Mutally Assured Destruction is the eighth episode of Season One of The Americans on FX, and the eighth episode overall.

Synopsis Edit

A German assassin has been ordered to kill American scientists involved in the ABM program. After the mission is aborted, Phillip and Elizabeth must stop him and prevent a possible war, without having any idea of his identity.

Plot Edit

Phillip returns home from playing racquetball with Stan to be told by Elizabeth that they have a new mission: stopping a contract assassin who has been hired by the KGB to kill American scientists. The KGB has apparently thought the better of their plan, decided to reverse course, and been unable to contact the killer. Phillip and Elizabeth flirt with each other and exchange affections, indicating things are going well between them.

To buy time while the Jennings attempt to determine the assassin's identity, they spur the US to increase protection for its top scientists. This is accomplished by planting a bomb in a scientist's car in such a way that he and his wife are unharmed, but the threat on their lives is taken seriously. The FBI responds by moving several scientists to safe houses. Gaad's staff also begin to comb through records of recently admitted foreign nationals, trying to determine who is responsible for the explosion.

Elizabeth meets with Claudia who tells her the contractor is from West Germany, and gives her the name of a weapons dealer he is likely to do business with. She also tells Elizabeth Phillip slept with Irina while in New York City and that "if you start to think of your marriage as real, it doesn't work." Elizabeth, who has remained hostile towards Claudia since the Jennings' abduction, replies that she suspects Claudia has ulterior motives for telling her this. The Jennings visit the weapons dealer, who ultimately gives them a picture of the man they're looking for. The assassin is then shown to have already tracked at least one of the scientists, and is surveilling his safe house, keeping a list of the bodyguards, and what time each arrives and departs.

"Clark" makes out with Martha at her apartment. When he tries to press her about work, she reacts negatively and Phillip realizes that he will need to give her more in order to gain her cooperation. They have sex for the first time, using a condom Martha has left over from her last boyfriend (presumably Amador). After they finish, Martha is indeed receptive to listening to Clark/Phillip's purported work troubles, and tells him she can get him anything Agent Gaad has.

Previously, Stan approached Gaad, asking when the right time was to extract a source. Although Gaad replied "never," he sympathizes with Stan's concerns for Nina's safety. Gaad gives Stan the keys to a safe house; Nina and Stan begin to use it as their love nest. Nina tells Stan he thinks like a cop, whose first instinct is to lock everyone up in jail. She contrasts this with the mindset of a spy, who wants "everyone to stay, right where they are, and bleed everything they know out of them, forever."

Over dinner at the Beemans, Phillip is puzzled by Elizabeth's sudden hostility towards him. Back home, she says Claudia told her he slept with Irina. Phillip sincerely apologizes for lying to her about it, saying "I didn't know what to say, because I didn't want to lose you." He says he loves her and knows it was a terrible mistake. He asks if they can start over, but Elizabeth refuses, saying "No. We can do our jobs. We can fulfill our mission, the reason we were brought together and sent to America. But we cannot do this. We will never do this."

Martha is shown making photocopies of documents at work, presumably to give to Clark. Amador startles her and says he has been thinking about her since they broke up. He asks her out and she turns him down. He becomes jealous at the thought of her with someone else, and starts to surveil her house. Clark visits Martha, who has prepared a romantic candlelight dinner. As they have sex, Elizabeth's heart-shaped necklace that Clark gave to Martha dangles in his face. He stops abruptly and removes it. Later, Martha gives him what she had photocopied: pictures of "all suspicious foreign nationals who have come through immigration in the last week, correlated with where they're staying."

At home, Phillip and Elizabeth examine Martha's documents, identifying someone who matches the photo given to them by the weapons dealer. They surprise the contractor at his hotel room and in the scuffle, he activates a small explosive device, which Elizabeth throws into the bathroom. It detonates, killing the assassin. The Jennings mistakenly assume his death means they have successfully completed their mission. Unfortunately, the assassin had already bribed a prostitute to distract Agent Milbank while he planted a an explosive device in his radio. It detonates as he reaches the safe house, killing the scientist and two other FBI agents. Agent Gaad vows vengeance, and the Jennings are demoralized, with Elizabeth calling it "our worst failure in fifteen years."

Elizabeth feels they failed partly because she was emotional, and tells Phillip during the mission her mind was somewhere else: "on us." She then says they have to "stop this. We were never married. We had an arrangement. And it worked." Phillip replies that when they first came to the US, they had to be married, to fit in, for their cover. He believes things are different now. He points out that the US is a very modern country and postulates that if Elizabeth doesn't want to be married to him, The Center would not care.


Song Title Performer(s)
Siamese Twins The Cure
Love Will Find a Way Pablo Cruise
Trouble Blues McKinley Mitchell


The Americans 1x08 Promo 'Mutually Assured Destruction' HD)

The Americans 1x08 Promo 'Mutually Assured Destruction' 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"