The Americans: The Soviet Division
May 30, 2017 10:29 PM - Season 5, Episode 13 - Subscribe

In the fifth season finale of The Americans, "the Eckarts" help Alexei and Evgheniya with a family emergency, Paige continues to work at the food pantry and work out in the garage, Sofia's fiancé takes a test, Elizabeth gives Tuan career advice, Jim tells Kimmy he's relocating, Elizabeth, Philip, and Stan all consider retirement, Martha considers a new venture, and Henry finds out he got into St. Edwards and is being awarded his scholarship, only to find out there's another obstacle.

For some good reviews of this episode, check out Vox, Vulture, and The AV Club.
posted by orange swan (65 comments total)
 
Quarry House Tavern shout-out!
posted by jameaterblues at 10:55 PM on May 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


So that for sure confirms Renee as some sort of agent right? I could see Sandra said they'd be lucky to have you but Renee seems too Pat.
posted by Carillon at 11:54 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Man. Elizabeth getting dressed-down by Tuan was like getting ice water thrown in your face, with Tuan spouting all the true-believer-speak.

So...If it looks like they're going to have to stay, does that mean Henry gets to go to the snazzy school?

That scene of Paige walking through the parking lot alone, looking around, on alert, almost daring someone to jump out was heartbreaking. She's been stripped of her humanity.

I think Renee is an agent, but not in the normal sense. Try this scenario...The Center knows P&E are becoming problematic. If, for instance, they decide to abandon their posts and escape into America, who would they most likely run to? Probably their neighbor, Stan. Could Renee actually be a plant from the Center to keep a close eye on P&E?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:29 AM on May 31, 2017


That scene of Paige walking through the parking lot alone, looking around, on alert, almost daring someone to jump out was heartbreaking. She's been stripped of her humanity.


I'd wondered if she was hoping to test her skills.
posted by drezdn at 5:45 AM on May 31, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm glad that Martha may be able to find a little bit of happiness in Russia.
posted by drezdn at 5:49 AM on May 31, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'd wondered if she was hoping to test her skills.

Was that the same parking lot Paige and Elizabeth got jumped in? It sure looked like it. Anyway, that's the first thing I thought of when I saw her wandering through it.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:03 AM on May 31, 2017 [6 favorites]


That actress sells "Paige is a sweet kid" really, really well. Unfortunately, I expect Paige will end up murdering someone by the end of the show.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 7:33 AM on May 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


Oh, I fully expect Paige to end up doing something horrible. Probably to one of her parents. But, then again, one can summon-up a tasty list of possible scenarios.

There was a shot of Paige's face in profile last night and I was struck by how much Holly Taylor has grown-up during the course of the show.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:34 AM on May 31, 2017


The acting is always stellar in this show, of course, but this episode was so great. Alison Wright's face looking at little Olya on the playground, Kerri Russell's face as her daughter told her she was done with the churchy stuff but wanted to stick with the food pantry, Matthew Rhys' face as he realizes what the promotion he's hearing about means for his family. And every bit of the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" montage. I loved the closet epiphany, and Elizabeth slowly surveying her kitchen, ending on the dishwasher. She was going to miss bourgeois conveniences more than she was willing to admit!

I really thought they were going to be forced into staying by Claudia/the Center, but of course Elizabeth reneging on the settled plan to quit is much better television. God, poor Phillip, I just wanted to reach into the screen and tip that tape in the water for him. But he couldn't keep that from Elizabeth.

I figure Phillip breaks next season, maybe from confirmation that Renee is in fact manipulating Stan. I hope Elizabeth sides with him when that happens. (I think she will.)
posted by the primroses were over at 9:49 AM on May 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


Was that the same parking lot Paige and Elizabeth got jumped in? It sure looked like it. Anyway, that's the first thing I thought of when I saw her wandering through it.

Both times she was walking from the food pantry & yes it looked like the same one.
posted by scalefree at 10:05 AM on May 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


Just the look on Phillip's face when he was processing the fact that he wasn't going to get to go home. It was heartbreaking. He just so wants to stop killing and lying and being someone he's not. I honestly don't think any of them would really be happy in the USSR, but until the bit about the promotion dropped, I don't think Phillip had thought past the "stop killing and lying" part of the plan.
posted by teleri025 at 1:19 PM on May 31, 2017


I'm curious: how much of Elizabeth wanting to stay was loyalty to the job, and how much was secretly kind of liking America? I'd say 80/85% loyalty, but she still did look longingly at her shoes and the TV. I guess there's a crack there.

I thought Philip wanting to go home so badly was a little odd, considering we started the whole series with him willing to defect in the pilot, but Elizabeth was the hardcore one that kept them anchored. Also, he's always been the one more concerned about the kids, and they clearly have/would have a better life in the US than in Russia, considering the language problem and the private school for Henry.
posted by bluecore at 2:56 PM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think Philip is so done being forced to kill people and fuck strangers that he'll do anything to be able to stop if it keeps his family safe & together.
posted by bleep at 7:52 PM on May 31, 2017 [6 favorites]


The scene where Pasha was discovered and saved was so horrific just for an onlooker. Of course, the horror is dialed up to 11 by the fact that Philip, Elizabeth and Tuan engineered the whole thing. And it's not even the end of their machinations. The family will split up permanently, and Evgheniya is going to be blackmailed once she gets back home. For God's sake.

