TV

‘The Americans’ Anxiety Report: Ben, You Two-Timing Scuzz


The Americans Anxiety Report is a weekly rundown of the people and things we are currently most worried about on the show. It will get weird, because many of the people and things we will be worrying about will be tools in a plot to ruin America, put in motion by another country. Blame the show for this, not us.

10. Henry (Last week: Same)

No Henry this week, which raised an interesting question: What do you think Henry was up to in all the time we didn’t see him? Stan seemed busy, so they weren’t hanging out, but Henry wasn’t home, either. I’ve got it narrowed down to two possibilities: One, Henry was on one of the Brady Bunch-style dates where he accidentally double-booked with two girls and has to try to zip back and forth between tables to keep up the ruse; two, he and a math nerd pal are in a garage inventing some sort of computer program. I hope it’s the second. I like picturing a world where Henry grows up to be a well-adjusted billionaire.

9. Assorted American bug scientists (Last week: Same)

Ben, you piece of trash. You two-timing Nepal-hiking lothario. We see you in Memphis, playing kissyface with that floozy. How many others are there? Tell me. Tell me, Ben. Do you cook Egyptian soup for them? Do you bore them with facts about the origins of lentils or whatever? Do you do tai chi with them, too? You’re sick. You sick bastard. Think of Brenda, who is, I guess, technically using you for information about your secret grain project, and has another lover herself, who is her real husband, and they’re both Russian spies who are currently inside that phone booth over there in disguises, because they followed you there to find out more about you as part of a mission that started with them murdering a guy named Randy, but still. Still, Ben. This deceit is unacceptable.

(Deirdre seems cool.)

8. Matthew (Last week: Not ranked)

Poor Matthew, man. Kid has no idea what he did wrong. And it’s even worse because he didn’t really even do anything wrong. They were just like a more star-crossed Romeo and Juliet, unable to be together and happy because of a situation their parents created. It sucks for both of them, because Paige knows why and it’s tearing her apart and because Matthew doesn’t and he must be so confused.

This will devastate Stan. We will get to him in a bit.

7. Renee (Last week: Not ranked)

So here’s the problem. I still don’t know what to make of Renee. Philip finally tried to get me an answer and was told he was crazy. Philip and I are not crazy, Gabriel! Something is up here. I still haven’t figured out what, but now Stan is out here spiraling at work and telling her about it in less vague terms, and she’s going to use it for… something. I don’t know what. My new theory is that she’s a CIA plant.

Or, like, again, maybe she’s just a nice lady who likes Stan, and Philip’s suspicions about her will cause him to do something stupid that causes huge problems between him and Stan, or bodily harm to Renee.

Or maybe she’s working with the mafia!

Lotta options.


6. Oleg (Last week: 8)

Oleg is doing pretty okay, actually. I only have him this high because a son looking up the records of his mother’s stay in a Russian prison camp can’t be a fun use of time. And because he seems to be spending an awful lot of time walking around snowy Russian streets at night. He could catch pneumonia.

5. Elizabeth (Last week: 2)

Elizabeth found out Ben is cheating on “Brenda,” which shook her more than she expected because she sort of caught feelings for him and finds it unacceptable that she caught feelings for a mark. A vicious circle. But that’s all I have to say about it because I already ranted about Ben and because I want to point out that the KGB wig department has been working overtime cranking out these hilarious “real America” disguises lately, and I think someone should acknowledge it. Great job, gang.

4. Gabriel (Last week: 5)

Gabriel is headed back to Russia, but not before meeting Paige and breaking the news to Philip that they shouldn’t have involved her in any of it. I’m assuming this was a three-way combination of things, including 1) Gabriel being totally fried and worn down and getting honest, 2) Philip pushing him about the Renee thing, and 3) guilt over what the life does to people, but man. Little late there, my guy. What other dope insight do you wanna drop on your fragile spy on your way out the door? Wanna tell him this is all for nothing because the Cold War as they know it will end soon with Reagan sauntering into Berlin like a triumphant cowboy? Wanna tell him mild wing sauce is just the regular hot sauce stepped on with extra butter so it’s technically worse for you? Just tear his whole world down, why don’t you?

Come on.

3. Philip (Last week: 1)

The nice thing about Philip is that I don’t even have to write out his problems anymore. You can always see it all on his face in at least one screencap per episode.

2. Stan (Last week: 6)

Stan has the same problems Stan always has. His boss — or in this case, his boss’s boss — is ticked off at him for his loose-cannon tactics. His love life may or may not be putting the nation in danger. He’s maybe screwing things up with a potential asset. The full Stan, basically. This week was the first time in a while where he was threatened with something at work — being “transferred” out of counterintelligence, or “fired” — and I was kind of like “No, yeah, I get it.”

Don’t get me wrong. He’s a good man. A sweet man. A man guided by principles, mostly. But he is a crap intelligence officer. And before you leap up to defend him, think about who his best friend is…

Yup.

1. Paige (Last week: 7)

Paige just dumped her boyfriend and is an emotional disaster who spends most of her time curled up in bed or inside a closet with an unopened copy of The Communist Manifesto in her hands and a faraway look in her eyes like she’s trying to imagine a better life in a distant happier world but can’t even do that without reality charging in like a horde of pillaging Vikings to ruin everything.

Bad times in Paigeland.

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