The most recent episode of “The Americans,” entitled “Darkroom” was proof that the series has become just as much about a peculiar kind of Child Abuse as it is about mid-1980s Cold War espionage. Paige, the daughter of the two deep cover KGB spies, has been quietly going insane from the stress of keeping the terrible secret that her parents have been keeping since before she was born.

We’ve already seen how protecting her parents has caused her to break up with that nice boy across the street who happens to be the son of an FBI counter intelligence agent.

Now Paige has taken the initiative to spying on her beloved spiritual mentor, Pastor Tim, and peaking at her diary. When she tells Philip and Elizabeth that Tim is concerned for state of her soul, they laugh it off, especially the militant atheist mom. But the two spies do decide that it may be time to entice Pastor Tim with a job doing good works far away from their daughter.

Paige escalates things by taking pictures of the diary and giving the film to her parents. Together they develop the film (remember this was an era before digital photography.) The assessment that reveals itself is far more searing than a preacher concerned about souls. Pastor Tim compares what Paige is going through unfavorably to sexual abuse.

One can just imagine what is going through the minds of Philip and Elizabeth, who genuinely love their daughter, when confronted with this.

The photography was not the only cry for help Paige is engaged in. She suggests to her parents that her brother Henry should be allowed to go to boarding school. The unspoken plea is, “It may be too late for me, but maybe not for him.” Henry lives in blissful ignorance of what his parents really do for a living.

Philip and Elizabeth are not above doing some overt child abuse when it’s for the good of the Soviet state. In order to motivate the wife of a Soviet defector to return to Russia, they arrange for her son to be subjected to a campaign of savage bullying at his high school. The unfortunate boy is suffering the torments of the damned.

The operation has at least two ways of going sideways from the point of view of the KGB.

Things could escalate to the point that a crime is committed, say an assault, which would involve the police and questions that could lead to some inconvenient answers, Or the boy could kill himself, not an unheard of reaction to being relentlessly bullied. Either way could be very bad.