Tuan is truly a nasty, cold-blooded piece of work. Man, the way he reported on Elizabeth and Philip after the way they cut him a break over his visit to his foster brother. I liked the way Elizabeth cut him down to size with her spy career advice. She's too experienced and seasoned a spy to be that bothered by some know-it-all rookie.

Stan's dippiness over Renee is amusing. Ah, middle-aged love. This episode was the first time I saw reason to believe that something may be up with her. Her career advice to him was so oddly specific and levered and Stan obviously picked up on it. Also if she wanted to move in with him, having a pipe conveniently burst at her apartment was a pretty deft way to arrange it. I still don't think she's working for the Soviets, as Philip and Elizabeth would surely have been informed of it, but if not them, who is she working for? Stan's whole job seems to be Soviet counterintelligence.

Was Sofia's boyfriend cheating on his polygraph test? Remember, Nina passed her polygraph test too, by clenching her anus.

I would move to Russia if I could adopt Olya. Seriously, though, if anything will help Martha get past what's been done to her, it would be giving her a child to love. Gabriel's good. Also, she seems to be doing pretty well with her Russian.

Elizabeth's look at her closet and around her kitchen were good moments. She may not have reveled in American materialism like Philip did, but she did appreciate the convenience and comfort of it all, while taking it entirely for granted. She is not going to like having to wait in line for substandard goods.

Paige walked into the parking lot where her mother killed her assaulter with barely a flinch and a controlled watchfulness. Her combat training has been good for her, at least.

I totally did not buy the whole "Kimmy's teenaged friends drool over Jim" thing. Come on, he's *so* much older than them and not even attractive. I suppose he does bring the good weed, and is good at massages, and maybe that seems like a good proffer to a high 17-year-old.

And the season ends on a dilemma. Philip needs to get away from espionage work somehow, but then Kimmy's father's promotion to the head of the Soviet Division happens. I don't see a resolution, exactly, but isn't there an end point in sight? How long can his "relationship" with Kimmy, and therefore his access to her father's briefcase, possibly last? Isn't she going outgrow Jim and/or get a real boyfriend? Won't she be moving out of the house to go to college next year?

And that was season 5. There was no Young Hee in this season -- I have to know what happened to her and Don. There was, however, Martha, and we got a good idea of what her life is like in Moscow, which was satisfying. No Oleg in this episode, but his story is the slow burning core of this season. I suppose the whole operation with Alexei, Evgheniya, Pasha, and Tuan is at an end, but the Deirdre, Ben, and Kimmy operations are still in play. As for Paige and Henry, Paige will be going to college next year, and I guess if the Jennings aren't going to head back to Russia after all, that there'll be no reason for Henry not to go to St. Edwards. Philip and Elizabeth will be empty nesters!

I dread the resolution of Oleg's story, and my best guess is that next season will also include Philip's final disintegration and some kind of end to his and Elizabeth's work: getting caught, getting killed, or heading back to Russia. Beyond that I won't try to hazard any predictions. It'll be interesting to see what happens next season, and what new directions the writers come up with. I certainly couldn't have guessed anything that would happen this season.
posted by orange swan at 9:02 PM on May 31, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm curious: how much of Elizabeth wanting to stay was loyalty to the job, and how much was secretly kind of liking America? I'd say 80/85% loyalty, but she still did look longingly at her shoes and the TV. I guess there's a crack there.

I think it's a more complicated split than that: there's about 30% ideology, 30% loyalty, 10-15% liking life in America, and 25-30% being, deep down, very afraid of the unknowns of what kind of a person she would be and what her life would look like if she didn't have "being a spy" as the central core that her whole identity is constructed around. Ultimately she's right when she tells Philip she can't go back, although I'm not sure she even fully grasps why that's true or how much it's true; in a legitimate peaceful civilian life she'd fall apart the same way Philip is coming apart now.

That scene of Paige walking through the parking lot alone, looking around, on alert, almost daring someone to jump out was heartbreaking. She's been stripped of her humanity.

I didn't get the same vibe from that scene, tbh; I thought it was a pretty believable look at the way people who survive something traumatic deal with going back to the same location where it happened. You may know, logically, that the location itself isn't connected to what happened, but you're going to be completely on high alert anyways. Paige wasn't so much daring someone to jump out at her, but testing herself, to see if the stuff that her Mom has been teaching her in the garage would really help her feel safe and feel in control the way her mom promised it would. And it did, evidently; Paige felt brave enough to walk back through that same parking lot, and then went home and trained with her mom some more.

If I were to start making predictions about the way this show will end, based on how things look right now...I honestly don't think there's any way Elizabeth makes it out alive. She can't leave because she can't do anything else, but she also can't do it alone (as she noted in her very intense speech to Tuan) and Philip can't do it anymore. Maybe she ends up sacrificing herself to save him, after Philip most likely cracks up when some serious threat to Stan pops up (probably Renee). Meanwhile, Paige will end up a spy (I really hope there's at least one good Paige/Claudia scene in this show), Henry will probably end up at boarding school, and with any sort of luck Philip and Martha will end up together in Russia raising like 20 orphans. Only ones I have no idea about are Oleg and Stan...maybe Oleg will take whatever crappy posting in America he can get, somewhere out in the sticks, just so he can go back to pretending he doesn't know what a shitshow things are back home, only to find that Stan got reassigned to the same crappy posting by the FBI. They can end up playing racquetball together out in their tiny backwater town.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:15 PM on May 31, 2017 [8 favorites]


