Warning: This post discusses plot points from Wednesday's series finale of The Americans. Reader discretion is advised.
For six seasons it's been impossible to watch FX's The Americans without wondering what the end game could possibly be for Reagan-era Russian spies Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell), whose seemingly quiet suburban lives were a cover for espionage and murder.
On Wednesday night, we got our answer in "Start," the 87-minute finale written by showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, which defied my belief that this thing could only end badly by ending very well indeed.
Oh, not exactly happily. Or justly, if your sense of right and wrong demands that murderers and spies should be punished under the law, no matter what their motives were or how well they wore their wigs (or packed a suitcase).
After executing an escape plan that hadn't included a harrowing parking-garage confrontation with their no longer friendly (or clueless) neighborhood FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), Philip and Elizabeth — do we call them Mischa and Nadezhda now? — escaped to the Soviet Union with their lives.
But without their children, who are, it seems, the Americans their parents never could be.
Paige (Holly Taylor), who'd already turned her back on the family business, in the end turned her back on her parents, too, slipping off the train on the U.S. side of the Canadian border to choose a highly uncertain future in the land of her birth rather than leave her brother behind.
Her brother, innocent, away at boarding school, and, as always, out of the loop, wasn't given that choice. I imagine Henry (Keidrich Sellati) spending holidays with Stan in the years that followed, and now in middle age, still haunted by that last phone call with his parents and by the memory of his eagerness to get them off the phone so he could get back to his friends. Or maybe all these years later, in 2018, he's just grateful to have been left behind?
Will Renee (Laurie Holden) be there next Thanksgiving, too? Because Philip's parting gift to Stan, along with Henry, was this comment about Stan's second wife, who's lately been so interested in getting a job at the FBI herself:
"I don't know how to say this, but I think there's a chance Renee might be one of us. I'm not sure."
Way to light the fuse, buddy.
A few other quick thoughts about Wednesday's finale, which I suspect I'll be thinking about for a while:
Your thoughts about the finale?