There’s a word used in the world of espionage that encompasses people emotionally effected by their surroundings or happenings. The word is compromised and for 6 seasons, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings have uneasily skirted the compromised line in “The Americans.”
In the series finale ‘START,’ not only are the covers blown for the KGB spies, their entire world is flipped upside down when their friend (yes, he is their friend) and FBI-employed neighbor Stan goes on the offensive with his instincts about them. Stan has long suspected the Jennings of something but hadn’t the inclination that the friends next door were essentially sleeper agents.
With the priest who married them in for FBI questioning, Elizabeth and Philip make the choice to run. While they agree to take Paige-as she’s been an agent in training-they disagree on Henry. Elizabeth doesn’t want to leave her son behind; Philip is convinced the best place for Henry is to remain at boarding school. Safe. And away from them.
With the pressure on Father Andrei, he holds firm in the face of intense scrutiny from Agent Aderholt. Father Andrei holds his confidence and obligations to the Jennings in hand. He doesn’t break.
Across town at Paige’s apartment, Elizabeth and Philip bundle her up and grab her go back. Paige is understandably upset at her parents leaving 16 year old Henry alone: no family, no money, no strong connections. She’s forced into the fallout because of her choices: her choice to join her parents’ missions. Her choice to ingratiate herself to Mother Russia. Her choice.
It all falls apart easily and the lies crumble when Stan corners the Jennings in the underground parking lot of Paige’s building. It was heartbreaking to see the realization of the betrayal on Stan’s face. His best friend made a mockery of his career and his livelihood-but Philip counters to state that his own life was a joke and a falsehood. And Stan was one of the best things to ever happen to him. It was a powerful indictment on how strong the friendship was that Stan actually listens to Philip’s reasoning as to why they need to flee. The final moments of them pleading with Stan to take care of Henry-and Philip telling him his live-in girlfriend is probably a Russian spy also-were utterly devastating. He lets them go. And it’s terrible and awful. It is without a doubt some of the best scene work Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich have ever done.
The “normal” goodbye phone call from Elizabeth and Philip to Henry messed with my mind and my heart and my feelings more than I can say. As a parent, I can’t imagine abandoning my child…even under the guise of keeping them safe. The fact that Paige wasn’t able to formulate the words to farewell her brother was also a punch to the veritable gut. Holly Taylor’s softly whispered “I can’t” when Elizabeth attempted to hand her the phone, spoke volumes.
Stan’s final help to the on-the-run Jennings came in the form of an Oscar-worthy performance to Agent Aderholt. Upon seeing the fully realized sketches of Elizabeth and Philip, he is convincing in his shock that his friends could’ve been spies. It is a coup de grace of the highest order and his final act as Philip’s best friend.
As the disguised trio of Elizabeth, Philip and Paige headed across the border ny train to Canada, the hounds were still at their back. Passing muster by the Canadian state police, the train chugs along…and shows Paige alone on the platform. A devastated Elizabeth presses her nose to the glass and desperately tries to hold in the tears; Philip sees his daughter seconds later and his first reaction is to get to his wife. To comfort as best he can. It is a wrenching scene-it plays over and over and it never fails to make impact.
Stan keeps his promise and tells Henry everything.
Paige returns to her handler’s apartment.
And with the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s Opus No. 6 and the melancholy of the violin, Elizabeth and Philip cross into Mother Russia. Standing on a bridge, overlooking the twinkling lights of Moscow, they reminisce on the what ifs and the might have beens. They opine over Paige and Henry. They remember they raised their children and they will remember them.
Philip-“It feels strange.”
Elizabeth-“мы привыкнем к этому“*
*We’ll get used to it.*
Compromised together. Forever.