The Americans: Persona Non Grata
June 9, 2016 6:08 AM - Season 4, Episode 13 - Subscribe

In the season four finale, William faces a legal and medical emergency. Paige gets further involved with Matthew and the spy trade. Mischa Jr. receives indirect help from his father and a gift from his mother. Oleg decides on a move, Arkady has his next move decided for him, and Elizabeth and Philip consider early retirement. The Washington Redskins lose the 1984 Superbowl 38-9.
posted by orange swan (44 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I guess it's in keeping with the generally understated tone of the show, but that didn't feel like a season finale at all, except for the sudden and overly bombastic end to William's story, which kind of felt tacked on, like the writers felt they needed some exciting flourish for *someone*, at least. Mostly it felt like just another episode, which is fine by me.

Not sure how I feel about the arc of this season; it felt a bit more....formless or something, like there was some drive missing compared to previous seasons. Probably just me missing Martha too much.
posted by mediareport at 7:59 AM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Mischa, Jr.: If a character’s existence offscreen has been an important plot point, do you have to do something with him? Guess that makes him Chekhov’s son.

Feels like a housecleaning of “older” characters to introduce Jennings: The Next Gen. I’m fine with Paige (and Henry) being sucked more into this story. But mixed feelings about Phil’s oldest boy.

They sure seem to be pointing Paige towards life in the family biz. (With Matthew, and Mom can you teach me a little of that “self-defense” you do so well!) That’s interesting until you step back and think, OMG isn’t letting your kid become a spy for “the enemy” kind of child abuse? The actor who plays Paige joked on twitter about having to learn tae kwan do and Russian. But I’m not so sure Paige won’t be kicking butt and then ending up in the USSR herself someday.

Oh, William. That was both gross and incredibly sad.

Recently I was wondering why they weren’t using Arkady more – I really like him. Now I know – they’re dumping him? (Unless we’re going to see more stuff set in Russia which I wouldn’t mind at all. Come to think of it, Arkady, are you married? Straight? Cos I might know a smart, nice American woman in Moscow for ya.)
posted by NorthernLite at 8:46 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

A white-knuckle ending to a season filled with almost unbearably intense slow burns. That final shot of the house (see the face?) was stunning.
posted by Kinbote at 8:48 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anyone else think it was Phillip's son for a second when they cut to Henry watching the end of the Super Bowl?
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:59 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Recently I was wondering why they weren’t using Arkady more – I really like him. Now I know – they’re dumping him?

Yeah, it sure seems that way, doesn't it? Unless, they do a switcheroo and Arkady is appointed head of the Residentura.

Not sure about the sudden appearance of Phil's son. Based on what they're implying about next season, I find it questionable that a person who was being held in an asylum for acts against the state, will be able to simply head to the US, no matter how much cash and fake passports Grandma stuffed-away for him. Surely he's being watched.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:27 AM on June 9, 2016

But, I really did think "That's it???" at the end. It came off feeling like a "We wrote this before we knew we were being renewed" episode. I don't think they're going to relocate to Russia. They might, however, move to a new city, though I doubt that, too.

If Philip stays true to his mandate that Paige stay away from Matthew, that might work to turn Paige away from the family business.

Gabriel was so pathetically sad in his discussion with Liz and Phil, saying that they'll be welcomed home as heroes, still clinging to the trappings of the glorious past. I think Liz and Phil know better, and they both have real doubts about going home. "Can you see them living there?" Philip asks Elizabeth, referring to their children. In the end, it's their family that matters most.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:04 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm only partway through, but I had to pause the DVR to say --

Best line of the episode, and probably of the entire season: "Would you like a Coke?"

Seriously, I think the force of my LOLs may have liquefied several organs. Aderholt, you are my hero. Now back to poor doomed William.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:01 PM on June 9, 2016 [11 favorites]

Prediction for next season: hijinks ensue when Paige falls for her older half-brother...
posted by Sublimity at 1:55 PM on June 9, 2016

Best line of the episode, and probably of the entire season: "Would you like a Coke?"

In a pretty grim episode, that was a great moment of humor. I also loved Stan's delight at Matthew and Paige fooling around on his couch. I think that's why I still love Stan: he really loves the whole Jennings family. He leapt immediately to marrying them off!

