Chloramphenicol is the fourth episode of Season Four of The Americans on FX, and the forty-third episode overall.

Synopsis Edit

A devastating flaw during a mission forces Philip, Elizabeth, William, and Gabriel to confront the depths of their patriotism... and their mortality. In Russia, in striving to be a better person, has Nina put her life on the line?

Plot Edit

Elizabeth and William walk to a pay phone to call Joan, informing her they are out of commission for the weekend, and requesting no one assassinate Pastor Tim or his wife in the meantime. Elizabeth then phones Paige to let her know they are okay, but won’t be home for a few days. Paige panics, thinking Pastor Tim or Alice has betrayed her; Elizabeth tries to reassure Paige that’s not the case. Before leaving, William wipes down the phone booth and removes the receiver, wrapping it in plastic for disposal.

Back in the apartment, William attends to Gabriel and outlines procedures for handling waste and minimizing the likelihood of transmission. Elizabeth indicates to Phillip she is afraid to die and leave Paige wondering if they really loved her. She begins to feel ill, but it’s unclear if she has Glanders or simply a bad reaction to the antibiotic. She tells Phillip if something happens to her, he is to blame her for Pastor Tim and Alice. Henry will never have to know, and Paige then won’t hate Phillip, allowing him to raise the children in the US and be Americans. “That’s what you’ve always wanted,” she says, without malice.

Dennis asks Martha out and she accepts. However, back at home she panics and leaves a message for Clark, which is unreturned. During dinner she tells Aderholt she’s seeing a married man. While they are out, Stan breaks into Martha’s apartment, snooping through her drawers and taking photographs. He doesn’t find anything interesting, other than the Kama Sutra book and her handgun (which he already knew she owned).

Oleg returns to the Soviet Union to attend his brother’s funeral. He and his father argue about his refusal to give up his American posting, and Oleg’s disappointment that Igor was unable to help Nina. Later, Oleg’s father learns Nina has been “reckless” and interfered with her assignment, and that helping her will be more difficult than he thought. However, he promises to try if Oleg will agree to stay in Russia and not return to the US.

Henry goes to Stan’s and asks to borrow milk. He asks if Stan knows anything about computers and Stan informs him Matthew will be there soon and perhaps be able to help. Henry then asks how the Beemans met, specifically “what did you say to her?” Stan asks if Henry ever talks about these things with his own father. Henry says Phillip is never home, and tells Stan about the canceled EPCOT plans. Stan lets him eat breakfast at his place and says he will drive him to school.

Elizabeth grows increasingly feverish, and dreams of her mother’s diphtheria illness when she was a teenager. William seems envious of the Jennings, telling Phillip “That’s nice, what you have,” because the job is incredibly difficult to do when you don’t have anyone to talk to about it “except a series of handlers who don’t give a shit.” William says nobody sane would do their job, but Phillip gestures towards Elizabeth and says “she would.” However, he admits that if given the choice, he’d “be normal.”

Gabriel and Elizabeth both begin to recover, although it’s determined Elizabeth never had Glanders but a severe reaction to the antibiotic. Her brush will illness makes Elizabeth realize Phillip was right: killing Pastor Tim and Alice is the wrong course of action. Phillip again proposes they return to the USSR; Elizabeth wants to work Tim and Alice instead.

When Phillip and Elizabeth return home, they take Paige and Henry bowling. Paige questions Elizabeth’s exceptional skill and asks if she was taught to bowl in Russia. Elizabeth replies in a Russian accent: “vital part of training,” and they both laugh.

Apparently back in the same cell she once shared with Evi, Nina stares at the empty bed with some regret, before rolling over and tracing the cracks in the wall with her fingertips, as she used to do. She falls asleep, dreaming she is pardoned, and given two airplane tickets for her and Anton to leave Russia. She is awoken by prison guards who inform her she’s being transferred. They pack her few belongings and march her out of her cell, down a long hallway and towards the exit. They suddenly stop before a small table where an official informs Nina that her appeal has been denied, and the sentence of death remains in effect, which, he says, "will be carried out … shortly.” One of the guards then shoots Nina in the back of the head. She collapses on the laminate floor, a pool of blood growing around her. The guards bring a burlap tarp, lift her body onto it, and carry her away.


  • William wears blue nitrile nonsterile gloves; however, these were not introduced until the mid 1990s.


Song Title Performer(s)
Misty Blue Dorothy Moore
Lucky Number Lene Lovich


The Americans 4x04 Promo "Chloramphenicol" (HD)

The Americans 4x04 Promo "Chloramphenicol" (HD)

Season Four
#401 "Glanders" #408 "The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears"
#402 "Pastor Tim" #409 "The Day After"
#403 "Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow" #410 "Munchkins"
#404 "Chloramphenicol" #411 "Dinner for Seven"
#405 "Clark's Place" #412 "A Roy Rogers in Franconia"
#406 "The Rat" #413 "Persona Non Grata"
#407 "Travel Agents"