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Characters Ponder the Future on The Americans

With only one more episode left in the 5th season of The Americans, “The World Council of Churches” put its effort into beginning the resolution of the plotlines running throughout. As you’d expect, most of this involved the future of these characters. They’ve pondered it all season, and last week the Jennings began seriously considering a drastic change which would throw the entire series for a loop. This week they began taking tentative action while others faced the consequences of their decisions throughout the season.

I’m not ready to say goodbye yet.

Spoilers for 5×12 “The World Council of Churches” below

Recap

As you might expect from the title, The Americans starts this week with Paige and Pastor Tim. They talk about Paige’s future college options and it turns out Pastor Tim got his job offer, with the World Council of Churches in Argentina. He decided to take it. Paige tells her parents about it when she goes home and throws her cross necklace in the trash. Elizabeth gives it back to her because she’ll still need to wear it until Pastor Tim leaves.

Cold, Elizabeth. Seriously cold.

Over in Moscow, Oleg goes through another questioning about his time in America, this time about Tatiana. They ask him directly about William and the FBI busting him, since he has a unique connection to everyone involved in William’s operation and his eventual arrest. Oleg obviously denies any connection.

His friend Stan meets his TASS contact again, but she brings her new hockey player fiancé, Gennady, with her. This obviously shakes Stan and Aderholt but Gennady assures them he wants to protect his fiancé. He also asks them to pay her more. Ugh, this will not end well.

Philip and Elizabeth meet with Claudia to tell her about Pastor Tim and also up the idea of moving back home. Claudia says she’ll start making arrangements when they’re ready and they won’t regret it. They talk about the adjustment for the kids as well. Back in Moscow, Oleg meets with his boss to ask the first grocery head they approached be released from prison, since they promised leniency for her cooperation. He also hears about the serious charges facing the others they arrested.

Elizabeth puts on her Eckert disguise to visit Evgehniya. Pasha comes home with a black eye and she tells Elizabeth about Pasha’s worsening troubles. However, she still doesn’t want to go home without her husband despite Elizabeth’s encouragements to do so. She goes “home” to see Tuan. He tells her about kids beating Pasha up and they agree their plan to torment him isn’t working, so they need a new plan.

Over at the FBI, Stan and Aderholt discuss the potential of their contact being exposed and what to do about her fiancé. Meanwhile Oleg talks to his mother about her time in the prison camp and she tells him about sleeping with a doctor in exchange for basic needs. She also seems to disapprove of him working for the KGB.

Next, Philip and Elizabeth bring Pastor Tim a farewell gift and ask him about bringing Paige and Henry to the Soviet Union. He tells them he doesn’t know, but thinks it would be tough. He also suggests they decide quickly. They come home to find Henry and his (girl)friend Chris made dinner for them as thanks for letting him go to his school.

Hey, guess what? Mischa is back! He’s interrupted from work because someone asked to see him. Turns out Philip has a brother, maybe? He introduces himself as such. Back in America Paige tells her parents that she slept through the night for the first time in a long time and that she’s happy about Pastor Tim leaving. She also asks where they got the Jennings name from, and they tell her about getting the identities from dead people. They tell her they think of those names as their real names, but Philip says he misses his real name.

Back in Moscow, Oleg finds out the grocery head he pleaded lenience for was released but their investigation was killed by a higher up. He goes to see the woman at her grocery, but doesn’t talk to her. He talks with his father about both his investigation and the one currently being conducted into him. Oleg makes his father promise not to interfere because he doesn’t want him to suffer any consequences.

Afterwards, he goes for a walk to collect his thoughts. Meanwhile Mischa eats dinner with his uncle’s family.

The Eckerts drive over to Tuan and discuss the adjustment their kids would make in Russia. Both sound entirely delusional in the process. Elizabeth also says both she and the kids would take Philip’s name. While Paige sets up her heavy bag to train, Tuan tells Philip and Elizabeth about telling Pasha how to slit his wrists. He insists he showed him how to do so in a way where he won’t die before his parents find him, and also how to write the suicide note, but Philip and Elizabeth reject the plan completely.

They try to make Tuan call and stop Pasha, but no one answers. Philip rushes out of the house to go to the Morozov’s while the others follow. An FBI protection car out front watches them approach the house.

