The Americans: Season 6

Season 6 premiers tonight on FX.

Open spoilers as the show airs, no need to use spoiler boxes to discuss the show.

This is the final season.

Well, in anticipation of the final season premiere, let’s round up all the unresolved plot points that were left dangling at the end of last season.

After the near-disastrous resolution to the “Pasha” operation, Tuan told the Jennings he filed a negative report about them, claiming they had become seduced by American materialism. Elizabeth told Tuan he’d better find a partner to work with, as she doubts he’d make it as a solo operative. Later, while alone in her home, Elizabeth took a good, long look around the house she lived in with all of its stuff and realized Tuan may be right.

Philip was growing increasingly burnt out by the job. He and Elizabeth made the decision to retire and return to the Motherland. However, just as he was wrapping up the “Kimmy” operation, he overheard Kimmy’s father relate that he had been promoted to the head of the CIA’s Soviet department - making the operation of vital importance to the Rezidentura, and therefore an operation the Jennings HAD to continue, whether they liked it or not.

Stan’s girlfriend Renee, who may or may not be a femme fatale (or she just might be some gym bimbo) moved in with him after her apartment got flooded.

Paige took street-fighting lessons from her mother and got closer and closer to becoming a novice operative. (ads for the new season already spoil the fact that she apparently DOES become an operative, OR that was completely misleading and was about something entirely different.) That however meant the end of her relationship with Stan’s son Matthew.

Henry suddenly reminded the audience that he existed by suddenly doing something. In fact, he wanted to go with a friend, Chris (a girl, though he insisted she’s a platonic friend), to a New England boarding school. Still clueless about his parent’s night-time activities, Henry seems headed for a life as a yuppie computer programmer.

Oleg was being questioned by the KGB for reasons that have not yet been made clear (it may or may not have something to do with intel he gave Stan to stop the Soviets from getting a sample of the deadly virus they wanted to use as a biological weapon.) He also found out surprising information about his mother’s past.

Gabriel retired to the Motherland and arranged for Martha to adopt an orphan girl.

Stan and Aderholt recruited two low-level rezidentura workers to act as moles inside the Russian embassy. However, they had reason to suspect these new operatives may not be wholly reliable.

Philip’s son Mischa made it all the way to the outskirts of DC adamant on seeing his father, but Gabriel intercepted him and cajoled him into returning to Russia. (Philip was kept in the dark about it all.)

Pastor Tim got a job at a mission in Central America. Before leaving town however, Paige got some pictures of his diary, which father, mother, and daughter all perused together. The diary related Tim’s true feelings that the Jennings were “monsters” and that they have probably done irreparable damage to Paige’s psyche.

Mail Robot continued to quietly, meekly distribute the mail…biding its time…waiting for the perfect moment to rise up and lead the true worker’s revolution – machines against man.

Anything I miss? I’m sure I missed something.

Thanks. That was a big help. I forgot all about Tuan and Pascha.

The only thing I’d add is that the CIA tried to pressure Oleg into providing assistance, but Stan fought back. Maybe this storyline is resolved, maybe it isn’t…

Fascinating first episode. I got the impression there was quite a bit of foreshadowing of the final outcome. I don’t want to go into it here until some posters have seen it (don’t want to post a spoiler), but I’d be interested to know if others had the same impression. Hint: it relates to the juxtaposed scenes of Phillip enjoying Henry’s hockey game and Paige, Liz, and the handler watching what appeared to be some sort of Russian TV show.

I knew I forgot something!

I doubt that that plot point is entirely resolved yet, if for no other reason than it was featured in the “last year on the Americans” montage at the start of the episode. They wouldn’t bother making a point to remind viewers of it if they didn’t intend to address it.

As for the episode, for an hour that was mostly place setting, it was still packed with some gripping moments. I suppose it was inevitable that there would come a time when the Jennings would be pitted against each other, as seems to be happening now. I do hope however that they either truncate the story or make a fake-out left turn. Whatever befalls the Jennings, I want to see Philip and Elizabeth go down together. (I am predicting things will now end well for them.)

And how can you not love an episode that gets Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac, and Crowded House onto the soundtrack?

The Stan and Oleg relationship: What can you say? Each could blame the other for Nina’s death but they don’t. They each blame themselves.

They were watching this movie on video:

Oleg’s former boss figured out what had happened but didn’t do anything about it. That’s why he felt he could approach Oleg for help, and why Oleg decided he’d undertake the mission for him.

Man, that was good. How amazing was that scene with the slightly creepy navy guy hitting on Paige?

One thing that confused me… Stan’s girlfriend and his partner’s wife were chatting about work, and one of them said something about “their marriage is falling apart”. Who were they talking about? Not P&E certainly?

