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‘The Americans’ Anxiety Report: Things Are Very Topsy-Turvy At The Office


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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. Russian horses (Last week: Unranked)

We spent a not-insignificant amount of time flashing back this week, to see a young Elizabeth at the Paige-level of her own training. The point of it all was to get the things out there about not losing who you are and never leaving a comrade behind, the former of which explains some of her actions this week and the latter of which might explain her actions going forward. The lessons were illustrated with a scene that featured a mid-mission Elizabeth stumbling across a dying police officer and an injured horse and leaving them in the street so as not to interrupt the mission. Her handler was more concerned about the officer, obviously, as we all should be, because the officer was a human who was just doing his job and could have been saved, maybe, if Elizabeth had not already started down the path from human to soldier, but…

I mean…

I’m worried about that horse.

Really worried.

Too worried, some would say. Why, it’s almost like I’m displacing my feelings about this bleak show coming to an end with all of its characters screeching toward personal and/or professional destruction, and focusing instead on the health of a Russian horse I never met.

Almost like that.

9. The employees of Philip’s travel agency (Last week: Unranked)

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These poor people. Look at what they’re dealing with. First, their boss goes full sales guru and starts giving them bad pep talks. Then, he lays off Stavos. Then, he starts having awkward and embarrassing conversations in front of them, like the one with Stan where he joking-but-not-joking pitched the idea of handling the FBI’s travel needs and Stan was all “Welllllllll…” in a way that said “This would have been a hard no even if I didn’t suspect you are a Russian spy, to the point that I’m showing pictures of you and your wife to everyone I meet.”

Now, Philip is on the run because things are “very topsy-turvy at the office,” which, one presumes, means he will not be showing up at work tomorrow, and the whole business will close after the mysterious disappearance of their boss. Honestly, I don’t think the employees will be surprised. They might even be relieved. They can finally line dance in peace.

8. Stan (Last week: 8)

See, this is what we were concerned about. Stan got all up in his head about the Jennings family, pecking their names into databases and asking anyone he crosses if they know a chain-smoker with beautiful hair, and he went and took it to Aderholt without enough proof. Now he looks like a damn lunatic. Or at least, he will look like a damn lunatic until those surveillance photos come back and show a mustachioed Philip Jennings sitting on a bench with a very naive Russian priest moments before taking off and sprinting through the streets of Washington while shedding his disguise one article of clothing at a time. (Never took off the mustache, though. I respect that.)

And there’s also the Oleg thing. Stan is totally going to pass the decoded message along. I can feel it deep in my bones. Stan is a mostly good man who wants to do what is right, but only “what is right” as determined by his own moral compass. He’s gonna talk himself into this and right then, in the moment he should be vindicated for his suspicions about his neighbors, he’ll get arrested and thrown in jail with Oleg for being a traitor.

At least they’ll get to hang out more, then.

7. Elizabeth (Last week: 5)

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Hoo boy. Elizabeth really doesn’t do anything halfway, does she? When she’s set on following orders, she follows them completely, right down to wearing a cyanide pill and killing any poor dope who interferes with a mission, even by accident. When she goes rogue, she goes rogue completely, thwarting assassinations in the street and ruining Claudia’s soup lunch with her revelations about coming clean.

(This brings up a good point: Don’t reveal your plans to doublecross someone until you’re sure the plan has worked. Elizabeth was already hanging out to dry with the admission, but the fact that Oleg is sitting in a cell right now… it complicates things. It means she’s now on the run with no cover from the Centre or from the rogue pro-Gorbachev coalition, who don’t yet know she’s on their side. Not ideal!)

Also, I was pretty sure that vein in her forehead was going to burst when Paige confronted her in the kitchen. That would have been a weird way for her arc to end. Like, Paige shouts “You’re a whore!” and then her forehead explodes and blood goes everywhere and she just crumpled to the ground. My point here is that she should get that looked at. Her blood pressure must have been 280/200. I know she has more pressing concerns, but still.

6. Jackson Barber, the film nerd (Last week: 1)

I owe Jackson an apology. Just last week I said that no one would ever believe him if he got drunk one day and spilled the beans about Elizabeth. I had a good laugh about it and everything. “Haha,” I thought, “everyone will laugh at his story about an older woman seducing him and buying him room service and tricking him into spying on his government. This poor putz. Hahaha.”