Speaking of family, I was never really sure that Mischa was a real person, or if he was an invention to keep Philip loyal to the cause. I guess he's very real.

I would love to know what Arkady intended to happen in that meeting with Gaad that went so very wrong. I wonder if they'll ever reveal that. I really hope that Arkady and Oleg aren't completely gone. I've grown to really like both of them.

The enormous silence between Elizabeth and Philip as they considered bring their kids to Russia was well played by those actors. As was Philip's reaction to Paige and Matthew.
posted by gladly at 2:22 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

With so much of the central cast potentially going to Russia, there's a part of me that kind of wants to see next season unfolds as a fish-out-of-water Moscow sitcom. A funhouse mirror reboot of Perfect Strangers, or something like that. With the focus on Martha and Henry.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:36 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best line of the episode, and probably of the entire season: "Would you like a Coke?"

I found it doubly amusing because it made me think of the Louis Theroux documentary Drinking To Oblivion (or similar) where Thereoux is in the hospital sitting by the bed of a basically self-destroyed man whose blood is 90% Stolichnaya and who is blubbering about everything that is wrong with his life and how desperately sad he is to have lost his wife/girlfriend. Theroux has no idea what to do so says to the guy "Do you want some Lucozade?"

Anyway, I didn't even realise this was a season finale. It felt like the episode before the season finale. Oh well.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:46 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I mentioned last week that I was disappointed in last week's episode as a penultimate episode, and this one felt way, way more like a true penultimate episode. As the final scene ended, I thought, "okay, now time for the climax," and then it was credits and "coming soon on Sex and Rock and Roll blah blah." I just want one more episode to finish out the season's story. Oh well, guess we'll just have to wait for next year.

Alan Sepinwall did a good interview with Joel and Joe about the season.
posted by General Malaise at 6:03 PM on June 9, 2016

So why did William infect himself? Was he trying to send a message to the US and stop the Russians from getting the virus, or just choosing a really horrible way to commit suicide?

I thought for sure he'd end up naming Phil and Liz as he died. But I'm not sure he even knew their names.
posted by mmoncur at 6:22 PM on June 9, 2016

William was so utterly freaked out by the lassa virus, so the moment you realize he's about to infect himself... fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
posted by duffell at 6:45 PM on June 9, 2016

William was facing some potentially hardcore interrogation during which he might have broken down and given up some information. By infecting himself, he made it impossible for the FBI to interrogate him. He was also facing prison time, but the thing was, it wasn't necessarily going to be for the rest of his life. Spies are often traded back to their own country, as Zinaida was. However, I don't think he wanted to go back to Russia. When Gabriel offered him a return ticket to Russia, he seemed remarkably unenthusiastic. So my guess is that William threw himself on his sword partly out of loyalty to his own country and to protect the other KGB spies, and partly because he preferred death to either prison or Russia. The miserable life he'd led in the U.S. had left him emotionally exhausted, which would have coloured his decision.
posted by orange swan at 6:55 PM on June 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

I interpreted it as suicide too, but it seemed like a painful way to go considering how much William talked about how horrible the virus was.

If I was him I would have gone for Suicide by Cop... "I will release this virus and kill us all unless you shoot me."
posted by mmoncur at 10:24 PM on June 9, 2016

Over the course of the season, nothing really developed in the triangle with Arkady, Tatiana, and Oleg. Nothing came to a boil, nothing mattered much. These guys are important intelligence officers at the height of the Cold War but the drama builds up to 1) a sick mom, 2) a fledgeling romance, and 3) a random act of plot. The stakes felt super low. They had nothing to reveal to each other at the end.

Similarly with William, the fact that the FBI didn't really get any information from him seemed like a letdown.

This was a straightforward and sentimental episode that didn't really feel like a satisfactory resolution to things, nor an intriguing hint of things to come. Sad!
posted by nom de poop at 12:31 AM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Salon podcast for this episode features Russell and Rhys (the Rs).

Remember the end of season 1 when Arkady spray painted the abort symbol on each car as it left the garage? I'll miss watching him run the Rez.
posted by kingless at 2:21 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I really got the feeling this was written as a final season (or maybe they were only planning one more season) and then changed at the last minute to prolong things. It seems like William *almost* revealed Phil and Liz to the FBI, and Phil and Liz *almost* had to go to Russia or at least relocate, and Gadd's death *almost* meant something, and the Arkady/Oleg/Tatiana plot *almost* went somewhere dramatic.

But all in all at least they kept surprising me. Considering that every episode of this season I thought "So *this* is the one where Pastor Tim dies."
posted by mmoncur at 4:34 AM on June 10, 2016

I was so certain we were going to see Martha again by the end of the season. I don't usually make bold predictions in these threads, but that was one I did make, and I was wrong, and I'm disappointed. I really do not want that to be our last glimpse of Martha; I want to know what happens to her, how she is living, how she is being treated! And I want to know what happens after the Iron Curtain falls, whether she ever gets to contact her parents again.

This was a straightforward and sentimental episode that didn't really feel like a satisfactory resolution to things, nor an intriguing hint of things to come. Sad!

I really don't agree! I am very intrigued by the cliffhanger. The entire season built to this point where both Jennings are unhappy with their work, and Paige is basically an untrained agent who is now doing level 6 Mata Hari spy work on Matthew, and Henry is .5 seconds from figuring out that something is up (if he ever looked up long enough from the various screens at his house). Here's William the worst case scenario playing out, lonely and isolated and finally captured by the FBI, forced into suicide. Now the Centre wants to pull them all back to Russia. As Alan Sepinwall says in his review, "they should do it." They should go back to Russia. And we're trained as TV watchers to think they won't do it, because it would upset the whole balance of the series, but they should do it.

As far as the characters at the Rezidentura, I find it interesting how I assume that various characters are villainous, such as Oleg in the first season. I thought Tatiana was a villain this season, but no. And I find the discussions about the workings of the government to be very interesting context to the rest of the story because it's clear that things are falling apart. It makes you wonder about the status of Martha and how the Jennings would find their home if/when they return there.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:48 AM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

So *this* is the one where Pastor Tim dies.

That's the least plausible part of the whole show. I can't imagine that they'd let Pastor Tim live for more than a few hours after finding out.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:53 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nothing more to contribute except for the fact that the park scenes were all filmed in Astoria Park, where I run, and where my daughter has softball practice. So, I'm not going to be thinking about lassa fever next time I'm there, not at all.
posted by gaspode at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Poor William. Such a terrible end to such a miserable life, with no one there for him but a couple of FBI agents, even if they did feel compassion for him and gave him one good last sardonic laugh by offering him a Coke. I was glad they didn't show the entire dying process.

I am in hopes that William's capture will switch on the lightbulb in Don's head and that he and Young Hee will learn the truth. Yes, it's a long way between those two dots but Don is intelligent and I really can't bear the thought that they will never know how innocent Don is.

The appearance of Mischa was interesting. I bet he's got inborn super spy skills too.

It was such a shame that Arkady's and Tatiana's careers have been sidelined by William's arrest. Arkady's such a good man and such an incredibly effective bureaucrat. And while I initially mistrusted Tatiana, it seems now that the same could be said of her. The fact that she said exactly the same thing as Arkady to Oleg was meant to underline the parallels between them: that they are both highly competent, intelligent, honourable people quietly doing their duty as they see it and caring for those around them as best they can. Tatiana lost her promotion and Oleg too. Oleg hurt both Arkady and Tatiana by slipping that information to Stan -- but the stakes were so incredibly high that I think he can live with that, especially when it's a matter of a serious career setback for them both rather than a destruction of their careers/lives. Tatiana is still being entrusted with the acting rezidentura job, so the KGB can't have lost all faith in her.

I think Arkady is married. He wears a wedding band-like ring. It is on his right hand, but in Russia it is customary for people to wear their wedding rings on their right hand. (It's an Orthodox thing). Also, although we have never seen his wife and he hasn't mentioned her, at one point Nina asks him rather flirtatiously if he didn't prefer to declare his love for his wife before she did back when they were courting. She wouldn't have been likely to say such a thing unless she'd known for sure that he was married. (Arkady, incidentally, wasn't about to go the Vasily route and shut that down pretty quick by telling her not to be so bold.) It seems there's no hope for Martha, which is a shame, because I too would have loved to see her get a man like Arkady.