I had forgotten that Elizabeth and Paige were attacked outside the food pantry so I thought for a second Paige was stealing the car and running away.
posted by bleep at 11:26 PM on May 31, 2017


It occurs to me for the first time that the writers of this oddly understated show may actually end the story with Stan never finding out his friends are Soviet spies.
posted by mediareport at 2:23 AM on June 1, 2017 [8 favorites]


Yes, I am torn between wanting to see his reaction and him remaining blissfully in the dark. Maybe there is a flash forward at the end of the series finale to Stan's retirement party twenty years later where his superiors pull him aside and tell him all about the Jennings, which conveniently fills us viewers in on what happens to them in the intervening years (Elizabeth is training spies in Russia; Philip was killed in whatever happened in the series finale; Henry is an economist living in Finland under a different name; Paige is a spy living under deep cover, suspected location Seattle Washington).
posted by mikepop at 6:23 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


No, I think Stan learning their identity is the Chekhov's Gun of this series. In fact, I think you could argue Noah Emmerich was partially hired because he played the "secret agent neighbor" so well in Truman Show, so this reveal of him being the one in the dark the whole time would be a great bookend. Also, I don't think you dangle that scene for an actor for five seasons and then pull it away at the last minute with a flashback.

Also:

I don't think Paige will be a spy. Elizabeth isn't training her to be a spy. She's training her to be safe.

Before this is all over Elizabeth will kill Claudia. This has festered too long.
posted by bluecore at 6:42 AM on June 1, 2017


That Elton John song is still stuck in my head. Wish they'd found something from the actual 80s instead.
posted by Catblack at 7:18 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


To be fair, that song was still in heavy rotation in the 80s.

The lyrics describe wanting to go back to a simpler existence after living what the narrator thought was the good life, but realizing they had simply been treated like a pet. (wikipedia)

A cover by Sara Bareilles, another by Sarah Blasko that switches out the piano for an acoustic guitar, and a version with two piano men (and an easier key if you have trouble singing along to those high notes).
posted by mikepop at 8:30 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


My out there guess on Renee - she's Mossad but they're not working with the FBI on this one. The Israelis have figured out that Philip and Elizabeth are Russian spies. Rather than directly out them to the CIA/FBI to make brownie points (which they hardly need*) they figure if they can get someone to watch them, maybe they'll get information about Russian activities that could be useful to them. And conveniently, they have an FBI agent neighbor right across the street.

*Not sure where Israel/USA relations where at this point but generally these are friendly countries who share intelligence, right?
posted by marylynn at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2017


Wow what a dud episode, and what a dud season.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:42 PM on June 1, 2017


I'm just dreading Phillip being put in the situation where he has to take things to the next level in his relationship with Kimmy. Pretty soon that will be the only way he'll be able to have access to her and to her father's house. If something breaks him, that's would be a very strong possibility.
posted by sardonyx at 8:41 PM on June 1, 2017


Oh, and originally I got the impression Phillip didn't want to go back to Russia. He just wanted to disappear somewhere into the non-Washington parts of the US. But in this episode he really seems to have come to terms with the idea and was visibly disappointed that the return wasn't going to happen, and I was kind of surprised to see that. Yes, we know he wants to quit, but he also wants to do the best he can for his kids, and he knows that's not Russia.
posted by sardonyx at 8:44 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


The scene with Elizabeth and Paige sparring was very interesting and really illustrates Elizabeth's ambivalence about how to parent Paige and how to prepare her for the future. In the beginning she was going very easy on her (although this was only obvious to me in retrospect; my immediate take was that Paige has come a long way), praising her, raising her confidence. After they stop and talk about Pastor Tim and Paige's wish to remain involved in the food pantry after Pastor Tim is gone, Elizabeth gives her some really big smiles (and it becomes obvious that Paige was fishing for this approval from her mother but probably doesn't appreciate where working at a food pantry fits in Elizabeth's worldview), but then Elizabeth goes really hard on her, blocking her every move, keeping her constantly off her balance, toying with her in a way that bordered on cruelty, and finally drawing blood and leaving her with a very visible reminder of her vulnerability. While Paige has come a long way from where she started the season, Elizabeth is having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that she remains overall naive and idealistic and maybe Gabriel and Philip are right, she's not cut out for this. On the surface, she is teaching Paige to go beyond the limits of her previous conception of herself, but below the surface, Elizabeth is teaching herself Paige's limits, and she has to bring them out into the open by beating her.

It's also interesting how shocked Elizabeth is to hear that Philip hurt Henry in a somewhat parallel scene, yelling at him about not going away to boarding school. "He said you yelled at him?" You monster, Philip!! With all their faults as parents, they've positioned themselves as kind and supportive and when word gets back to her that Philip raised his voice, Elizabeth is like "You broke our cover as good parents!"

Philip putting his hand on Paige's arm toward the end was so effective because of how rare such human, familial warmth is in this family, except occasionally between Philip and Elizabeth. When Paige confessed to her father that she felt broken earlier in the season (same table, same set up if I remember correctly), I was crying out to Philip to tell her "No, you're not!" but he just gives her a deeply sympathetic look and the scene ends. (Didn't he even get up and walk away?) He is so paralyzed by guilt and shame over his parenting that he can't even muster anything vaguely useful, supportive, or even just comforting. Philip knows she is not fine but doesn't have any answers because he is not fine. Finally, in this episode he apologizes, in a direct continuation of that scene.

