There’s so much food chat in Urban Transport Planning that was I was tempted to call this recap Puckett and Pizza. Puckett after the Minnesota Twins great and pizza after, uh. the doughy delicacy. Glenn the arms control dude is a huge Kirby fan and his Twins were headed to a world’s championship in 1987. Other cuisines mentioned included Chinese and Russian but we’ll get to that after the spoiler break. Hint: the dishes involved are neither chow mein nor borscht. Here’s Puckett without pizza:
Glasnost era tensions continue to fill the Jennings ranch house. Philip is pro-Gorbachev whereas Elizabeth is the hard liner’s hard liner. They bicker about what people think back, back, back in the USSR until they realize the absurdity of the argument since neither has been home in 20 years. The key difference between them is that Philip likes being an American but Elizabeth hates it. It’s spy vs. spy, married couple edition.
A brief pre-spoiler break musical interlude. Macca live at Red Square in Moscow. Woo:
And yes, that *was* Putin in the crowd at the 15 second mark. Rock on, Vlad. Woo.
The episode begins with Elizabeth washing Gen. Renhull’s brains off her face while fuming about Paige. She continues to kid herself about Paige’s spy potential. In baseball terms, Paige is strictly a bush leaguer who will never hit above the Mendoza line. Philip recognizes this and tries to soothe his wife’s ire with the baby spy. It doesn’t work. Elizabeth has reverted to her season-one hardness. It’s what happens when one spies without a partner; something she warned Vietnamese kid Tuan about last season. He’s already Tuan gone…
Cooking With Claudia: There’s another Russian culture class at Claudia’s crib. This time the KGB-ettes cook zharkoye, which is a hearty carrot-beef stew. Peasant food according to Claudia. Elizabeth recalls her mother cooking huge pots of it and eating it for weeks. Spoiled American brat spy Paige is baffled: “didn’t you ever get tired of it?” She’s rewarded with baleful looks from Elizabeth and Claudia and sent on a sour cream mission.
I don’t know about you, but I liked it better when Elizabeth kicked Claudia’s ass in season-1 and forced her reassignment. They’re currently as thick as Russian thieves. Life goes on, brah.
Capitalism & Kung Po Chicken: Elizabeth brings home some of the carroty delicacy for Philip. He’s already eaten a full take-out container of Kung Po Chicken, which makes him a running dog of the Chi-com party or some such shit. (What’s a bit of stale Cold War rhetoric among friends?) He gamely eats some and praises it but his wife poutily throws it away. No Russian shit in their house. What if Stan comes over craving carrots? It could be an international incident.
Forced Asylum: Speaking of our favorite feeb, Stan feels beleaguered in this episode. TASS reporter chick Sophia informs him that she’s told another TASS dude about her sideline as a FBI informant. Stan is appalled, especially when she informs him, “I’m Soviet, we know how to keep secrets.” Yeah, right. She’s a regular commie chatterbox.
Like every other Soviet institution in 1987, TASS is honeycombed with KGB agents. Stan and Dennis (The Menace) Adderholt decide it’s time to bring Sophia and her estranged husband Gnaidy in from the cold. They ambush them with the stock defector speech: “I understand you want political asylum.”
Gnaidy is thrilled but Sophia resists until she realizes it’s a fait accompli when her dude on the side Bogdan says he’s calling the embassy. What does she see in a guy with a Stalin stache? There’s no accounting for taste. Of course, Gnaidy has Khrushchev hair…
Stan and Oleg have a rather grim meeting at the latter’s hotel room. Stan isn’t buying Oleg’s story about urban transport planning. Imagine that. They discuss Irina the gorgeous spy chick they both loved and betrayed. Stan warns Oleg that being in the USA without diplomatic cover could be hazardous to his health. Oleg shrugs it, and Stan, off.
Another One Bites The Dust: Elizabeth is on a killing spree. She kills some poor warehouse supervisor in a hotel room for no particular reason. The only reason I can think of is that it was a Dead Hand dead ender mission. Going rogue against Gorby is lethal; for others. It may prove to be so for Elizabeth who continues to feel doomed.
Philip is so alarmed by his interactions with his wife that he stops giving motivational speeches at the travel agency, puts on a disguise and meets Oleg in a park as the episode closes. This is some serious shit, y’all.
The lone rock song used in the episode comes from the Leonard Cohen songbook. It conveys a powerful sense of loss, which is why it was perfectly placed at the end of this fast paced episode.