“It adds up,” says Frank Langella’s weary KGB handler Gabriel, not long before leaving the spy game and heading back home to Russia near the end of season five of The Americans. There’s been too much lying, too much killing, too much pretending that it’s all normal and that it takes no toll on his psyche. He’s done. He talks a bit about the tendency to rationalize evil, when he admits committing atrocities after the war: “I believed I was working in service of a higher purpose, but I was just scared.” The whole season is about the damage done, and what you decide to do (or not do) after you’ve assessed it. Gabriel got out. He proved to be an old canary in this coal mine. By the end of the season, we’d see several major characters expressing a wish to get out of their respective Cold War jobs, on both sides of the KGB-FBI divide and on both sides of the Atlantic. As goes Gabriel, so goes The Americans.
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