TV Show: The Americans

The Americans: Casablanca and EST

“START”, the almost perfect finale of The Americans, offers its surviving characters a shot at redemption, and an ending to a seasonal arc in which Mischa and Nadezhda finally have a mission worthy of their talents. We pick up…

The Americans: Smoke gets in your eyes

The title of the penultimate episode, “Jennings, Elizabeth” had half the fans convinced it foretold a death. It did. By the episode’s end, Nadezhda and Mischa, those two young idealists now grown into weary middle age, are hitting the road.…

The Americans: Burn baby burn

In “The Summit”, the nearly perfect eighth episode of the final season (perfection would have included Oleg), Elizabeth finally puts humanity ahead of mission. The build-up has been going on for a while. The suspense was in wondering whether the…

The Americans: Moving parts

In an effort to save his marriage, if not his country, Philip joins Elizabeth’s mission to rescue an illegal who the FBI has codenamed “Harvest”. Henry confides in his “Uncle” Stan, which rhymes with Sam. And somebody needs to tell…

The Americans: On my way

“Riffifi”, episode 6 of the final slog toward doom that is The Americans, is named for a film in which most of the protagonists die. This week Elizabeth doesn’t kill anyone, but she comes close to braining her husband…

The Americans: Philip acts

Elizabeth’s senseless murder spree continues, but she needs Philip’s help for one final mission. In pushing him beyond where his conscience allows, will she seal both their fates? Episode 5, “The Great Patriotic War”, opens with Stan, tailed by members…

The Americans: Four wigs and no funerals

Welcome to another week of dread, close calls, and the longest long game on television. Can Elizabeth Jennings, the hardest working spy in Spytown, keep dodging bullets forever, literally? With only six remaining episodes, we’ll know soon enough. Gone…

The Americans: Your country or your wife

“Dead Hand”, the perfectly scored final season premiere of The Americans begins with a montage that wordlessly (except for the lyrics) shows us everything we need to know about the state of the Jennings’s marriage. Philip has renovated the dingy…

The Americans: Breathing room

This week’s penultimate episode offers more smiles than have ever been seen before on The Americans. There are even some happy surprises, but it ends with the proverbial ticking time bomb and we won’t know till next week whether there…

The Americans: Your life is a lie

We open this 100% Paige-free episode with Henry, the changeling-childe/early adapter/multi-tasker, listening to his Walkman while doing homework and/or inventing a new digital language. Philip asks if he knows where his mother is. A ruse if ever there was one!…

The Americans: The Monsters Next Door

Ever since The Sopranos, television has been in love with anti-heroes – not bad guys turned heroic (usually due to the transformative power of romantic lurve) but people who do very bad things just because. Who wouldn’t want…

The Americans: Anticipation

Henry’s narrating the “previously on.” Does that mean he’ll finally be important in the story? Probably not because this is a show that loves to lead you down a path, which inevitably turns out to be a dead end. We…

The Americans: Immersion is a euphemism

Nobody gets killed or gets laid (except possibly off-screen), but the relentless sense of dread, burn-out, and general malaise continues. How much more of this can we take? Philip gets back from saying good-bye to Gabriel, and chats with Elizabeth…

The Americans: You gotta believe

Which imaginary boyfriend will get Paige’s rose? Will it be Jesus or Karl Marx? Gabriel isn’t making it easy. In their long-awaited meeting, he love bombs her with a Karl Marx quote about sacrifice that sounds like something Jesus would…

The Americans: Role play

More than any other show, The Americans lives and dies by the adage that the world’s a stage, and we each play a lot of parts. It’s not just the Jennings who move effortlessly (sometimes) between identities. Things get interesting…

The Americans: Dissatisfaction

In What’s the Matter with Kansas, episode four of season five, nobody is happy with the status quo, but only one man decides to shake things up. Elizabeth and Philip are visiting their collective parent handler Gabriel. Is he…