FX’s Cold War spy drama The Americans is entering its most crucial season yet. The 1980s Soviet spy family led by Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are beginning what will be the first of two seasons that will serve to wrap up the remaining storylines of the show. But maybe you don’t remember everything that’s happened up to this point?
Though well reviewed, The Americans has never been a big ratings hit, so now, as it begins its final run, the hapless undercover spies are at a crossroads: The remaining stories really have to make their mark. And at this point, after four seasons into the show, it’s insane to ask viewers to catch up on over 50 hours of a series, no matter how amazing it is. To save you some time, here’s everything you need to know before heading into the first leg of the final two seasons of The Americans.
5. Oleg is back in the Soviet Union
Everybody’s favorite Rezidentura employee decided enough was really enough in Season 4 right after he decided enough was kind of enough. When Oleg (Costa Ronin) had to help his family grieve over the death of his brother in Afghanistan, Oleg leaked news of the KGB’s undercover biological weapons program to FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich). They both then tried to help rescue Nina after she was imprisoned in the Soviet Union for treason. But all of it was for naught. Nina was executed, and his betrayal of the operation led to Resident Arkady’s firing.
So Oleg asks for a transfer home to ostensibly be with his distraught mother, but after breaking contact with Beeman you know it’s because he’s essentially given up. When Oleg broke the news to newly installed Resident Tatiana Evgenyevna Ruslanova (who is also his lover), she admits it’s the right thing to do because he is “a good son” — presumably a good son of the Soviet Union. Now we’ll hopefully get to see what such a good son thinks of what has become of the fatherland.
4. Philip’s Soviet son is about to head west
The big last-minute reveal in Season 4 was the introduction of Philip’s secret son, Mischa. First mentioned in Season 1, Philip’s non-American progeny was fresh out of jail after a stint for criticizing the war in Afghanistan. With a bunch of savings and a passport left by his former KGB mother, Irina (before her presumed death), Mischa is dead set on finding his father.
The details of whether Philip knows about what happened to Irina, who Gabriel said was on trial for desertion, or his son remain vague. So the inevitable surprise visit in Washington D.C. from one of his other kids is bound to be a huge moment in Season 5.
3. Martha is still in Moscow…maybe
In a show filled with utterly tragic characters, the most tragic has to be poor Martha Hanson (Alison Wright). After Philip dons a get-up as the fictitious “Clark” and over the course of a few seasons coerces her into marrying someone she thinks is a perfectly normal guy, everything falls apart in Season 4. She finds out he’s actually a Russian spy and agrees to be ferried off to Moscow for her own safety. She loves and trusts Clark no matter who he is. As a secretary for the FBI counterintelligence department, her unintentional collusion with a Soviet spy would have undoubtedly landed her in deep treasonous trouble. While her whereabouts probably won’t be directly addressed in Season 5, the fallout most definitely will. Martha’s parents have seen Clark’s face, and could probably help Beeman figure out who he really is to get their daughter back.
2. Beeman may or may not be on the right track
After the humiliating discovery of Soviet bugs in his FBI office and the tragic death of supervisor Frank Gaad (Richard Thomas), the consistently beleaguered agent, Beeman’s salvation may lie in another dead man.
William, the KGB agent behind the Soviet bioweapon program, injected a weaponized version of the Lassa virus into himself when he knew he was caught. As he lay dying in the Season 4 finale, a fever dream monologue possibly tips Beeman off to the Soviet agents he’s been hunting the entire series (who, unbeknownst to him, are the Jenningses).
William’s delirium about a beautiful wife, her doting husband, and their two beautiful kids living the American dream as undercover agents doesn’t reveal anything to Beeman in the moment. But eventually something has to break. All of this basically began to unravel in Season 1 with a mysterious married couple who forced an innocent cleaning lady to bug the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s office, and it’s only a matter of time before he connects the dots to his suspicions about his next door neighbors.
1. Paige is part of the (KGB) family
The dramatic pull of the show since the end of Season 2 has been the Jennings family coming to terms with the idea that the Center plans on fostering a generation of U.S.-born KGB agents. Three tumultuous seasons later and their oldest child Paige (Holly Taylor) is still trying to make sense of her own identity as the daughter of Soviet spies who had to become one herself. While their son Henry (Keidrich Sellati) remains clueless, Paige has gone on a pretty unique journey up to now.
Most notably, she began spying on her church pastor but was in enough denial to let slip the secret details about her parents. That doesn’t mean she isn’t willing to play the game. She asks her mother to begin training her in self-defense but was horrified when she witnessed her mom kill a thief in front of her in Episode 11 of Season 4.
Paige’s wavering coming-of-age decisions make her parents worry about her ability to truly keep their secret, especially after she cozies up to Beeman’s son Matthew. Paige still has to get over her sense of teenage rebellion to decide whether or not she will be loyal to the Soviet Union.