In the most recent episode of “The Americans,” entitled “Dyatkovo,” the two KGB spies are given what might be considered a dream assignment. They are tasked with tracking down and identifying a Nazi collaborator who has been living in the United States since soon after the end of World War II. After they have confirmed her identity, they are to terminate her with extreme prejudice. If there are anybody that both Soviets and Americans hate with equal passion, it is the Nazis. The mission, as it turns out, is not quite as satisfying as one would think.

Who is Natalie Granholm?

Natalie Granholm is an aging, semi-retired nurse who married her doctor husband when he was a medic with the United States Army while in Europe. She is a mom and a grandma, volunteering at the local free clinic, beloved by family and friends. She has lived the life of an American for the past 40 years and speaks English with only a slight accent from her Russian homeland.

What does Moscow think she is?

The KGB believes that Natalie is, in fact, a Nazi collaborator who was recruited by the invading Germans as a guard at a prison camp. She participated in the murder of almost a thousand Red Army prisoners. She only escaped capture because she was in a German hospital recovering from a venereal disease, the result of too much sex with Nazi Germans.

By every standard, she deserves death.

How does the mission transpire?

Philip’s and Elizabeth’s investigation consists of following Natalie on the street and comparing her to a decades-old photograph. Facial recognition software is in the future, so they cannot be sure that she is the person they are looking for. Nevertheless, Moscow, through its own digging through records, is now pretty sure that Natalie is the person they are looking for.

So the second part of the mission is authorized.

Looking at someone in the face when you kill them

Philip and Elizabeth confront Natalie after invading her middle-class home. At first, she gives tearful denials and seems convincing. Then Elizabeth reminds her that her husband will soon be home. Then Natalie changes her tune and confesses to everything.

But is she copping to being a war criminal to save her husband or is she really guilty?

As it turns out, the truth is a little bit of both. Natalie did do all the things that she was accused of. But she also saw her father, all the men, and boys of her town, and her mother murdered by the Germans. She was left to live to dig their mass grave. When she finally became part of the Nazi death machine, she was so numbed that she considered her body was doing what was done and not her.

Natalie and her husband begged for their lives, an older couple who loved each other and barely comprehended what was happening to them. When Elizabeth shot them both, they did not seem to be the monsters in the scene. Realizing this, Elizabeth announced on the way home that she was done with being a spy and all she wanted to do is to go home.