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‘The Americans’ Anxiety Report: Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Children?


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

It’s gonna be tough to find a new job in a hurry, especially in a field like travel where the rise of the internet will more or less wipe out the need for personal service, and especially if the last place of employment on your resume is DuPont Circle Travel Agency, the one that just got shut down and raided by the damn FBI because its owners — who disappeared into thin air, leaving their children behind — were suspected of being high-level Russian spies who were responsible for dozens of murders on American soil.

“So, uh, we have two good candidates here: Rick and Laura. Both have a lot of experience and seem great. I’m torn.”

“Hey, didn’t Rick work for that agency that turned out to be a front for a KGB operation in the middle of the Cold War?”

“Ah, right. Yes, he did.”

“Let’s go with Laura.”

Other than that, shouldn’t be a huge problem.

9. Oleg’s dad (Last week: Unranked)

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The emotional hammer of the episode dropped much later, when we saw Paige at the station as her parents’ panicked faces pressed up against the glass of the speeding train, but please do note how sad this moment was, too. Look at the poor man’s face. And realize that he does, in fact, have to explain to Oleg’s mother and wife that their beloved bearded boy will be rotting in an American prison for the next few decades. It’s tough.

For added heartbreak, because why the hell not at this point with this show, cue up Bono’s wail from “With or Without You” so it hits right as Oleg’s poor dad throws his arms skyward to curse his fate and question the Creator’s grand plan. Everything is sadder with a Bono wail.

8. Martha (Last week: Unranked)

Picture this, if you will.

Martha is shopping. Just groceries, some last minute things for dinner. She’s making baked macaroni and cheese, from scratch, because her young child will only eat about four things, total, and if they have to have mac and cheese for dinner, again, then dammit, Martha is gonna make it right. She’s a good mom. She cares so much. The situation could be better, but she’s finally settling in and making friends, and you know what? This isn’t so bad, really. Not the life she dreamed of as a child, sure, but who gets that, anyway? We all make compromises along the way and try to make the best of it.

As she turns the corner into the dairy aisle to grab the cheese and milk, she sees a man looking at the yogurts. Is that…? No. It can’t be. It can’t be. That just… it’s impossible. It wouldn’t be fair to do this to her. Not now. The universe can’t possibly be that cruel. Can it?

She ponders this for all of five seconds before they lock eyes and he raises a tentative hand to waive. She doesn’t remember exactly what happens next (fits of blind rage will do that to you), but according to the manager who called her later to ban her from the store for life, it involved multiple heaved gallons of milk and shrieking. Not words, the manager specified. Just shrieking, as though she had been possessed by a spirit who had seen nothing but pain.

Martha stirs the macaroni noodles, slowly, with the remaining half of the long wooden spoon she snapped in half moments earlier. She’s been breaking things a lot lately.

7. The patrol agent on the train who was checking the passports (Last week: Unranked)

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[10 years from the end of the show, in 1997]

“Hey Larry, did you see that book by the girl whose parents were the spies? Paige something?”

“Yes, I saw the book.”

“It said that the family escaped on a train to Canada. Weren’t you working at the border around then?”

“Yes.”

“Wow, isn’t that wild. The girl said they had on disguises, but I mean, you’ve seen the pictures of that lady spy. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Can’t believe any disguise could hide those eyes, you know?”

“It’s harder than it looks, you kn-“

“Man, what if she was on a train you were checking? How wild would that be?”

“Can we talk about something else pl-…”

“That would be pret-ty embarrassing. Pret-ty, pret-ty embaras-“

“SHE WAS WEARING GLASSES, OKAY?”

6. Elizabeth (Last week: 7)

The big question you have to ask yourself after the finale is if Philip and Elizabeth “got away with it” and if you’re okay with that. I’m all over the place on this one. On one hand, they killed so many people and ruined the lives of many people they didn’t kill, and there’s a part of me that wanted to see one or both of them take a bullet or in handcuffs and being dragged into the FBI building by a triumphant Stan. There might have been some sort of closure there, at least as far as the criminal justice system is concerned.

