The Midges is the third episode of Season Five of The Americans on FX, and the fifty-fifth episode overall.


Philip and Elizabeth tell Paige more about the family business, but pressing new questions arise when an operation takes a ghastly and unexpected turn. Meanwhile, a sensitive package jeopardizes Oleg’s life back home.


The Eckert and Morozov families go bowling. When the Morzovs argue in Russian, the Jennings learn Alexei didn’t tell Pasha and Evgheniya he was planning to defect; he put his family in a car one day, and the CIA took them out of the country. Without a trace of irony, Elizabeth later asks Phillip “How could somebody do something like that?” Phillip proposes they tell Paige about their current operation, hoping that something as critical as preventing people from starving will make Matthew seem “less important.”

In Russia, Oleg visits a grocery store that’s unusually well-stocked (although it’s barren compared to a market in the US). He speaks with the department manager, who denies any special arrangements with the baza to send her better food than other stores. She claims not to know the name of her liaison there. Oleg declines her offer of a sack of tangerines he’d admired. On his way out, the camera shows a woman picking through meager offerings on a shelf; it’s Martha Hanson.

Stan and Dennis grow increasingly frustrated as they unsuccessfully approach various Russians living in the US as potential sources, such as an Aeroflot pilot, and a man who works with Amtorg.

Gabriel tells the Jennings the insect sample Elizabeth gathered from the Illinois greenhouse is a type of midge, never seen outside of Australia, which decimates grain. The Rezidentura in Canberra found customs documents for the midges to be sent to an address in Oklahoma; the Jennings don disguises and make a trip there.

Using the technique taught to her by her parents, Paige is able to lie successfully to Matthew when he asks why she’s so tense. Later, Paige tells Elizabeth she was surprised how easy it was, but that it felt “gross,” and she doesn’t want to be “fake” with her boyfriends for the rest of her life. Elizabeth tells her being in a relationship is complicated, and everybody holds back the information they need to.

In Yugoslavia, Mischa visits the home of the contact his mother provided, only to find that person has been jailed. A man named Vaso offers to take him across the border into Austria for a ridiculous fee, and Mischa accepts, feeling he has no other options.

In Russia, a CIA agent approaches Oleg as he walks home, stating that Oleg missed their meeting, and slipping a package into his pocket. Later, Oleg finds the package contains a cassette tape, which he listens to, discovering Stan recorded their meeting when he revealed Zinaida was a spy.

In Oklahoma, Phillip tells Elizabeth “all this land” reminds him of home, and he wonders why the Soviets can’t grow enough food to feed themselves. Later that night, Marilyn and Norm keep watch while Phillip and Elizabeth break into the entomology lab that received the Australian midge shipment. Elizabeth shines her flashlight into a large butterfly case, causing the insects to flutter around wildly. Getting a signal that someone is approaching, the Jennings hide as a man enters. He notices the butterflies are disturbed and begins to make a phone call, but Phillip stops him.

Thinking it's a robbery, he offers his wallet and car keys. Ultimately, in response to their questions and physical coercion, he gives them a Rolodex card with contact information for Agri-Corp, where the lab sends the eggs for the midges. The Jennings ask him what the bugs will be used for; when he says he doesn’t ask those kinds of questions, Elizabeth tells him he should have, and Phillip snaps his neck, killing him. After the Jennings clean up and stuff Randy into their trunk, Phillip says “Should we tell Paige about this?”


  • Oleg introduces himself to Ekaterina Rikova as working for the OBKhSS, or, the Department Against Misappropriation of Socialist Property (Russian: Отдел по борьбе с хищениями социалистической собственности, ОБХСС). The OBKhSS was the Soviet financial police, responsible for the regulation of economic laws, and combating theft of socialist property in the organizations and institutions of state commerce, consumer, industrial and individual co-operatives.
  • Amtorg Trading Corporation, or "Amtorg" (short for Amerikanskaia Torgovlia, Russian: Амторг), was the first trade representation of the Soviet Union in the United States. Amtorg occupied a unique position in the market as the single purchaser for a communist state. Even though it did not officially represent the Soviet government, it was controlled by the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade. Amtorg handled almost all exports from the USSR, comprising mostly lumber, furs, flax, bristles, and caviar, and all imports of raw materials and machinery for Soviet industry and agriculture. It also provided American companies with information about trade opportunities in the USSR and supplied Soviet industries with technical news and information about American companies.    


Song Title Performer(s)
More Than This Roxy Music
Old Flame Alabama


The Americans 5x03 Promo "The Midges" (HD) Season 5 Episode 3 Promo

The Americans 5x03 Promo "The Midges" (HD) Season 5 Episode 3 Promo

Season Five
#501 "Amber Waves" #508 "Immersion"
#502 "Pests" #509 "IHOP"
#503 "The Midges" #510 "Darkroom"
#504 "What's the Matter with Kansas?" #511 "Dyatkovo"
#505 "Lotus 1-2-3" #512 "The World Council of Churches"
#506 "Crossbreed" #513 "The Soviet Division"
#507 "The Committee on Human Rights"