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So that’s what Henry was up to all this time on The Americans

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This post contains discussion of plot points from The Americans episode “Lotus 1-2-3.”

In last week’s installment of The Americans, the series dropped a hint that Henry, the Jennings’ ignored son, was up to something at school. Tonight we learn what he’s gotten into: Algebra 2. Turns out that all this time spies Philip and Elizabeth haven’t been paying attention to their kid he’s been excelling in math. The revelation stands out as a somewhat amusing one in a particularly devastating episode—that is, if you don’t find it too heartbreaking that Henry is keenly aware his parents think his sister is smarter than he is.


Still, Noah Emmerich, who plays Stan and directed “Lotus 1-2-3,” wanted to bring out the humor in the situation. “That scene where the teacher calls them in, I thought that was a great opportunity to have a little bit of the wonderful comedic timing that Matthew [Rhys] and Keri [Russell] share,” Emmerich said on a conference call with reporters earlier this week. “I thought it was a nice counterpoint to the tonality of the show in general. It’s really a surprise, and the Jennings are not often surprised, certainly not by a member of their own family.“

As for Philip’s other son, Mischa (Alex Ozerov), who escaped the Soviet Union to see the father he’s never met: Well, the conclusion to that storyline is more brutal. Gabriel (Frank Langella) and Claudia (Margo Martindale) decide that it’s best for Philip if Mischa doesn’t make contact. So Gabriel, the more reluctant of the pair, meets him on a park bench to break the news that his journey was fruitless. “Those two sort of heartbroken souls, having to resolve this together—it was just a beautifully written scene. It’s a beautifully teed-up scene,” Emmerich explained. “It’s a payoff, in a way, emotionally for both these characters having gone through so much. It felt like one of the more critical scenes of the show.”


Meanwhile, on-camera Emmerich is tasked with playing Stan in a state of romantic bliss with his new girlfriend Renee (Laurie Holden). ”I think Stan is just completely enamored and happy and it feels like he’s got the healthiest relationship he’s ever had,” Emmerich said. “Certainly, it’s in its early stages but it feels I think really good to him, and like a real relief. He’s matured, he’s grown, he’s learned a lot about himself, and he’s met someone that he just sort of instinctively feels comfortable with and comfortable sharing with in a way that he hasn’t in the past. And, you know, she’s a beautiful, dynamic, interesting, vivacious woman.” A “beautiful, dynamic, interesting, vivacious woman” who Philip thinks may be another spy—an element of the plot that Emmerich had to contend with as a director. “Clearly, it seems a lot of the audience has their ears up looking for what could be wrong here because it does arouse some suspicions,” he added. ”It was fun to touch upon that as well.” What’s really going on with her? That’s yet to be determined. Regardless, it’s probably not related to Algebra 2.