Season 5 of The Americans was about family as well as the innocents whose lives were affected by Philip and Elizabeth’s secret lives. The finale, The Soviet Division, was no exception. I do, however, take exception to some of the reactions to Season 5. It moved at a somewhat slower pace than past seasons BUT it has never been a Bond or Bourne-type spy extravaganza. Its closest kin is the work of John Le Carre; somber meditations on the lives of spies. The penultimate season was no different. Was it my favorite season? No, but it’s setting the stage for a wilder ride next season.
It’s time to dismount my soapbox and go to our spoiler break *after* playing a song that’s dedicated to Pascha and his soon to be divided family. It’s the first of five hit versions of a song written by Cat Stevens:
Tuan was, of course, less moved by Pascha’s plight. He might have selected this as a theme song instead:
Cold As Ice: As I’ve said before, Tuan grew up in war torn Vietnam. Life is cheap to him. His ideological cause is everything. Unlike Philip and Elizabeth, he has no time for “petit bourgeois concerns” such as whether or not Pascha survives slitting his wrists. It worked: Pascha and the Ballerina are going home. The defector is remaining in the US&A. That’s all that matters to Tuan, his fake apology notwithstanding.
After Tuan discusses his report on the mission, Elizabeth separates her husband and the Vietnamese kid. She sees her younger self in Tuan and tells him that he won’t make it without a partner. She’s right but I still foresee Tuan making mistakes out of the arrogance of youth or the folly of ideology. I think he’ll die young or in jail.
Not only is Tuan as cold as ice, he’s a foreigner too:
Speaking of cool customers, Claudia has learned how to handle Philip. In her first stint as their handler, she bossed them around like Stalin in a skirt. Now she listens carefully and speaks in soothing tones. She may not purr like our feline friend Gabriel but she’s got a better handle on things the second time around.
We learned Gabriel’s real name in our lone visit to Moscow: Semyon Andreyevich. He’s cooked up a plan for Martha by putting an adorable orphan named Olya in her path. She always wanted a kid with Clark and now she may adopt since she’ll be an exile for the rest of her life absent a presidential pardon.
One more Moscow note. My only complaint about The Soviet Division is the absence of our favorite Soviet, Oleg Burov. I have a hunch how his story will end but we’ll hold that for next season. Be careful out there, dude-ski.
Stan By Me: Our favorite feeb learns that Tass Chick’s hockey puck of a boyfriend is not a double agent. He passes the lie detector with flying colors. I haven’t the foggiest notion as to what that has to do with this 1982 Tull tune or not, but I felt like playing it:
The big news from Stanstan is that Renee is not walking away but moving in; ostensibly over a broke pipe in her apartment. It sounds fishy to me but Beeman is beaming.
The chat Stan and Renee had about his job convinced me that Philip and I are right: she’s a KGB agent. Renee convinced Stan to stay in cointelpro by flattering him about his decency. He *is* a good guy but she wants him to stay put so she can eventually compromise him. They didn’t cast Laurie Holden, who brought Vic Mackey down on The Shield, to be a nice suburban lady with game. In between inspecting Stan’s plumbing, she’s up to no good.
The Big Decision: Philip and Elizabeth begin the episode convinced that they’ll be leaving the spy game and riding off into the Soviet sunset with their family. Philip even royally pissed of Henry by telling him that his preppie dreams are over. I think he was already planning to call himself Biff. Biff dreams die hard.
In other Jennings family news, Elizabeth intensifies her training with Paige to toughen her up for life in Mother Russia. Then fate plays a trick on our favorite Russian illegals.
Philip goes to say goodbye to his non-girlfriend, Kimmy CIA Kid. He informs her that he’s taking a job in Japan to the tune of this REM, uh, tune:
It’s low in the mix but you can still hear Michael Stipe sing the “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” refrain. That’s a lot of sorrow, y’all. But Philip feels it over his skeeziest assignment. Kimmy is another of the innocents whose life was touched by the KGB.
When Philip hears the recordings from daddy dearest’s briefcase, he stunned to learn that he’s been promoted to head of the Soviet Division. This is, of course, spook gold.
Philip considers tossing the tapes and going on with their plans but he cannot. He tells Elizabeth who puts the kibosh on the big decision. That should please Henry, his Biff dreams may be revived by this development. Elizabeth remains worried about what spookdom is doing to her husband. She suggests that all he should do in the future is run Kimmy CIA Kid and the travel agency. Never gonna happen, my friend.
It was another stellar season of The Americans. I’ll give the last word to Elton John whose song Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is used as the soundtrack for an extended montage: