The Americans Season 4 Episode 13 Review: Persona Non Grata

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If The Americans Season 5 starts with the Jennings family in Mother Russia, the visit most likely won't be for long.

Thinking back on the season and the characters' driving forces, it really shouldn't have been a surprise that The Americans Season 4 Episode 13 most dire questions would swirl around where (and with whom) they consider their home to be.

It wasn't just Philip and Elizabeth, either, but William, Oleg, Arkady and even Misha. Hello son, welcome aboard (sorry I thought you were a flashback to Philip's youth through your first scenes).

Beating the FBI - The Americans

It was a bit surprising how little happened in the finale. 

It's almost as if we were taken to the edge of a cliff and dangled over it in the middle of a conversation. The true meaning of cliffhanger. It's not about who died, as William most assuredly will and there aren't any other lives on the line. We just need to know the answers to some important questions.

This is distinctly about who the characters have become over the series. 

It started with William, as he was inevitably discovered getting ready to make a drop with the virus. If you noticed, he even packaged the virus with a backup plan in mind. It was not well wrapped inside that tin. It was left open for the easiest retrieval of the vial. I wrap earrings I've sold on EBay with more care.

So it wasn't a surprise when, trapped by the authorities, William whipped out the vial and gave himself the Lassa virus. Apparently, it's not yet to the worst possible airborne state, or he wouldn't have been the only one in danger.

Why would William do that? He didn't want to flip on anyone. And if he ever was lucky enough to be returned to his people after capture, they'd probably kill him anyway. This way, he was assuring his time being interrogated would be brief and under extreme circumstances.

But boy howdy Stan and Aderholt were sticking by his side. Their compassion for the man was admirable, and I was even impressed with their questions. When you're face to face with a KGB spy who has been as Americanized as William, wouldn't you want to know why he did it and stuck with it?

William started talking about how isolated he felt (long before having the virus). At least they were a captive audience, something he didn't always have with his acquaintances.

William: The absence of closeness makes you dry inside.
Stan: But still committed.
William: It was the only thing that we had left.

As he started oozing out of his orifices, just as he predicted (we only saw mouth ooze), his delirium was loosening his lips. That's the very thing that Gabriel was worried about with regard to Elizabeth and Philip. His concern was valid.

They wanted me to get married. I tried. We were fighting. I was... I wish I could have been with her all these years. Like them. Couple kids. American dream. Never suspect them. She's pretty. He's lucky.

William

Throughout the hour, we were reminded just how Americanized Philip had become when he reached a graduate level est program. Elizabeth described the class to Paige as one where you "think about yourself." Can you even imagine such a thing in the USSR? Me neither.

One of the things Philip was thinking about was how much he hated his job as a "travel agent" (those are airquotes...we need punctuation for those). While his thoughts could apply to any one of us and our own jobs, you can only imagine how that job would have its special quirks.

You choose a job before you really know if you'll like it right. When you're young, you don't really know who you are, what you wanna do, be. You pick something because it fits who you are or what you need. But life changes things, you change, or something. And then one day, you wake up and you don't want to go into the office, you don't want to make arrangements for people you don't know, you don't give a shit about. You don't want to do it. You just don't. Every morning, I wake up with this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Philip

So, yeah, Philip hates himself every morning he has to be involved in the spy world. Maybe he'd like it more if it was like the Melissa McCarthy type from Spy. That looked like fun. What these guys do is painful. It takes a toll on them no soul should suffer.

Since Philip was in his "think about myself" class, that's why I thought we were flashing back to his early years. I didn't know he was in prison, and couldn't quite reconcile the Afghanistan bit...but with the Misha name, the 60s look of all the decor...I was rolling with it. 

Then it hit me. We were watching Philip's son. OK. THAT made sense. Russians are behind the times in decor, but up to date on the wars. Father and son share a name. It sure seems like Misha is making his way to the US to look for his dad. 

When Elizabeth shared with Philip her discussion with Paige and wondered about her present day hometown, Philip made a backhanded comment that it probably looked just like it did when they left. He's probably not wrong, and they both know it. To think otherwise is idealizing the place from where they came.

The gobsmacked look on their faces when Gabriel suggested it's time to go HOME, and he had the audacity to think that word meant anything other than the townhome in which they currently live, showed just how little they truly relish the idea of going back to the USSR.

They don't want to go. It was a dream they dangled out in front of them because they thought it could never happen. But when the reality of it hit them, they realized they no longer wanted that dream. If they go, it will be because they are forced, and they'll come back.

No, I don't expect The Americans Season 5 to begin or end with the Jennings in the USSR.

When Philip walked Paige out of Stan's house, angrily telling her she will not be seeing Matthew because she doesn't even know (such a parent thing to say), that said it all. He is home. For all that it is and isn't, America is their home now.

It may have its own set of present dangers (and future ones, too, if they stick with the business), but they've probably survived worse. And since Paige's future father-in-law is excitedly offering his backyard for her wedding to his son, William hasn't spilled any details on the couple he envies as of yet.

Will William even be alive much longer? Conscious? He fell on the sword, and it's going to work. Oleg and Arkady are leaving. There aren't many people left who know what Elizabeth and Philip do. The slate may be as clean as it can get in very short order.

All they need to do is wait it out. And Philip may have to breathe deep while his daughter dates the son of his enemy.

Does that mean she'll get into the business? Will Elizabeth and Philip stay in the business? Why would Philip want Paige in it if he hates it so very much? Will the order home to Russia make them reevaluate their goals? Where in the hell does this series go next?

If you're like me, you can't wait to find out. While you wait for the answer, you can watch the Americans online and drop some comments down below. 

Persona Non Grata Review

Editor Rating: 3.75 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (28 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Americans Season 4 Episode 13 Quotes

Paige: He's at a class?
Elizabeth: It's called est. It's like a class in...thinking about yourself.

Cops: Put your hands in the air! DON'T MOVE!
William [raising his hands]: I suggest YOU don't move. You might want to get me to a hospital with a bio-containment treatment facility as soon as possible.