On the other hand, I mean, did you see their faces throughout this episode? First when the decided they needed to leave Henry behind, then on the phone with him, and then on the train as they saw Paige standing on the platform, getting tinier and tinier until she turned into a memory. That was gutting, and maybe more of a cosmic punishment than any jail cell can provide. And now Elizabeth has to watch Russia crumble first-hand and see everything she worked for — all those bodies and ruined lives — end up meaning very little. She’s going to be a very sad old woman someday.

I am sure of one thing, though: I sure hope none of that happens to me. No thanks to that.

5. Philip (Last week: 5)

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4. Oleg (Last week: 2)

It seems cruel that Oleg is the only one out of all these traitors and murderers who ended up in prison. He’ll be fine. Oleg can handle himself pretty well. But it’s going to hurt being stuck in a cell thousands of miles away from his family. And with a 30-year sentence, he’ll be in there until… wait a second. He’ll be in there until now!

Spin-off: Oleg gets out of prison in 2018 and he and Stan — both now well into their golden years, Oleg in his 60s, Stan in his early 80s — get a condo in Ft. Lauderdale. Like Golden Girls, but with two former spies on opposite sides of the Cold War. Mail Robot can come, too. Henry can program it to make and deliver daiquiris. Yes, I know there are about 200 logical holes in all of this but let me have it anyway, dammit.

3. Stan (Last week: 8)

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Here’s the crazy thing: We spent all season projecting certain doom for Stan, in one of two ways. The first was that he’d be on the wrong end of a bullet, which really looked like a possibility for a minute in that garage scene. That whole thing was so good and so heart-flattening and I truly think it took five months off the end of my life. The Americans: good show.

The second way we projected doom was in a scenario where he did catch them and bring them in but became a national laughingstock because of it, due to the whole thing where he was a top counterintelligence agent and his neighbor and best friend was a secret Russian spy the whole time. But he dodged that, too, because he took it all to Aderholt and Aderholt told him he was crazy, so when it ended up being true it was Aderholt who looked bad.

(I know Aderholt seemed to let Stan off the hook for it all, but let’s remember that he was at that Thanksgiving dinner with Philip, too. None of this will look great under oath in front of a Congressional panel. Let’s just say that.)

But instead, Stan ended up with a fate that’s worse, arguably, thanks to Philip dropping the Renee bomb on him on the way out of the garage. Which, I know he did it out of kindness for his friend, but man. That’s a heck of a parting gift, you know? So now Stan, still grappling with the long-running betrayal of his best friend, will spend the rest of his life or marriage (whichever ends first!) wondering if the other person he loves and trusts is playing him, too. Stan is not gonna be okay, guys. Not at all.

Also, man oh man, did this show play that Renee thing well. The whole spy/no-spy thing was hanging over the show forever and instead of forcing a neat a tidy resolution — like, say, Renee running into the garage, shooting Stan, and telling the Jennings family to run — it’s just going to linger forever in poor Stan’s brain, or whatever is left of his brain after all of this. Sheesh.

2. Henry (Last week: 1)

Henry goes on to become the world’s first Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who is also a Hall of Fame NHL forward (five Stanley Cups) and if any of you attempt to disagree with me I will shove my entire fists into my ears and sing “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” by Deniece Williams at the top of my lungs until you stop talking and walk away from me.

1. Paige (Last week: 2)

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Sooooo what does Paige do now?

Her parents are gone. Claudia is gone. Stan knows she was a low-level spy and, while he was willing to let them escape to Russia, is he willing to let her just keep poking around America? Does she go into hiding? If so, where, seeing as her parents just betrayed the Centre? Does Renee scoop her up and do spy things with her back-and-forth across America like a KGB Thelma & Louise? Does she just sit in Claudia’s old apartment and drink vodka forever? I don’t know. That’s looking like the best option so far.

Paige is probably the one I feel worst for in all of this. She had a chance to be a normal kid. She was one. But she got roped into this life and now appears to hate it — especially after that conversation with her mom, and the Jackson thing — and now her whole existence is just ruined. Maybe she can cop a plea and write that memoir I joked about earlier. The publishing industry won’t be dead for a few more years. Write like the wind, Paige. It’s your only shot.

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