But I haha’d too quickly. I did not take into account that there was one person who might believe him: the older woman’s daughter, who happens to be seeing a cute intern named Brian, who invited her to a party where a very drunk Jackson was babbling about it all while being stuffed into a cab.

All of this is a very small consolation prize, of course, because he doesn’t even know who I am and his life is still ruined and he’s not handling it very well at all, apparently (and yes, I am livid that we did not get to see this scene with our own eyes, because I love a good “person has drunken meltdown that reveals important information” scene and because I kind of miss the kid), but it is, like, something? Right?

It’s kind of something.

5. Philip (Last week: 3)

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4. Father Tim (Last week: Unranked)

Imagine being Father Tim. Just for a second. You find out the parents of a broken teenage girl in your church are secret Russian spies. It’s a thing. You live in fear, knowing that they know that you know and that all of that puts you in peril, even though you still want to help. You eventually get out and run off to sunny Buenos Aires, where you know of no Russian spies and life is calmer. It’s good. Life is good. Then one day, out of nowhere, three full years later, long enough that a tiny part of your brain starts to question if all of it was even real or just a wild Robitussin-fueled dream, and in a total surprise because you don’t have Caller ID, the freaking FBI calls you to ask about it. And now you have a choice you need to make immediately: Come clean and risk retaliation from murderous Russian spies or lie to the FBI. You probably thought that call was going to be about, like, the bulletins for Sunday’s service, too. Nope! It’s a full-on gut check.

This is why you should never answer the phone.

3. Paige (Last week: 2)

Two problems for Paige, both related:

  • Her relationship with her parents is toast. The thing with her and Elizabeth in the kitchen was tough to watch because both of them were technically correct but both of them were very hurtful about it. It’s one thing to find out your parents are Russian spies. It’s another thing to find out that their whole marriage consists of time spent together between seducing targets and using sex as a lever. And Paige doesn’t know about Kimmy yet. That’s not great either.
  • Philip and Elizabeth are running. No one told Paige they betrayed Claudia and the Centre. So, assuming Paige is livid at her mom and left in a huff and doesn’t plan on returning their calls, uhhh… where’s she gonna go? Eventually, she’ll figure out her house is empty. Does she go to Claudia, the closest thing she has to extended family at this point? Does she just go it alone? Does she tell Stan?

Paige is in a bad spot right now, complicated by the fact that she’s also guilty of treason, if we want to be technical about things. I won’t be okay if she ends up in jail. Kid never had a chance.

2. Oleg (Last week: Unranked)

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Oleg is a good dude who tries to do the right thing most of the time. He and Stan are peas in a pod, in that way. I was kind of surprised and let down that Oleg didn’t give him a “We’re not so different” speech in that cell, partly because I love those speeches so much and partly because it’s true. I do not want him to spend 30 years in prison. I want him to go back to Russia and be a Vegetable Investigator again, with his cool jacket and cranky partner. Or I want Stan to deliver the message and break Oleg out and fly down to Argentina to hang out with Pastor Tim.

They can come up with fake names and everything. I bet Oleg would pick a functional one, like Dmitri Johnson, but I feel like Stan would get carried away and name himself “Lance Tokyo” or something. Linen pants, unbuttoned dress shirts, the whole thing. Father Tim would have a panic attack.

1. Henry (Last week: 6)

So here’s the thing: Philip and Elizabeth are on the run, leaving their house and lives behind and carrying all the cash and fake passports they can fit into a bag. Paige hates them both and knows all the family secrets and is about thigh-deep in them, too, which has her in a tough spot. Stan is investigating everyone and is one surveillance photo away from identifying Philip and storming into the Jennings’ now-abandoned home to turn it upside down.

And while all of this is happening, my sweet boy Henry, the hockey star and numbers whiz who just wants to be left alone at his fancy new school with all the girls who love him and his friends with rich parents whose businesses aren’t falling apart, who has never done anything bad to anyone, has absolutely no clue. I like to picture him coming home for Christmas and finding the house completely empty, and going all Kevin McCallister for a bit. I like to picture this because the alternative breaks my stupid heart.

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