For what it is worth, Philip's growing honesty with Paige contrasts with Pastor Tim's declining honesty with her. Not that he wasn't correct to keep the depth of his pessimism about Paige's situation from her, but Pastor Tim's "You'll be fine" at the food pantry in a previous episode badly misjudged Paige's awareness and sophistication and marked the end of her respect for him (except as a generally good person). There must have been some level at which Paige thought Pastor Tim, seeing how much she was hurting, would find a way to save her. That he was so easily bribed out of the situation and left her behind with "You'll be fine" must have been devastating to her. Especially as he usually treated her like a young adult deserving honest, thoughtful answers, it must have felt like a betrayal, like he was washing his hands of her. In this episode's scene in the food pantry, they engage only in a very superficial way, talking about his party.
posted by nequalsone at 8:10 AM on June 2, 2017 [9 favorites]


I'm surprised to see the lack of empathy for Tuan here and elsewhere online. He is from a country that has only known war since probably his grandparent's time. He himself grew up in that war and was recruited as a child to be an agent. Obviously, there is some dissonance about whether to view him as an adult or as a child (and perhaps it doesn't help the audience that the actor is 25). If my understanding of his backstory is correct, he was recruited and sent to the US as a refugee/agent around the age of 11 or 12 in 1978 or 1979, and is about 16 or 17 now. He learned that the suffering he saw in his country was due to Western Imperialism. In the phase of the war in which he grew up, the "American War" (1955-1975), civilian deaths were probably between equal and twice as many as combatant deaths. He sees Alexei as a traitor who broke away from the anti-Imperialist side to give strength and technical advantage to Western Imperialism. When you think about the context of his life and political education, it is not too surprising that he has an unsophisticated moral perspective and is willing to risk the possibility that Pasha will be collateral damage. Calling him a "know-it-all rookie" and enjoying watching him get "cut down to size" ignores the fact that he has more in common with a child soldier than someone who joined the CIA after graduating polysci from Georgetown.
posted by nequalsone at 9:36 AM on June 2, 2017 [10 favorites]


I want to add that "the suffering he saw in his country" most likely includes the death of every single adult who could have played a nurturing parental role toward him. Instead that role was played by handlers from the Vietnamese intelligence services and hopefully nice but likely clueless foster (not adoptive) parents.
posted by nequalsone at 9:45 AM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


Elizabeth is having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that she remains overall naive and idealistic and maybe Gabriel and Philip are right, she's not cut out for this.

I agree with this, but what's strange to me in not just how obviously Paige isn't cut out for it emotionally, but how little about Paige actually seems to justify the Centre's continued investment in recruiting her. She's viscerally uncomfortable with even the most minimal dishonesty and duplicity, which simply on a practical level makes it unlikely that she'd ever be very good at maintaining a cover, much less taking part in the sort of actions that her parents have employed for decades.

Secondly, while Paige is clearly intelligent and studies hard, etc., on its own this doesn't seem to justify a sense of her as spy material. I mean, what specifically is she actually good at that the Centre would find appealing? Is she really good at languages? Is she at the top of all her science classes? We have no idea; she's just shown diligently doing homework all the time. Henry, by contrast, is a self-taught computer/math whiz—he has specific skill sets that we know, based on the ARPANET operation a few seasons ago, the Centre needs and Philip and Elizabeth lack.

Essentially, I don’t get how it hasn’t become glaringly obvious to the Centre (if not to Phil and Liz) that they’ve been trying to recruit the wrong Jennings offspring all along. This is not to say that Phil and Liz would welcome drawing another one of their kids into the whole mess (just the opposite), but rather that it seems increasingly implausible that Paige will ever be spy material, while at the same time Henry is openly exhibiting both hard and soft skills that would make him very valuable.

Moreover, he's spending a great deal of spare time with an FBI agent, including an enthusiastic visit to FBI headquarters. Just as Phil and Liz wouldn’t want Henry to become a KGB agent, they sure as hell wouldn’t want him to become an FBI agent, either... but, given his skills and his friendship with Stan (which has developed in the vacuum of their parenting), becoming an FBI agent is not actually an implausible career path Henry might find himself interested in at this point. And yet, they still don’t seem inclined to step in to guide or influence him in any way at all. They’ll hem and haw about prep school (on the basis that "this family stays together"), but then they still leave him alone—despite the fact that his interest in prep school explicitly demonstrates his interest in becoming a member of the very American political and economic elite that Phil and Liz have spent their adult lives battling!—in order to resume self-defense training with the daughter who has been losing sleep for a couple of years because what they’re making her do is entirely at odds with who she essentially is as a human being.

I guess I’m fine with the show runners’ stated aim to make this season more about the Jenningses’ relationships—although I don’t really agree that they needed to jettison so much of the plotting and characters of the last four seasons in order to do it—but this ongoing blind spot about Henry is really frustrating and baffling to me. How, in a season that purports to be centrally about relationships, is this relationship being almost entirely ignored?
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 2:33 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised to see the lack of empathy for Tuan here and elsewhere online.