I liked that Gaad's replacement showed a proper sense of righteous fury over Martha's situation. The man may place too much importance on margin widths, but he also gets that whoever married Martha did something truly vile.

Alice finally had her baby. Which was the most mature day-old baby I've ever seen.

Philip's still getting his consciousness raised at EST. Unfortunately "travel agent" doesn't work all that well as a metaphor for what he needs to talk about. Elizabeth's description of EST was very Elizabeth: "It's a seminar in thinking about yourself." Not inaccurate or unfair, I must say, but still well seasoned with a classic Elizabethan disdain for all that touchy-feely self-help crap.

Someday Henry's tell-all memoir, Watching the Superbowl Alone, will be published to great acclaim.

I do admire the way the show has handled Paige's metamorphosis into a junior spy. As we all knew, she has no interest in working for the USSR, but she is very motivated by the desire to keep her family together and her parents out of prison, and she's willing to do whatever legal things she can do to work toward that end. There's also a part of her that finds the whole espionage business cool and exciting, and is taking considerable satisfaction in the discovery that she's very good at it.

The contrast between Stan's delight and Philip's horror over the burgeoning romance between their kids was hilarious. Stan's all, "Isn't this cute and fun and awesome?" and Philip's all, "OH HELL NO." Paige and Matthew's oh-so-subtle relocation to opposite ends of the couch gave me such a fit of the giggles.

I didn't mind this episode as a season finale. I didn't want to be left in an agony of suspense as I was last year re: Martha. As it is we're just a little tantalized with some interesting possible directions for the show. Like others in this thread, I'd like to see the show move to Russia, and I definitely want more Martha. For the rest, I am content to leave it in the show's team's hands. Two more seasons to go, yay!!!!!!
posted by orange swan at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Idk, William gave them a tantalizing clue. Now they know his contacts are a husband/wife (and maybe even that they have kids) team. It's not a lot to go on, but we've seen how dogged the FBI can be when running down leads. If they don't write it off as nonsense, which I seriously doubt they will, they now know the dead family they found isnt a one-off, which could give them some patterns to look for.

If you recall, when he first moved in Stan did have a suspicion something was up with the Jennings. If Paige slips up at all, it could rekindle those feelings.

On the bright side for the family, I wouldn't be surprised if Stan somehow lets slip that they caught a spy who was fanatical enough to kill himself gruesomely to avoid talking/rotting in prison at racquetball. That may well be what prompts them to stay...
posted by wierdo at 11:41 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

When Arkady was having his meeting with the Deputy Attorney General and Gaad's replacement and they accused him of stealing biological weapons, he told them he wasn't aware of any Russian biological weapons program (well, not officially) and he pointed out that the treaties the US and the USSR had signed also barred the US from developing bio weapons. The DAG said "We only develop antidotes to the bio weapons we know you have," which was utter bullshit. The Russians don't have the Lassa virus -- that was the whole point of stealing it -- yet the Americans were developing it anyway. Neither country is honouring the treaties they have signed.
posted by orange swan at 12:04 PM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, that Arkady and DAG/FBI conversation took me right back to the good ol' 70s and 80s in a big way: the whole "You're the one breaking treaties!" "No, YOU" bickering thing the US and USSR did like a pair of bratty siblings on a long car trip, only with stockpiles of horrific weapons. The fact that the people with their fingers on the buttons all seemed to be such giant babies did not really inspire confidence.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:15 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Now they know his contacts are a husband/wife (and maybe even that they have kids) team.

William actually even specified that they have two kids. "The American Dream."

Man, poor William. That speech, that soul-crushing loneliness, just heartbreaking.

I felt like the stuff with Misha probably would've fit more comfortably in a season opener than a season ender. Felt like a distraction from all the threads I wanted to see dealt with.

