"I did what I had to do to survive. You do what you need to do." ―Yelena Burova to OlegWhat'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 from Chilton's rolodex, gives them files on two Agri-Corp employees to develop as sources, Deirdre Kemp and Benjamin Stobert. The Jennings hesitate, asking if there's anyone else who can do this job as commuting to Topeka, Kansas every week will be hard to manage with Paige, Tuan, the Morozovs and their other responsibilities. Gabriel is unsympathetic, suspecting their hesitation lies in no longer wanting to sleep with other people. He tells them they'll figure it out. At home the next morning, the Jennings ask Henry why his math teacher has asked to see them. Saying that he's doing fine in math and protesting when they don't believe him, he throws a piece of toast in the trash which Paige scolds him for.
|At the HQ of the OBKhSS, Colonel Anatoli gives Oleg a partner, Ruslan, who is an experienced interrogator. Philip looks miserable on his flight to Topeka and his initial contact with Deirdre at a gym as "Gus Alexander" gets a lukewarm reception. At home, Oleg inexplicably unburdens himself to his mother, Yelena, and says while in the US, he trusted someone he shouldn’t have, and said some things he regrets. Indicating the CIA is now blackmailing and trying to get him to do things, he says he could go to jail. This peril, combined with the death of Yevgeny is too much for Yelena and she breaks down, sobbing. In Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, Vaso brings Mischa to a garage and has him hide in a compartment in a car that a refrigerator slides over top of.
|At Dupont Circle Travel, Philip and Elizabeth discuss the upcoming meeting with Henry's math teacher and he relates that Deirdre is a workaholic and he might die of boredom before getting any useful information. At the Austrian border, Vaso has a friend driving in a car behind him whose rude behavior makes him a target for the guards. After a cursory inspection of Vaso's car, they let him through. Oleg returns to the store that Ekaterina manages but this time with Ruslan. After Ruslan threatens her with jail and orphaning her children, she gives them the name of her contact at the baza who provides her with the best produce.
|In Topeka, posing as "Brenda Neill", Elizabeth meets Stobert at a health food store and they hit it off and make plans to go hiking. "Brad" and Alexei go to a bar where they talk about their jobs. (♫ Bob Jones - Woman Unsatisfied ♫) Alexei says that in the USSR, they have the same land and climate as in the US, but among other problems, the transport of food is outdated, requiring food to be imported. Elizabeth arrives home late at night where Philip greets her and says Paige will be babysitting Claire Louise Saturday. Elizabeth tells Philip about her hiking plans with Stobert.
|The Jennings go to dinner with Stan and Renee. Renee is out-going and speaks a lot of her family. When she asks where Philip and Elizabeth are from, and says she had a relative from where Philip is supposedly born, Philip quickly asks a question about Renee to deflect scrutiny. Oleg and Ruslan show Colonel Anatoli a file on the baza contact they were given, Dmitri Sharanov, and Ruslan notes that Dmitri's son is fighting in the Afghan War. Ruslan plans to use this to gain his co-operation which causes Oleg to ask if there's another way. Anatoli says that doing the right thing for the USSR isn't always easy and says Oleg is soft. Ruslan suggests they study the file and form a plan which the Colonel agrees to.
|While staking out another potential source, Dennis Aderholt speaks about Stan not wanting the CIA to blackmail Oleg. He relates a case where a source was blackmailed and gave in. He was given a lot money, his family stayed together and everything ended well for him. Paige babysits for Pastor Tim and Alice. He gives her a Karl Marx book to read, saying it may help her understand her mother better. From a payphone, "Gus" calls Deidre and indicating he'll be in Topeka soon, he asks her out for dinner. Indicating she's busy with work, "Gus" says he'll call her when he gets into town and hope for the best. "Brenda" hikes with Stobert who talks about his childhood interest in wildlife.
|Instead of reading the book Tim gave her, after they leave, Paige snoops through their house and finds Pastor Tim's diary. "Brenda" and Stobert make out at his place but when he starts to make sexual advances, she says she needs to work. Asking if she can see him next week, he enthusiastically agrees. In "the vault" at the FBI, Stan meets with the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) and confesses to killing Vlad. Leaving the decision if he's going to be arrested to the DAG, he threatens to admit publicly he killed Vlad unless the CIA backs off blackmailing Oleg. Arriving home to find only Elizabeth there, Paige asks questions about her current mission. Paige reveals she looked at Tim's diary and while appreciating what she did, Elizabeth warns her off doing it again. Paige assures Elizabeth that she won't get caught or let on she's read the diary.
|At home, Yelena comes into Oleg's room and tells him that before he was born, she spent five years in a Soviet labor camp. Showing a sudden strength he never knew she had, Yelena tells him that she did what she had to do to survive and that he needs to do the same. Mischa arrives in the US at JFK airport. In their bedroom, Elizabeth tells Philip about Paige's spying which he agrees is too dangerous. Still, Elizabeth is interested if Paige found anything incriminating about Pastor Tim. Asking about her visit to Kansas, Elizabeth says she doesn't want to talk about it. Pressing her, Elizabeth admits that Stobert is nice but she's disgusted with his work, trying to starve the USSR.
- At the border crossing, as Vaso discusses a soccer game on the radio, one of the guards mentions that Bosnian footballer Faruk Hadžibegić scored.
- 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 simply 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."
- "Previously on The Americans" voice (in Russian): Oleg.
|Woman Unsatisfied||Bob Jones|
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