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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Americans Season 5 Finale: The Little Things

Well, in an excellent season 5 finale last night, The Americans resorted to a chestnut of many a classic piece of fiction:  with the main wheels of motion all taken into account on what looks like a major move or development, everything changes because of one little detail that we haven't been paying too much attention to.

Kim and her father were barely in the story this season.  There's a good scene in the finale of Philip in disguise saying goodbye to her - goodbye because he and Elizabeth have definitely decided to go back to the USSR.  But, as Philip is going over what he thinks will be his last round of surreptitious recordings of Kim's father, he discovers something which Elizabeth and even Philip agree just can't let them leave just now: Kim's father is moving up to be head of the U. S. anti-Soviet spying division.

It's a good thing, too, that our point-of-view couple aren't leaving, because Henry's acceptance by that high-class prep school and Philip's sudden reversal on that - because Philip still thought at that time that they were leaving - was left hanging like worse than a big hangnail last night, with no easy resolution.  So Philip and Elizabeth's staying at least will allow Henry to go off to school.

In a significant parallel, Stan is also talked out of leaving his division of the FBI by Renee, which pokes at another significant question that Philip and Elizabeth and we the audience haven't yet resolved: is she just Stan's good fortune, or is she another Soviet spy, called in to get what she can from Stan?  It will be fun to see how that plays out next season.

And last but not least: good to see Martha edging toward some happiness in Moscow, as her translator introduces her to the possibility of adopting a Soviet orphan girl.   "We want you to be happy," he says to her, revealing a surprising humanity in the Soviets, which we had seen previously only in Gabriel (and of course Philip).

And I'll see you all here with reviews of the final season next year.

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