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‘The Americans’ Anxiety Report: Doing Tai Chi With Doofuses


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: 6)

I love that Henry has transitioned from inconsequential lazy teen into surly math whiz heartthrob in the last two episodes. I love that he has uncovered the mystery of stuffed peppers. I love that he has become the son who bursts his father’s dreams of continuing the family business with so much nonchalance that he doesn’t even look up from the refrigerator. I love it all. I honestly think he’s my favorite character on the show right now.

My only worry in all of this is that, as we’ve discussed before, things going well for a character on this show is almost always a sign that doom is on the horizon. Things are going very well for Henry, very suddenly. Too suddenly. I’m like 75 percent sure he’s going to get his by a bus in the cold open next week. I’ll never recover.

9. Assorted American bug scientists (Last week: 8)

The mission lives on, which means Ben is not out of the woods yet. It also means we get more moments like the one I’ve screencapped below. Ben is an extremely nice and well-meaning guy who wants to end famine and yet I hate him with the searing intensity of a blowtorch. Says more about me than him, probably. Still…

8. Oleg (Last week: 5)

Oleg spent this episode cracking down on crooked grocers and staking out fountains while smoking cigarettes and burning evidence on the roof to a soundtrack of Peter Gabriel after he realized the CIA was off his tail. Oleg has his swagger back, baby.

7. Paige (Last week: 4)

Slow week for Paige, thankfully. The last few episodes have been some rough business. It was nice to see her relaxing in her room and getting a little leisure reading done. I mean, to the extent Marx extolling the virtues of the working class and tearing down the entire concept of religion — the one positive thing Paige has in her life right now — counts as leisure reading. I think it does? On this show, at least? Yeah, let’s give this one to her. She needs the win.

6. Stan (Last week: 3)

Quiet week for Stan, too. No sign of Renee. He’s just flipping a Russian asset in the park and talking about babes with Henry. That’s still kind of weird, though. Right? The kid’s best friend is a middle-aged FBI agent who just got divorced and is now dating a hot aerobics instructor. It’s all a little like a horny, less science-y version of Back to the Future, with Henry as Marty McFly and Stan as Doc Brown. I hope they build a time machine. Or whatever the spy equivalent of that is.

5. Gabriel (Last week: Not ranked)

Hey, let’s check in with GabriAAAAAAND he’s moping around the Lincoln Memorial at night because he’s sad about Mischa. I’ll miss you, Gabriel. Good luck in Russia. Maybe you can hang out with Mischa, like your own Stan/Henry situation. Just tossing that out there.

4. People who use the Jennings family travel agency (Last week: Not ranked)

Philip and Elizabeth are spending an awful lot of time on various missions lately, both in the D.C. area and in Kansas. And then there’s the whole Paige thing at home, too. I’ve got to think it’s affecting their quote-unquote legitimate work. Like I’m picturing some guy who’s been trying to book a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras but he can’t get them to return his calls, and he’s just sitting at home fuming about it with beads hanging around his neck, waiting for someone to invent Yelp so he can give them a borderline libelous one-star review.

3. Mischa (Last week: 2)

I’m not ready to talk about this. I assume there’s more to his story coming somewhere, at some point, because dumping him back in Russia after all that lead-up would be weird. Maybe we can discuss it then. Not today.

2. Elizabeth (Last week: Not ranked)

You know, you forget Elizabeth is messed up, too. She seems so strong, and Philip sucks most of the air out of the room because he is falling to pieces everywhere, sometimes in a fake mustache or silly goatee. But then a perfectly nice Mary Kay lady shows up and Elizabeth gets ice in her eyes and voice about because it reminds her of Young Hee, and then whoooops she’s spying on strangers from her car while sighing. It all got so bad last night that she seemed to enjoy doing tai chi with Ben. Ben! Elizabeth was doing tai chi with Ben! It says a lot about this show that I’m willing to accept that Philip and Elizabeth sleep with other people constantly, but tai chi is where I draw the line.

But no, this will not do at all. If she ends up leaving Philip for that doofus and going on hikes through Malaysia while he tells her about various soups he’s made, I swear to God. I don’t know what I’ll do. Something, probably.

1. Philip (Last week: 1)

I could write a paragraph or two about the thing where Philip’s dad was maybe a cruel prison guard and it ruined him deep inside his already ruined soul, but I think this picture of him staring into nowhere while sitting in his garage sums it up better than any words I could lump together. Guy’s got problems.

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