I loved Stan's sheer joy at finding Matthew and Paige making out on the couch. Everything about that whole scene was note-perfect.
posted by mstokes650 at 6:28 PM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Kind of bored during this episode, I'm sad to say. Something about the writing felt off to me. I think the over-arching story had too many moving parts for the season and so they had to rush the plot rather than letting it all develop as poetically as the Elizabeth / Paige relationship did this season. The Mischa Jr introduction was clumsy as could be, as was the clearing out all the staff at the Rezidentura. (Will anyone we know be left?)

William's suicide is alarming. Did he spray Lassa fever all over the park? How good is that containment facility anyway? For a disease that could be Armageddon, it surprised me he'd take the risk. He doesn't seem like a "don't give a shit" kind of spy.

Also confused about the location of Philip during William's arrest. How could he possibly not have seen or heard it happening? We hear the helicopter in both characters POV so they are nearby, how'd Philip miss it?

I was kind of creeped out by Stan's treatment of the two kids fooling around on the couch. I have to think Philip would feel protective of his daughter and Stan had no respect for that. Also to the extent the kids should be chaperoned, it's in Stan's house it's all happening, he should be the responsible one. Clearly Philip was pissed after, but how much it was just a protective father and how much was Super Spy Stuff wasn't clear.

I liked the acknowledgement that Philip is completely done with the spy business, down to confessing it with the thinnest of disguises at an EST meeting of all places. Part of me was hoping they really would just run and that would be the end of the show.
posted by Nelson at 6:42 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, that seemed an odd choice by the show's writers... if you're going to have a helicopter, everyone knows you can hear those things from a ways away, so unless this park was huge, or it was a different park in another part of town, Philip is going to hear the helicopter (and probably notice a bunch of people shining flashlights all around at night).
Or maybe it was supposed to be a different park...?
That would make more sense.
posted by blueberry at 12:07 AM on June 11, 2016

I started off this season with high hopes, but now I'm not even sure that I'll be watching the next season. The last few episodes, particularly the last two, have just seemed like a meandering mish mash of ideas. I hate it when I'm dragged in to a show, tricked into suspending disbelief because, I can argue to myself, some things that happen might be a little implausible but I can sort of see how they might happen, and then we get a series of completely unbelievable events that wouldn't seem out of place in one of the later Roger Moore Bond films.

My first major disappointment with how things were going, the point where I thought things were getting ridiculous, was the showdown in Don's office. It's a high-security installation, and three strangers turn up and are just let into the inner sanctum. The filing cabinets in Don's office have red padlocks on them, just so we know that they contain really secret stuff. So, security lets Don bring these three, not particularly professional-looking, individuals in there without a second glance. Then, a couple of minutes later Don walks out with only one of them. What did the security guys say to him, someone who is obviously a little rattled? "Excuse me, sir, but where are the other two, unidentified, individuals that you just signed in?"

What would Don's reply have been? "Don't worry. I've left them in my office unattended whilst I go out for a coffee with this rough-looking guy here. It's ok, though, because there are those really secure red padlocks on my filing cabinets so the super-secrets are completely super-safe. And I've turned off the monitor on my PC, so no worries there."

Cut to unattended couple picking the red padlocks with ease. Then from out of their bag comes a huge Commodore disk drive to somehow pull the secrets off the PC. Apparently, the Soviets aren't the slightest bit worried about this massive piece of hardware being discovered in the bag that they're bringing into the top-secret US installation. It's a good thing that their bag wasn't searched before they were let in; I'm not sure what sort of reasonable explanation could be given for an elderly couple, upset by the suicide of their daughter, carrying that thing around. It was noted in a previous thread how it was a Commodore disk drive, and I also spotted it straight away, because it was so incongruous. My first thought was wondering how on earth it was going to be plugged into a PC. My second thought was, if you're going to be operating under a time constraint, why would you use the slowest disk drive in the history of disk drives? That thing was notoriously slow. Maybe, it could be argued, it's because that particular drive (the 1542 if I remember correctly) happened to be quite intelligent - it had its own 6502 processor - so maybe it was suitable for being souped up for the purpose. But, even so, that's a stretch.

