Patrick Harbron/FX
May 30, 2018 at 11:32 PM EDT

The Americans

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

“His life was full of loneliness.”

That’s what Claudia told Paige in the second episode of The Americans’ final season — titled “Tchaikovsky” — when she played a record of the Russian composer. And those words turned out to be hauntingly true as the series reached its conclusion tonight.

The final episode was ironically named “START,” after the nuclear arms treaty that would ultimately be signed by the Soviet Union and the United States, although the summit was not addressed in the show. Instead, we saw Philip and Elizabeth’s flight from everything they’ve known, everything they’ve built. They lost one child. Then both of them.

And yet, in the last image of them together, looking at the cityscape of Moscow, what were they doing except starting over, truly? They were home. But they were strangers. They were together. But their shared life was now hollowed out, filled with loneliness.

To American viewers, rooting for Philip and Elizabeth had the thrill of cheering for the bad guy, but they always believed they were doing the right thing, even when that meant doing unsavory things. Their goal, their ideals, their pledge, was noble. And in the end, by betraying The Center and protecting Gorbachev, they fulfilled their promise.

And in the end, as they knew all along, there was a cost that comes with doing the right thing.

The Americans ended with no bloodshed. No one was killed. No one was even wounded. But for Philip and Elizabeth, losing their lives — especially after taking so many — may have been the easier way out.

Instead, they live. And they live with what they have done, good and bad.

Let’s flash-forward to the final scene: “Colonel …” Philip said, drawing in a deep breath. “I can’t even remember his name now. When they first asked me, he said it would be a hard life. He didn’t want me to think it would be some big adventure.” He looked longingly at the city of Moscow, laid out before him. “I said I wasn’t afraid of that.”

Maybe he is now.

The episode began with Philip alone, hiding at a garage after evading the sting operation that had already ensnared Father Andrei.

Elizabeth arrives with her bag, and they begin making plans. First get Paige, then Henry…but Philip raises a surprising objection. “Henry should stay.”

Elizabeth is aghast. “Leave him here?”

Unlike Paige, Henry doesn’t know about their double life. This will upend him and tearing him apart from everything he does know would be an act of selfishness.

“It’s the best thing for him,” Philip says.

“To be alone? Away from us?” Elizabeth says. “That is not the best thing for us.”

She doesn’t realize there is no “us” anymore.

And with that, the Jennings lose their son.

He is not the first son lost. Back in Moscow, Arkady meets with Oleg Burov’s father to tell him of his son’s arrest with a coded message. “It probably means he’ll be tried for espionage,” Arkady says.

“They’ll trade him back to us,” the father says, seeking reassurance.

“He wasn’t there for the KGB. There won’t be a trade,” Arkady says. Furthermore… “They’re going to come after me, possibly you.”

“What you sent him for, it didn’t work,” the father says.


“I lose one son in a useless war and now this.”

Unless the message that Oleg received reaches Gorbachev, warning him of the KGB effort to undermine and overthrow him, there will be no hope for any of them. (Recap continues on next page)

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