I am too, for all the reasons you outlined. And the excoriations of his plan overlook the factors Tuan leveraged but did not create: most notably, the bullies' inventive and inexhaustible cruelty, the indifference of teachers/administrators, and the tendency to treat teen suicides as unfortunate aberrations rather than totally logical conclusions to sustained campaigns of abuse. Pasha's school was already treating him like collateral damage. He probably wasn't even the first kid there to be bullied into a suicide attempt; he was just the only one so targeted for a spy operation. Personally, I consider Tuan less awful than the people who would have laughed if they'd managed to bully me to death. At least he didn't set Pasha up for fun.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 6:13 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


Do we think Henry has already been recruited Jared-style? That would explain why he's disappearing with "Chris" all the time. Could be the KGB got him into the boarding school. Do we think this?
posted by chrchr at 11:23 PM on June 2, 2017


Do we think Henry has already been recruited Jared-style? That would explain why he's disappearing with "Chris" all the time. Could be the KGB got him into the boarding school. Do we think this?

oh man, I would be so strangely happy (from a TV viewer standpoint, I mean, not in terms of my identification/empathy with various characters) if this turns out to be the twist.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 11:51 AM on June 3, 2017


We binged on the last several episodes over a couple days. I have so many feelings on this show and I'm still trying to process it all. Phillip's agony, Paige's drama, and on and on. I think it might have been better to watch it once a week but it did help keep track of the plot threads much easier.

So some random thoughts:

There's a lot of great acting in this Golden Age but this show might have the best of the bunch. You get an Emmy, you get an Emmy, and even you get an Emmy.

As far as Renee goes, you don't bring in Laurie Holden to just play a mid-life girlfriend. She's KGB done to her corpuscles and could probably give Elizabeth lessons on cold-blooded elimination.

I kept wondering why the writers were keeping the Kimmy plotline in the background. This show does not do these things by mistake and man, they were indeed running a long-term thread with big implications.

Claudia is indeed going to die at Elizabeth's hand. And I am certain that Gabriel knows this as well.

And thank you Gabriel (and the writers) for doing right by Martha and giving us some much needed light to her story.

I want a happy ending, for them to come in from the cold and end up in Montana, with Stan in a cabin up the road, Henry in an Ivy League school and Paige sailing out on a Greenpeace ship. But my wife keeps whispering, "this will all end in tears" and we know it to be true. Too many compromises have been made, the Jennings have committed far too many crimes, too many have died at their hands. It will all end in tears...and blood.
posted by Ber at 1:21 PM on June 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


Do we think Henry has already been recruited Jared-style? That would explain why he's disappearing with "Chris" all the time. Could be the KGB got him into the boarding school. Do we think this?

No, I don't think so. Henry is a teen boy who wants to hang with his friends (and possible girlfriends) and go to a boarding school because he's gifted. The boarding school conundrum exists because:

1) It underscores the different life Philip and Elizabeth had versus the ones Henry and Paige are leading. Philip often went hungry and had to fight to keep his food while his son got accepted into a fancy boarding school.

2) From a practical standpoint, if they have to drop everything and flee, they can't just shove Henry in a car or on a plane when he's five states away.
posted by bluecore at 7:16 PM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think Elizabeth just became one of my all-time favorite TV characters. And yeah, that was an all-caps telegram that next season was going to be mom and daughter Yankee ass kicking time.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:30 PM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


What a fantastic end to the season. Until the last ten minutes I was admiring how they had wrapped up so many loose ends. And contemplating a Season 6 set entirely in Moscow, with the Jennings trying to acclimate. I'd watch that show. But it's an American show set in America, and they do such a good job with it I was ok with the deus ex machina reason for them to have to stay. Particularly since their plan to "return home" made no damn sense at all. Bonus points for keeping the ultra-creepy Kimmie story alive, returning to it. Next season she'll be 18 and the show can actually do the horrible thing with Philip they've been afraid to do so far.

My favorite theme in this season was the various family relationships. The defector family is a weird echo of the Jennings' spy family, and them contemplating returning back to Mother Russia is a nice counterpoint to the Jennings' own plan. And Tuan, holy hell that final debrief speech he gave was great. All along Elizabeth wants to mother him, care for him, and it turns out he's perfectly adult and capable of having his own opinions, thank you. I liked her advice to him, so business like and professional. Just half an hour earlier she was talking about wanting to take Tuan with them to Russia.

IIRC season 6 will be a slightly shorter season. No start date announced yet, but presumably it'll be some time January to March 2018.
posted by Nelson at 9:11 AM on June 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


Was it just me or did Stan look somewhat suspicious of Renee after she tried to persuade him to stay in his counter-espionage department?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


My totally hare-brained theory is that Renee is a spy, but for the CIA, which has gotten suspicious Stan protecting Oleg and trying to discourage Mrs. Gaad from seeking revenge. You heard it here first.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 7:17 PM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm glad they finally revealed, in the scene dealing with Pasha's suicide attempt, the purpose of the newspaper-reading man in his car outside the home.
posted by emelenjr at 4:26 AM on June 5, 2017


Fish, fish, are you doing your duty?: My totally hare-brained theory is that Renee is a spy, but for the CIA, which has gotten suspicious Stan protecting Oleg and trying to discourage Mrs. Gaad from seeking revenge. You heard it here first.

But the CIA wanted him fired for blackmailing them to stay away from Oleg. Why would they then send in a spy to encourage him to stay in the counter-intelligence division?

