"The Center was lucky to have you on the ground today." ― Elizabeth to Philip
In Control is the fourth episode of Season One of The Americans on FX, and the fourth episode overall.


When an assassin attempts to kill President Reagan, Philip and Elizabeth scramble to handle the fallout within the KGB. Meanwhile, Stan pressures Nina to find out if the KGB was responsible for the attempted assassination.


A visibly happier Philip and Elizabeth take the afternoon off work to spend a romantic afternoon together in a luxury hotel room. While there, they learn that President Ronald Reagan has been shot. Stan and Amador are practicing speaking Russian when they learn of the news. Both nations' agencies are eager to learn if the other is involved. Agent Gaad tells Stan that he needs to know if John Hinckley Jr. is working with the KGB, and pressures him to meet with a very reluctant Nina.

TA-1.4-5 FULL
You get to your girl.
Philip meets journalist Charles Duluth who provides them with the names of the nurses present during Reagan's surgery. James Brady is falsely declared dead by many news agencies, and Elizabeth is instructed by Claudia to prepare for Operation Christopher, a code name for Russian agents engaging in guerrilla warfare in the event of a coup. She also says that she does not believe that the KGB were behind the assassination attempt, but suspects the Americans will try to pin it on them anyway.

I hope the bastard bleeds to death.
In a flashback to 1953, Elizabeth watches as her mother refuses to be bribed by a suitor. Her mother tells her to only rely on herself. Elizabeth digs up a weapons cache from the woods while Philip calls the Clandestine call center and asks George to set up a call that appears to be coming from the Vice-President's office. (♫ Echo & the Bunnymen - Pictures on My Wall ♫) At the Beeman's, Paige and Matthew discuss the news cast.

S01E04-Liz weapons cache
I fought behind enemy lines.
Nina makes an excuse to leave the embassy to see Stan but Vasili has a staffer follow her. Posing as representatives from the Vice-President's office, the Jennings question one of Reagan's nurses, who is confident he will survive. Just before meeting Nina, Stan sees a suspicious car and walks past her. The Jennings are ordered to mark key U.S. officials for future sniper hits. Philip expresses frustration that the KGB is overreacting, and reminds Elizabeth of the dangers of unnecessary escalation. While staking out Caspar Weinberger's house, Elizabeth kills a security guard who catches them parked outside.

S01E04-Liz shoots guard
Elizabeth kills the guard.
Stan and Nina meet but she has no information if the KGB are behind the assassination attempt. Philip and Elizabeth argue after listening to a garbled recording from Weinberger's study. Elizabeth believes that US Secretary of State Alexander Haig is planning a coup, and may have the launch codes to the country's nuclear arsenal. She wants to inform the Centre, but Philip insists on further investigation. He tells her that after all these years of living among Americans, she still doesn't understand them. Elizabeth counters that Americans also lie. Philip reminds her that the last two times Russian leaders died, their government pretended they were still alive for weeks. He says "things are different here," and that "for once, we're going to do things my way."

S01E04-Nina and Stan
We're all running around like cut-off chickens.
They see Stan arrive home and drop by find out what he knows. He explains Hinckley's bizarre motivation for the assassination attempt, and says that the initial concern Soviets were involved was quickly refuted. Philip is shown sending a communique that Hinckley acted alone and the US won't blame Russia. As Stan and his wife grow farther apart, Philip and Elizabeth get closer. Elizabeth tells Philip she's glad they took his recommended course of action instead of hers, and that the Centre was "lucky to have him on the ground today." However, they both agree that their act of withholding the Haig intelligence, if discovered, could get them killed.

S01E04-Philip sends message
FBI Source confirms Hinckley acted alone.


  • The assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan took place outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981. The perpetrator John Hinckley Jr. carried out the attack in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster who he became infatuated with after seeing her in the 1976 movie "Taxi Driver." At his 1982 trial he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to St. Elizabeth's Hospital but was released in 2016 to be placed in the care of his mother. White House Press Secretary James Brady was also shot in the attack but survived with severe brain damage. He died in 2014 and a Virginian coroner ruled his death a homicide 33 years after the attack. (see Timeline of Historical Events)
  • During her initial conversation with Elizabeth, Claudia says she served behind enemy lines for two years at Stalingrad. However, the Battle of Stalingrad lasted less than six months (August 1942 to February 1943). Six years later, Claudia shows Paige a picture from the battle and points out that she was stationed inside Russian lines. ("The Great Patriotic War")
  • "Previously on The Americans" voice: Philip.


Song Title Performer(s)
Pictures On My Wall Echo & The Bunnymen


The Americans 1x04 Promo 'In Control' HD)

The Americans 1x04 Promo 'In Control' HD)

Season One
#101 "Pilot" #108 "Mutually Assured Destruction"
#102 "The Clock" #109 "Safe House"
#103 "Gregory" #110 "Only You"
#104 "In Control" #111 "Covert War"
#105 "COMINT" #112 "The Oath"
#106 "Trust Me" #113 "The Colonel"
#107 "Duty and Honor"
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