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Each week we will be crowning a "Wig of the Week" from The Americans, FX's wonderful show about Russian spies who happen to wear a variety of insane wigs when doing their spy duties.

Wig(s) of the Week: The main event of the episode this week—or of any week, really—is quite obviously, not the wigs. In this episode the wigs and the act of covering up ones identity seem even less important to the overall story. This is an episode about leaving covers behind. The finale's striking revelation is that Emmett and Leanne were killed not by an American enemy, but by their own son, who was being trained by the Center and Kate as a second generation illegal against their wishes.  

Still, a revealing moment comes at the beginning of the episode when Philip and Elizabeth are in disguise. He wears his ponytail and mustache, while she wears a reddish, banged number, and as they wait for Fred Timbrook to return from his mission collecting a radar absorbent paint sample, they discuss their past. 

Why this wig: As Philip and Elizabeth wait for Timbrook to return, Philip brings up the subject of Paige, their daughter, who is currently on a trip with her church group to protest nuclear weapons. Elizabeth thinks back to when she was 14 and her mother had diphtheria. "I took care of her for 10 months, no one helped me, I went to school, I—" she says before stopping abruptly. Philip then also begins to talk about his childhood, when he would get jumped by gangs while getting milk. But before he can finish the story, he interrupted by the police scanner. Shots have been fired, and Philip and Elizabeth have to spring into action. Their frantic attempt to retrieve Fred and the information he collected is intercut with images of Paige at her protest, as Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone" plays. 

When I interviewed executive producer Joel Fields about the wigs earlier this year, he explained that "these characters, who are so uninvolved personally and so inarticulate about their own inner lives, are able in disguise to start to talk about themselves in ways that they never would without those disguises." This moment is a striking example of that. Only in disguise are they able to talk honestly about how their own experiences as children relate to their experiences parenting Paige. 

What to do with Paige will likely be the focus of the next season. After Philip and Elizabeth learn the truth about Jared, their old KGB supervisor Claudia comes to tell them that Paige is the next child the Center wants to turn. In Claudia's mind, Paige belongs to the Center, but Philip and Elizabeth are resistant. Philip even goes to Arkady to tell the organization to stay away from Paige if it does not have her parents' permission. But at home, later that night, Elizabeth questions whether or not turning Paige is such a bad idea. The entire season she's been frustrated with Paige, but also eager to share with her in the way that she shared with Philip in the car. If she rips off her ultimate disguise, the one she pulls off every day when caring for her children, she can liberate herself. 

Now, we just have to wait for next season.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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