Note: The following review contains spoilers. Read further at your own discretion.
There was a lot of talk after last week’s excellent episode “Dimebag” about how viewers were more or less fine with watching Philip and Elizabeth murder people, but that watching Philip seduce an underage girl (Who we learn is barely fifteen in “Salang Pass”) was too uncomfortable. There’s a moment (Er, actually probably several) during “Salang Pass” where it looks like it might be too uncomfortable for Philip to handle as well. When Philip shows up under the freeway overpass to meet with Kimberly, and two jocks come up to ask her who Philip is, the line between Philip working Kimberly and Philip himself starting to not want to do this anymore starts to blur. Of course it was Philip’s plan to say he wouldn’t hang out with Kimberly in a group because “people would think it was weird” to get her to be alone with him, but there’s a part of him that seems to want her to only hang out with him in groups. From the start Philip hasn’t liked using Kimberly to gain access to her dad, and you feel like if Kimberly had refused to be alone with him, Philip would have bailed and told the center that he had tried, but it didn’t work.
“Salang Pass” is Philip’s episode through and through. We get some more progress on Elizabeth working Lisa and Stan pairing up with Oleg (A great match that I hope we see a lot more of) to see if Zinaida is really a defector, but Philip was the star. Or, to be more accurate, Philip’s relationships with various women were the stars. We start with Clark and Martha looking to adopt a foster child, sending Philip back down memory lane to when the kids were young. We move to Philip’s actual teenage daughter, who he tries to bond with by buying her a dress for her baptism. We then move to Kimberly, who Elizabeth says might be what Paige will turn into if she doesn’t know who her parents really are. But it all culminates with Philip coming back home to Elizabeth, slightly stoned, and earnestly asking if he should sleep with Kimberly to get more information. And then the two get talking about when “they learned to do this.”
Remember a few weeks ago how I said that The Americans tends to take a lot of the glamour out of sex? They upped the ante this week with a series of flashbacks to Philip’s “training” back in Russia. As we go from an attractive woman, to an old lady, to a fat, middle-aged man, the Russian honeypot gets less and less sweet.
We end with Philip talking about how he needs to make his relationships with everyone real, even when they aren’t. Elizabeth asks if he has to do that with her, and Philip gives the most devastatingly honest answer: Sometimes, but not now. The episode ends with the two of them in bed, kissing. Philip’s eyes are closed, but Elizabeth’s remain open.