Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


'The Americans' finale recap: 'March 8, 1983'

As Season 3 wraps, key characters question the will to continue doing evil for good causes.

Posted on

Patrick Harbon/FX

The Americans

TV Show
run date:
Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell
Current Status:
In Season

“I’m sure the next time mom and dad have … ‘business’ out of the country, and they have an extra ticket, it’ll go to … you.”

Bravo to actress Holly Taylor for nailing that line from a number of directions as the season finale for The Americans begins. Paige says that to her little brother as she walks through the airport with her family, on her way to West Germany with her mother (Keri Russell) to pay a farewell visit to the dying Russian grandmother she never knew existed.

“I’m sorry I never got to meet her,” Matthew Rhys’ Philip whispers in his wife’s ear.

“You wouldn’t have liked her,” Elizabeth replies.

I have to admit, this episode—titled “March 8, 1983” for reasons that will become clear later—frustrated me as a season finale. It felt more like an incredibly good penultimate episode, and ending on such a stark cliffhanger with many other plot threads dangling, feels like a mistake. The creators of The Americans have manufactured some savage tension, but that will only dissipate as we await season 4, rather than leaving us with a completed story line, as they did last year.

As Paige and Elizabeth head toward the Berlin Wall, Yousaf (Rahul Khanna) informs Philip that their plot to trick one visiting Mujahideen visitor to slaughter his fellow emissaries successfully scared the House Armed Services Committee away from giving them Stinger missiles.

The Pakistani ISI operative Yousaf is only cooperating because Philip helped him cover up his cold-blooded murder of Annelise earlier in the season. (Who can forget the crack-and-pack luggage scene as they smuggled her corpse out of the hotel?) Of course, Philip also is responsible for putting the two of them together, and Yousaf hasn’t forgotten that—even if he is crying crocodile tears now over the poor lover he murdered.

“Annelise finally paid off for you,” he says. “The weapons stay out of your enemy hands. Was it worth it?”

Way to get judge-y, Mr. Strangler.

“I don’t think like that,” Philip says. But he totally thinks like that. “I know a lot of young men who won’t be blown out of the sky because of what I did. Because of what Annelise did. Because of what we did. A lot of young men who …”

Philip stops. He’s done lying. “Yousaf, I feel like shit all the time,” he confesses.

Over at the Rezidentura, the staff is warned against carrying out threats or assassinations without appropriate departments from The Center signing off. This is a dog-whistle to the ear of Oleg Burov (Costa Ronin) who previously threatened the defector Zinaida Preobrazhenskaya for speaking out against the Soviet Union and its incursion into Afghanistan as part of a ploy to determine if she was actually a double agent.

Now he knows—she is. And he and FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) plan to use this information to get her arrested and trade her for their shared love, Nina, (Annet Mahendru) whom they both betrayed and got sent to a Siberian work camp.

Now is their chance to make it right. Maybe.

Stan is busy horse-trading with his soon-to-be-ex wife (Susan Misner). Back at their old family home, now Stan’s bachelor pad, they agree to split the houseplants and he toys with her over a wooden rocking chair. “How about if I get it on weekends,” he says, to her dismay. “I’m kidding,” he adds. “You take it.”

The joking is over when she tells him he can keep their old wedding album. Ouch.

Over in West Berlin, Paige is getting a taste of her mother’s fearful existence as Elizabeth has a moment of panic over whether she’s possibly being followed. “Do you have to be careful all the time?” Paige asks.

“If I’m working, yeah.”

“And you’re working now?”

“It’s a habit, I guess.”

Sound appealing, Paige?

NEXT: Not like other grandmas …