[SPOILERS for The Americans series finale.]
With The Americans having wrapped up its six-season run, series co-star Matthew Rhys discusses what he calls the show’s “tragic ending.” As far as stressful finales go, ‘Start’ is one for the record books. The series has excelled at inducing audience anxiety for years now, and although the series finally ends in an unexpected but satisfying way, it won’t leave many viewers wanting for more in regard to high-stakes tension with characters’ lives on the line.
One of the biggest questions presented by the finale is where Philip and Elizabeth’s relationship will go now they're back in Mother Russia. As far as Rhys is concerned, even though they’re back in the country they’ve been spying for, Philip and Elizabeth can really only count on one another. That makes sense as the two were partners in crime (i.e., international espionage) long before they were a legitimate couple, married or not.
But as Rhys also remarked during a conference call with various media outlets, the fact that the two are still together doesn’t lessen the tragedy of what their actions have led to; namely, being separated from their two children, Paige and Henry. Rhys said:
“It’s sort of interesting because, you know, what is left you don’t know really how it will work out. Ultimately they’re the only allies [for] each other... someone else who understands this incredible journey they’ve been on, therefore they do need each other in that respect. You know, I always harken back to the third episode of the first season when Phillip wanted to defect. And I think that is kind of – to me that was kind of brought back in those moments where I’m sure he could have gone, 'You know, we could be in a very cushy witness protection program at this moment where the kids are doing okay as opposed to this.'
So I think it’s a tragic ending, you know, for all intents and purposes, because I think, as I said earlier, the cost of what they had to do with their children in order to get out alive... is so taxing.”
The cost that Philip and Elizabeth ultimately pay in the end is staggeringly steep, which lends credence to Rhys labeling it as a “tragic”. Though his interpretation of the ending is certainly fascinating, it will be interesting to see how his assessment of ‘Start’ matches up with that of those watching.
The Americans seasons 1 - 5 are available to stream on Amazon Prime, season 6 is available to stream with the FX Now app.