The Americans Season 5 Episode 5 Review: Lotus 1-2-3

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Philip doesn't even have all of the information at his fingertips that could persuade him to make a life-altering decision, and he's on the cusp of making it anyway.

On The Americans Season 5 Episode 5 the buildup of years of espionage on behalf of his homeland, a lifetime of living with and befriending the enemy and spending too much time away from his family has hit Philip hard.

When he discovers they had a recent mission completely turned around, Philip appears ready to throw in the towel – on his career and maybe even his marriage.

Hey There vertical - The Americans Season 5 Episode 5

Nothing about this stunning development is a surprise, but it's shocking nonetheless.

The powers are still at play against him as Philip is struggling against everything he's ever known and loved.

Philip and Elizabeth have been stretched to their very limits. They spend more time in disguise than they do with their nuclear family and that was never more evident than during "Lotus 1-2-3."

A spreadsheet would be helpful in keeping their many appointments in line. They have so many schedules to keep and disguises to prepare, it has to be next to impossible to track.

Henry has been lost in the shuffle. They worried for days about going into school to talk to his teacher. Henry never studies and does nothing but play computer games. We know now that an aptitude for computers can equal an aptitude for math, but the looks on the faces of Philip and Elizabeth were priceless.

For as hard as Paige studies, they considered her the wunderkind. As it turns out, Henry doesn't need to study as hard because he has a natural math ability. They might have known more about their son if they spent more time with him.

Philip was wrecked when he listened to Paige talk about her feelings for Matthew. She thinks she might be too messed up already to ever be in a relationship.

And Philip knows he and Elizabeth are the cause of that. Not just their recent intake of Paige into the family business, either, but the years they've spent away, supposedly helping clients. 

There's still more.

Old patterns between parents and children, they create barriers. They keep us from seeing what's really there. And what is really there? Love. It's all around us. But because we can't see it, can't experience it, it seems like it must be very far away. You can't experience the love your parents had for you or you for your children when old habits and belief systems, all the things your mind is telling you about who they are, who you are, stand in the way.


I don't know if that was a very timely est meeting or if Philip purposefully went to a seminar to learn more about teenagers and their parents, but either way, what he heard there was just more food for thought about how he grew up and how they were raising their own children.

What they knew is not how they had to live now. Philip and Elizabeth had the opportunity to raise their children differently than they were raised, but they weren't taking full advantage of it. Their pasts are generously infiltrating their present. 

A Past Operation - The Americans

Mischa's arrival in town, reaching out to his father and being turned away by Gabriel was gut wrenching. 

Claudia: How do you think the people at the centre are going to feel about a meeting between Philip and his wayward son?
Gabriel: Shouldn't that be Philip's decision to make?
Claudia: And when he tells Philip he was put in a psychiatric institution because he thinks the war in Afghanistan is a joke? What happens then? You care about him. We both do. But he's...shaky.

It was mildly valiant how Gabriel attempted to step in for Philip, but he could have done more. Yes, Philip is shaky. If they know how shaky the man is, why continue to throw more responsibility at him and tear down his family walls, the walls that hold him together, even more?

I guess that's the way of the communist regime. Family doesn't come first. State comes first. You seek comfort in the collective, not the family. The more comfortable and loving Philip and Elizabeth get with each other, the more of a threat it is to their profession and their duty to their country.

Make no mistake, this is the most connected Philip and Elizabeth have ever been. Elizabeth called Philip to tell him she missed him. Neither of them are bothering to engage in sex as they have in the past with their assets. Things have changed.

Gabriel and Claudia could have made it safe for Mischa to meet with Philip. They just didn't want to. It's one more familial piece that would draw Philip farther away from the collective.

But they're already too late.

Philip finally realized Renee might be a plant from the KGB. They've given so many reports on Stan of late, and Stan would be a perfect target. Elizabeth seems shocked at the possibility they would have arranged for Stan as a mark. Not Philip.

In fact, Philip followed Stan and Renee on a date and discovered Marilyn doing the same. Stan can't have anything good in his life. That, too, has had to have impacted where Philip is by the end of the hour.

Gabriel Does The Wrong Thing - The Americans Season 5 Episode 5

Elizabeth is the one who discovered the truth about their current mission. Her woodsy Ben isn't too good to be true at all. He's true. He's real.

Elizabeth: You're a real idealist.
Ben: No, I'm a realist. We need to develop crops that can withstand almost anything.
Elizabeth: How are you going to do that?
Ben: Well, we, uh, we take the strongest wheat plants around from the world, cross breed them, then we get the most destructive pests we can find, test the new plants and test again. We're making a lot of progress. We're close to making the strongest wheat the world has ever known.
Elizabeth: And you...when you have it?
Ben: Well I work for a company and they sell it. But it would make food supplies around the world everywhere cheap. Africa, Asia, places where people suffer through cycles of famine. I mean, it might never happen again.

He really wants to save the world, and Philip and Elizabeth killed one of the people who was helping him to do it. 

It makes sense at this point in their relationship that Philip and Elizabeth would find themselves having the most important discussion of their lives in a rented house, in disguise with their faux adopted son upstairs while they sat across a table scattered with McDonalds.

They look like every other modern American family, and finally, they might be more like them than they would ever care to admit.

Philip: That guy in the lab. That can't happen. Ever again.
Elizabeth: We'll be more careful.
Philip: More careful? This has been hard for me for a long time. You know that, right?
Elizabeth: I do. Look. When we know this kind of thing is coming up, maybe it can just be me.
Philip: No. No, it's us, Elizabeth. It's us.

Philip can't go on like they have been. 

What does that mean? I have no idea. But I highly doubt it means he's going to continue paying more attention the children of their assets than his own, having more sex with assets than his own wife and allowing the KGB to spy on the man who spends more time with his children than he has in months.

Something has to give, and it's not going to be the KGB. So how will Philip give? How will he break old patterns and let love, real love, into his family?

Has Elizabeth come far enough that she'll want to be a part of his epiphany, assuming I'm on the right track?

Do you think I'm on the right track? I don't have the benefit of a trailer when writing this review, so at this point, you know more than me. 

This installment of The Americans lived up to the title of the series more than any other. Philip is internally fighting not for a country at this point, but his family. What comes next will undoubtedly be just as shaky as the man himself, but equally as exciting to watch.

It's also a great start for Matthew Rhys' Emmy reel. 

What did you think of the hour? What would Philip do if he knew Mischa traversed the world to see him? What will the Jennings do now?

Hit the comments and watch The Americans online to see more of their story to this point.

Lotus 1-2-3 Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (7 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Americans Season 5 Episode 5 Quotes

Renee: Oh. You're so tight. What is it?
Stan: Oh, it's just stuff from work I can't really talk about.
Renee: Can't you just be, I don't know, vague?
Stan: I guess I was really aggressive with this stuff with my boss. I said a little too much. It'll work out.

Wolfe: If nothing else, we keep the KGB busy and irritated.
Stan: Well, we're certainly busy and irritated.
Wolfe: That's a good joke.