And William. A few days earlier, in the timeline, William had been so worried about the release of the deadly pathogen that he'd said it shouldn't be stolen because Soviet equipment couldn't be trusted to contain it, so it wasn't worth the risk. We go from that, to him uncapping a vial of this deadly pathogen in a public park and splashing it around. This is the William who was so worried about anybody being exposed to a less deadly pathogen that, in the episode where Gabriel (somewhat implausibly) recovers from exposure, he cleans down the entire apartment with bleach and then warns that they can't return to the apartment ever, but have to keep renting it so that nobody else can go in there. Just to be safe.

I suppose it could be argued that William panicked, and so atypical behaviour was to be expected. But I find that hard to believe. He's been operating for years as a Soviet agent in a US biological warfare lab. Just that day he's entered a lab that was a level above his security clearance and stolen material that is so deadly and so secret that neither it, nor the facility that created it, even officially exists. Everything we've seen about William up to this point seems to suggest that he isn't prone to panic.

And so to Elizabeth and Phillip being recalled by Moscow. But it's their choice. I'm sure that Moscow must know, via Gabriel's reports, how squirrelly Phillip has been over the last couple of years. Elizabeth herself, whilst obviously a true believer in the USSR, and seemingly burning with revolutionary fervour, isn't exactly reliable. It wasn't too long ago that she decided to take herself and her daughter, who Moscow were hoping to turn into a 2nd-generation spy, on a trip to Berlin explicitly contrary to orders. Having gotten to Berlin she then demanded that the KGB bring over her mother so that they can say goodbye.

To Moscow, I think, both Elizabeth and Phillip would seem to be on the very edge of controllable. They also know some things that would be highly embarrassing to USSR. Yet they're given the option of staying in the US? The agent, William, that can unambiguously identify them has just been seized. There's a good possibility that they themselves could be seized. In that event they could conceivably spill all to the FBI, or turn double-agents. Or, they could simply choose to run and disappear, making themselves an open-ended worry for the KGB.

I think that the scene with Gabriel would have more realistically played out if Gabriel had told them, in no uncertain terms, that they were going back to USSR. They balk, Gabriel apologises, and several KGB heavies step out of the shadows and grab them. A brief scuffle would have shown that Elizabeth's defence skills aren't as effective against somebody who's similarly trained, and the couple are dragged away. The next scene would be Paige and Henry being bundled into a van. The cliffhanger could have been, was it the FBI or KGB that grabbed them?

Just a few of my thoughts.
posted by veedubya at 12:20 AM on June 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, Oleg. Why would Oleg suddenly want to go back to Moscow? His tip-off to to Stan has got William, a high-value asset, captured. That has resulted in Arkady being recalled, at great embarrassment to the USSR. How does he know that Stan won't reveal him as the source? If that happened he could end up being Ninad. Surely, the best course for Oleg would be to stay in the US to be close to Stan. Keep him sweet or whack him if need be? I suppose he could be deliberately trying to take himself out of Stan's reach, so he can't be blackmailed the way Oleg tried to blackmail Stan over Nina?

I did like the throwaway remark that Tatiana made to Oleg, about how there was no way that her temporary assignment as boss would be made permanent. Just an offhand acknowledgement that the USSR wasn't as egalitarian as it pretended to be. I wonder if that casual acceptance - it wasn't even expressed as disillusionment - could be the seed of Tatiana being flipped.
posted by veedubya at 12:48 AM on June 11, 2016

Did you watch LOST, veedubya?
posted by blueberry at 6:33 PM on June 11, 2016

No. Never watched a single episode. Why?
posted by veedubya at 12:11 AM on June 12, 2016

Well, when it comes to
"Wait, what?! What about the whole thing with the...?",
LOST was the KING of squandered plot lines, red herrings, and deus ex machinas.
posted by blueberry at 2:14 AM on June 12, 2016


For a long time I didn't watch telly. (I know, I know - the snobbery is strong in this one.) By the time that I started getting back into it, Lost was almost coming to an end. It seemed like a really big commitment to make. Then, reading about how it ended, I was glad I never bothered.

