"The president has signed top secret executive order 2579, authorizing the Federal Bureau of Investigation Counterintelligence office to take all necessary measures to neutralize Soviet directorate "S" sleeper-cell agents in the continental United States. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to war." ― Deputy Attorney GeneralPilot is the first episode of Season One of The Americans on FX, and the premiere episode of the entire series.
Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are two seemingly normal Americans who are really undercover KGB agents. After kidnapping a Soviet defector they discover their new neighbor is an FBI agent assigned to their case.
|In early 1981, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are deep cover Soviet intelligence agents from the KGB's secretive Directorate S, operating in Washington, D.C. Elizabeth, dressed as a prostitute and wearing a recording device, meets a Department of Justice bureaucrat, David Sepsill, at a bar and takes him to a hotel room, where she seduces him for information. (♫ Quarterflash - Harden My Heart ♫)
|Three days later, Philip and another Directorate S officer, Robert McKenzie, are surveilling a KGB defector named Nikolai Tmoshev. When the latter realizes he is being tailed, he flees with Philip and Robert in pursuit. (♫ Fleetwood Mac - Tusk ♫) Timoshev stabs Rob and fights with Philip. Elizabeth catches up to them in a car; the Jennings put both injured men in. Philip and Elizabeth argue briefly about whether to bring Robert to the hospital, with Elizabeth urging that the mission, not Robert's survival, must take priority. Philip drives to the hospital anyway, leaving Robert, and then speeds off to a pier. They arrive in time to watch the boat meant to transfer Timoshev back to the USSR sail away. The Jennings return home with Timoshev bound and gagged in the trunk of their car, and park it in their garage.
|Elizabeth and Philip have an alternate life as a happily married couple working together at Dupont Circle Travel Agency. They live in the D.C. suburb of Falls Church, VA, with their two children, Paige and Henry, who do not know their secret. In a flashback, Elizabeth is shown as a young woman in the USSR, practising training until Timoshev takes over. He then proceeds to rape her. Back in the present, former deep cover and newly transferred FBI agent Stan Beeman meets a colleague in counter-intelligence (CI), Chris Amador. They arrive for a training session at work entitled "KGB Activities in America: The Current Threat." Their supervisor, Agent Mark Bartholomew, tells them that the scheduled lecturer, Nikolai Timoshev, has not shown up.
|Philip, posing as "Clark Westerfeld", visits the home of Martha Hanson, who is the secretary to the FBI counterintelligence director. Clark pretends to work in a government office responsible for monitoring the various intelligence agencies. Martha reveals that the FBI have a description of a car and license plate number used to kidnap Timoshev by two men and a woman.
|After Philip returns home, he listens to the recording Elizabeth made while having sex with Sepsill. He is visibly pained hearing Elizabeth aggressively pleasure the man, and continues to torture himself by listening to her orgasm. Philip locks the tape away with the rest of their disguises and goes upstairs to tell Elizabeth what Martha has said. Both worry their cover has been blown. Philip takes Paige shopping where he embarrasses her by trying on cowboy boots and practising line dancing. (♫ Juice Newton - Queen of Hearts ♫) She's leered at by Errol Bengoster who is defiant when Philip intervenes.
|Meanwhile, Stan, his wife Sandra and son Matthew have moved in across the street from the Jennings. The Jennings family introduce themselves and Stan tells them he works in CI for the FBI. Paige is smitten with Matthew. Elizabeth see this as a coincidence but it rattles Philip. They disagree on what to do with Timochev, Elizabeth wants to kill him but Philip thinks this would be a mistake if the FBI is on to them. He proposes defection, at first as a joke, but then in a later conversation, more seriously. Philip argues they could get millions of dollars for turning in Timochev, using the money to escape their current situation and live a normal family life.
|Philip says America is not so bad, it has great food and electricity that works all the time. When Elizabeth realizes he is not kidding, she is appalled and disgusted, and questions his prioritizing family and comfort over the cause. She asks him what they would tell Paige and Henry. When Philip replies "the truth," Elizabeth slaps him and says that if their children ever found out their lives had been a lie, they would never speak to them again. She also reminds him that they have both sworn to never tell their children about what they do, or involve them in their operations.
|Several flashbacks show the awkwardness of Philip and Elizabeth's initial encounters, meeting for the first time and being given their mission by General Viktor Zhukov, arriving in the States and adjusting, and Elizabeth rebuffing Philip's attempts at intimacy. Philip accepts her rejection, postulating that perhaps she does not find him attractive, although he reminds her that they will be expected to produce children eventually. Back in the present, Philip learns that Rob has died from his injuries.
|Philip attends a ceremony with Henry at his school lauding an American astronaut. Philip decides to hand Timochev over to Stan but when he discerns that Timochev "hurt" Elizabeth in the past, he becomes angry and kills him instead. The Jennings dump the body in the Potomac River after dousing it in acid. Back in their car, Elizabeth initiates sex before they return home, seeing that Philip's chosen her and their country over betrayal. (♫ Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight ♫) Soon after their encounter, Philip dons a disguise and visits Bengoster while he's barbequing in his back yard. He nearly kills him with a barbecue fork and warns him to stay away from "little girls." (♫ April Wine - Roller ♫)
|Elizabeth meets with General Zhukov, who is concerned due to their string of recent failures, the missed handoff of Timochev, his and Rob's deaths. Zhukov then mentions that Elizabeth has reported doubts about Philip several times over the years, and asks her directly if he can be trusted. Elizabeth says yes, and that she had been wrong about him in the past. She takes all the blame for their mistakes when Zhukov asks if they were Philip's fault. He tells her orders are going to change soon, and risks will be increased. Elizabeth later tells Philip that things are going to get more dangerous. When he tries to reassure her, she tells him for the first time where she was born, a little bit about her parents, and that her real name is Nadezhda.
|In response to Timochev's disappearance, President Ronald Reagan issues a top secret executive order authorizing the FBI to use whatever means necessary to neutralize Soviet agents operating within the United States. Stan becomes suspicious when he learns that a car similar to Philip's was seen near the site of Timochev's abduction. He sneaks into the Jennings' garage at night and inspects the license plate and trunk, unaware that Philip is hiding with a gun behind shelving. Stan finds nothing, he feels foolish about his actions and leaves.
- During the operation to capture Timoshev, Philip mentions to Rob that the Washington Capitals are playing at the Los Angeles Kings that night. This game was played on Saturday, February 7, 1981 and ended in a 4–4 tie. Hence, Elizabeth's encounter at the bar with the Department of Justice bureaucrat, David Sepsill, which opens the series, is on Wednesday, February 4, 1981. (see Timeline of Historical Events)
- While shopping with Paige, Philip buys a pair of cowboy boots. These would be seen throughout the series. Posing as "James", Philip would wear them whenever meeting with Kimberly Breland. He also wears them for line dancing nights with the staff of Dupont Circle Travel. ("Dead Hand") ("Mr. and Mrs. Teacup")
- Thomas P. Stafford was an American pilot and astronaut who flew on Gemini 6A, Gemini 9A, commanded Apollo 10 and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.
- Elizabeth tells Philip she was two when her father died in the battle of Stalingrad, which occurred from Aug 1942 to Feb 1943, meaning she was born in late 1940 or early 1941. In a flashback, they are both seen arriving in the USA in Aug 1965. However, this does not corroborate with statements Elizabeth makes weeks later, such as being 22 when she arrived in the US. ("Gregory")
|Harden My Heart||Quarterflash|
|Queen of Hearts||Juice Newton|
|In the Air Tonight||Phil Collins|
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