The Americans Season 5 Episode 9 Review: IHOP

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Big breath.

Digging deep inside after watching The Americans Season 5 Episode 9, I've now come to the conclusion that the lesson to be learned here is that the country makes the man (and woman).

Nature vs. Nurture, but on a much larger scale. And nurture is winning. Politically speaking, I'm not quite sure where that fits on any scale, but if I were to weight nature vs. nurture in light of what I'm watching, it's nurture all the way.

Tall Good Boy - The Americans Season 5 Episode 9

If you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about (and really, I can't blame you one iota), the more subdued The Americans Season 5 gets, the more internal we have to go to find meaning within it, right?

This hour finally made some sense to me, and it did it by encompassing a lot more of the characters than we've seen recently and by digging up storylines we haven't seen recently.

If we stick close to home, we have the Jennings kids. Paige and Henry are completely different. Because Paige was unsatisfied with the amount of attention she got from her parents, she reached outside of the house for it. 

That meant she was unwittingly drawn into the family business. At times it seems like she might make a go of it, but who am I (or her parents) kidding? She's not cut out for it. She's a white bread, vanilla thinking soft and flinching American girl.

The fear she's been unable to escape after the parking lot incident proves she cannot ever pick up the mantle from her parents. Her half-arsed training in the garage seals it.

Henry, on the other hand, has never asked for anything. He's gone elsewhere, too, but never cares too much about sharing information about his family, but only bettering himself. Cool beans.

They're both products of an American upbringing. They're very little like their parents, and what do they expect? They did the best they could but they relied on school and television to do most of the work. And it did, like a charm.

Off Balance - The Americans

Philip and Elizabeth themselves have figured it out, too. They're questioning everything the longer they're in America. They took one year off to lead a normal American life and got scooped up in the beauty of freedom. 

Philip: And on the tape, a group of Mujahideen died of a hemorrhagic fever. So maybe it wasn't about protecting us after a nuclear attack. Maybe they just wanted to use it in Afghanistan.
Elizabeth: We don't know it's the same virus we gave them.
Philip: It's a hell of a coincidence if it isn't.

What else can account for any of this? Would Philip have ever questioned the use of that hemorrhagic fever before? No. But now, he can't trust what his own country tells him any longer. 

He's seen too much and been let down too many times.

Seeing Gabriel off might have been the last straw.

And seriously, if they could have seen Gabriel visiting Martha, it wouldn't have helped. What was the purpose of going to her place to lie to her? Dear, dear Martha. 

She's living like a peasant trying to learn her Russian, eating a baked potato American style. She has no friends and finally sees a friendly face and he lies to her? For a single second, I almost thought they might end up friends. If he hadn't lied, it could have happened.

Bringing up "Clark" as if Martha wasn't aware of the truth was one insult too many. Shame on you Gabriel.

Once upon a time, Elizabeth and Philip would have needed proof, not words, to believe Tuan.

Yet they understand where he's coming from now. Or do they? What I can't understand is why Marilyn was in Harrisburg. Was she a part of Philip and Elizabeth's team? Was she following them or was she an agent Tuan was going to meet with to give information to about the Jennings?

The Good Son - The Americans Season 5 Episode 9

She has been everywhere this season, but I know relatively nothing about her. What's her deal? How does she fit in?

Because I want to believe Tuan's story about a brother with leukemia, too. That is the saddest sack story and ripped with holes, but imagining him turning on Philip and Elizabeth? No. America has turned him soft, too, right?

Surely he's not been here quite long enough. Will Tuan be the downfall of Elizabeth and Philip in the agency? Because they've become too Americanized to see the difference?

Oleg was once a softer man, but he went back to the USSR, where you cannot afford to be soft. Oh, he tried to keep touch with the person he learned he could be in America, the man who knew he could be friends with Stan Beeman in another life.

But while Stan fought for Oleg, even going to Gaad's wife seeking permission not to use Oleg in a revenge plot for Gaad's death, Oleg fell victim to the system into which he had been thrust once again because his brother was too proud to ask for his father's help.

Because his brother was just a picture on a wall, he was back in the USSR and living a miserable life with his miserable parents where pretty much everyone and everything was miserable.

Who is going to be there to help turn things around when the Soviet system crashes? Will Oleg find his kindness again? Will Philip and Elizabeth go home and join a different fight?

Will they help nurture the people they gave their souls (and their soles) to so they can be more than the miserable, pained society they've allowed themselves to become over the last century?

That's what I've come to from watching this season. It sure doesn't seem to be about spying anymore. What about you guys?

If you need to see it all again, you can watch The Americans online.

IHOP Review

Editor Rating: 3.2 / 5.0
  • 3.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.1 / 5.0 (8 Votes)

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

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The Americans Season 5 Episode 9 Quotes

Philip: And on the tape, a group of Mujahideen died of a hemorrhagic fever. So maybe it wasn't about protecting us after a nuclear attack. Maybe they just wanted to use it in Afghanistan.
Elizabeth: We don't know it's the same virus we gave them.
Philip: It's a hell of a coincidence if it isn't.

Father: I will pray for you. You should try it.
Philip: I keep hearing that.