There is just one episode left of The Americans, the FX series about two deep-cover Soviet spies in Washington, DC, in the Eighties, and the fate of Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, the troubled but fascinating couple we’ve come to care deeply about, looks to be as bleak as the Cold War.
With all this season’s twists and the fact that the collapse of the USSR is on the horizon, it seems inevitable that the series will end in bloodshed, disillusionment and betrayal.
The Americans is a tragedy, but it did have its lighter moments. There was Paige asking her parents if they were aliens, Philip’s childlike pleasure in line dancing in his cowboy boots, Henry’s genuine awe watching David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear, and Elizabeth’s smile when she prepared a Korean dish she learned from one of her espionage targets.
But it’s clear that after all the blood that’s been spilled, there is no way this ends well for Philip and Elizabeth. Still, it’s hard not to wish this often bewigged couple well. So no matter how unlikely any kind of happy ending seems, it’s fun to imagine two unrealistically upbeat scenarios for the Jennings’ future, one in Russia and one in the USA.
No spoiler alert here, these are totally imaginary happy endings.
Scenario 1, Back in the USSR
Philip and Elizabeth figure out that their FBI agent neighbor Stan’s girlfriend, Renee, is actually Yasmin, a half-Lebanese agent who reports to Iranian intelligence, and they confront Stan. It’s too much for sweet-natured, trusting Stan when he realizes that his neighbors and his live-in girlfriend have all been playing him. Crushed, Stan realizes that his career is over, and he lets the Jennings escape.
Philip and Elizabeth flee to the changing USSR with a stunned Henry and an apprehensive Paige. In a gesture of mercy, they also exfiltrate Stan.
Back in the Moscow, Elizabeth becomes an instructor at the spy academy, but she is upset as she sees the country she fought for becoming decadent and infatuated with capitalism. Philip, with his American know-how, takes a job managing the Moscow Pizza Hut. They quarrel frequently over their disagreements about their homeland, and Philip dreams of returning to the US. Eventually, Philip begins an affair with Martha, the former FBI secretary Philip “married” to get information several seasons ago, who now lives in Moscow. Martha couldn’t be happier at being reunited with “Clark,” the pseudonym he used when he wooed her. He happily becomes a stepfather to her adopted daughter.
Elizabeth moves in with Gabriel on his dacha and cares for him as his health fades.
Paige studies Russian full-time and picks up the language quickly, while Henry becomes a star hockey player, after some initial adjustment problems.
Stan starts drinking heavily and rejects Philip’s attempts to stay close. Eventually, Philip persuades Stan to act in Pizza Hut’s ads and he even makes an appearance in the famous Gorbachev commercial.
Matthew Beeman visits his father, Stan, and tries to rekindle his romance with Paige, but she is dating a figure skater. Eventually, years after the collapse of the USSR, Matthew marries Martha’s daughter and brings her back to America. Philip and Martha gladly follow, where they open a store called Martha & Clark’s Wig Mart.
Scenario 2, Livin’ in the USA
Philip gets caught by Stan, and agrees to cooperate on the condition that Elizabeth and Paige be allowed to flee. Stan, faced with a dismal future in the bureau after it turns out he didn’t realize his next-door neighbors were Soviet agents, gives in.
Elizabeth and Paige pack all their wigs and fake IDs and head to California. Elizabeth gets a job teaching at Jane Fonda’s Workout, the movie star’s flagship exercise studio in Beverly Hills. Elizabeth’s relentless demands on her fitness students, as well as her chiseled good looks and amazing body – wouldn’t she rock a striped leotard? – make her a natural as a personal trainer for spoiled movie stars, and she catches Fonda’s eye. The actress gets Elizabeth to confide in her and she begins developing a movie based on Elizabeth’s life.
As the son of a Soviet prison guard, Philip is a model prisoner and starts an est workshop for the inmates. Their former handler, Claudia, is arrested but gets sent back to the USSR in a spy swap. Although she is disgusted with the nascent capitalism there, she sees an opportunity and opens an American barbecue restaurant and bar in Moscow. Martha gets a job there, thanks to her English skills. Eventually, Martha becomes one of Russia’s first Avon Ladies.
Although Henry is shocked by the discovery that his parents are spies, he throws himself into his studies and sports and gets into Harvard on a hockey scholarship. With Philip and Elizabeth’s blessing, Stan adopts him. Renee, it turns out, isn’t really a spy. She’s just an amateur sleuth fascinated by intelligence agencies, and she becomes a devoted stepmom to Henry. Philip is released and takes a job an assistant to Werner Erhard, but after the self-help guru’s legal troubles, Philip gets some new cowboy boots and goes to work on a ranch in Wyoming.
Following the collapse of the USSR and the dissolution of the KGB, Fonda gets the greenlight for a movie about Elizabeth. Fonda produces and stars in the film.
Thanks to Fonda’s influence, Elizabeth and Paige are allowed to come out of hiding. Philip and Elizabeth are reunited to promote the movie and appear together on a talk show hosted by a very young Oprah Winfrey.
The final episode will be broadcast on YES Edge on Thursday, May 31 at 5 a.m. and at 10:50 p.m.