After a somewhat disappointing fifth season, I was cautious about The Americans as it heads towards its endgame. Luckily, if this premiere is any indication, we’re off to a very exciting final season.
First, there’s no denying that the pacing has gotten much slower since the fourth (and spectacular) season. While the opening montage doesn’t include a single line of dialogue for several minutes, which is beyond impressive and true to the setting, there are times when the writers seem to be purposely treading water. If there’s any time to start moving chess pieces along and speed up the momentum, it’s now.
Keri Russell and Mathew Rhys are still giving career-best performances five years later, and Dead Hand gives them both some really heavy material. Watching Elizabeth work alone for the first time since the show’s inception is absolutely gut-wrenching and simultaneously captivating. Russell has always had a knack at expressing more with her facial expressions than words, and this premiere gives her more opportunity to shine than ever before, particularly in that super long focus on Elizabeth as she zones out while in Mexico City. Philip, on the other hand, gets to live the normal American life he’s always wanted until he recognizes the signals left by Oleg, who later asks him to find out which side Elizabeth is really working for. If this show is heading towards a Philip/Elizabeth showdown, then I am all here for it.
It’s a bit shocking to watch Paige get so involved this season, but the writers brilliantly weave in her reveal that she’s started college with the rest of the narrative, skillfully indicating that some time has passed since last year’s finale. She is included a lot more in the Jennings’ spy hijinks, seems to be a lot more vocal about her stand on situations, and states that she is living outside campus. If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that Paige is unpredictable now. I can’t even tell whether she will be pleased or horrified once she finds out that Elizabeth killed Hanley, the guy who took her college ID and promised to give it back if they went on a date. Maybe a bit of both?
Bits in Disguise
– Elizabeth, Paige, and Claudia watching a Russian movie together is everything I’ve ever wanted. Can these badass ladies get a spinoff or something?
– The episode is titled after a Russian system that can evidently wipe out America. Welp.
– Henry is into hockey now, not that we’d know since we haven’t seen him in a while.
– The music that plays while Elizabeth is in Mexico City is called “We Do What We’re Told”, and if that’s not a fitting title for this character’s journey, I don’t know what is.
– Who else can’t wait to uncover what Elizabeth’s latest “Stephanie” disguise is all about? And did anyone else feel the sparks between her and the husband?
– It was in the trailers, but Philip’s one-on-one with Elizabeth at the end as she repeatedly says she doesn’t have time to talk is absolutely riveting.
Quips from the Motherland
Stephanie: Art’s not really my thing.
Erica: That’s like saying life’s not really my thing. Duty’s not really my thing.
Philip: My wife just does her job. That’s all she’s ever done. She’s good at it.
Oleg: I know. But it’s possible that she’s being used by the people who are trying to stop all the progress that we’ve been making. Or she’s one of them.
Philip: I’m not involved anymore. This doesn’t involve me.
Oleg: We want you to find out what you’re wife has been doing and tell us, and if you have to, stop her.
Philip: I know how tired you are, but I need to talk to you.
Elizabeth: If you knew how tired I am, you wouldn’t still be talking.
We Do What We’re Told by Peter Gabriel
The final season of The Americans is off to an intense start with an intriguing time jump and an exciting new status quo.