Here is what the FX Network’s Website has as the synopsis for the “Born Again” episode of The Americans (3.06): Gabriel has surprising information. Elizabeth begins to take family matters into her own hands. Stan receives upsetting news from his past and turns to Sandra for support. Everything in those three sentences is sort of correct, but not entirely. For one thing, the final sentence is misleading. While Stan does receive upsetting news regarding the death of a close friend, he does not turn to his estranged wife Sandra for support. He calls her, but he only gets voicemail. Later, as she drops off their son, Sandra gives Stan a hug and offers condolences. Then she leaves. That scenario is not at all the same as, “Stan . . . turns to Sandra for support.” However, the rest of the synopsis is more accurate—albeit about details that are relatively insignificant, though they might become more significant in later episodes. For instance, the first sentence should be revised to something like “Gabriel has news that is somewhat upsetting.” Gabriel (played by Frank Langella) showed up this season as Philip and Elizabeth’s supervisor. However, rather than meet his agents covertly as previous supervisors have done, Gabriel meets them in his low-rent and sparsely furnished apartment. During his meeting with Philip in this episode, Gabriel reveals two things that might be considered surprising information: The Soviets have arrested one of their own KGB agents—a woman with whom Philip had a sexual relationship 20 years earlier. Furthermore, Gabriel tells Philip the son he fathered with that female agent (but whose existence he only recently learned about) is a fine, young Soviet soldier. The KGB needs Philip to retrieve the tape recorder spool from Kimmy’s house once a week rather than once a month, which means Philip (as Jim) must spend time with Kimmy more often than he believed he would need to spend time with her—which could result in him having to have sex with her even though she is only 15 years old. Of those two items, I’m guessing the first is the one the FX network is referring to as “surprising information.” Of course, neither of the two is actually “surprising”—and both are about as significant to this week’s episode as stating, “Paige is baptized.” Actually, Paige being baptized in this episode is a more significant plot point than either of Gabriel’s two pieces of information. After all, the title of the episode is “Born Again,” which denotatively refers to Paige’s baptism ceremony at her non-denominational church. She has been “born again” as a child who is welcoming Jesus Christ into her life despite the views of her secular humanist parents. Gabriel also factors into the second sentence in the FX synopsis. Elizabeth began to “take family matters into her own hands” after Gabriel pointed out that she hadn’t started her indoctrination of Paige into the world of espionage to turn her into a junior KGB agent. Elizabeth’s action in taking matters into her own hands is in reference to her taking Paige to what seems to be Anacostia*—which is an area of Washington, DC that Paige is nervous about being in, and Elizabeth has to assure her they will be okay. Paige wouldn’t have as much concern for her safety if she only knew that her mother is probably the most dangerous person in all of Anacostia. Hell, Elizabeth might be the most dangerous person in all of the DC metro area—and that includes Philip, because I think Elizabeth could beat Philip in a brawl. Elizabeth takes Paige to Anacostia so she can show her where she developed her own social conscience (Paige participates in social protest events with her church). As she is discussing her start along the path of social awareness, Elizabeth tells Paige she can do more to help the world than merely participating in her church’s protest marches and urging people to sign petitions. Elizabeth is beginning to bring Paige into the life of the KGB—so in that way Paige is “born again” in two ways in this episode. She has undergone being “born again” through her baptism ceremony, and then again as Elizabeth prepares to brings her into the world of espionage and assassinations. As I am writing about this episode titled “Born Again,” I suddenly realize how inadequate the title is—but not because the writers should have come up with a better title. The problem is with the English language. We have present participles and present tense verb phrases to indicate the birth process from the point of view of the mother while it is underway—“she is bearing the baby,” “she is birthing the baby,” “she is currently in labor,” et cetera—but we do not have words or phrases that indicate the process from the point of view of the infant while it is underway. I point out this inadequacy of our language because “Born Again” is meant to operate on several connotative levels within this episode, but born is a past participle of bear—it indicates a process that has been completed rather than one currently underway. We need a present participle to describe the infant’s experience. However, Paige’s baptism is a completion of the process of being born again; but the process of Elizabeth bearing her into the world of the KGB just got underway. Perhaps we could say Elizabeth went into labor to bring