Review

What a cruel cliffhanger. And yet, I can’t help but wonder if Philip and Elizabeth will possibly understand the connection between what has happened with the Morozovs and their own ponderings about taking Henry and Paige to Russia. Because honestly, guys, they have to see it. Right?

Henry has his future planned out, at least for a few years. He has a school to go to and a girl he’s interested in. This school will open up influential pathways for him. Why in the world would his parents think dropping all that now to drag him to Russia would be any better for him than the move to America has been for Pasha? Paige may handle things slightly better, but I have my doubts whether she would handle it well. The only Soviet Union she knows is the romanticized fantasy of her parents.

Which, of course, poses the biggest question about the move; can Philip and Elizabeth handle it any better than their kids?

Their fantasies of returning home match up well with the Morozovs fleeing to America. Alexei Morozov viewed the United States as a needed escape, a fantasy land where things would be better for him and his family. He viewed it as a place where his problems would disappear. It was a fantasy land. The Jenningses (and especially Elizabeth) harbor the same delusions about their homeland. They think it would be an escape from their current life. They think they can simply go back and all the guilt and hardships they currently experience will go away.

It’s not hard to imagine the Jennings family moving to the Soviet Union and ending up exactly like the Morozovs. I can easily picture Philip hating it back home and having an affair while Elizabeth tries desperately to convince herself how much happier she is. I can easily picture Henry having the same problems plaguing Pasha.

If anyone ever doubted just how little Philip and Elizabeth understand their kids, or how little they know about the current Soviet Union, this episode tried hard to make it clear. This entire season has tried to make it clear. We’ve seen another Americanized character face the same issues after returning home.

Oleg’s investigation came to a close this week, as he faced the truth of the extent of the Soviet Union’s corruption. He returned home this season to be with his parents and escape his own troubles back in America. Just like Philip and Elizabeth would after returning home, Oleg has come to realize just how different home truly is. He has also found out that returning home did not end his problems. Home made those problems worse.

Now he’s facing a government who has at least some suspicion of the information he passed to Stan Beeman, he works for an agency hamstrung by corruption, and he has realized just how bad a shape his country is in. Philip and Elizabeth would face exactly the same problems if they return home. None of their problems would vanish. New ones would pile on top when their delusions of home shattered.

The Americans has always done an outstanding job paralleling its characters and interconnecting every storyline back into the themes of the show. They have done so yet again with the Jennings family, the Morozovs, and Oleg.

Come on, you think this kid is leaving this food behind?

All of this may ultimately be a moot point. There’s a lot of inherent risk in rushing over to stop Pasha before he attempts suicide, as the car parked out front reminded anyone who forgot. Whether Pasha survives the attempt or not, this will raise a lot of questions about everyone in their life. Their FBI protection will have to investigate everything happening in Pasha’s life. This may lead them back to Tuan, which will lead them to the Eckerts.

Even if they make the decision to leave America for the Soviet Union, looks like Philip and Elizabeth have one more mess to clean up. And frankly, considering what Tuan did this week, I’m not sure I would feel sorry for him if that cleanup involved taking him out.

Whatever the case, I’m excited to see this play out and sad to see yet another excellent season of an excellent show come to an end.

Other Thoughts:

  • Paige looked surprisingly unhappy about Pastor Tim leaving.
  • I felt for everyone in the room when Stan and Aderholt’s TASS contact brought her new fiancé to meet them. And yet, it feels like the only real loser in the end will be the woman herself. Everyone else will move on while her life is ruined. I hope I’m wrong.
  • Funny to see Philip and Elizabeth ask Pastor Tim about bringing their kids to the Soviet Union. I guess a part of them understands how little they know Paige and Henry.
  • I’m obviously very skeptical about whether that’s really Philip’s brother.
  • I used to view Oleg’s father very poorly, but this season has made me think twice. He comes across as a truly caring man who wants the help his family. He just doesn’t know how.
  • I still feel a strange mix of pride and regret watching Paige train.
  • Tuan makes me think of The Wire, and how the next generation of a war will always be crueler than the generation before it. Although, I have to admire Elizabeth’s composure to keep up the identity while trying to stop Philip when he leaves to stop Pasha.

Images Courtesy of FX

Bo
Written By

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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