This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of The Americans, including last night's Season 1 finale, episode 1.13, “The Colonel.”
Your regular recapper for The Americans, Heather Waters@redline_, is in Kansas City this week at the Romantic Times convention. I’m filling in during her absence to recap the show’s finale.
Last night the finale for season one of The Americans aired. It was intricate, exhilarating, and exhausting, all at the same time. Nothing went according to plan, one marriage further disintegrated while another got off life support, Grannie got revenge for Viktor Zhukov, and an epic car chase (alright, it didn’t quite rival The French Connection, but...) ensued. Let’s count down the Top Five and celebrate the weirdness of hoping the bad guys get off.
5. “The kind of man who did what was done to you, Nina, is weaker and more vulnerable than he seems.” So says Arkady to Nina when he tells her she has two choices: 1) Return to the U.S.S.R. to face charges of treason (but not execution) or 2) Continue to spy on Stan Beeman, perhaps plant a bug on him, and eventually turn him...into a Soviet asset. She decides to turn double agent and spy on Stan, the man so willing to move heaven and earth to protect her from the KGB that he tells
John-Boy Gaad, “the Rezidentura is going to go ape-shit [when we catch the illegals]. We need to do right by our source.”
4. Book-ended Files. Stan's spidey-senses tingle when interrogating Sanford. He feels certain the man is hiding something, and he’s right. Sanford agrees to talk in exchange for immunity and half a million dollars. Later, Gaad opens up a file in Sanford’s interrogation room and shows him a photo of the Colonel. Cut to another scene, this time in the Rezidentura. Nina opens up a file in front of Arkady and shows him a photo of Stan Beeman. What beautifully choreographed bookended scenes!
3) Grannie wasn’t lying to Elizabeth; Viktor Zhukov really was her friend. Grannie tricks Richard Patterson into letting her into his pretty crummy apartment, zaps him with a stun gun, shoves a hypodermic into him, says he’ll be unable to move for twenty minutes, then cuts his jugular, adding that’s ten minutes more than he has left to live. She sits down calmly to watch him bleed out and as he does, she shows him an old photo of Viktor Zhukov. The last words he hears are: “Viktor Zhukov was my friend. We met in Stalingrad in 1942. The first time I saw him he was standing over two dead Nazis."
2) Elizabeth as mother, daughter, and wife. Philip's next mission is to pick up the tape of a meeting at Casper Weinberger’s house; Elizabeth's is to meet with the colonel. They discuss the possibility that her op might be a setup and argue over the contingency plan.
Elizabeth: If this goes bad, get the kids to Canada.
Philip: That’s fine, but you have it backwards. I’ll meet the colonel, you take the kids.
Elizabeth: You’ll be doing something else. There’s a meeting at Weinberger’s tomorrow. The Center needs the tape.
Philip: Okay, so you grab the tape, pick up the kids from school, wait someplace safe while I meet the colonel.
Elizabeth: If one of us is going down and one of us is staying with the kids, after everything, it should be you, you’re the one they want, the one they understand.
That evening, after what might be the Jennings’ family’s last evening together, they argue some more. Philip tells Elizabeth, “I will take the colonel, you will pick up the tape. Paige and Henry need you. They love you. I get it…it seems easy. You're their mother.“ Even as she wipes a tear from under her eye because he’s realized she feels insecure as a mother, Elizabeth insists they follow the orders they were given.
Later that night, Elizabeth goes into her laundry room retreat. The lost little girl look you see on Keri Russell’s tearful face as she listens to her mother’s voice on a tape is devastating. Her mother calls her Nadezhda (her real name), and tells her she looks at a picture of Elizabeth, her husband, and their kids every day. Though she’s never met them and never will, she considers them her family too.
1). When Being Noble Bites You in the Ass. The next day, before Elizabeth leaves on her mission, she reads a note left for her by Philip: ”I did it the way I wanted. Don't forget the pick up. See you later, I hope. I love you, P.“
Meanwhile, Grannie tells Arkady that ”every instinct I have is crying out that this is a setup. You should get Philip and Elizabeth out of this.“ He’s surprised that she wants to help them knowing they’ve thrown her under the bus, but her duty is to her agents. Arkady worries that “we’d be giving up the greatest intelligence success since we got our hands on the Bomb,” but is convinced after she replies, “That's what we always say…right before our people die for nothing. The next thing we always say is ‘it was so obvious.'” (Margo Martindale will be sorely missed next season!)
Grannie interrupts the meeting with the news to abort. Philip realizes they’ve not been swarmed by FBI agents and concludes the setup wasn’t this meeting, it was the tape pick-up. Had he not nobly switched their operations, the FBI would have caught him. He hauls ass over to the tape drop and rescues the woman he loves right before she gets picked up by a huge team of FBI agents. An enormously tense chase follows, during which Elizabeth is injured, but as she recovers, she tells Philip in Russian to come home. Though we know Sanford is about to spill his guts, the Jennings’ are safe for now, and remain off the FBI’s radar
I can’t wait to see what the producers cook up for season two, can you?
Photos courtesy of Craig Blankenhorn/FX
The Americans airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT on FX
Laurie Gold cannot stop reading and writing about romance—she’s been blabbing online for years. She remains a work in progress. Keep up with her on herMy Obsessions tumblr blog, Goodreads(where she spends much of her time as late), follow her on Pinterest, or on@laurie_gold, where she mostly tweets about publishing news and [probably too often] politics.