THE AMERICANS Review: “Amber Waves”


THE AMERICANS returns for its fifth season with an addition to their deadly family in “Amber Waves.” Back in the eighties, the Olympics, summer and winter games, were still held in the same year. Season five must start in 1984, there are Olympics and a Soviet Union. These are tough, lean years for the soviets. A crumbling economy made life difficult, long lines just to buy bread made things worse. People wanted out more than ever.

Phil and Elizabeth have a new house and a new Vietnamese son, named Tuan, living in it. Tuan Eckert is a young agent from The Center and his mission is to befriend and surveil a new boy at school, Pasha. Pasha Morozov and his parents have recently traveled from Russia. Pasha and his mother both miss Moscow, but Igor Morozov has little love for the motherland; he embraces all the opportunities, personal freedoms, and choices of the United States. At this point, it’s unclear if the family defected or serves some business capacity. Igor says he works as a consultant for the Department of Agriculture. Mrs. Morozov doesn’t have a yet, but she’d love to work in a library. The exact mission of The Americans is unknown, but Tuan is a hard core communist and thinks they should have killed Igor already. Tuan spends his free time watching and hating The A-Team so he can fit in at school. I love this new character, he seems like trouble and I’m interested about their endgame with the new family.


The Jennings still have their regular house to maintain and Paige isn’t making it any easier. Paige still spends time with Pastor Tim and hangs out at the Beeman’s; both will provide her with dinner but neither will put any vegetables on the plate which angers Elizabeth the most. Paige complains she can’t sleep because of nightmares she keeps having about the night Elizabeth killed her attacker. Elizabeth thinks showing Paige how to defend herself will help. She starts training Paige in their garage. Cue the lessons in tough love. Meanwhile, Phil pressures Paige about breaking off her contact with Matthew Beeman, but Stan doesn’t mind so much, he thinks they make a cute couple. Stan has his eyes on a new woman at his gym, he hasn’t talked to her yet but he is upping his reps. At work, Frank Gaad’s replacement, Agent Wolfe, informs Stan that Oleg Burov has flown back to Russia. The FBI would love to run Oleg as a double agent.

Oleg went home at the request of his father to help his mother get over the death of his brother. He is a complicated man. Oleg has a code which drives on a sense of duty and loyalty. However, he doesn’t let anyone else dictate his duty or loyalties. Oleg is both happy to be home with his mother, but bored to be back in Russia. His new KGB posting deals with investigating the corruption in the Soviet food distribution program. Oleg’s new boss the long lines and starving population. There is plenty of food in Russia, it just doesn’t get to the right people. His only concern is with Oleg’s family. Some of the people they investigate may be friends of his father’s. Will he be loyal to family, or the KGB? Oleg doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who drinks Kool-aide, this is going to be a twisty road.

THE AMERICANS -- "Amber Waves" -- Season 5, Episode 1 (Airs Tuesday, March 7, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings. CR: Patrick Harbron/FX

While Oleg’s plane was arriving, Phil’s estranged but legitimate son, Mischa Semenov, was boarding a plane leaving the country. He has a ticket to Yugoslavia, which also existed in the eighties, but he also has a letter from his mother which mentions Philip. Gabriel and Claudia suspect Mischa may be seeking Philip in America. Mischa, and how The Center chooses to deal with him, could wrecking ball Phil’s operational integrity. At a minimum, his new fake son, Tuan, is going to hate Mischa and his reasons for stepping through the Iron Curtain.


Gabriel sends Elizabeth and Phil to Fort Detrick to retrieve a piece of dearly departed William Crandall. They lead a small team through the fence line at night and find the spot where the DoD buried William. The team takes turns digging which takes a while, they’re about seven feet down before they even contact his casket. The team welder cuts the locks off and Phil cuts a small square of William’s flesh away to send back to Russia for analysis. This is what the KGB wanted all along. However, when Phil hands the baggie to young Hans, Hans slips into the grave and cuts his hand. He tells Elizabeth it doesn’t hurt, but she shoots him in the head when he turns around and buries him with William. So long Hans, that’s a tough break.

 “Amber Waves” provided a solid orientation for season five. We know where everyone is if not where they stand. The new mission is intriguing and Tuan, the nasty youth from The Center, makes a great dramatic impression. Plus, Mischa’s coming to dinner with a whole new menu of trouble.

Season 5, Episode 1 (S05E01)
The Americans  airs Tuesdays at 10PM on FX

Read all of our reviews of The Americans here.
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Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
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