I think that the reason I'm so disappointed with The Americans is that I invested a lot of time getting involved with interesting characters in a reasonably believable setting, and then that was all thrown away on what looked like a rushed fantastical finale. And I don't even understand what the reason for doing it was. To me, it would be totally believable if I was told that the writers that had created all but the last three shows had been fired, and the last three shows had been written by interns who had been told to 'fix things up'. The difference in quality was that stark.
posted by veedubya at 1:14 PM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

"OT," but of interest to the show's fans: Two cast members were seen on the Tonys telecast. Frank Langella won Best Actor, Play, for "The Father." Keri Russell intro'd a "Waitress" performance, and she looked fantastic a few weeks post-giving-birth.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:27 PM on June 12, 2016

One thing I'd like to note: a sample of a pathogen is a far far different thing than a weaponized version of that pathogen.
William would have known that the sample he had was very dangerous to him, but would have never handled, nor planned to transport, a pathogen suped up to be so easily dispersed to an unwitting populace. he was more careful with the lassa than with the rat and the glanders, but he still only wore gloves and a mask.
He took the only way out -- made it difficult for the fbi to hold/interrogate him while at the same time giving everyone a reminder of how nasty bio agents are. I am surprised they teased with him giving up P&E, even in a fever dream.

I was thinking that Stan was just stoked his son had an interest in a girl, any girl.

Elizabeth's look at the end....
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:24 PM on June 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think what they're doing with this finale is setting up the collapse of the Soviet Union over the next two seasons. Clumsy, not very finale-feeling, but also not a very good season opener. But we need all this stuff queued up somehow. I know they do a relatively unusual-for-TV thing by sometimes re-writing the story late in the game via editing together scenes that were written and shot for different episodes. I wonder if that's what happened here.

But the threat of going back to Russia - and it was always a threat to Philip, but now Elizabeth realizes she never expected the kids to be anything but Americans, which a) means it's a threat to her now too b) means she never imagined the disintegration that is already in progress but still unknown to them* - is becoming manifest. That'll drive the next two seasons.

*Which I think is a great device/historical truth. Gabriel knows, Arkady knows, Oleg and Tatiana know, William had come to suspect, and the viewers all know that things are falling apart. P&E are completely removed by necessity and design.

I assumed that William's promised repatriation was a lie, primarily for P&E's ears. Had he successfully completed this One Last Job he would have had a "heart attack" shortly afterwards in his bed or car. Someone disappearing from their high-security lab job is too suspicious. He knew that, and additionally seemed to have no interest in going back, and I think Gabriel knew that too.

I truly had hoped that Chekhov's Son had been a lie to unsettle/manipulate Philip. I think that would have been a perfectly satisfactory story piece, and I worry that this whole thing is going to be sharky.

A note: though it was a little hammed up for TV purposes, the social engineering to get into Don's office and the methodical ransacking of same comes from stories from former Illegals and ex-KGB. They did that sort of thing, and they actually had a specific trained methodology for multiple-person-teams to search an enclosed area in a short period of time, which is what the showrunners were actually trying to show in that scene.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:30 AM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

We just watched the finale from our DVR and while I think the season was quite good, this episode seemed like a letdown. No real big finale, no glimpse of Martha, Oleg and company all left up in the air, the Jennings as well, no big cliffhanger just several small ones.

I'm just betting that when the episode was given a wrap Keri Russell threw off that coat hiding her pregnancy and said, "that's the last time I'm wearing this fucking thing".
posted by Ber at 9:35 PM on June 19, 2016

The Americans just received 5 Emmy nominations!

Outstanding Drama Series
Matthew Rhys for Outstanding Lead Actor
Keri Russell for Outstanding Lead Actress
Margo Martindale as Outstanding Guest Actress
Outstanding Writing - "Persona Non Grata"
posted by bluecore at 8:58 AM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hey, I just popped into this thread to post about that, bluecore.

posted by orange swan at 2:08 PM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Season 5 of The Americans premieres on March 7th. I'm going to begin a rewatch of season 4 tonight to prime myself for it. Man, this show....
posted by orange swan at 4:30 PM on March 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Tonight's the night, and I just saw pictures of Alison Wright in The Americans season 5 after party photos on Twitter. Guys, this almost certainly means there'll be more Martha in season 5. Sadly, I did not see Ruthie Ann Miles in the photos. Here's hoping for more Young Hee anyway.
posted by orange swan at 4:07 PM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

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