Season 5 of “The Americans” is turning out to be a delicious study in #cold war paranoia from the point of view of two deep-cover KGB agents. Moscow has decided, for whatever reason, that the United States government in 1984 is planning to poison the wheat it is so generously shipping to the #Soviet Union, committed genocide to win the superpower contest once and for all. The story line depends on the viewer’s ignorance of history as well as the mindset of Philip and Elizabeth, the two deep cover agents in question, about the intentions of the enemy with whom they have been living for decades.
The first bit of intelligence is that the Americans developed a bioweapon at a secret lab, even though such are forbidden by a Nixon-era treaty. The United States used the loophole that developing such weapons to come up with countermeasures was permitted.
The second bit of intelligence concerned that greenhouse in Illinois that Elizabeth snuck into. The scene when she discovers that it is full of insects is horrifying for someone who doesn’t know a lot about agriculture. What is going on here? Are the Americans developing insects to devour whatever is left of Soviet agriculture?
What Elizabeth and no doubt most of the viewers of “The Americans” do not know is that many greenhouse operators use “beneficial insects” that eat other insects that prey on crops. In that way, they avoid the use of pesticides. In other words, the bugs were not some nefarious plot at all.
One other thing that the casual viewer of the show likely does not know is that Stalin made use of contrived famines to slaughter millions of their enemies in the 1930s. The Soviets of the 1980s may be projecting when they imagined that Reagan had the same fate in store for them.
The show makes it pretty clear the hatred and fear with which the Soviets regarded President Reagan. The 21st Century knows the 1980s president as a world historical figure who brought down the Soviet Union, won the Cold War, and lifted the threat of global thermonuclear war from the planet. In 1984 a lot of people on both sides of the Iron Curtain thought that Reagan was a madman who would not hang back from genocide to get what he wanted.
One of the most delicious ironies happened when Gabriel, the KGB handler, compared Reagan unfavorably to President Abraham Lincoln. One wonders what Gabriel’s counterpart in the Confederacy would have had to say about that. #Ronald Reagan