Philip Jennings is sad. Philip Jennings is so sad. All the time. If there’s one thing you should take away from this season of The Americans, it’s that. Not that he’s the only character dealing with some heavy stuff. Most of the people on the show are, really. Paige is an emotional disaster. Oleg is in constant fear of being squeezed by intelligence agents, both foreign and domestic. Martha was on screen for five minutes and managed to cook the single most depressing potato I’ve ever seen. The only reasonably happy character on the show right now is Henry, the Jennings’ math whiz teenage son, and that’s teetering on doom too because his parents are preparing to drop a “Let’s move to Russia” bomb on his brilliant little head.
But no one is as sad as Philip. He’s sad in every scene. Do you even remember the last time he smiled? I don’t. It was probably part of the non-stop subterfuge that is tearing him apart, whenever it was. Maybe it was when he was drinking beer with Stan, the FBI agent neighbor he likes personally but is always working for information. Maybe it was while he was talking with Pastor Tim, the guy he has to be nice to because Paige let slip that her parents are Russian spies. The man hasn’t had a moment of real, honest joy in years. It’s heartbreaking, in a way, which is weird, because American viewers are probably not inclined to feel sympathy for your average murderous Russian spy. And yet, here we are.
Here are some screencaps of Philip looking sad.
Who can blame him? Look at just a few of the things that he’s dealing with right now:
- He killed an innocent scientist named Randy because he thought America was developing grain-destroying bugs, only to find out the project was researching bug-resistant grain
- He and his wife killed an innocent doctor because his wife was more or less brainwashed into helping the Nazis 40 years earlier
- His daughter is psychologically shattered because they told her their secret and now she has trust issues that run deeper than most coal mines.
Which is a lot, especially when it’s piled on top of decades of other spy-related trauma. He killed an innocent FBI employee not that long ago to cover up an operation. A lifetime of using seduction as a weapon is breaking his will, and it’s worse than ever because he and Elizabeth are legitimately in love now. The line between his work and his family is disappearing and it is grinding him down.
Here are some screencaps of him looking sad in a car.
Oof, that last one. That hurts, in two ways. First, because the Martha thing is still raw. He carried on a long relationship with her, making her think she was married to “Clark Westerfield,” and then revealed that the whole then was a ruse to get her to give up information about the FBI. And he only revealed it when the heat started getting hot, which set in motion a chain of events that led to her fleeing to Russia as a traitor and eventually cooking that awful potato. He ruined her entire life. So he’s got that on his conscience.
And it also hurts because, like, Stan is the closest thing he has to a friend, even if he is kind of delicately prying for information with almost every word he speaks. They are sworn enemies, a snake and a mongoose (even if only Philip knows that right now), and Philip has really started to care for him a bit. Hell, Stan is practically Henry’s cool uncle. Or maybe it’s more of a Doc Brown-Marty McFly situation. Toggles back and forth. Whatever it is, it just tangles things up even more for Philip, and the end result of it all is that he’s now suspicious of Stan’s new girlfriend, who may or may not also be a Russian spy. It’s not ideal.
Here are some screencaps of Philip looking sad while wearing wigs.
This is the other thing. Dude has a lot going on right now. He’s juggling at least three or four missions with three or four separate identities, on top of all the personal stuff at home. He’s flying to Kansas to seduce a scientist. He’s seducing a teenage girl named Kimmy, which is gross and bad, even without a sexual element. He’s pretending to be an airplane pilot to work a Russian couple, whose teenage son is almost as much of a disaster as Paige, due largely to Philip’s actions. And he has a bunch of other minor things happening. Oh! They had to kill Hans in that hole they dug! Remember that? I just did. That’s how much is going on with Philip. His wife killed a spy they were training and they left him buried in a hole with a dead scientist who became infected with a biological weapon that the Russian government has since weaponized, and it’s all like ninth on the list of things that are troubling him. Might not even be top ten, honestly.
It’s not fun to be Philip right now. He looks like he might start crying at literally any moment. His face is contorted into a frown so often that I’m concerned trying to smile might result in a pulled muscle. Things are so bad that even Elizabeth is starting to crack, which says a lot because Elizabeth is stronger than a team of oxen. Philip is not that strong. Philip is sensitive. Philip is not built for this. Philip Jennings is the saddest man on television.
Here is a screencap of him looking sad in a car while wearing a wig.