Salang Pass, the name of this season’s fifth episode, is where a large group of Soviet troops were killed in a tunnel fire during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. It is not known exactly how many perished. Directed by Kevin Dowling and written by Stephen Schiff, this episode felt more focused on specific scenes than the last episode, even when it was jumping around to progress story lines.
When the show starts out, Martha and Clark are watching children play through a window at a foster agency. He lets her down in his own way by saying “We’re not buying any today” as if shopping for a puppy. In my opinion, the fact that they are there means that Martha is going to adopt with or without Clark’s approval. If it’s something they agree on, it could further solidify Martha’s commitment and willingness to take risky actions in the FBI offices.
Later on comes the connection to the episode’s name when Philip listens to the radio, catching up on the Afghan war. He and Elizabeth are both upset about the war knowing that their successes and failures immediately impact the lives of their comrades in Afghanistan. After briefly talking about Martha and Clark’s visit to the foster center, they take a moment to reflect on Henry and specifically Paige learning how to walk. Elizabeth remembers her as weak and always falling down, however Philip thought she was graceful. This shows the different relationships they have with Paige, again where one parent wants her to be stronger and the other parent wants to protect her.
Kimmy and Jim meet up at what seems to be a high school bonfire. Some fellow students notice the two of them and their obvious age difference. Jim finds out that Kimberley is only 15 and is upset that they are seen together. He tells her how weird it is to other people and if they’re going to hang out it needs to be in private. She suggests he visits her while her parents are out for the night. Later on Philip receives weed from Gabriel and goes to Kimmy’s house. While they smoke Kimberley talks about her ‘real’ Mom, her distant step mother and the relationship she use to have with her father. It’s obvious now that Kimmy is looking for a father figure and is attracted to older men because of it. It seems like while she’s talking about her dad and how no one is ever around Philip starts thinking about Paige and how often he and Elizabeth are absent from Paige and Henry’s lives. Once Kimberley is fully ripped Jim heads up to her father’s office to take pictures of his belongings and figure out where he will place a bug. When he returns to her Jim finds Kimberley asleep, so he carries her to her room. As he lays her down she wakes up and kisses him. Almost simultaneously her parents arrive home and Jim has to run out the back door.
After showing up “off the wagon” at Lisa’s house in the last episode, Michelle gets Lisa into her “mother’s house” which happens to be closer to another location of Northrop, the company Lisa works for. She has her kids, is living comfortably and does not miss her husband, Maurice. Lisa is just waiting for a position to open up at the second location so that she can transfer her job. After hearing this, Elizabeth finds an expendable employee who works in Lisa’s field at the second Northrop. She sees an opportunity to get rid of him and after kicking out supports holding up the car that the employee is working under, she successfully created an opening for Lisa. Michelle and Lisa celebrate her transfer and Michelle tells her about a guy that gives Michelle money for information about her job. Planting the seed.
After Stan tried to recruit Oleg in getting evidence against Zinaida, Oleg pokes Tatiana at the Rezidentura for information about the possibility of double agents. She has almost no reaction which makes it seem as though she honestly knows nothing. Oleg meets up with Stan and tells him there is no evidence against Zinaida. They both want to help Nina but it’s up to Oleg to possibly betray a fellow comrade who may not be a defector. However, in the teaser for next weeks episode, it seems as though Nina might be working to her own benefit faster than those interested in helping her.
Finally, at the end of the episode, Philip and Elizabeth are discussing his progress with Kimberley. She realizes that this part of the job, seducing a girl close in age to Paige, is taking a toll on him and suggests that this part of their training was probably different for men. Philip remembers having multiple partners and tells her that he was taught how to “make it real” with them. Elizabeth asks if he makes it real with her and he’s honest, saying sometimes, but not now. It’s a tender moment between them at a time when there is so much tension in their relationship.