Successful KGB Operation to Discredit an Anti-Soviet Polish Priest Portrayed on FX’s ‘The Americans’

Another episode airs tonight of FX’s The Americans. Last week, the historic drama set in 1981, portrayed a successful KGB effort to discredit a Polish priest, who is leading an anti-Soviet liberation movement, by smearing him as a rapist during his visit to New York City. (“The Reagan administration doesn’t want a rapist leading the movement to push the Soviets out of Poland.”)

The March 13 installment of the series also featured an actual real-life clip of President Ronald Reagan hailing the people of Poland: “We, the people of the free world, stand as one with our Polish brothers and sisters.”

The Americans is centered around husband and wife KGB undercover agents (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as “Philip and Elizabeth Jennings”) who live with their kids as ordinary Americans in suburban Washington, DC when Reagan becomes President.

(The Americans runs Wednesday nights at 10 PM EDT/PDT on FX, with an immediate re-run afterward. After a week off next week, it will resume on April 3.)

In this episode, in late December of 1981 “Philip” leaves his wife behind and travels to New York City to run the operation with “Ann,” another Westernized KGB agent with whom he was in love in the Soviet Union before being assigned to the United States twenty years earlier.

Five scenes, totaling three minutes, in the accompanying video with excerpts from the March 13 episode:

First scene: While “Philip” is in a Manhattan hotel room preparing to go out to mug the Polish dissident, “Andrei,” who is walking outdoors with “Ann,” the KGB operative pretending to be a Canadien woman of Polish heritage, a real clip of President Ronald Reagan plays on the TV (from Reagan’s Wednesday, December 23, 1981 prime time address):

When 19th-century Polish patriots rose against foreign oppressors, their rallying cry was: “For our freedom and yours.” Well, that motto still rings true in our time. There is a spirit of solidarity abroad in the world tonight that no physical force can crush. It crosses national boundaries and enters into the hearts of men and women everywhere. We, the people of the free world, stand as one with our Polish brothers and sisters.

Second scene: “Philip” repeatedly smacks “Ann” in the face so they can take pictures to show injuries they will blame on the Polish priest whom she earlier drugged so he passes out in his hotel room.

Third scene: “Charles Duluth” of the “Conservative Statesman” magazine, who is really a KGB operative (or at least some sort of double-agent), bursts into the hotel room of the Polish liberation leader to confront him with photos to prove he beat up and raped the Canadien woman who, unknown to “Andrei,” is a KGB agent. Duluth despairs: “You’ve jeopardized the entire movement for a free and independent Eastern Europe!” The show then cuts to “Ann,” sitting on a park bench, regretting what she did, telling Philip: “Andrei is a good man and we destroyed him.”

Fourth scene: As “Ann” is at a train station, she watches a TV and hears “Andrei” announce: “I’m stepping aside from the Polish Liberation Movement to tend to my personal and spiritual life. I will no longer attempt to form a government in exile.”

Fifth scene: Back home in suburban Washington, DC, “Elizabeth” asks Philip “how’d it go?” He replies that Andrei is “finished” since “the Reagan administration doesn’t want a rapist leading the movement to push the Soviets out of Poland.” Elizabeth then affirms: “Right, they’re afraid if the KGB found out they’d use it against them.”

My previous posts on FX’s The Americans:

> ‘Conservative’ Journalist on Reagan: ‘I Hope the Bastard Bleeds to Death on the Operating Table

> FX’s ‘The Americans’ Imagines Moment When Soviets Learned of Reagan’s Plan to Deploy SDI

> Three Scenes in FX’s ‘The Americans’ Which Should Hearten Conservatives

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center