What's the Matter with Kansas? is the fourth episode of Season Five of The Americans on FX, and the fifty-sixth episode overall.


Philip and Elizabeth have qualms about a new assignment, while a specter from Philip’s past creates unforeseen dangers. At the FBI, Stan makes a shocking play that could throw his career into turmoil.


Gabriel meets with the Jennings and gives them files on two Agri-Corp employees to target: Deirdre Kemp and Benjamin Stobert. The Jennings hesitate, asking if there’s anyone else who can do this job. Running back and forth to Topeka, Kansas every week will be hard to manage with Paige and everything else they have going on with Tuan. Gabriel is unsympathetic, suspecting their true hesitation lies in no longer wanting to sleep with other people. He tells them he’s sure they’ll figure it out.

Phillip looks miserable on his flight to Topeka and his initial contact with Deirdre at a gym gets a lukewarm reception. He later tells Elizabeth that Deirdre is “really into logistics” and he might die of boredom before getting any useful information. Elizabeth arranges to meet her target at a health food store, and things go much better between them. They go hiking over the weekend and Elizabeth has a good time. Meanwhile, Deirdre turns Phillip down for dinner when he calls her.

In Russia, Oleg is paired with an experienced interrogator named Ruslan, and they pay a return visit to Ekaterina, successfully pressuring her for the name of her contact at the baza. When they discover he has a son in Afghanistan, Oleg protests using this against him. His boss and Ruslan don’t understand the problem.

Oleg confesses to his mother than while in the US, he trusted someone he shouldn’t have, and said some things he regrets. Now, the CIA is trying to use it against him. She cries, but later tells Oleg that before he was born, she spent five years in a Soviet labor camp. “I lived,” she tells him. “I did what I had to do to survive.” She indicates he needs to do the same. Meanwhile, Stan meets with the Deputy Attorney General and tells him he killed Vlad. He says he will go public with his story, if the CIA uses his tape to blackmail Oleg.

Vaso and his friend successfully smuggle Mischa into Austria; he hides on the floor of the backseat of a car, covered by a refrigerator. Later, Mischa is shown arriving in the US at JFK airport in New York.

Phillip and Alexei go to a bar. Alexei tells Phillip that in the Soviet Union, they have the same great land, and the same great climate, but the system is broken [and therefore the USSR is unable to feed its people]. The Jennings go out with Stan and Renee; Phillip remains suspicious of her.

Paige babysits for Pastor Tim and Alice. He gives her a book to read, saying it may help her understand her mother better: Marx’s “Capital: Critique of Political Economy.” Instead of reading the book, after they leave, Paige snoops through their things and finds Pastor Tim’s diary. Elizabeth gets upset when Paige later tells her what she did. Elizabeth then tells Phillip, who agrees Paige shouldn’t be doing that, and shuts Elizabeth down quickly when she wonders if Paige could find any dirt on Pastor Tim in the diary.

When Phillip asks Elizabeth about her visit to Kansas, she says she doesn’t want to talk about it. Phillip continues to question her, and she finally says “He’s nice. He likes birds and hiking.” Phillip responds “You like him,” but Elizabeth replies: “The guy’s laughing, while he’s trying to starve an entire country.”


  • What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004) is a book by American journalist and historian Thomas Frank, which explores the rise of populist anti-elitist conservatism in the United States, centering on the experience of Kansas, Frank's native state. In the late 19th century, says Frank, Kansas was known as a hotbed of the left-wing Populist movement, but in recent decades, it has become overwhelmingly conservative. The book was published in Britain and Australia as What's the Matter with America?
  • Capital: Critique of Political Economy (German: Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Ökonomie, also known as just Das Kapital; 1867–1883) by Karl Marx is a foundational theoretical text in materialist philosophy, economics and politics. Marx aimed to reveal the economic patterns underpinning the capitalist mode of production. The first translated publication of Capital was in Imperial Russia in March 1872. Despite Tsarist censorship proscribing "the harmful doctrines of socialism and communism," the Russian censors believed the content did not apply to monarchic Russia, where "capitalist exploitation" had never occurred and was officially dismissed, given "that very few people in Russia will read it, and even fewer will understand it." Nonetheless, Marx acknowledged that Russia was the country where Capital "was read and valued more than anywhere."


Song Title Performer(s)
Unsatisfied Woman Bob Jones


The Americans 5x04 Promo "What's the Matter with Kansas?" (HD) Season 5 Episode 4 Promo

The Americans 5x04 Promo "What's the Matter with Kansas?" (HD) Season 5 Episode 4 Promo

Season Five
#501 "Amber Waves" #508 "Immersion"
#502 "Pests" #509 "IHOP"
#503 "The Midges" #510 "Darkroom"
#504 "What's the Matter with Kansas?" #511 "Dyatkovo"
#505 "Lotus 1-2-3" #512 "The World Council of Churches"
#506 "Crossbreed" #513 "The Soviet Division"
#507 "The Committee on Human Rights"