I wonder if the showrunners themselves have decided if Renee and Sofia are spies. (The Breaking Bad showrunners were known for writing themselves into a corner and then figuring it out the next season.) They've left it open-ended enough that the show could take them either way. Renee could just be a supportive girlfriend pushing him to stand up for himself or she could be a plant. Sofia could be an innocent agent or she could be part of a long KGB con regarding the diplomatic couriers.

I personally suspect Renee is Russian, which Philip will discover and then try to protect Stan, possibly giving up their identities in the process.(How would Philip explain a dead Renee in Stan's living room and Philip standing over her with knife wounds?)

Another idea I find interesting is that Philip and Elizabeth engineer a break up with Renee just because they suspect she's spy (but she's not.) The loneliness drives him into the arms of Sofia who is actually a spy playing upon his desire to "save" people (like Nina.)
posted by bluecore at 7:08 AM on June 5, 2017


My secret hope is Renee is legitimate, someone who just is genuinely the perfect woman for Stan. But in the last season we learn he's so paranoid he can't accept her, never trusts her and drives her away. The last three episodes feature scenes of Stan sitting alone in his home, his one pal Henry too busy with Chris to visit him. Emptying bottle of whisky on the kitchen counter, the fluorescent lights flickering.
posted by Nelson at 10:30 AM on June 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


If the show has any justice, Stan, Elizabeth and Philip will all die in the finale. None of them deserve to retire to an easy life -- they're killers.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:52 AM on June 5, 2017


Killed by Paige.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:29 PM on June 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


What really gets me about the quiet conversational moments between Philip and Elizabeth is, it really hammered home the central split between them:

When Elizabeth talks about how maybe it's time to stop, it's because she thinks they've done their duty and now it's time to go home to Russia.

When Philip talks about how maybe it's time to stop, it's because he thinks what they've been doing is wrong.

Philip knows about this disconnect, but Elizabeth just can't see it. Can their partnership (and family) survive the Elizabeth + Paige duo taking on more missions, with Philip trying to live with himself as he stays out of it? No idea.
posted by tocts at 3:44 PM on June 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


I think Philip made a misstep in this episode when he told Henry he reversed his position on him going to school with no real rationale. Now [at that point in the episode] he has to plan some sort of fake trip to Europe with a sure to be reluctant and resentful Henry, which wouldn't help at whichever point they have to make their actual move to go to Russian instead. Granted, not going to the school is going to add to the extensive list of things Henry would have to deal with after all is revealed to him but at that point you at least have successfully relocated everyone.

All a moot point since they are staying, but another indication that Philip is rapidly losing his skills to compartmentalize things.
posted by mikepop at 8:55 AM on June 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


Isn't there likely to be a quite direct denial from the KGB, they did just ask a pretty significant favor for their daughter, getting a person a dream job in another country is not trivial even for a nation state. I think the message will come back, what were you expecting. Actually it'll probably just be a "no" with a very challenging project.
posted by sammyo at 8:27 PM on June 9, 2017


That "dream job" could also just be a one-way ticket to an execution...
posted by Burhanistan at 8:42 PM on June 9, 2017


Oh man ... I am finally here with you all. We started watching The Americans earlier this year and I honestly wasn't sure we'd ever get caught up. We are not good at binge-watching is what I'm saying.

My thoughts on this episode:

When Elizabeth is playing stewardess Dee Eckert she has those dark brown contacts in that make her look even more like a dead-eyed shark, especially when she's chewing Tuan a new asshole.

I think, and I don't mean this as humor or to minimize the real problems that people have ... anyway, I think that when Elizabeth was sparring with Paige and caught her across the face, Paige found out that she was actually able to feel something. When Philip came home and she was like, "Oh, it's nothing" and seemed maybe a bit proud or at least self-satisfied I found myself worrying that that was her first dose of a drug. She's spent so long bottling everything up and being unable to sleep and all-in-all really screwed up, and this might not be a healthy outlet.

with that in mind, my heart was in my throat during the long scene of her walking back from the food pantry to her car, and I was hoping it wasn't parked in the same lot, but of course it was. And while I think the show was displaying for us that she's taking hold of her fears and conquering them I also couldn't help but wonder if she was in some small way itching for another encounter so she could show just how truly unafraid she is.

by which I mean I think Elizabeth has created a ticking bomb who's gonna unleash a nuclear can of whoop-ass on the first person that makes the mistake of fucking with her. I just hope there aren't any bullies at her school or there'll soon be a girl on the ground with a broken jaw, and poor Paige trapped between her natural empathy for others and the sensation of "oh my god that felt incredible."

There is no way that Renee isn't an agent. I don't care for whom she works, I just ... I was able to accept several earlier coincidences but Gabriel's evasive denial ("You're losing it, Philip") paired with the super coincidence of the burst pipe - that's when I was 100% convinced. Then the show went on to give us her disappointment in Stan talking about leaving his job and I was like, "Yep." All the credit goes to Noah Emmerich for making me still care about that piece of shit Beeman.

I agree with anyone above who says that the Center made a mistake in choice of Jennings child. Just going by looks you'd pick Paige because she so resembles Elizabeth (and not Henry because he looks more like Philip) but the personalities are switched underneath. Paige's emotions come straight from her dad, and I get the feeling that Henry - if taken down this dark path - could turn out to be just as much of an emotionless robot as his mother.

