Who Are The "EST Men" on 'The Americans'?

When it comes to FX's Cold War thriller, gleaning details about what to expect from the upcoming Americans Season 3 premiere can be as hard as stealing a floppy disk from the FBI. We know that the main thrust of the season will concern Philip and Elizabeth Jennings' decision whether or not to recruit their daughter to Russia's cause, thanks to that doozy of a cliffhanger. But within that overarching plot there's bound to be as much deceit, deception, and disguises as ever. Who's going to double-cross who? Who will survive the tangled web the Jennings weave to make it till Season 4? The Americans season premiere title "EST Men" might just help unravel some clues.

I'll admit I have no idea what's coming — but that won't stop me from looking for clues wherever I can find them. And that title is one of the most intriguing clues that's available to us right now. What the heck does this mean? Let's see if the episode summary can shed any light on what these titular males are:

Tensions simmer between Philip and Elizabeth as they disagree over handling orders from the Centre. When Elizabeth loses key intel, Philip enlists Annelise on a mission with an unexpected outcome. Stan tries a new approach to mending his marriage with Sandra amidst learning tough news about Nina.

Helpful? Not really, at least when it comes to the EST men — although we do know that Philip's informant Annelise (Gillian Alexy, Damages) will be resurfacing after he seduced to her to take pictures of the Defense Secretary's office in the Season 1 episode "The Clock" and recruited her to extract information from a Pakistani agent in the Season 2 episode "Yousaf."

So what is an EST man? The phrase most commonly described by that acronym is Eastern Standard Time — and, sure, most of The Americans takes place in Washington, D.C., which is in the Eastern time zone. But I don't think that's quite what the episode title is getting at. "Est." is also an abbreviation for "established"... and a quick Google search informed me that "Established Men" and variations on that phrase are common names of escort websites. (Google at your own peril, kids.)

So will escorts figure into whatever mission the Jennings will embark on in the Season 3 premiere? The possibility doesn't seem like that big of a stretch to me. Might Philip be enlisting Annelise to go undercover as an escort to acquire some key piece of intel?

One last idea... and this one is a bit of a stretch, admittedly. "Est man" could be a half-translated abbreviation of the Latin phrase "lupus est homo homini." This particular phrase is an excerpt of a larger passage from Roman playwright Plautus's Asinaria , which reads:

Lupus est homo homini, non homo, quom qualis sit non novit.

This translates to:

One man to another is a wolf, not a man, when he doesn't know what sort he is.

More figuratively, what Plautus is speaking to are the atrocities that people are capable of inflicting on each other when they don't truly know one another. And if one thing is certain on The Americans, it's that nobody knows who anyone is. Every character on the show is constantly pretending to be someone else... and this deceit has led to countless horrors. How many more horrors must be wrought before The Americans comes to an end? Will anyone be able to break the cycle of violence by actually making an effort to get to know their enemy as a human being?

Images: Michael Parmelee/FX; Giphy.com