Need to catch up? Check out our previous The Americans recap here.
The walls are rapidly closing in on Philip and Elizabeth as The Americans edges towards its endgame. Will they even get out of this final season with all of their body parts intact?
After dumping Henry on Stan — and enduring an incredibly uncomfortable conversation where Stan pointedly asks him, “Are you involved with something?” — Philip heads to Chicago to meet Elizabeth, who’s trying to extract a Russian operative known to the FBI as “Harvest.” Elizabeth tells him he didn’t need to come, but she’s clearly happy he did: “I feel a lot better about our chances with you here,” she tells him. She even feels close enough to Philip to show him her cyanide-pill necklace, though she still won’t tell him about the “Dead Hand” mission.
The extraction plan: Philip hires a few day laborers and Elizabeth steals an airport shuttle bus, while “Harvest” drives through the streets of Chicago with the feds tailing him. Elizabeth and another driver use their big vehicles to block the FBI’s view of Harvest’s car, while Philip’s day laborers halt traffic on the street for construction. While they’re stopped, Elizabeth yanks Harvest onto the shuttle bus, and by the time the FBI realizes he’s gone, Elizabeth and Philip have transferred him to a van driven by Marilyn. But the feds move quickly and form a roadblock, and when Marilyn refuses to stop, they open fire, killing her and shooting Harvest in the gut. Elizabeth grabs the wheel and Harvest fires back, killing a pair of FBI agents, but he’s mortally wounded.
As Elizabeth drives them to safety, Harvest asks Philip in Russian to tell his mother he loved her, then lets out a few sad gurgles — he has a necklace like Elizabeth’s, and it’s empty — before dying. Elizabeth and Philip drive to a vacant parking garage to switch cars again, but they can’t just leave Marilyn’s body. So Philip grabs a nearby fire ax and, in a gruesome moment reminiscent of Season 3’s bone-cracking suitcase scene, hacks off Marilyn’s hands (!) and head (!!) so she can’t be identified. (Is it just me, or did it look like Elizabeth was falling back in love as she watched Philip swing that ax?) Elizabeth tosses Marilyn’s head and hands into a bag, and later dumps the bag in Lake Michigan to the strains of Patti Smith’s “Broken Flag.” All that blood, sweat and tears… and they essentially failed.
Back at home, Elizabeth gets right back to work, but there’s a new tenderness between her and Philip we hadn’t seen earlier this season. She does have to break the news to Paige, though, that the Chicago mission “didn’t go well,” and Marilyn didn’t survive it. She tells Paige that she needs to decide now if she wants this life, with all the risks that come with it, or if she wants out: “If you do this, it has to be forever.” But Paige insists this is really what she wants, adding (somewhat alarmingly), “I’m not afraid to die.” So Elizabeth tells her it’s time: She needs to apply for an internship at the State Department. Hey, maybe she can carpool with Stan! Speaking of whom…
STAN KNOWS! | It’s the light-bulb moment we’ve been waiting six long seasons to witness: During that excruciating conversation with Philip, Stan seems to know that his old pal isn’t leaving town on a travel-agency emergency. (Philip says he’s just stressed because his business is failing, but Stan doesn’t buy it.) He grills Henry for more information, and learns that Philip and Elizabeth would often run out in the middle of the night for “work,” leaving him and Paige alone. Stan asks him about Elizabeth’s Aunt Helen — aka the cover story when Elizabeth was shot in Season 1 — but Henry never met her.
When the Chicago operation goes bad, the day laborers tell the FBI they were hired by a white guy, and later saw him with a white woman, and Stan wants to see those police sketches. Meanwhile, with the Jennings house left empty, Stan breaks in and snoops around, gazing at their family photos and remembering William Crandall’s dying words about “couple kids, American dream.” He doesn’t find anything incriminating — he examines the fuse box in the basement, but doesn’t find the secret compartment behind it — but he returns to the FBI office with a box of evidence concerning the wife of a Russian illegal who died six years ago. Which dates all the way back to Season 1, Episode 3, I believe? Look out, Philip and Elizabeth: Stan Beeman is (finally) hot on your trail.
Elsewhere in “Harvest”:
* Elizabeth also spent time with Erica the artist, who’s ailing more than ever. But she refused pain medication in order to keep making her art, and told Elizabeth that her first few sketches show that she’s holding back: “You need to bring all of yourself to it, and that lets you get out of your own way.” Will Elizabeth ever really learn that lesson, though?
* So how long has Stan known, exactly? Just wondering if they’ll ever show us how and when he pieced it all together, because he seemed to have a very strong suspicion even before Philip ran off to “Houston.”
* Didn’t Harvest kind of look like Jared Kushner? See, another Russian connection right there! Plus, before he died, he told Philip that the schematics for those blasted radiation sensors can be found in an air base in France. So maybe the Chicago mission wasn’t a total loss.
* I found that shot of Elizabeth and Philip with gray hair on the plane home almost unbearably poignant. Because sure, it was just a disguise — but also a stark reminder that they’ll probably never live to see such an age together.
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