The Day After is the ninth episode of Season Four of The Americans on FX, and the forty-eighth episode overall.

Synopsis Edit

The Day After premieres, making the stakes – and terrible consequences – of the Cold War plain. Even with that in mind, will Elizabeth be able to complete the painful process of the “Patty” operation?

Plot Edit

Phillip gives Paige a driving lesson. She tells him the committee for Pastor Tim’s Ethiopia trip Is having their last meeting, and it would look good if the whole family went. Paige says Pastor Tim likes seeing their family together because it makes him think they’re more normal.

Elizabeth as Patty spends time with Young-Hee who’s struggling with her mother-in-law’s trip back to Korea for a month, as she relies on her for child care and discipline. Patty tells her things are quiet at her home, and she’s enjoying that. “I don’t fight as much with my dad,” she says. Stan notices Phillip is substantially better on the racquetball court. Phillip chalks it up to sleeping better, because the travel agency let go of a few accounts, making things easier. “Some clients aren’t worth the hassle,” he says.

The Jennnings are confused when they get a signal from William, who usually works through Gabriel. With Hans and Elizabeth keeping watch, Phillip meets with William, who’s surprised to see him in disguise. “My source at the FBI is in Moscow,” Phillip explains, indicating they no longer know whether William’s being watched. William asks Phillip if he thinks “she’ll adapt,” but Phillip shrugs: “She’s alive. She’s free.” William tells him they have something new at Ft. Detrick: a modified strain of the Lassa virus that causes a hemorrhagic fever which liquefies your organs. William says it’s the worst thing he’s ever seen and he’s considering not telling The Center about it.

The Jennings and Beeman families gather to view “The Day After” television movie. As scenes from the program play, various other characters are also shown watching it: Arkady, William, Young-Hee and Don, Oleg and Tatiana (who are in bed together). The movie has a sobering effect on everyone. Oleg tells Tatiana his father said in that September, the Soviet launch detection system falsely registered nuclear missiles headed towards them. Because an officer correctly believed there was something wrong with the system and went against protocol, a nuclear war was averted over what turned out to be sunlight reflecting off the clouds.

Phillip tells Elizabeth that after watching the movie, he thinks maybe William’s right. Elizabeth disagrees, saying “they are making that poison for us, to destroy us.” She offers to babysit the Seong’s three children while they spend a night away. Digging through their house extensively for anything she can use against Don, Elizabeth finds nothing. Discouraged, she tells Phillip, who suggests they find another way in besides sexual entrapment. Elizabeth sighs: “We’ve been over this.” Phillip tells her it’s not because of the way he feels, but because of how she does. He knows she enjoys her friendship with Young-Hee, which this will force her to give up.

Phillip meets with William and tells him they’re going to proceed. He asks why William told him about the new sample, if he didn’t want anyone to know. William says going against The Center is “a big decision to make on your own.”

Elizabeth as Patty phones Young-Hee from a restaurant, knowing she will not be home. She talks to Don, inventing a story about being stranded; he agrees to give her a ride home. She is then able to convince him to come into her apartment to move a piece of heavy furniture. Patty asks for Don’s opinion on some expensive wine she’s supposedly purchased for her brother’s birthday. She slips a sedative into his glass; as they sit drinking and talking, he rebuffs her advances and tries to leave, but is unable to stand up, and then collapses on the floor. Elizabeth drags his unresponsive body into bed, undresses him, and slides naked into the bed beside him. When Don awakes, he assumes he’s had sex with her. He apologizes, horrified, dresses hurriedly and leaves.

Phillip goes with Paige to Pastor Tim’s meeting. In a private conversation, Pastor Tim tells Phillip Paige seems sad and burdened. He wants to sit down with him, Elizabeth and Paige once he’s back from Ethiopia “just to see where we’re all at.” Back at home, Paige shares with Phillip her stress over trying to get all her homework done while still attending so many church functions. To cheer her up, Phillip offers another driving lesson, this time in his beloved Camaro.

Later than night, Elizabeth comes home, and sits despondent on her bed upstairs. Phillip joins her, holding her hand. “I’m going to miss her,” she cries.

Notes Edit

  • The episode is named after the TV movie that premiered on ABC on November 20, 1983.
  • On September 26, 1983, Soviet officer Stanislav Petrov disobeyed orders and declined to tell his superiors about what appeared on radar to be five incoming missiles from the US, which, as Oleg describes, turned out to be reflections from a cloud.


Song Title Performer(s)
Winter Kills Yaz
Major Tom Peter Schilling


The Americans 4x09 Promo "The Day After" (HD)

The Americans 4x09 Promo "The Day After" (HD)

Season Four
#401 "Glanders" #408 "The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears"
#402 "Pastor Tim" #409 "The Day After"
#403 "Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow" #410 "Munchkins"
#404 "Chloramphenicol" #411 "Dinner for Seven"
#405 "Clark's Place" #412 "A Roy Rogers in Franconia"
#406 "The Rat" #413 "Persona Non Grata"
#407 "Travel Agents"