The Americans is a good show. The FX Cold War drama is zeroing in on a conclusion, with its final season set to debut on March 28, and I am excited about it. I don’t necessarily want it to end, but the show has been one of the best on television since its first season and I can’t wait to see what the producers and writers conjure up to bring it all home. So there’s that.
But The Americans is also a very stressful show. This is admittedly strange, both because we know how the Cold War ends (history books are loaded with spoilers) and because a lot of the stress is a result of caring for and about top-secret undercover operatives who are hellbent on destroying America. Also, Stan. We worry a lot about Stan. The whole thing is so much that last season I started doing a series of next-day posts titled The Americans Anxiety Report, in which I ranked characters on the show based on how nervous I was about them in that moment. The final season might take 6-8 months off the end of my life. I feel okay about it.
To whip everyone else up into this kind of frenzied state, FX has started releasing short teasers for the final season. Like all teasers, there’s not much to them. This has in no way prevented me from getting worked up. Below, please find the six teasers the network has released so far, ranked from least to most anxiety-inducing.
Anxiety Level: 2.4
This is the first teaser FX released. It is very short and provides almost nothing in the way of actual information, unless the United States and Russia decide to lob cartoon bombs at each other, which would be some kind of artistic license to take with the facts.
That’s actually an interesting point that I stumbled backwards into. There’s nothing that says this show has to stick to the way things played out in real life. They could have Russia win the Cold War if they want. It’s their show, you know? I doubt this will happen for about two dozen logical and sensible reasons, but still. Can’t rule it out.
Title: Stop Her
Anxiety Level: 4.3
The most stressful part of this teaser is the thing where Philip Jennings tries to smile. That’s how you know something is wrong. Philip never smiles. Philip is catastrophically depressed, all the time, to the degree that I started taking screencaps of every time he looks sad and now I have 29 screencaps of him frowning. Look, here’s one.
The gist of this teaser — if we are going to attempt to extract meaning from a short, vague clip, which we are because the premiere is almost six weeks away and we need to talk about something — is that Philip must prevent Elizabeth from doing… something. We don’t know what. It seems bad. And if Philip and Elizabeth are facing off, I’m putting the house on Elizabeth because Elizabeth is bad as heck. Philip is very sensitive. She’ll eat him alive.
Title: Gone Bad
Anxiety Level: 6.1
This is easily my favorite teaser so far. It’s just a few seconds of quick cuts and context-free images followed by a voice saying “Things have gone bad.” Which, I mean, yeah. No crap, buddy. Things always go bad on this show. Every person Philip and Elizabeth meet ends up dead or miserable. Remember Young Hee? And Martha? And like a dozen more people, at least. And that’s before we get to the Stan-Oleg-Nina thing. “Things have gone bad” could be the tagline for the whole series.
So this one is accurate. I think that’s what I’m saying.
Anxiety Level: 8.2
This is the longest teaser so far, clocking in at a robust 30 seconds. The action is set to Ronald Reagan’s famous “Tear Down That Wall” speech and includes a concerned Elizabeth looking into a mirror, a concerned Stan at some sort of crime scene, and a concer-… wait. Is Paige fighting Philip? Is teenage Paige, who has been training with her mom in the garage for a while now, engaged in a full-on MMA fight with her father in their house. Because that’s… upsetting. I suppose it could technically be more training, but Paige is a top three Person I Am Worried About this season (Stan, Paige, Mischa) and this does not look promising.
Also, it’s fun to picture the Jennings’ other child, Henry, playing video games with headphones on in the next room, just totally oblivious to any of this. I love that guy.
Anxiety Level: 8.8
This teaser reuses a lot of footage from the last one. A lot of them use the same footage, actually, which makes sense because I’m sure they don’t want to burn off too much before the season actually starts. So, you ask, why do I have it ranked higher than the last one? Three reasons:
- Creepy piano music
- Elizabeth stabs some dope in the neck
- Extended clip of Elizabeth facing down a gunman in the woods
I don’t know who I’m supposed to be rooting for in any of this. Maybe Elizabeth has gone off the deep end. Maybe that’s what the line “You’re amazing, but after all these years it is finally getting to you” means. Or maybe she’s the sympathetic one. Again, I don’t know. That’s stressing me out now, too.
Anxiety Level: 9.4
The last two seconds of this teaser caused my eyes to bulge out of my head and a cry of “PAAAAIIIIGE” to come hurtling out of my mouth involuntarily. Between this and the other teasers, with all their side-eyes and cryptic messages and father-daughter fisticuffs, it seems like they’re setting up a Philip vs. Elizabeth and Paige situation. I’m not sure I’m prepared for that. A part of me hopes this is all a red herring and the whole family just goes to Hawaii for the final season. They can bring Stan. Stan would love Hawaii. Oleg, too. That would be nice.
It would also be bad television that ruins a great series by selling out the entire premise in favor of everyone sipping Mai Tais on a Maui Beach. I’ll admit that. But it would do wonders for my nerves.