Paige into that world, but what word would describe that experience from Paige’s perspective? Similarly, Stan is in the process of being born into a world of an honest sexual relationship with Tori (the woman he met at his EST meetings) within the house he shared with Sandra. As he tells Tori during an interruption in their foreplay, Stan has only had sex with Sandra in that house (because he had sex with Nina in other locations). Thus, Stan is undergoing the process of being born again into a new world—one he is not fully certain he wants to enter. Similarly, Phil is supposed to be entering a world in which he is having sex with a girl who is only one year older than his 14-year-old daughter. Kimmy even tries to “induce labor” by disrobing (actually dis-toweling) in front of “Jim” (Phil’s cover identity with Kimmy). However, he once again manages to avoid having sex with her as he pulls up his experience of having gone to Paige’s baptism and tells Kimmy that he has recently started attending church and he’s trying to be a better man. Of course, Kimmy looks hurt—feeling he’s rejecting her, as if she is somehow inadequate the way insecure people are naturally inclined to feel if it seems someone has rejected them. Kimmy feels it’s about her rather than about “Jim,” so she begins to pout. Later, when it seems as if Kimmy wants nothing more to do with him due to his rejection of her, Philip gains access to her house by telling her he can’t stop thinking about her. She thinks Philip finally wants to have sex with her, but he actually needs to be able to have weekly access so he can retrieve the spool from the tape recorder he placed in her father’s office. In her bedroom, as Kimmy anticipates physical satisfaction, Philip tells her about his son whom he can’t see and that he did not know he had until recently—because the best cover stories are the ones that are close to the truth of the agent’s actual life. He then asks Kimmy to pray for him, which she does, and he thanks God for bringing Kimmy into his life—which, of course, pleases her greatly and she is at least spiritually-emotionally satisfied in lieu of actual physical gratification. Anyway, I digress! Getting back to Elizabeth and Paige . . . without saying it directly, as she begins to bring Paige into the world of the KGB by pointing out Paige can do more than go to church-sponsored protest rallies and distributing petitions, Elizabeth is essentially introducing Paige to the concept of “propaganda by the deed”—which was defined by Russian revolutionary Mikhail Bakunin in Letters to a Frenchman on the Present Crisis: All of us must now embark on stormy revolutionary seas, and from this very moment we must spread our principles, not with words but with deeds, for this is the most popular, the most potent, and the most irresistible form of propaganda. Let us say less about principles, whenever circumstances and revolutionary policy demand it—i.e., during our momentary weakness in relation to the enemy—but let us at all times and under all circumstances be adamantly consistent in our action. Normally, propaganda by the deed is considered an anarchist tactic (and Bakunin was an anarchist, but he was also a Russian whom the Marxists respected). However, it is an approach in which all dissident movements tend to engage—such as the American colonial dissidents known as the Sons of Liberty who orchestrated the propaganda by the deed event that is known as the Boston Tea Party. Here is a Sons of Liberty classified ad from December 17, 1765—almost exactly eight years before the Boston Tea Party event that took place on December 16, 1773: Of course, Elizabeth’s notion of the concept involves indoctrinating Paige into the deeds of espionage and assassination—actions that have more immediate results than do shouting slogans at a protest rally or getting a thousand signatures on a piece of paper. Meanwhile, back in the Soviet Union . . . Nina has completed her re-birth into being a prison informant, as she finally uncovers the truth about the involvement her cellmate, Evi, had in the espionage action she carried out that landed her with Nina in Lefertovo Prison. I suppose Evi is also undergoing a type of re-birth as she is dragged out of the cell kicking and screaming on her way to be tortured—crying out in terror-filled anguish, “Nina, what have you done!” Throughout Evi’s tormented cries, Nina listens with a blank, expressionless face—apparently feeling no remorse for her role in what is about to be done to this girl that will make Fifty Shades of Grey look tame by comparison. Oh, wait, Fifty Shades of Grey is already a tame depiction of torture; never mind. Anyway, there are a lot of “infants” undergoing a re-birth into new lives in “Born Again.” I just wish we had a word to describe that event from the infant’s perspective. * While the neighborhood that Elizabeth and Paige are in looks like Anacostia, the street sign in the background is wrong. There is no 45th Street in Anacostia, which is in East DC. The 45th Street in Washington is in West DC. However, that scene in The Americans was filmed in Brooklyn, New York—so they are actually in a Brooklyn neighborhood that sort of looks like Anacostia in southeast Washington DC. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.