Wow. It’s outstanding. At the end i felt almost as stressed as E.

Good to see her a murder in early on …

Also, Fleetwood Mac and Peter Gabriel in one epi. It’s almost like these people know what they’re doing.

The two wives were talking about a case at work that Stan and the black guy are working on together.

Henry is still morphing into the All Amercan boy while Philip is still morphing into the All American Dad - 8-track, sun roof an’ all. I guess we see the sibling contrast of Paige’s continuing education.

On one level the whole epi was about establishing opposing camps, maybe even father against daughter.

It was an excellent season opener. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season (and very sorry it will be the last).

I found it really interesting that the movie Elizabeth, Paige, and the KGB handler watched was Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears. It was made in 1979-80 and is very much of its time: the Brezhnev stagnation period, a complete contrast to the perestroika era that the characters in The Americans are actually living through. It makes perfect sense that Claudia would want Paige to see this idealized, fairy tale version of the USSR. But as Paige pointed out, the film has very traditional patriarchal values, with women presented as suppressing their own opinions and deferring to men in all respects (the hero figure in Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears says, “I will make the decisions for the simple reason that I am a man”). Claudia brushes off Paige’s objections but the behavior of the movie heroine is a sharp contrast to Elizabeth, and this clearly indicates a tension between old-fashioned Soviet values and the person Elizabeth has become–as well as the larger tensions in both the upper echelons of the intelligence establishment and in Soviet life in general in the late 1980s. Neither Claudia nor Elizabeth (much less Paige) seem aware of any of that yet but it’s such a clever, subtle point.

It is illustrative of the depths of this show that even what they watch on television plays into the show’s narrative.

Anyone got any thoughts on the artist? I’m guessing she has something like MS. E is obvs undercover as a home nurse-type to get closer to her husband (maybe a little blackmail at some point?).

Love the artists work. I can see how E might see something in it.

Lots of plot spoilers in this, so don’t read it if you haven’t seen the first episode of this season.

The premiere did a great job of at least touching on the issues facing a majority of the characters. (As noted, the Tuan and Gabriel-and-Martha subplots have yet to be addressed. We also still don’t know how Philip handed off his surveillance of Kimmy and her father, as he must surely have done.)

Nice points:
[li]That Elizabeth is keeping secret from her (presumably) KGB female operative, the fact that “Julie” (was it?) is her daughter.[/li][li]That Elizabeth is smoking heavily. Chekhov’s character-fate device?[/li][li]Speaking of Chekhov: the cyanide pill. Too easy to have E. take it in the final episode; surely it will be something else (she feeds it to Philip to prevent him from spoiling her arms-talks maneuvers? Hope not).[/li][li]The arms talks themselves as shorthand for the conflict between pro-democracy and pro-authoritarian forces in the late-80s USSR.[/li][/ul]

Less satisfying:
[li]The implication that Elizabeth is the sole operative working those arms talks. Perhaps this impression will be corrected in coming episodes, as it really is implausible.[/li][li]We must be wrong about Laurie Holden being either CIA, KGB, or an operative of some third nation–why would any spy outfit assign her to concentrate FOR THREE YEARS on Stan Beeman? He’s just not important enough. (Sorry, dude!)[/li][li]Poor Henry continues to receive short shrift. [/li][li]I’m kind of wondering how the travel agency worked in the years in which P and E weren’t around much. How did they explain Philip’s suddenly taking more of an interest in it?[/li][/ul]

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the way in which this all works out. The apparent overarching theme–the contest between authoritarianism versus a humane, pro-rule-of-law outlook–is certainly both relevant today, and also true to the Gorbachev era.

Claudia and Elizabeth’s conversation implied that the husband is a crucial figure in the arms talks (unless I’m misremembering).

Isn’t the woman a worker at the Soviet embassy that they’ve suborned?

How will Paige react to the murder of the Naval Observatory guard that she’s sure to find out about from the local news coverage?

And isn’t Elizabeth sleeping with him, as was shown in the hotel scene?

The person in the soviet embassy they flipped and her hockey player husband.

I’ve missed this show.

I was puzzled by that, because Elizabeth’s hair was completely different in the hotel scene and in the nurse-to-the-wife scenes. That implies it’s a different guy. And in conversation with Claudia, Elizabeth said ‘I have _____ on Thursdays’ which seemed to be a reference to some man other than the husband-of-the-invalid.

But the husband and the guy sleeping in the hotel looked kind of similar, so I’m not sure. I just don’t see how ‘the virtuous nurse’ would explain having different hair while conducting an affair with the husband. Also, the husband did seem to be pretty devoted to the sick wife.