DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
The Last Season of 'The Americans' is Off to a Strong Start
March 28, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 

The Americans seems well positioned to stick the landing.

FX’s long-running and much-acclaimed Cold War spy drama launches its sixth and final season Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, and the first episode sets up a couple of bedrock situations that, by all indications, will guide us to where our story and characters will end up.

In keeping with one of the show’s strongest suits over the past five seasons, we also aren’t getting any clear body language tipping us off to exactly where that might be.

Creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, a former CIA officer, have smartly timed the conclusion of The Americans to dovetail with the real-life 1986 arms control summit meeting between Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

While those real-life talks produced no concrete results, they paved the path for a major arms control agreement the following year and, in a sense, the dismantling of the Soviet Union three years later.

All of that is the unknown future to the characters in The Americans, of course.

Those characters start with Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, both at top), Soviet KGB agents who were embedded in America years earlier with the idea they would look like a regular old American suburban family of the 1970s and 1980s.

They have had a good run, gleaning all sorts of valuable information and escaping a seemingly endless series of near-misses when their activities or identities could have been revealed.

Lately, though, their lives have taken some unexpected turns. Phillip decided he just couldn’t do this anymore, so as Season 6 begins he’s managing a travel agency. He’s packed away most of his wigs and gets his greatest kick out of watching their son Henry (Keidrich Sellati) become a chick magnet as a prep school hockey star.

Elizabeth encouraged Phillip to bail, in part, because even though their marriage was arranged by the KGB, they have come over the years to genuinely care for each other.

Elizabeth herself has remained more committed than ever to the mission, which she sees as her life cause. When their daughter Paige (Holly Taylor, right) learned what her parents really do for a living and was horrified, Elizabeth gradually talked her down and ultimately convinced her to go into the family business herself.  

Paige, who grew up thinking America was pretty great, and the Soviet Union was a threat, is now on the street in wigs of her own, spying on Uncle Sam.

Mom has also kept an eye on the fledgling as a rather stark scene Wednesday night will demonstrate.

Paige’s path will doubtless be a significant part of this season, during which everyone’s story seemingly will fold into the buildup to the summit meeting – because everyone in the game is scrambling for position on the chessboard.

Specifically, hardliners in the KGB don’t want it to happen. Or if it does happen, they don’t want any agreement to come out of it. Besides having their own vested interest in the Cold War continuing – it ensures fruitful employment for covert forces on both sides – KGB and other old-line Soviet officials fear that Gorbachev will get suckered by the Americans, giving up Soviet military power while Americans surreptitiously enhance their own.

Hard-liners in the American intelligence community were whispering the same warnings about Soviet intentions, of course. The Americans just focuses on the Soviet side.

Accordingly, Elizabeth is contacted by a representative of the Soviet hardliners, who fear a summit agreement could derail a major top-secret weapons program they consider essential to Soviet security.

Phillip, who all along has expressed sympathy for policies that could eventually promote peace, is meanwhile contacted by one of the reformers who likes what Gorbachev seems to be trying to do.

So the pressure is building on all sides, and all characters, and part of that pressure could force Elizabeth and Phillip to make personal as well as professional choices.

Russell and Rhys – and Taylor for that matter – convey well the traumatic impact of their situations, which have been building over all the previous seasons.

Wherever The Americans ends up, its last lap looks promising.

 
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
 Website (optional)
 
LTDNB
Type in the verification word shown on the image.
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: 
1 Comments
 
 
Angela
And if the first episode is any indication this last lap totally delivers.
Mar 30, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: