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‘The Americans’ Season 5 Compares USSR To US As It Heads To Final Season

The Americans is nearing an end, as the final episode of the penultimate season “The Soviet Division” aired last night, setting up the series-closing sixth season in 2018. In season five, there wasn’t much progress in terms of big events, but it developed the characters as we roll towards the final season.


Philip has totally lost it, in terms of being able to do his job for the Soviet Union. He’s broken and miserable. He killed the innocent person in the super-wheat lab, which was the final step in the downward spiral he’s on—Philip just can’t do his job anymore.


Elizabeth, meanwhile, remains hardened and accustomed for her job. She’s a little weary of the orders they’re receiving from the Centre, but for the most part she goes along with it. The tense final scene in “Dyatkovo” exemplifies the contrast between Philip and Elizabeth.


Philip was suspicious that Natalie Granholm was really the person that worked for the Nazis and killed her own people, while Elizabeth was very tough on Natalie and was surprised and almost appalled to hear Philip wasn’t sure. Then, even when Natalie admitted it was her, Philip just couldn’t pull the trigger. Elizabeth took care of it, though, as they basically made Natalie tell her husband, who had no idea of her past and thought she was “wonderful,” of her terrible past. Natalie was basically forced into the past situation, which likely weighed on Philip. Elizabeth showed her loyalty to the country—and her cold-bloodedness—when she killed both Natlie and her husband.


That episode showed where the Jennings are and how they’ve changed—Philip is to the point where he becomes a risk, but Elizabeth is still very good at her heartless job. Season 5 saw changes in almost all its characters.


Paige went from being big into religion to being a Marxist—this is the reason she’s been accepting of the reality of her parents being Russian spies. While it seemed just a season ago there was no chance of Paige ever being an asset for the Soviet Union, now it looks like she easily could. (Though, the last thing Gabriel told Philip was they made a mistake getting Paige involved.)


Henry, who wants to go to a boarding school in New Hampshire, has no idea of anything being off about his family. For someone that was amazed by the FBI headquarters, he might not take it well if/when he’s told his parents are KGB spies.


One of the more surprising developments came in last night’s season finale, when Stan told his girlfriend Renee—who may or may not be a Russian spy—that he doesn’t really want to do his job anymore. Stan went from a bulldog-type FBI agent to someone that, almost like Philip, doesn’t have the fire anymore.


This season also gave the most extensive look at how things are in the Soviet Union. We mostly follow Oleg through his job in the homeland as he lives with his high-ranking father (and his mother). The season gives a look at just how bad things were in the Soviet Union. Things were corrupt—people starving, while those with power were OK.


The season did a great job of drawing contrasts between the American capitalist system and the Russian communist system. The beginning of the season shows the United States booming, with plants growing in abundance; while the Soviet Union has its crops dying. Also, Alexei Morozov, a Russian defector, talks of how much better everything is in the United States from the start of the season (although, his son Pasha obviously showed he liked things in the Soviet Union better). The writers really belabor the idea that the Soviet Union was struggling, while the U.S. was winning—the American ideals were simply better and led to them inevitably outlasting the Soviet Union.


Last night’s final episode of the season further indicated this. Philip and Elizabeth say they want to go home, but do they really want to? It seems they just want to get away from their exhausting job. Philip is depressed, but it would get a lot better if he didn’t have to continue his work—that’s why he is OK with returning to Russia. One of the final scenes from last night with Elizabeth show that even she—as loyal and as confirmed she is to her country—doesn’t really want to leave.


Elizabeth seemed to just stop and look around for a moment; at all her clothes and shoes, at her beautiful house, at the pictures of her family being happy—it’s all in the United States. When Philip told her about Kimmy’s dad becoming the head of the Soviet Division, Elizabeth immediately said she can’t go home, that she has to help the Soviet Union and do this job.


But is that really why she wants to stay?

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