THE AMERICANS Review: “Pests”

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THE AMERICANS discover a greenhouse in the middle of Illinois full of “Pests.” Lot of germs and bugs going in the Jennings world this year. Elizabeth and Philip turn the sample they cut off William over to Gabriel. He tells them the Center is working overtime on a grain contamination issue. The Soviets import half their grain from the United States and now they think the U.S. is infecting the shipments. Philip can’t believe they would go so far as to hurt the Soviet population that way.

Gabriel sends Elizabeth to Illinois to shadow Alexei Morozov. The Russians follow Alexei’s car to a greenhouse in the middle of farm country. Elizabeth waits until evening, then picks her way into the place to have a look around. There are rows and rows of dead dried plants, but there is also a small section of healthy green stalks. She runs her hands through the leaves and gets swarmed by tiny flying gnat-like bugs. Pests that would have to be introduced to the greenhouse. It’s weird, there could be a scientific explanation for it.

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

At home, Elizabeth continues teaching Paige fighting skills, but she realizes she also needs to teach Paige how to defend herself from boys like Matthew. Paige says they haven’t had sex yet, but we’ve seen Matthew play hard for second base. Elizabeth is talking about issues Paige isn’t capable of understanding yet. They don’t think she would ever betray them on purpose, but she could let something slip in the heat of passion or leave other clues. Remember, this is Matthew we’re talking about, he isn’t advanced in any way. Philip and Elizabeth teach Paige a little trick she can use to keep control in sexually charged situations. We’ve all had that discussion.

However, that wasn’t the most uncomfortable talk of the night. Stan shares a beer with Philip and tells him how much Paige dating Matthew means to him. Their relationship could encourage Matthew to pick a college closer to home, where Stan can see him more often. No Pressure. Then he asks if Paige is doing alright. This is a big warning bell for Philip. Paige hasn’t said anything, but Stan can tell something is off in her life. Philip writes it off as regular teen drama, but he knows they all have to proceed with caution.

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

Philip spends some time with his fake son, Tuan. We find out he was a refugee who came to America with a group of “boat people.” Tuan was adopted by a nice, but proud, Seattle couple before being recruited by the KGB. The Jennings and the Morozovs meet for dinner when Alexei and Elizabeth return from Illinois. Again, Alexei makes a big deal about how much he hates the Soviet Union. He says his father did a fifteen-year prison stint just for being born. The Jennings nod along, they’re supposed to be from Michigan in this scene and accept the story, but they don’t believe Alexei’s father could do that kind of time for nothing. Pasha flips out again, in Russian. He says he would rather die in Russia than live in America.

Tuan knows it’s a stupid thing to say. His family was killed by bombs in his homeland. I don’t get Pasha, he hasn’t been here long enough to forget what it was like there. Tuan gives one of those “American kids don’t get it” speeches. Oleg gets it, he’s right in the middle of it. His new KGB boss, also named Oleg, warns him about getting invited to fancy state parties where officials spread corruption by offering food baskets. Oleg’s family doesn’t really need that kind of help but his father does have business interests beyond the average Ivan.

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

To make matters worse, the CIA send an agent, Allen Stryder, to pressure Stan to recruit Oleg; leverage his family’s safety if it helps. Stan doesn’t want any part of it. Oleg helped the FBI out, gave them a great tip about the KGB deep cover guy at Fort Detrick. Stan’s new boss describes the situation as another attempt to self-destruct his own career. Stan won’t budge so they move ahead without him. One of the men that’s been shadowing Oleg in Moscow slips him a note and says Stan Beeman sent him.  I can’t wait to see how Oleg turns this situation to his advantage.

Stan finally works the courage to talk to the woman from the gym, Renee. They go out a few times and he introduces her to Philip. Stan brags about how she likes all the same things Philip does, which begs the question; Is Renee also KGB? We’re all thinking it. For now, he ends up on a surveillance detail with Aderholt watching another Russian named Gruzinsky. Why is agricultural consultant Alexei so interesting to the KGB? How far away is Philip’s real Russian son and how long before Paige bursts like a piñata? One thing is for sure, Elizabeth didn’t kill anyone this week, I expect she’ll catch up next week but who is this victim and why?

Season 5, Episode 2 (S05E02)
The Americans  airs Tuesdays at 10PM on FX

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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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