Previously on The Americans, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”
This episode is called Lotus 1-2-3. A briefly revolutionary bit of clunky technology that quickly became obsolete. Not unlike Philip’s passion for espionage. It just doesn’t work anymore.
This is not new. Philip has been coming apart at the seams since we met him. It’s a good thing Matthew Rhys is so jovial in his personal life or his face might freeze in Philip’s world-weary expression. This man has good reason to be depressed. Eighty percent of his life is a lie. The other twenty, namely his family, is under constant threat. He isn’t as committed as Elizabeth, nor can he compartmentalize nearly as well. There are very few options and none of them without their risks. When Philip realizes he killed an innocent scientist for no reason he voices the simple truth we’ve all known for years. This is hard for Philip. It’s about time he laid this on the table. It’ll be good to see this emotional arc and its consequences more overtly addressed.
Last season we explored Elizabeth and her relationship with her mother, and as a mother. This season, Philip is having flashbacks to his father and the show is practically littered with his sad sons’ stories. Philip needs to heal his childhood wounds by paying attention to his boys.
The Neglected Son—He’s got the grades. He’s got the ladies. He’s got the video games and the FBI friendly neighbor. But let’s be clear: Henry is the forgotten child. Now we know he knows it. More Henry. It’s low-hanging fruit, Philip.
The Fake Son – As Tuan and Philip continue to spend time together, we see a chink in the cyborg’s armor. This boy has never had a real father he can share his tortured past with and he’s growing attached to the man who tosses the football around with him. Adopt Tuan. He can teach Paige a thing or two. Sadly, it’s far more likely Tuan will meet a tragic end.
The Lost Son – We now know why we spent so much time seeing Mischa’s journey. It is so we can have the beautiful scene between he and Gabriel. Going through all hardship and hurdles to see his father only to be turned away as his presence would not be good for Philip. Heartbreaking. It was a great choice to have the explanation and Mischa’s reaction be simple and quiet. The score for this show is always beautiful, but the musical strings in the Mischa scenes were particularly noteworthy. Find Mischa. He’s probably good at math, too.
Philip’s unhappily has sex with the logistics lady in the least sexy sex scene in recent memory (par for the course for Philip unless her name is Martha). Later, we see Elizabeth in a more salacious honey pot, but she too is faking it (she’s just better at it). Paige is questioning her relationship with Matthew. Henry is probably NOT unhappy with the number of nameless girls he’s talking to, but we’ll never know. The bloom is off the Jennings’ rose, but whatever happens they are a family. In a subtly emotional and succinctly scripted end scene, Philip voices what could be the premise of this entire show. “It’s us, Elizabeth. It’s us.”
Humor – This was an emotionally dense episode, but the doses of humor were well done and welcome. Lotus 1-2-3 sex. The FBI’s “busy and irritate” approach. Philip and Elizabeth’s reaction to Henry’s math skills. Oleg’s buffet of potential Russian brides.
Food – This time it was hard lumps of bread (?) being warmed in a fire juxtaposed with caramelizing marshmallows for romantic S’mores.
GMO – Looks like this is the start of genetically modified wheat. Let’s all clutch our gluten-sensitive stomachs.
Stan the Man – Philip said what we all are thinking. Andrea…uh, Renee, could be a spy. But this means she’s not, right?
The Americans S5E5
I am a big fan of this episode. It was light on the spy hijinks. I’ll take deep, under-scripted character moments over gory action every time. I was a little harsh on the early episodes of this season, but they’ve already delivered some nice payoffs. Noah Emmerich’s direction was nicely done. Good job, Stan.