With only five episodes remaining in the season (and no renewal notice yet being issued), it could be that Philip’s reaction to Martha is the path toward a possible series-ending conclusion. It could be that Philip has actually fallen in love with Martha—as he tells her (as Clark), she is the nicest and most loving woman he’s ever met. He’s probably not lying, and those sentiments could indicate actual love. They could also be the sentiments that lead to his own destruction.
However, the renewal of the series for a fourth season was announced later that week. Nevertheless, by the time the renewal was official, the remaining episodes of the third season had already been filmed—undoubtedly with two versions of the final episode: a series finale that wasn’t aired and the season finale that was. Thus, over the course of the final six episodes of last season, there were several plot threads that could have led to the unraveling of the falsified lives of our Russian spy protagonists, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings:
- In episode 07 (“Walter Taffet”), the FBI discovered the listening device that Martha Hanson planted in FBI Supervisor Frank Gaad’s office for her “husband” Clark Westerfeld (one of Philip’s cover identities). As the third season progressed, FBI agent Stan Beeman (Philip’s across-the-street neighbor) began to suspect Martha had planted the bug—which, of course, could have led to Stan arresting Philip and Elizabeth in the final episode.
- Paige discovered the true identities of her parents in episode 3.10 (“Stingers”) and felt the need to disclose that information over the phone to her church minister, Pastor Tim, at the end of the episode—which, of course, could have led to Pastor Tim reporting the information to the FBI, resulting in Stan arresting Philip and Elizabeth in the final episode.
- As I mentioned earlier, in episode 3.08 (“Divestment”), Philip seems to have fallen in love with Martha. Instead of killing Martha to cover his tracks, Philip killed FBI agent Gene Kraft, made the death look like a suicide, and planted evidence implicating Kraft as the person who planted the bug. Rather than kill Martha and make her death appear to be a suicide, Philip went to a lot of trouble to save her. It’s possible that in the final episode he would have left Elizabeth and gone into hiding with Martha—though that conclusion of the series would have been almost as unsatisfying as the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009).
There was one other earlier plot thread in the third season that could have easily led to a series finale. Philip, as “Jim” began dating a 15-year-old high school girl named Kimberly Breland (aka Kimmy) because her father (unbeknownst to Kimmy) is in the CIA and is the head of the group overseeing CIA operations in Afghanistan. Philip’s relationship with Kimmy seemed to be heading toward eventual sexual intercourse—with Kimmy completely disrobing for him in episode 3.06 (“Born Again”).
However, as I wrote in my review of the season three finale (3.13 “March 8, 1983”), the Kimmy plotline seems to have been dropped:
. . . after four consecutive episodes in which Kimberly Breland (Kimmy) had a significant role in the ongoing story (episodes 3.03 to 3.06), the character has mostly disappeared except for a brief appearance in episode 3.10. It seems the probability of Philip having sex with a 15-year-old girl (only one year older than his daughter, Paige) must have become too hot of a plot point for the network.
In fact, the IMDB page for Julia Garner (the 21-year-old actress who played Kimmy in season three) does not list her as appearing in any of the season four episodes. That potential statutory rape plot thread could have easily led to a situation that would have contributed to the dismantling of Philip and Elizabeth’s falsified lives. I actually hope the thread has not been dropped, as it was one of the more interesting story arcs with Kimmy as a very 21st-Century version of Lolita and Philip as a very reluctant Humbert Humbert.
One or more of those plot threads could have led to the conclusion of the series, and I wonder what final ending was undoubtedly filmed (or at least written) for episode 3.13. All of the possibilities created a tension in me as I watched the third season unfold, but no such tension occurred as I watched the first episode of the new season.
In real time, 11 months have passed since episode 3.13 aired on April 22, 2015. However, this episode begins only one day later. As its title clearly states, the final episode of season three took place on “March 8, 1983” (which was a Tuesday), and this episode clearly begins on March 9—a fact that we learn after Martha makes copies of the March 1983 FBI surveillance reports for Philip and it is discovered that there was not an FBI surveillance team following another Soviet agent on the first night Philip and Elizabeth tried to meet up with him, but there is a surveillance team following him on their second attempt on March 10.
Thus, with only one day having passed since episode 3.13, most of this episode focuses on reintroducing viewers to the dangling plot threads from 11 months ago. We essentially get a well-scripted, well-acted, and well-directed episode that doesn’t advance the story at all.
Well, there were three new developments (four if we count that Philip and Elizabeth’s son, Henry, has started wearing really cheap cologne that is stinking up the house, but Henry doesn’t actually appear in the episode).
First, Philip and Elizabeth finally met with the other Soviet agent and take possession of a vial of Burkholderia mallei, the bacteria that causes the disease known as glanders (hence the title of this episode). The bacteria 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 on this show.)
Second, Stan’s girlfriend, Tori, saw Philip with Stan’s estranged wife, Sandra, when they shared a table at an outdoor café following an EST meeting—a fact that causes Stan to physically accost Philip in his garage, which nearly causes the vial of Burkholderia mallei in Philip’s breast pocket to shatter. (Now that would have suddenly brought the series to an end.)
Finally, the other new development is actually a flashback to Philip’s childhood in Russia and the first murder he committed—the memories of which are causing him insomnia and causing him to work out in the EST workshops that he continues to attend. Of course, he doesn’t reveal the entire truth during his EST session—he doesn’t reveal that he murdered the two bullies—so his ability to resolve the issue is too constrained.
Overall, the episode was enjoyable, but not very satisfying. However, with the next episode titled “Pastor Tim,” I’m sure the situation with Paige revealing her parents’ lives to her minister is about to explode.