What happened in 'The Americans' season 4 finale? Refresher before the season 5 premiere

Source: FX
Source: FX

Season five of The Americans is about to kick off — airing on FX Tuesday, March 7, at 10 p.m. Eastern — but before we dive back into Cold War politics, wild wigs, costumes and the thrilling lives of the Jennings family, it may help to have a little bit of a refresher.

How did things leave off? 

The season four finale of The Americans asked an important question: will Philip and Elizabeth finish their mission in the states and head back to Russia, bringing along their American children Paige and Henry with them?

For those who have been watching the show these past couple of years, the answer is obvious. No America, no show. Even before the season five trailer came out, we figured there was no way Philip and Elizabeth were done being sleeper agents sent to the United States to spy on behalf of the Soviet Union. Still, a lot of cracks have begun to appear in their happy, suburban American family facade, and the Jennings family is in more danger than ever before.

Source: FX/YouTube

At the end of the season the Russian's lost William, a lonely, bitter spy who had been in the U.S. a long time. He worked for a lab that makes biochemical weapons for the U.S. government and was asked by Mother Russia to sneak away samples of the latest in viruses so his home government can replicate them. Philip and Elizabeth were tasked with being the middlemen between William and the Soviet Union. 

Unfortunately, the FBI were on to him and William, not wanting to go to prison or betray his people, exposes himself to a virus he was carrying with him, one that causes his organs to dissolve from within. He's rushed to a hospital where FBI agent Stan Beeman — also Philip's and Elizabeth's next door neighbor — watches him die. As he does, he inadvertently mutters something about Philip and Elizabeth, alluding to spies posed as a family that are hiding right beneath the FBI's noses. 

Frank Langella, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in 'The Americans'
Source: 
Ali Goldstein/FX

Elsewhere, Gabriel, Philip's and Elizabeth's handler, is concerned that William may have blown their cover and advises them to head back to Russia. As the couple debates what do, realizing all their work and the life they set up could go up in flames, we see a relationship begin to form between Paige and Stan's son, Matthew. It may seem superfluous given the family might have to leave the country, but those of us who figured they are here to stay realize teenage love may be a huge plot point in season five. 

After a season of many blows, which include Philip's asset Martha's cover being blown and Elizabeth having to betray her new friend Young Hee, one other thing has come into the picture, something that's likely to cause more unexpected problems for the Jennings: Philip has another son. 

We learned about this in season one and just when we thought this wouldn't play into the show, Philip's son from a young love back in Russia, is looking for his father. He has just returned from fighting in Afghanistan and now, with his mother's instructions, is off to America to find his father. 

Moreover, things aren't looking good.

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Eric Eidelstein

Eric Eidelstein is a freelance Arts writer living in Brooklyn, NY. He has previously written for Complex, Indiewire, and other outlets.

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