In Control is the fourth episode of Season One of The Americans on FX, and the fourth episode overall.


After President Reagan is nearly assassinated events quickly start to spin out of control. The FBI wonders if the KGB is somehow behind it; the KGB worry that they will be blamed for it and possibly result in war.

Plot Edit

A visibly happier Phillip 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.

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.

Posing as representatives from the Vice-President's office, the Jennings question one of Reagan's nurses (who is confident he will survive). They then learn they are now to mark key U.S. officials for future sniper hits. Phillip expresses frustration that the Soviets are overreacting, and reminds Elizabeth of the dangers of unnecessary escalation. He and Elizabeth argue after listening to a garbled recording from Weinberger's study. Elizabeth believes (as does Nina) that US Secretary of State Alexander Haig is planning a coup, and may have the launch codes to the country's nuclear arsenal. Elizabeth wants to inform the Centre, but Phillip 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 are just as much about lies and deceit as anyone, but Phillip 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."

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. Phillip 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 Phillip 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.

Notes Edit

  • 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.


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

Videos Edit

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"