Oleg. You want to shoot me? Shoot me in the back.” Then he turns to walk the length of the alley to his car—waiting for a bullet to rip into his spine; waiting for the fatal shot that never comes. Realizing he came close to being killed causes Stan to want to relate the experience to someone, which eventually leads him to the home of his estranged wife, Sandra, who is living with her EST-met boyfriend, Arthur. Sitting in Sandra and Arthur’s living room, Stan tells the story of what happened with Oleg and then brings up EST as an obvious way to try to play into Sandra’s sympathies, “You know at EST they said almost getting killed is one of those things that makes you feel really alive.” However, when Sandra’s expression and demeanor doesn’t warm towards him simply because he brought up EST, Stan adds, “I don’t know about that. . . . The truth is . . . (his voice begins to sob slightly) you are the only person I want to tell”—and both then begin to work on controlling their respective impulses to cry. However, Sandra’s next impulse is to ask, “Why?” Stan has no answer. Hesitating for an eternity within the moment, he finally whispers, “I don’t know.” The emotional baggage between them is palpable in the scene, and it breaks Sandra down slightly, but she emphasizes “I’m not coming back because you almost got shot” then she adds “but . . . but I’m glad you’re here, and that you’re whole and safe . . . I am” and she leans forward to hold his hands, but Stan tries for a kiss and Sandra backs away. Too much emotional baggage exists in their marriage for any sort of reconciliation to ever occur. Other subplots in the episode have their own forms of baggage, and with “Baggage” the series once again managed to strike the right balance between espionage adventures, political intrigues, and interpersonal relationships. The Americans 3.02 “Baggage”4.4Overall ScoreReader Rating: (1 Vote)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 2 Responses The Americans 3.04 “Dimebag” - Psycho Drive-In February 25, 2015 […] episode 3.02 “Baggage,” FBI agent Stan Beeman is assigned to escort and protect a defector from the Soviet Union, Zinaida […] Log in to Reply The Americans 3.05 “Salang Pass” - Psycho Drive-In March 4, 2015 […] episode of The Americans (“Salang Pass”) seems to be a few weeks late. Three weeks earlier, in “Baggage” (3.02), we saw TV news reports of Leonid Brezhnev’s death—an event that occurred on November 10, 1982. […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.