Why That Abrupt 'Americans' Season Ending Makes Perfect Sense
Before we start, let’s get the SPOILERS, OH MY GOD THE SPOILERS out of the way. If you plan to watch last night’s season finale, but haven’t yet, turn back now.
If last night’s The Americans’ finale left you feeling varying degrees of
You wouldn’t be alone. That was the general reaction in my brain and home. With all of the heavy topics covered in this finale, at the end of a supremely heavy season, why would they end on a teenager’s makeout season. And what does Philip’s “YOU HAVE NO IDEA” actually mean? But this frustrating ending is the most perfect possibility.
For an episode that centered on a potential career end and return to Russia, a young man’s insane asylum internment, gender politics in African Soviet camps, and a man pooping his innards out through all orifices, the finale focused on Paige’s young romance with Rocky Horror neighbor boy. But why?
Well, for all of this show’s harrowing, tense subject matter, it’s ALWAYS been the emotional relationships that have been at its core. Philip and Elizabeth’s missions are tense and exciting, but it’s their relationship with each other that makes the show. And that’s always been the most dangerous part of these characters’ lives, as well.
So when Gabriel tells Philip and Elizabeth that their job wasn’t meant to be forever, that’s news to us (and them). Because in previous seasons, these two have talked about how important having children was to their job. The best case scenario for them was that Paige and Henry could take high-level government jobs that their parents could never get. They were ALWAYS a part of the plan, which means that plan was always meant to go on a lot longer, if not for many more generations.
So why was Philip so mad at the end of this episode? Well, because Paige is an ACTUAL American, meaning her emotions come first. If she’s trying to dabble in spyhood, which she clearly is, that’s the way she knows how to do it. Sure, maybe eventually she’ll pursue that government work, but for now, she knows how to do teenage things: feelings and makeouts. And that’s scary because working in emotions and care and potential actual love is infinitely more dangerous and complicated than surveillance and even Glanders-level missions. Everyone on this show deals in manipulation, but it’s not until that manipulation turns romantic and sexual that it gets messy. So when Philip tells Paige she has “no idea” what she’s dealing with, he’s right, but he may as well also be talking to himself. He and Elizabeth and everyone behind them may have thought Paige could be the next generation of Russian spy, but how could they possibly have foretold that the next ACTUAL generation of real Americans would gravitate towards dealing in emotions over logistical strategies?
Knowing that we have two more seasons to go, where can this possibly go? Will Paige and neighbor boy develop actual feelings? Will she reveal too much about her family? Will she try to turn spy? Will we see the Jenningses return to Russia before the series ends? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THIS FAMILY?