And speaking of sociopaths: Elizabeth tells Tuan that he can't make it without a partner and in this same episode she tells her partner that he's got to quit. I turned to my wife and said, "So, what, she's gonna go to Tuan and be like, "Let's you and me go do this?"" and she just rolled her eyes.

"I'm surprised to see the lack of empathy for Tuan here and elsewhere online."

I think that's because the show hasn't given us any reason to have it. We have real life understanding of what he's been through and we can bring that context in to our watching, but the show's basically just dropped this guy into the story like, "Here's a guy that works with Elizabeth and Philip now" just as it did with Hans. Both Tuan and Hans got about the same amount of back-story screen time. I'm not saying that's the right way or wrong way to treat the character - giving us no blatant reason to empathize - but it's what they've done.

Let's see, what else ... oh yeah. From the first time I saw Kimmy I've been ready to never see her again and unfortunately that keeps not happening.

In a previous thread I said something about "how Gabriel was always making tea for people - over time we've seen so many shots of him with the kettle, with mugs, etc.
and then we get to see Claudia in that same house where they've spent so much time with Gabriel and there she is with her to-go styrofoam cup with plastic lid. Just spot-on."


and in this episode it looked like they intentionally eschewed the dining table and were at some rinky-dink card table and folding chairs. I mean you can even see the other nicer table in the background of some shots. I don't know how the show can keep showing Claudia's disdain for P&E and giving us the sense that to her all this is (and they are) disposable but they keep doing it. I can not wait to see whatever it is that Elizabeth is surely going to do to her. Claudia, I'm afraid you're going to come face-to-face with the dead-eyed shark and this time it won't stop with a simple beatdown.

BEWARE THE SHARK, CLAUDIA

You know, I watched this whole series in a fairly short period of time and I went from being like, "Well, it's a show about spies and people sometimes kill people, I mean they're spies and all" to "Oh my god what is wrong with Elizabeth? The KGB grew an honest-to-god monster." It's been a fascinating thing to watch, and I think the show doled out just enough moments of her humanity - mainly everything with Young Hee - to act as an offset to all the sociopathic behavior and keep her sufficiently grounded as human in our eyes. Barely.

and then for each one of those we also get as a reward a shot like her pulling the crucifix necklace out of the trash.

now if you'll pardon me I have to go tweet at Alison Wright because every single scene she's been in has been amazing and I think she turned into the heart of the show when I wasn't watching. I am #teammartha and I don't even know what that means and I don't care. I just want her story to end well.

p.s. I'm friends with a guy who knows Mail Robot in real life and says that he's a bit of a diva. That doesn't surprise me, I'm sad to say.
posted by komara at 1:28 PM on August 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


"now if you'll pardon me I have to go tweet at Alison Wright because every single scene she's been in has been amazing and I think she turned into the heart of the show when I wasn't watching."

Following up: I did it and she retweeted it.
posted by komara at 8:17 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


There are season 6 preview trailers available: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

The date of the season six premiere has been announced as March 28th (and been carefully noted in my planner).

Here's what I've gleaned from the previews:

-- Paige has begun doing active missions, and Elizabeth praises her for doing it well
-- Paige spars with her father and her mother (separately).
-- In voiceover, Oleg is asking a husband to find out what his wife is doing, tell the Center, and to "stop her" if he has to. It's implied by the fact that this voiceover accompanies shots of Philip and Elizabeth that it's Philip he's asking.
-- There's a dead woman on the floor with exhibit tags next to her. She appears to be slender, and has dark hair. Stan's wandering around the crime scene with his pondering face.
-- A character I don't think I recognize holds a gun on Elizabeth, but it seems as though it ends badly for him.
-- Elizabeth knifes a guy who appears to be in a Navy uniform, and strangles another man.
-- Philip tells Elizabeth it's finally getting to her; she says things have "gone bad" and is shown frantically scrubbing a lot of blood off herself.
-- A man's hand pushes a velvet jewelry box across a table.
-- Elizabeth is wearing a strange locket that has a "Soviet-made" look to it.
-- Claudia tells Elizabeth that Stan Beeman "has to be dealt with".
-- Stan says to Philip, "Whatever you're doing here, don't".
posted by orange swan at 1:44 PM on February 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the clips!

-- Paige spars with her father and her mother (separately).

Paige vs. Philip looks more like actual combat than sparring. I guess we'll know soon enough.
posted by scalefree at 3:52 PM on February 21, 2018


Paige does look angry and aggressive during the sparring with her father, which made me think it was a physical fight at first, but after a number of careful rewatches I was confident it was just sparring.
posted by orange swan at 3:56 PM on February 21, 2018


Terrible, terrible, terrible news:

Ruthie Ann Miles, the actress who plays Young-Hee on the show, was crossing a street in Brooklyn yesterday with her 4 year-old-daughter Abigail when a car ran a red light and hit them and three other pedestrians. Her daughter and another child in the group did not survive.

EW.com news link. New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum has linked to a gofundme for Ruthie Ann Miles and another for the family of the second child victim.
posted by bluecore at 9:15 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh my God, that is so horrible.
posted by orange swan at 3:15 PM on March 6, 2018


Variety on 'The Americans': Inside Its Six-Season Journey to Critical Stardom and TV History. The article contains a photo of a disguised Oleg and Philip sitting on a park bench together having what appears to be an uncomfortable conversation. It also offers these comments regarding the ending:

Russell and Rhys say they’re extremely satisfied with the end of their 75-episode run as Philip and Elizabeth. Rhys joked that he was gearing up for a “big gun battle where somebody dies” — but nobody really expected Weisberg and Fields to take the easy way out.

