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The Americans – S4E13 – Persona Non Grata

Previously on The Americans, “A Roy Rogers in Franconia”

 

Images: FX

Images: FX

This season, and this episode, focused on the threat of bioweapons and the threat of children growing up. Honestly, I don’t know which was more frightening.

Spy versus Spy

This episode starts off with the highly tense yet methodical spy versus spy surveillance this show does so well. Jaw-clenchingly slow. Yet all turns to fast-paced chaos when William makes a run for it, chased by a cadre of agents with guns, cars, and helicopters. High drama ensues. Intercut scenes of Philip strolling through the park and sitting quietly on a bench. Near enough to hear the helicopters, but far enough to assume they have nothing to do with him. High marks to the editing and pacing.

“Would You Like a Coke?”

Oh, William. And here we thought you just a snarky scientist. This show has done well to carefully unveil William as a sympathetic character. A deeply lonely person, William had nothing to hold on to other than a commitment to a cause he didn’t really believe in. Tragically, he unleashes the bioweapon on himself and resigns himself to dying alone.

“The absence of closeness makes you dry on the inside,” he tells Standerholt (and I certainly hope Stan was taking notes).

William longs for the type of relationship Philip and Elizabeth have. He heartbreakingly leaves us (and Standerholt with): “American dream. You’d never suspect them. She’s pretty. He’s lucky.”

Sigh. Here I was hoping he’d go back to Russia and meet Martha.

Dissolving the Rezidentura

William’s capture has the FBI in high dudgeon. They accuse Arkaday of knowing about the bioweapon and killing Gaad, demanding he leave the country. He’s not the only one leaving. Oleg’s heart isn’t in it anymore, and he’s heading home, supposedly to be with his mother. He breaks the news to Tatiana who has been asked to replace Arkaday, and we realize how ridiculous this pair looks standing up.

talleg

Arkaday accidentally led to Gaad’s death and Oleg gave Stan information on the bioweapon. Now their stories seem to have come to a natural conclusion. Truth be told, they never seemed to have too much to do after Nina left. I would miss both actors, but unless they come up with a new storyline (in Russia, perhaps?) I think this show has enough to do without side-barring for awkward sex scenes and morose stares.

Agent Paige

Paige is joining the family business. She doesn’t care about communism, but she does care about her family. She asks Elizabeth for “self-defense” lessons and continues to keep her parents informed on their FBI neighbor next door.

Matthew confides in Paige about his father having an affair and Paige says she wishes she could go back to being a kid again. Yet, she seems to be taking a very grown up role with her parents. She tells her mother she should visit Pastor Tim’s new baby first, then offers to make Elizabeth some dinner. The look on Elizabeth’s face is… pensive.

Paige may be a natural, but she’s likely over her head trying to honey-trapping her way into espionage. Philip knows nothing good can come from a Paige and Matthew liaison (no matter how much Stan seems for it). Paige couldn’t keep her parents secret with Pastor Tim, so what makes her think she’ll do any better with a boyfriend?  Back away from Second Base, Paige. Back. Away.

What are We Fighting For?

This season, characters have questioned their allegiances to abstract ideals and have sided in favor of more personal ones. Oleg and William realized human lives were more important than potential annihilation. Philip has always been more cowboy hat than ushanka and he’s ready to give it up if he can.

mamaspyAs he says in EST, “And one day you wake up and you don’t want to go into the office. You don’t want to make arrangements for people you don’t know and don’t give a shit about.”

What’s more surprising are the subtle changes in Elizabeth’s faith. Her friendship with Young Hee and her evolving relationship with Paige give her something more to think about. Even so, when Gabriel suggests they pack it in and go home to Russia, Elizabeth has a look of panic. What if she’s not needed? What will she do if her reason for being is taken away? She really needs an EST immersion course. Or she could find a new cause.

I think, in season five, the Jennings will be fighting for family.

Sons

Oleg was called a “good son” by Arkaday and Tatiana. But he wasn’t the son featured in this episode. Neither was Henry. Enter Semenov Mikhail, Philip’s son. Looks like he’s on his way to meet his father, by way of Canada. Good luck with those Mounties, boy.

Speaking of Henry, he was barely in this episode and frankly, I’m worried about him. I think we’ll see the repercussions of all this Paige mess, next season. He and his computer might very well narc on his family to Stan.

Sons

The Innocent

When she holds Pastor Tim’s baby, Paige’s face is filled with joy. A split second later, it’s crossed with worry. Maybe she’s thinking about the complex world this baby is being brought into just by the very nature of knowing the Jennings.

 babyhope

Spy Baby

Elizabeth should open a Laundromat.

 babybasket

The Americans S4E13
  • 8.5/10
    Plot - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Dialogue - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Action - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Performances - 9/10
8.6/10

Summary

True to form, this finale was stomach-twisting and heart-constricting. True to form, it concluded just a few arcs only to tease many more to come in season five. I wouldn’t call this finale satisfying, though who watches this show to be satisfied? The scenes with William made me almost forget my heart being ripped to shreds over Martha and Young Hee. I have enough faith in the writers to make Philip’s son engaging and continue the intriguing exploration of Paige and Henry. I’ve never been more interested in television teenagers.

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About Mallika Chakravarti (99 Articles)
Mallika is a digital marketer, yoga teacher and nutritionist. She spends her fun time writing, podcasting, consuming vast amounts of media and wishing she could fly. Mallika can currently be found thinking of something else.
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