If you happened to check the New York Times over the weekend, then you no doubt noticed one of the most apropos ad buys for a TV series in recent history: Perched atop fresh headlines of Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from investigations involving Russia’s involvement with the Presidential campaign was a digital billboard for the Season 5 return of the FX series “The Americans.” Given that the entire premise is centered on a pair of Russian spies living on US soil, the Jennings’ return feels ominously timely in our current political climate.
The overarching theme of the last season was one of fraying relationships, both internal and external: Phillip and Elizabeth with each other, their homeland and Paige; Stan with Nina, Oleg, and the larger workings of the FBI; Martha with her own sense of right and wrong and the love for a husband she barely knows, etc. It’s been a tough go in the DC metro area as the Cold War rages silently on.
We return nine months after the end of Season 4: In that time, a lot has happened. We had an Olympic games, England voted to leave the E.U., and one of the most divisive U.S. Presidential elections in modern history took place. In case all of that has left you a little tapped for memory space, here’s where we left off with everyone in the final episode.
WARNING: If you are not caught up the current season, this post contains major spoilers for key characters.
Phillip & Elizabeth
Cracks were continuing to show between this usually unified couple. The death of Elizabeth’s mother had her waxing nostalgic about the Motherland — and becoming a little too chummy with the wife of an asset left her shaken. Phillip, meanwhile, continued to deal with the safety of his asset, Martha, as she continued to syphon off intel from the FBI.
Having to pull the rug out from under both sides (for Elizabeth, framing her new friend Young Hee’s husband with an affair; For Philip, whisking Martha off to Russia) left both spies emotionally drained, and questioning the bigger mission of what they were all working for. Plus, as Paige moves slowly into the mix, stress levels are high even at home. The end of S4 saw Gabriele offering them a chance to get out and finally go back to Russia. Will they take it?
Our little Paige is growing up so fast! Finally read in on her parents’ true profession, and having spilled the beans to Pastor Tim and his wife Alice, Paige is now tasked with monitoring and reporting on the activities of the good pastor. On top of her sorta-spying, Paige’s desire to be a normal teen has kicked into overdrive. This mainly takes shape in her new interest in boys — namely (and sadly) Stan Beeman’s son Matthew. After Stan stumbles in on the two teens cautiously making out, Phillip attempts to nip any mounting feelings within Paige in the bud.
Stan feels like he has blood on his hands, and he doesn’t like it. After learning Nina has been executed, his conscience starts to creep in — which begins to affect his relationship with Oleg, and throws the mission to turn him into an asset into question.
Meanwhile on the home front, Stan gets closer to the Jennings kids, with Henry coming over for dinner nearly every night and entering dangerous Hero Worship territory — and the aforementioned relationship between Paige and Matthew, which Stan is, weirdly, pro.
Poor, trusting, doe-eyed Martha. After years of a shady romance with “Clark,” the truth was finally revealed about who she actually married (sort of). And while she took this information like a champ, the pill of having to move to Russia for the rest of her life, cutting off all ties to her former life, was a little harder for her to swallow.
But in one of the more stunning scenes of the season, she did board that twin-engine plane bound for Cuba (and then Prague, and then Moscow) … and is never heard from again.
We’re assuming. Right?
Also devastated by the loss of Nina, Oleg begins to rethink his commitment to the cause. After a brief romance with Tatiana at the Rezidentura, Oleg decided his mother’s request to come home was too strong to resist, and called in a favor with his father to be reassigned to a position in Moscow. He left the U.S. — but not before giving Stan just enough information to stop the transfer of a seriously deadly virus. While this last action was done in good conscience on both Oleg and Stan’s part, it could be a move that comes back to haunt Oleg as he tries to live out his days in Moscow.
After getting closer to imprisoned Russian scientist Anton Baklanov, Nina tried to do him a solid by smuggling a note to his son that he’s still alive. This attempt failed, however, which landed her in hot water. Tired of her situation, Nina confessed to smuggling the note and resigned herself to living out her days in the gulag. Unfortunately, the Centre had other plans — and she was unceremoniously executed in a nondescript hallway, deep within the bowels of the prison.
Still obliviously playing video games.
“The Americans” premieres Tuesday, Mar. 7, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.