“[The ending] they’ve created is so satisfying in a really surprising way,” Russell says. “It’s exactly in line with the tone of the show. It really got me.”

Landgraf promises that the last chapter of “Americans” is by turns heady and heart-wrenching in a way that fits the political moment. “The sixth season is a masterpiece in its interweaving of historical and interpersonal stories,” he says. “It looks at the downsides of nationalism and blind loyalty and the importance of real patriotism.”

posted by orange swan at 10:32 AM on March 20, 2018


In preview 1, Philip is show sitting on a park bench next to a guy I now recognize is a disguised Oleg, and the guy Elizabeth is shown throttling from behind one scene *may* also be Oleg.
posted by orange swan at 10:59 AM on March 20, 2018


The sixth season is a masterpiece in its interweaving of historical and interpersonal stories

I expected nothing less. I’m so sad but so ready to see how this all ends.
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:09 PM on March 20, 2018


from the Variety article: "...fills the commuter train sitting at the edge of the platform at a station in Tuckahoe, N.Y., about 18 miles north of Manhattan."

I use that station whenever I am visiting the area and going into the city! I wish I had known they were going to be filming there.
posted by mikepop at 12:07 PM on March 22, 2018


Alan Sepinwall previews the season here (minor spoilers in the second half of the article). I'm counting the days!
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 4:26 PM on March 22, 2018


Season 6: First Look.

What I got from this video:

- As season 6 begins, it's 1987.
- Elizabeth, in a ratty blond wig, is shown in a bedroom glancing over at and away from a man who is sleeping in the bed. I don't think I recognize the man in the bed. He appears to be about 50.
- Philip is working at the travel agency, while Elizabeth handles spy missions alone. "She's overworked, overstressed, and smoking a lot of cigarettes".
- Philip is using his newly created leisure time to take line dancing lessons.
- Henry is continuing to do well at school as well as in hockey, where he has seemingly acquired a collection of puck bunnies. Philip is a proud hockey dad.
- Paige and Elizabeth begin working together on spy missions, and are forming a tight bond.
- Claudia is helping to train Paige, and is seemingly developing a good relationship with her, as Paige is shown giving her a hug (great sardonic smile from Elizabeth in reaction to this).
- Joel Fields hints darkly at a "a long road to travel" with Claudia.
- Yay, Arkady sighting! He's shown arriving at Oleg's door to speak with him, and they go outside to do so, although they appear to be in Russia, with Russian posters in the background.
- Claudia, Paige, and Elizabeth are shown sitting on a couch together enjoying watching what might be Soviet television programming. Or rather, Paige seems to be enjoying it, Claudia appears game, Elizabeth's response lies somewhere between "sardonic" and "gritted teeth".
- Aderholt appears to have gotten married!!! He's shown sitting at a dining room table cuddling a baby with a woman seated beside him. Renee is also seated at the table.
- A woman with short blond hair and wire-framed glasses and a lot of blood on the one side of her face rolls sideways on the ground. It might be Elizabeth in disguise, but I'm not sure. She could be either dead or collapsing after having killed someone -- looks more like the latter to me.
- There's another shot of Elizabeth stabbing a man in uniform.

THREE MORE DAYS.
posted by orange swan at 9:14 AM on March 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Best line from the teaser: "We actually see Henry".
posted by Nelson at 9:40 AM on March 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Another point from the teaser - Philip looks better than we have seen him in ages (younger, almost?) presumably because he is under less stress. But even if he has the time to take up line dancing etc., wouldn't he still be stressing about Elizabeth working dangerous missions without him and Paige starting to get more involved with missions?

Also, doesn't he still have to be involved with Kimmy, since her dad's promotion is the main reason they ended up staying? I hope no one bought him a new briefcase to congratulate him on the promotion!

1987.. so we can sneak in some Simpsons references just under the wire.

Potential geopolitical tie-ins from 1987ish:
  • "Tear down this wall" / arms reduction speech
  • West German kid invades Soviet airspace undetected and lands a Cessna in Red Square
  • Missle attack on USS Stark
  • Spycatcher book published
  • Margaret Thatcher interviewed on Soviet TV
Soundtrack watch: The Joshua Tree is released in 1987
posted by mikepop at 11:58 AM on March 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Soundtrack watch: The Joshua Tree is released in 1987

I know a scene of Philip brooding over Elizabeth in a dark room while "With or Without You" plays on the radio would be entirely too on the nose, but I want to see it anyway.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 12:46 PM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


My money would be on Bullet the Blue Sky under some mission footage.
posted by mikepop at 11:30 AM on March 28, 2018


Here's an interesting article about the various disguises Elizabeth and Philip wear. I'm sure it will surprise no one to learn that Matthew Rhys hated everything about Clark.

According to the article, we can expect many disguises in season 6. Elizabeth has about 20 total and employs 6 of them in the first episode alone. There's to be one recurrent disguise/alias known as "Stephanie", who "works as a home health-care worker for an ailing artist (Miriam Shor) who happens to be married to a nuclear-arms negotiator upon whom Elizabeth is keeping tabs". Stephanie does not know from fashion.
posted by orange swan at 2:42 PM on March 28, 2018


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