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The Americans - S5E4 – What’s the Matter with Kansas?

Previously on The Americans,“The Midges”

Images: The FX

Images: FX

“Think we’re going to get fired?”

Philip and Elizabeth are closer and more comfortable with each other than ever. What seemed like distance in the first two episodes of this season, appears just to have been a world-weariness. Their spy life is getting old and they are getting cranky and stubborn. Philip exhibits a little jealousy at the thought of Elizabeth with another man. His lack of traction with the female target means there is a greater reliance on her success and his frustration is more than professional. Elizabeth is also allowing her personal feelings to interfere as she pulls back from fully seducing her mark. Maybe it’s a long-game to keep him baited, but Elizabeth a couple of seasons ago would not have hesitated. The Cause is taking a back seat to a growing need for domesticity. Their Kansas disguises alone, tell of their increasing disinterest. In that black bob, Elizabeth is more lounge martinis than trail GORP.  And Philip needs to realize the ’70s mustache only worked with Martha. Get with it, Jennings!

It’s hard to tell if the Jennings believe there is an end in sight or if they are slowly, reluctantly, resentfully, accepting the crawl into a life of spy perpetuity.

The Americans - S5E4 - Philip

“I was there, not you”

It’s nice to see a fully wigged Pastor Tim is back from Axe Capital (Billions reference) and his wife has given birth to that 12lb monster she was carrying around last season. Paige babysits, but barely looks at the child before starting to snoop. The scenes of her rifling through drawers is intercut with Elizabeth getting close then pulling away from her GORP scientist. Daughter – at the beginning of her career. Mother —  at the end of hers. It seems inevitable Paige will slide into the family business and her parents aren’t doing much to dissuade her. Elizabeth does at least seem worried at her daughter’s carelessness so perhaps there will be more training.

“We blackmailed the sh*t out of him”

Oh the irony. Just as Stan recoiled at threatening Oleg’s family, Oleg is squeamish about holding another man’s family to get what the KGB needs. Especially, since the family member was in the Afghanistan war, like Oleg’s brother.

Oleg believes Stan sold him out while Stan threatens to throw himself on a sword to protect his Russian friend. Interesting storytelling that continues to keep Oleg tied into the overall narrative in an engaging way.

Let’s hope they don’t Romeo and Juliet these two.

“I lived”

The writers are giving us some great insight into civilian life in Russia, this season. Alexei’s continued complaints, Philip’s childhood flashbacks and reminiscences and Oleg’s family life have all helped flesh in our understanding of what life was like in Soviet Russia at that time and in their past. The little glimpses we see of Masha’s covert travel to America show the great lengths people would go through to escape. In a short but heartbreaking scene Mama Oleg tells her son of five year encampment. More than ever, this show is bringing to life the daily hardship in the USSR.

Small Bites

  • Henry! – This show’s greatest mystery made an appearance. He’s having trouble with math but luck with the ladies. As far as anyone knows….
  • Player Beeman – Elizabeth and Philip go on a double date with Stan and gym woman. I still think she’s hiding something. Maybe a few zombies in her basement?
  • Food Juxtaposition – we see the paltry stockroom of a Russian grocery store before cutting to Elizabeth carelessly spilling nuts everywhere in luxury supermarket.
  • The Big Apple – Mischa finally made it to America. Won’t papa be surprised.
The Americans S5E4
  • 8/10
    Plot - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Dialogue - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Action - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Performances - 8/10

"What's the Matter With Kansas?"

No squirm-worthy moments. No crazy killings. I may forget it by the end of the season, but this episode was an engaging hour of good character moments and world building. And Henry.

User Review
5 (1 vote)
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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