Salang Pass is the fifth episode of Season Three of The Americans on FX, and the thirty-first episode overall.


Philip juggles the many women in his life; Elizabeth takes drastic measures to complete a mission.


Elizabeth/Michelle and Lisa meet; Michelle shares her mother has just been moved to a nursing home and has an empty house 50 miles away that Lisa can use to take a break from Maurice. Later, Lisa discovers there’s a Northrop plant just 10 miles from the home, and requests a job transfer. She tells Michelle that since she has security clearance, she’ll be at the top of the list for any opening. Elizabeth creates one by murdering a Northrop employee; Lisa is thrilled when she gets the job. She admires Michelle's expensive clothing and handbag; Michelle tells her about her new "friend Jack," who pays her to answer questions about her work at General Dynamics.

Yousaf prepares to go back to Pakistan and tells Phillip to leave him alone, now that he’s done what Phillip asked. He tells Phillip to consider carefully who the Russians are fighting – barbarians. He indicates that the religious zeal is spilling over into the Pakistani officers, who are “growing their beards.”

Stan eats dinner with the Jennings and friendly conversation turns awkward when Henry suddenly asks about Mrs. Beeman. Paige says she wants to buy a dress for her baptism; Phillip later takes Paige shopping and picks out an expensive one for her.

Phillip/Jim arranges to meet Kimberly but is annoyed to find it’s at a large gathering of high school students. She confesses she’s only 15 and begs him to stay, but he leaves, agreeing to meet her later in the month, when her parents are out of town.

Stan approaches Oleg with a proposal. He believes the defector Zinaida is not who she claims to be, but rather, a spy. If he can determine that’s true, maybe a prisoner exchange can be arranged for Nina. Oleg honestly doesn’t know, but he later approaches Tatiana trying to obtain information, learning nothing.

Stan hangs out with Phillip, drinking beer while confessing his attempts to get back with Sandra are not going well. Phillip asks about his relationship with Matthew; Stan says Matthew hates him. Stan tells Phillip he went away under cover for three years, and thought when he returned his son would be happy to see him, but implies their relationship has never been the same since. He says Tori called the FBI to ask him out.

Martha takes Clark to look at foster children. Despite himself, seeing them makes Phillip miss his own kids being little, and he later reminisces to Elizabeth about Paige and Henry’s younger years. He tells Elizabeth he almost thinks he could handle being a foster parent with Martha, but she shuts him down quickly by asking how things are going with Kimberly. She draws a comparison between Paige and Kimmy, who “has no idea her father’s in the CIA, and look how she wound up.” Phillip storms out, yelling “Don’t say it’s the same!”

Phillip meets with Gabriel, who gives him some strong Afghani pot. Phillip expresses his concerns about Kimberly, but Gabriel implies their relationship will need to ultimately become sexual: “There’s no other way to run it, long term.” When Phillip protests, Gabriel tells him “You have a conscience, Phillip, there’s nothing wrong with that. But conscience can be dangerous.”

Phillip/Jim smokes the pot with Kimmy on a balcony of her house. As she talks about her family and her relationship with her father, he is pained to hear echoes of similarity between her and Paige. Kimberly says her step mother is never there and “My dad? I don’t know where he is. You know, if you told me that he had another family somewhere, I would say 'Okay, yeah, great, that explains it.'” When she eventually passes out on the couch, Phillip enters her father’s study and photographs a jacket and his briefcase, taking measurements for the future placement of a bug. He picks Kimmy up off the couch and carries her to her bed. She wakes suddenly and kisses him, but stops when they hear doors slam outside. Her parents are unexpectedly home; Phillip quickly flees out the back door.

He comes home to find Elizabeth waiting up for him. As he gets undressed for bed, he asks her “Do you ever think about when we learned to do this?” She replies “No.” A series of flashbacks shows a young Phillip from behind, in training to have sex with multiple partners of various ages and both genders. He recalls: “They kept telling us we had to make it real to ourselves.” Elizabeth asks: “Is that what you do with Martha?” “I guess,” Phillip replies. Elizabeth asks: “How do you feel about Kimberly?” “I feel bad for Kimberly,” he says. “I haven’t slept with her, no. Should I sleep with her?” Elizabeth says she doesn’t know, but Phillip presses her: “No, honestly, I’m asking you.” “Honestly, I don’t know,” says Elizabeth. And then, “Do you have to make it real with me?”

“Sometimes,” says Phillip. “Not now.”


  • The Salang Pass is a major mountain pass connecting northern Afghanistan to Pakistan. On November 3, 1982, a huge fire in the tunnel killed a large, but unknown, number of Soviet troops. At the beginning of this episode, Phillip is shown listening to a BBC radio news report on the fire. However, this would place the timing of the episode ahead of several previous episodes (EST Men, Open House), which reference historical events (like the death of Leonid Brezhnev) that occurred after the Salang fire. See the Timeline of Historical Events for more information.


Song Title Performer(s)
I Ran (So Far Away) A Flock of Seagulls


The Americans - 3x05 Promo "Salang Pass" FX HD

The Americans - 3x05 Promo "Salang Pass" FX HD

Season Three
#301 "EST Men" #308 "Divestment"
#302 "Baggage" #309 "Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?"
#303 "Open House" #310 "Stingers"
#304 "Dimebag" #311 "One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov"
#305 "Salang Pass" #312 "I Am Abassin Zadran"
#306 "Born Again" #313 "March 8, 1983"
#307 "Walter Taffet"