The Americans Season 5 Episode 4 Review: What's the Matter with Kansas?

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They push, and they push, and it's never enough.

Philip and Elizabeth are closer than ever, and on The Americans Season 5 Episode 4, we're reminded of why that's not as great as it sounds. Not for Soviet spies.

In the best hour of the season so far, the effects of spying are wearing thin on both Philip and Elizabeth, and they're wearing their emotions more prominently than any disguise. 

Making Things Uncomfortable vertical - The Americans Season 5 Episode 4

I don't think for a second that either Philip or Elizabeth wants Paige to follow in their footsteps.

They brought her in because of the pressure put on them by the Centre and because of what she did to put the family in jeopardy with Pastor Tim. Do I think it's right? No. But then, I'm not a KGB agent.

In some fashion, it seemed to be the right move to keep her safe. Teaching Paige about what they do and the consequences of it should have taught her some restraint. But it appears to have backfired. Elizabeth and Philip are too good at what they do.

Paige shouldn't have snooped around Pastor Tim's house, but she's feeling too much like a spy. She's starting to consider herself part of the team. She might be going the way of the tortured kid who killed his parents than the way of Elizabeth and Philip.

Elizabeth: I understand what you were doing, and it was smart, and it was brave. But Paige, if there is any slip, if they sense anything from you, Alice wouldn't come to us next time. She would go straight to the FBI.
Paige: I'm sorry. But I was there, not you.

Paige knows just enough to be dangerous, and she is being dangerous. 

Philip and Elizabeth are never home, and that's making matters worse. They're stretched too thin. After a year off, they connected in every way, and it's obvious they miss being with their family.

Philip wants to watch TV and worry about cracking limbs in the front yard, not send the wife he's grown to love off to meet with another man.

Philip: Do you think we're gonna get fired?
Elizabeth: It's not funny.
Philip: I know.

That was wishful thinking. Their appeal to Gabriel wasn't as strong as it could have been, but they seem scared. For the first time ever, they don't have the faith in their homeland they once did.

Philip, especially, is realizing something is very wrong with the USSR. And when he told Elizabeth she liked her new woodsy carob eating Kansas scientist, he came to that conclusion because he's forgetting why they're doing what they're doing.

The USSR Discussion - The Americans Season 5 Episode 4

In Soviet Union, we have same great land, same great climate, but system is broke. They still move food by horse sometimes. By the time it gets to where it needs to be, it's already rotten.


He's listening to Alexi confirm the same thoughts Philip had on The American's Season 5 Episode 3. The Soviets have everything they need to feed their people. But their people are starving.

If the food is rotting on the way its destination, do the Americans even need to send petulance when they're doing a bang-up job themselves? And it wasn't the first time this season that thought came up, either. 

Is it that realization that eventually allows the Cold War to come to an end (albeit temporarily)? We're good enough at destroying ourselves, both of us, so let's just call a truce.

The pain in Philip's eyes as he thinks about Elizabeth in Kansas and the half-assed way he's trying to lure his logistical lady into his arms say a lot. He's had enough. And he's not the only one.

Stan Goes to Bat for Oleg - The Americans Season 5 Episode 4

When you watch The Americans online, can you think of anybody better to be raising Philip and Elizabeth's children than Stan Beeman? Surely the irony that an American FBI agent is raising their children because they're not around to do it isn't lost on them. 

The way Oleg's situation was weighing on him was enough to make me want to cry. Especially because instead of being angry, Oleg was defeated. He wanted to believe he could trust Stan, and his discovery that he couldn't trust Stan didn't stop him from wanting to do the right thing anyway.

Showing that there are so many good people involved with the shady goings-on between our governments is the best byproduct of The Americans. 

Stan kidnapped someone and shot him between the eyes. But what he developed and did with Oleg was on a different level. It was growth as an agent and he wasn't going to lose it. 

He would rather out the FBI as killing innocents and being the animals the world believes them to be anyway than allow a good man go down. 

But is it too late for Oleg? His discouragement was buoyed by powerful words from his mother. On the one hand, she told him he'd get through whatever they choose to do to him as a result of the tape. On the other, she told him to do what he has to do to survive.

Was she giving him permission to throw others under the bus so he can live to fight another day?

Don't give up, Oleg! Stan has your back. Believe.

And Mischa didn't waste his money. He's in America at JFK airport. 

If Philip and Elizabeth thought their lives were too full now, they're about to be in for a bit of a surprise. Henry's hardly in a good place to be receiving a Soviet brother. 

It feels like everything is going to come crashing down. I want it to. Before the series ends, I want Philip and Elizabeth to drop out of the spy business and decide where they're going to spend the rest of their lives. 

With the end of the Cold War coming, maybe living in the US will be an easier decision. Maybe they'll realize they're Soviets and not Russians, determining not to go back. There are a lot of straws to grasp for me to imagine happiness for the Jennings instead of disaster.

I cannot wait to see what's next. How about you? 

What's the Matter with Kansas? Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (7 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 5 Episode 4 Quotes

Philip: Do you think we're gonna get fired?
Elizabeth: It's not funny.
Philip: I know.

In Soviet Union, we have same great land, same great climate, but system is broke. They still move food by horse sometimes. By the time it gets to where it needs to be, it's already rotten.