Synopsis of The Americans 3.03 “Open House” from the FX network’s Website: Danger mounts for Elizabeth and Philip as they get closer to the inner circle of the CIA Afghan Group. Stan monitors Soviet defector Zinaida while Martha proposes a lifestyle change to “Clark.” Most of “Open House” focused on Elizabeth and Philip’s mission of getting the names of the CIA personnel involved in supporting the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. In the pursuit of that information, several CIA agents in the Afghan group were identified as possible targets for Elizabeth and Philip to pursue. In particular, they identified Ted Paaswell, a CIA agent who is going through a divorce and who may be in desperate need of money. Paaswell is attempting to sell his house, and has twice lowered the asking price of his expensive home located in an upscale suburb of Washington, DC (probably Bethesda)—which is what makes Philip believe the man might be desperate for money and open to bribery. Elizabeth and Philip then take advantage of an open house set up by Paaswell’s real estate agent to set up listening devices in the house and on the short-wave radio that Paaswell uses for his job. Additionally, either the short-wave radio or the man’s car has also been fitted with a homing device that will allow Elizabeth and Philip to follow him—and Philip also finds the man’s bank statements in a filing cabinet, so he is able to take a look at Paaswell’s financial situation. With the devices in place, Elizabeth and Philip use the homing device to follow Paaswell. They also listen in on the conversation he is having with a passenger in his car—a somewhat sexually suggestive conversation with a young woman who turns out to be the babysitter of Paaswell’s children. Believing they might be able to get compromising information about Paaswell having illicit sex with a minor, Elizabeth and Philip follow him from his home in the immediate DC suburbs to a small, rural town in central Maryland (at least it was relatively small and rural in November of 1982—which is when this episode of The Americans takes place). For some reason that I did not understand, Paaswell and the young woman drive to . . . Frederick, Maryland, which is the city in which I currently reside. I suddenly realized the majority of the episode is supposedly taking place in Frederick (and the surrounding rural area) when Philip was reading a street map while Elizabeth was driving as they followed Paaswell. The map Philip was reading in the car is indeed a map of Frederick, Maryland. My house would be somewhere in the vicinity of the proximal interphalangeal joint of Philip’s right index finger (i.e., the middle knuckle of his right index finger)—if the map wasn’t folded over. It was really cool to see the town I’m living in figure so prominently in this episode. However, the map Philip is holding is a contemporary map of Frederick; it’s not a map of Frederick as it was in 1982. Oh well, at least the episode was set in Frederick even if they didn’t get the details right. Of course, Frederick gets mentioned a lot in movies and TV shows that deal with government and military issues because Frederick is home to Fort Detrick (the large green area directly to the left of Philip’s right thumb). Fort Detrick was a prominent part of the plot in the 2007 Nicole Kidman film The Invasion (the fourth theatrical film based on Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers novel). If you’re wondering why Fort Detrick is such an important part of the plots of so many films and TV series, just read the Wikipedia article. You should be able to figure it out very quickly; it’s the main reason why so many people living within a mile of the facility have such high rates of various forms of cancer (and one of the colleges where I teach shares Fort Detrick’s northern border). Anyway, back to the episode. . . . While following Paaswell through Frederick (and, inexplicably, out towards the small community of Middletown to the west of Frederick—based on the roads that were mentioned), Elizabeth suddenly notices that she and Philip are also being followed by at least six different CIA cars that are passing around their surveillance of our protagonists’ car. At one point, Philip is able to leap from the car at a time when the CIA surveillance team can’t see him. At that point, Elizabeth is the only one being pursued, and she is in radio contact with KGB operatives who are trying to help her evade the CIA team and guide her to an extraction point. During this “chase” through Frederick, the KGB operatives instruct Elizabeth to get on a road called Frederick and then take a right on Liberty. The only road in Frederick called “Frederick” is Frederick Avenue, and it does not intersect with Liberty Road. However, Highway 355 is called Frederick Road as it runs through Montgomery County before it crosses into Frederick County (and it eventually is called Market Street inside the Frederick city limits)—and 355 does intersect Liberty Road. Okay, so let’s pretend that’s what the show meant—that Elizabeth should take 355 and then turn right on Liberty Road. Well, that would put her a block away from my house (or, to be more precise, it would put her about a half mile from the spot on the Worman’s Mill farmland where my house would eventually be built). Except, that the way Liberty Road was depicted (as a downtown road lined with brownstone homes) looks nothing like the real Liberty Road—not now, and especially not in 1982: Still, even though that street is definitely not Liberty Road, it sort of looks like Church Street in downtown Frederick—except that it’s too wide to actually be Church Street. Anyway . . . pretty damn cool! Elizabeth drove down “Liberty Road” very close to where my house would eventually be built! Score one point for coolness, but subtract two points for lack of verisimilitude in depicting the real Frederick, Maryland. Oh, and the parts of the episode that didn’t deal with the CIA agents and driving through Frederick had to do with the continued problem of the KGB wanting to turn Elizabeth and Philip’s 14-year-old daughter, Paige, into an agent. It’s an interesting subplot that is beginning to boil—just as Philip is beginning to have steam come from his ears each time the issue is raised. “Open House” was a riveting and entertaining episode in which the title not only referred to the open house the real estate agency was having at the Paaswell home, it was also an ironic reference to the “closed house” that Elizabeth and Philip must maintain in their own home—though we did see the bond they share with each other when Philip finally relieved Elizabeth of the tooth that was damaged during her recent street brawl with two FBI agents. With nothing more than a shot of Irish whiskey to deaden the pain, Philip yanked out the offensive tooth with a pair of pliers. As tears welled up in Elizabeth’s eyes during the painful ordeal, there was something more in her eyes as well—the trust, and perhaps love, that she has for Philip. If you aren’t watching The Americans I have one question for you: Why aren’t you? The Americans 3.03 “Open House”0.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 2 Responses The Americans 3.04 “Dimebag” - Psycho Drive-In February 25, 2015 […] the end of episode 3.03 “Open House,” an African-American FBI agent, Aderholt (played by Brandon J. Dirden), asks Stan about the […] Log in to Reply The Americans 4.01 “Glanders” - Psycho Drive-In March 27, 2016 […] is being developed as a biological weapon at Fort Detrick, which Philip and Elizabeth drove by in episode 3.03 (“Open House”), and which I pass every day on my way to work. (It’s a kick to see places I know so well show up […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.