‘The Americans’ Anxiety Report: Being A Nosy Neighbor Pays Off


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. Harvest’s Father (Last week: Unranked)

Harvest’s father sounded like a real scumbag and there’s little to no chance Philip actually does deliver his colleague’s dying message — at least not verbatim — but please do take a moment to picture that discussion.

[Philip rings doorbell]

HARVEST’S FATHER: Yes? How can I help you?

PHILIP: Well, there’s no easy way to say this, sir. Your son passed away. I’m so sorry.

HARVEST’S FATHER: Oh no. That’s awful news. My son. My poor son. I never got a chance to apologize.

PHILIP: [squirming, making a Philip face] Well, uh, about that. He did have a message he wanted me to deliver…

HARVEST’S FATHER: Oh, please. Tell me.

PHILIP: [slowly unfolding a crumpled piece of paper] Well, uh, he says… “You son of a bitch. I’m glad I never saw you again. I, uh…” I should just stop here. It was an emotional moment.

HARVEST’S FATHER: No, please. Continue.

PHILIP: [frowning so hard the corners of his mouth are sliding off his face] O… okay. “I hope you die the miserable death you deserve.” And then he, uh, groaned a bit. I have it written down here. “Groaning.”

HARVEST’ FATHER: Did he die a peaceful death, at least?

PHILIP: Well he was bleeding out in the back of a speeding unmarked van in Chicago — you’re familiar with Chicago, yes?

HARVEST’S FATHER: Of course. Mike Ditka.

PHILIP: Right. Anyway, he took a cyanide pill and died.


PHILIP: Sooo I should probably get going.

9. Oleg (Last week: 10)

No sign of Oleg this week but I’m still very worried about him, especially now that Philip is doing work with Elizabeth and Stan is… no. We’ll get to Stan later. Oleg is in trouble, though. And if we’re still in the post-Thanksgiving period, he probably has finals coming up in the classes he is taking as a cover. I like to think he’s gotten way into it and is like “No, I can’t pick up the drop tonight. I’m meeting with my study group in the library!”

8. Aderholt (Last week: Unranked)


Poor Aderholt is fried crispy. After he got the news about Harvest, when he stormed into his office and Stan followed him in there, he just looked completely defeated. At one point he said “Everything we do turns to shit,” which is both accurate and pretty depressing. It’s been a long time since the FBI had a win on this show. I suddenly want — no, I need — Aderholt to lead a mission that uncovers a Russian plot. Maybe not the mission we’re all thinking of, because I see Stan going off-book and it becoming a thing, but something. Something! Just show me my dude behind a podium at a press conference where he’s announcing something good. Show me a smile, Aderholt. You’ve earned it. Kind of.

7. Mrs. Gardner (Last week: Unranked)

Mrs. Gardner, the wealthy mother of one of Henry’s friends, the one who drives a Cadillac and is married to a finance guy, sounds horribly depressed. She’s spending all her time shuttling her snotty kid around — I don’t know why I just assumed the kid is a brat, but he is, I’m sure of it — and separating out her foods so nothing is combined in one meal. That does not sound like a fulfilling life. It sounds kind of like a woman who is desperately looking to find order or to exert some sort of control over something, anything, even if it is just food, dammit carrots, you do not belong on the plate with the salmon, we’ve been over this!

Mrs. Gardner, if you’re reading this, please, look for a hobby. Join a golf league at the country club. I’m worried about you.

6. Elizabeth (Last week: 3)

The mission went to heck, as expected, with one guy dying in the back of a van and one lady getting shot between the eyes while driving, which is, technically speaking, not ideal. Also not ideal: Having to chop off your co-worker’s head and hands with a fire ax inside a parking garage and then stuffing them into a travel bag and heaving them into a body of water. Elizabeth took it all in stride, though, or at least as much in stride as one can take chopping off your co-worker’s head and hands with a fire ax inside a parking garage and then stuffing them into a travel bag and heaving them into a body of water. And if there’s a silver lining in all of this, I mean, at least she started coming clean to Paige about what the job really is. Is that a silver living?

I don’t know. This show is so bleak right now that I’m chalking up “A teenage girl’s mother finally revealed the harsh truths of Cold War espionage to her daughter and pressed her into making a lifelong commitment to spycraft while walking down a sidewalk just after Thanksgiving” as a win. Weird show.

5. Anyone who watched this episode and ever sees another fire ax (Last week: Unranked)


Yeah. I’m pretty sure I’ll always think “Oh, I wonder if someone ever used that ax to chop up a body” whenever I see one behind glass. Forever. I could be 80 years old and my brain will no longer store plot points of television’s shows I watched in my younger days, but I’ll still see a fire ax and get an immediate flash of Philip’s face when the first swing didn’t go through and got stuck in her neck. It’s fine. I’m fine.

It got stuck in her neck.

Poor Philip. First mission back and he’s chopping off people’s heads. No baby steps in this one.

4. Henry (Last week: 1)

Hmm. Well it appears my dear sweet Henry —the hockey champion and ladies man and math whiz, who will work at a tannery in West Virginia for an entire summer if it means he can stay at his fancy prep school — is not that well-adjusted, after all, and the reason he likes that school so much is because it keeps him out of his often-empty hell-home where his parents bail on him at Thanksgiving and leave him with the neighbor. I probably should have seen that coming. Uh, whoops.

Things are about to get worse, too. A lot worse. Because now that Stan knows — Stan knows — the possible endgames in all of this are really narrowed down to about three: One, his parents get arrested and he is forever the son of infamous Russian spies; two, his parents get killed and he is even more on his own than he is now; three, Stan gets killed, taking away the only adult who actually gives him real attention.

I can’t talk about this anymore. It’s tearing me apart. Leave Henry alone. He’s a good boy.

3. Philip (Last week: 2)


2. Paige (Last week: 6)

The conversation with Paige at the end was a huge bummer for a million reasons, as we touched on above, and I don’t really want to recount the whole thing except to note that her saying “I don’t really have any friends” was the sneaky saddest moment of the entire episode. Elizabeth ruined Paige. It’s heartbreaking.

1. Stan (Last week: 4)

Stan knows. Stan knows. I think Stan might have always kind of known, too. He snooped around their garage once before, many years ago. Something never smelled right. But maybe he pushed it all down because it was just too crazy — his neighbors, Philip and Elizabeth, spies? — and seemed like a sign that his job was making him paranoid and insane. Well guess what: It wasn’t and he’s not. Spies. All of them. Everywhere. At his dinner table, even. Eating his food. Hugging him.

This has always been where we were heading. You can’t have an FBI agent live across the street from spies and not let him figure it out, ever. That’s a sitcom. Stan had to put it all together at some point, just as a matter of competence. The thing now is, like, what does he do about it? He can’t go to the FBI without proof, and even when he does go it’s gonna be baaaad times because “Whoops my best friend has been a Russian agent all along” is a career-ender for any intelligence operative, one would imagine. Same for Aderholt, who just had Thanksgiving dinner with them. And if he keeps snooping around on his own, at night, with no backup, well, one day he’s gonna turn a corner and see Elizabeth standing there with a knife. Elizabeth would kill him, no question.

But what if it’s Philip? What if Philip catches Stan snooping? What then? Good God, just thinking about it is raising my blood pressure. No one is getting a happy ending here. TV is fun.