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. Oleg (Last week: 5)
I worry about Oleg for a bunch of reasons, starting with him running a covert off-book operation in America that has already raised suspicions among local KGB-types with various axes to grind. That’s bad. I like Oleg and his beard and hat. I like that he sits in chairs with the confidence of the coolest guy in high school. I still kind of hope he and Stan get a condo in Miami and become swinging coke-tooting bachelors.
But my biggest worry about him right now is that he’s smack in the middle of a marital fight between Philip and Elizabeth. Even in less intense circumstances, even if none of them were murderous Russian spies, that’s a terrible idea. Never get in the middle of a bickering couple. Never. There’s no winning there. Because once you choose a side and start picking away at things, they’ll get back together for a murder mission in Chicago and leave you looking like a bozo. I’ve seen this a million times.
9. Thanksgiving, generally (Last week: Unranked)
Thanksgiving is a very good holiday because it is the only holiday dedicated almost entirely to stuffing your face with food. All the other holidays have other things going on, whether it’s twice a year church trips on Easter and Christmas or buying a costume and begging the neighbors for candy on Halloween. Thanksgiving is just about food. I have a great deal of respect for that. There’s really only one way to ruin something as perfect as a Thanksgiving and that is bringing up politics in the middle of the damn toast, Stan.
Jesus Christ. Come on, guy.
8. The employees at Philip’s travel agency (Last week: Unranked)
Poor Stavos. Poor, poor Stavos. Dude didn’t even see it coming. Got called into the office thinking Philip just needed to vent, thinking he was talking to a friend and confidant more than a boss, then blammo, laid off right at Thanksgiving. Should have booked more cruises, I guess.
Also, did anyone else think, even for just a second, when Philip was digging through Elizabeth’s spy stuff in the garage and storage space, that he was gonna grab three or four stacks of cash to try to goose the travel agency’s balance sheet or pay Henry’s tuition? This Henry thing is very important to me. We’ll come to it in a bit.
7. Mail Robot (Last week: Unranked)
This scene was legitimately hilarious and proves yet again that Mail Robot is the funniest character on the show by a factor of 10. I hope they submit it for a Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Emmy. The only reason I even have it on this list is because I never know if an appearance will be the last appearance and I’m not ready to say goodbye. I hope the series ends with one of those super-1980s montages set to like “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing where they freeze on a character and put up text telling you what happened to them later and I hope Mail Robot’s says “Mail Robot moved in with Stan and Oleg in Miami and they opened a series of very successful nightclubs.”
And on the subject of songs from 1987: The Americans uses music as well as any show on television so far be it from me to tell them how to handle this aspect of their show, but… I really want a montage of Oleg walking around D.C. at night set to “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi. I think I’ve earned it.
6. Paige (Last week: 4)
Quiet week for Paige after back-to-back episodes featuring amateur seduction and fisticuffs, respectively. That was nice. Paige needs a break. Although I fully expect the next episode to open with her strangling Cute Brian with a telephone cord to get information out of him because no one on this show is allowed to have peace two weeks in a row.
5. Jackson Barber, the film nerd (Last week: Unranked)
This poor Chalamet-looking dork. He’s so screwed. So hopelessly screwed. Horny young men have not fared well at all this season, between Elizabeth stabbing the security guard who hit on Paige and Paige going half-Wesley Snipes on those two goons in the bar, and this was the first episode all season in which Elizabeth did not have to kill someone because a mission went sideways. This kid is gonna get in too deep real fast and then he’s going to hook up with Elizabeth and her wig will fall off during sex because she’s been so busy and fried that she forgot to secure it properly and then she’ll stab him to death with a stiletto or something. He’ll never even get to see Boogie Nights. Poor guy.
4. Stan (Last week: 6)
Aderholdt roped Stan back into counterintelligence and put in a good word for Renee at the Bureau, both of which are probably not great for Stan. The job thing is the biggie for now, obviously, because Aderholdt basically laid out every crime Elizabeth committed this season — the general, the botched sensor heist, etc. — in addition to the ongoing investigation into the deaths of Gennadi and Sofia. And they’re looking into Russian priests, too. We now have at least three routes for Stan to uncover the Jennings family’s secret (these two plus the Oleg/Philip business), and it’s gonna suck so bad for him when he does because he just had them over for freaking Thanksgiving dinner. That won’t look great in the first paragraph of a Washington Post article about spies living among us.
I am really gonna miss Stan’s old job on the crime and fraud beat, too, if only for the 90-second snippets of it we saw before Aderholdt walked in and pulled him into some spy stuff. “So the pink Rolls Royce crashed into row of Harleys in the Slayer concert parking lot and that’s when we realized the entire car was made out of smuggled gold from Ecuad-… oh hey, Aderholdt.”
3. Elizabeth (Last week: 10)
All over the map with Elizabeth this week. Just a mess. Because on one hand she said a ton of hurtful stuff to Philip over the Kimmy thing and offered Henry a cigarette, which, and this says a lot about where my head is at with this show, upset me more than any of the murders she has committed this season. (My sweet boy needs full lung capacity to play hockey!) She’s been stretched thin from working alone and trying to bring Paige along slowly and getting called in to fix other botched missions all while wearing a cyanide pill around her neck, and it is causing her to make mistakes and lash out and chain-smoke sad cigarettes with trembling hands while wearing a bathrobe outside. It’s been easy to hate her this season for all of that, for her becoming a soldier while Philip gets to play Reasonable Dad around the house. If her job was anything else, like, say, if she was working 80-hour weeks at a diner instead of killing innocent people to destroy America, I’d have so much sympathy for her. Probably. Still mad about that cigarette thing.
But then she made that painfully awkward call to Henry and I kind of melted a little. Maybe melted is a bit much. Let’s go with thawed. It was the first time in a while we saw her as a real person. She was a little sad and scared and didn’t appear to be using those emotions to manipulate someone for once. And now Philip is off to Chicago to probably help her kill some guy and it’s a whole thing again. I don’t know, man. It’s a lot.
2. Philip (Last week: 3)
1. Henry (Last week: Unranked)
A great episode for my beloved math whiz. It’s incredible how well adjusted the kid is. I mean that just in general, before you even add the weird stuff going on around him all the time. Dad having trouble at work? Cool, let’s set him up with a friend’s rich and successful father. Tuition prices an issue? No problem, there’s a tannery in West Virginia that pays good money for summer work. Parents stressed and fighting and clearly not sleeping in the same bed? Nothing a little calming chat can’t help. He’s the most mature member of the entire family at this point and, craziest of all, he’d probably make the best spy. In fact, there’s a non-zero chance Stan recruited him years ago and he’s running a covert mission on his parents right now. Can’t rule it out. Not yet, at least.
But I do worry. Seeing him this confident and sure of himself and prepared to succeed without help from his family is heartening, but knowing the dang sword of Damocles is dangling above his head at all times, ready to take it all away even though he’s acquired most of it on his own and seems ready to keep doing so, well… it’s stressing me out.
Let Henry live.