Buy it Now: The Americans Season 5
After last week¡¯s episode focused on parenthood and the consequential choices that parents make for their children, it seems appropriate that the season ends with a touching hour on marriage, which is its own kind of adventure. The most crucial scene in ¡°The Soviet Division¡± finds Philip and Elizabeth winding down their relationship with Tuan after Pasha¡¯s suicide attempt finally convinces his mother to bring him back home to Russia. The end would seem to justify the means, supporting Tuan¡¯s belief that a suicide attempt, whether successful or not, would achieve the desired goal of getting Pasha¡¯s mother in the right place. In typical Americans fashion, however, the gambit is significantly messier than planned: Pasha didn¡¯t exercise restraint in slashing one wrist while missing the artery. He slashed both wrists up to the elbow. It wasn¡¯t a cry for help; it was a legitimate bid to end his life.
In some ways, the penultimate season of The Americans ¡ª which closed with a trio of tense, strong episodes, but often felt slow in stretches, especially every time it focused on Oleg¡¯s story line ¡ª could be characterized as the drama¡¯s Wizard of Oz season. C., another way of saying there¡¯s no place like home. Both Philip and Elizabeth spent a fair amount of time in Kansas, romancing their Agricorp sources Ben and Dierdre. They eventually affirmed their own commitment to each other by officially getting married back in D.
The Americans Season 5 Trailer Australia
What¡¯s striking about the scene is that Elizabeth doesn¡¯t say these words out of malice. She sees herself in Tuan. She¡¯s the good soldier, too, and when she was his age, maybe she would have attacked her elders for compromising the mission over other concerns. In talking to Tuan, it¡¯s almost as if she¡¯s giving advice to her younger self, understanding now what a terrible psychological weight she¡¯s had to carry over the years, when missions end badly or ¡°split-second decisions¡± turn out to be regrettable ones. She¡¯s wise enough to understand, more at this moment than in years past, that having a partner to share your burdens and doubts ¡ª and to have your back in sticky situations ¡ª is essential in the long term. Tuan may be a rock-ribbed ideologue today, but circumstances will crack his resolve, just as they have Elizabeth¡¯s, and he¡¯ll have no one there to pick up the pieces.
When they get back to the house, however, Tuan confesses to a tough report on Philip and Elizabeth, on top of disclosing his ill-advised efforts to reach loved ones with an out-of-state phone call. The Jennings did not commit to their cover as fully as he would have liked and they put the entire mission at risk due to ¡°certain petty, bourgeois goals¡± (i.e. keeping a teenager from killing himself). When Elizabeth takes him aside to talk about his report, we¡¯re primed for one of her patented beatdowns, but she takes a remarkably different tack. She accepts his criticism over their lapses in cover, with the caveat that they were running multiple missions at once. She doesn¡¯t even address the dig of ¡°petty, bourgeois goals,¡± which seems the more grievous insult. Instead, she hits him with an honest warning about his future endeavors: ¡°You¡¯re not going to make it.¡± ¡°It¡¯s too hard,¡± she adds, ¡°the work we do, to do alone ¡ You will fail. Something will happen. You¡¯ll get caught. Or you¡¯ll die. One day it will all come crashing down.¡±
There¡¯s also something slightly Oz-like about the arc of this Americans season. Just as Dorothy realizes that her ability to return to Kansas has been with her all along, the Jennings learn that, in spite of all their talk about wanting to go home, they are already there. Philip and Elizabeth still consider America a place that poses significant danger, and they remain loyal to their birth country. But at this point, the U.S. is also familiar and comfortable, especially to their children. As much as they talk about how well Paige and Henry will eventually adjust once they get to Russia, witnessing Pasha¡¯s suicide attempt ¡ª rendered in semi-graphic and upsetting scenes early in this episode ¡ª has to have given them pause about what could happen if they force Paige and Henry to blend into a culture so different from the one they¡¯ve always known. All of those confused, melancholy feelings about leaving things behind and what it could mean are brought to the surface during the ¡°Goodbye Yellow Brick Road¡± montage midway through the episode.
The importance of family and home runs through this entire episode, in Pasha¡¯s and Evgheniya¡¯s plan to return to Russia without Mischa, the advice Elizabeth gives to Tuan about getting a partner so he¡¯ll have a support system, and, most significantly, in the moment when Martha finds out she could potentially adopt an orphan girl. (Oh, the look in Martha¡¯s eyes when she realizes for the first time that she could have a daughter, and a chance at an un-miserable future.) Over and over, The Americans ¡ª a show about two people working in a profession driven by mistrust ¡ª emphasizes the importance of having reliable anchors, whether they are family or places that keep us centered. Showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, who wrote the first two episodes of the season and the last two, kept The Americans on a low simmer throughout most of season five. While there were certainly some pulse-raising moments ¡ª the shooting of the Nazi sympathizer and her husband in episode 11 was a standout in that regard ¡ª there were fewer high-intensity action sequences than usual and no attempt to end the season on a cliffhanger like season three¡¯s ¡°March 8, 1983.¡± Even the ¡¯80s pop-cultural references got dialed back. This has never been a light show, but it felt even more serious this season and, as noted earlier, especially plodding when it turned its attention to Oleg.