The Americans Series Finale: How The Show’s Cold War Ends

Keri Russell Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich The Americans

Warning: The following contains spoilers for The Americans series finale


The Americans has wrapped up its six-season run in typically understated, emotionally wrenching fashion. The final season of FX's Cold War spy drama has seen the walls closing in on Russian spies Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell), as splintering factions within the KGB and increasingly dangerous missions put the entire Jennings family in the FBI's crosshairs. Elizabeth was forced to thwart an attempted assassination of a Russian diplomat orchestrated by anti-Gorbachev forces within the government, alienating her from the center and Claudia (Margo Martindale). Philip's meeting with an informant - the priest who gave him and Elizabeth a proper marriage in season 5 - goes sideways and nearly results in his capture.

After narrowly escaping the feds in the penultimate episode, Philip and Elizabeth decide it's time to abandon America and return to Russia. But like everything else on The Americans, that's easier said than done; the fact that their FBI neighbor Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) has gotten wise to their operation makes their situation that much more harrowing. Hard decisions await the Jennings on their way back to Moscow.

Leaving Henry Behind

Keidrich Sellati as Henry Jennings in The Americans

Once they meet at their safe house, Elizabeth tells Philip they need to retrieve their children, the college-aged Paige (Holly Taylor), who's recently become part of their operation, and the younger Henry (Keidrich Sellati), who has no idea he's part of a family of Russian spies. Philip quickly decides that Henry can't come with them, as he knows nothing of their dual life and wouldn't be able to cope with such a jarring new life in Russia. After reacting with knee-jerk horror, Elizabeth eventually agrees, and the pair go to retrieve Paige from college.

Paige is reluctant to leave, but mostly understands this was always possible. She's outraged, however, at the notion that Henry has to be left behind. After a brief argument, Elizabeth packs Paige's bag and the trio prepare to go on the run. But before they can, they have an explosive encounter that's been years in the making.

Related: The Americans Series Finale: Showrunners Talk Difficult ‘Hurdles’ For Paige & Henry

Stan Learns The Truth

Stan's suspicions about the Jennings had been building for weeks, to the point he began snooping around their house and asking witnesses if they recognized them. When a disguised Philip narrowly evaded the FBI in the previous episode, Stan became convinced it was his neighbor. Having followed the Jennings to Paige's college, he confronts them in the parking garage and, somewhat surprisingly, Philip admits that it's all true - Stan's best friend is a Russian spy. Stan is understandably heartbroken and angry, and is ready to take the entire family in, but Philip is able to reason with him, and convince him they're working with the now imprisoned Oleg (Costa Ronin) to prevent a faction within the KGB from overthrowing the peace minded Gorbachev. Crucially Philip also repeats the lie he and Elizabeth often told Paige; they never killed anyone, they just collected information.

Philip tearfully pleads with Stan to take care of Henry, who's become more of a son to Stan than his own son, Matthew. Philip also warns Stan that he suspects his wife, Renee (Laurie Holden), might be a Russian operative as well, though he's not sure. Fans have been theorizing Renee might be a KGB operative since she first appeared in season 5, and while the episode doesn't confirm it one way or another, it's nice for the show to acknowledge the suspicion, and it's an uncertainty that is sure to haunt Stan for the rest of his life. To his own mild disbelief, Stan lets the Jennings go.

Related: The Americans Series Finale: The Showrunners Explain [SPOILER’s] Game-Changing Decision

Page 2: A Family Divided and a Return Home

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