Have you ever been less sure of anything than how The Americans will end? We’re three episodes away from the series finale and still completely in the dark about what will become of Philip, Elizabeth, and Paige Jennings (everyone knows Henry will be fine). Desperate for answers, the Vulture staff got together to offer up our best guesses on how TV’s slowest-burning show will wrap up its story. Has the show made a nihilist out of you? Or are you still a romantic in this cold, cold world?
The final episode of The Americans is called “START,” which presumably is a reference to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush in 1991. I think the final scene of the series will feature footage of that major news event. Then it will cut to Paige Jennings, whose parents are no longer with us. As we hear a news anchor talking about how the START treaty marks the turning of a new page between Russia and the U.S., we see Paige, now a State Department employee, calmly eating lunch in the cafeteria, the same one where her late mother almost got nabbed in 1987 while working undercover for the mother country. Her parents’ work is done. Paige’s has only begun.
Phillip and Elizabeth break up. I don’t know how, exactly — by official divorce or separation, or by one of them going back to Russia and the other staying in the United States. But I feel this is inevitable, because the Soviet Union broke up, and this particular Soviet union must therefore also end. —Matt Zoller Seitz
The Americans will end with Stan embracing Henry in an interrogation room while Henry weeps and the Berlin Wall comes down. Philip flips on Elizabeth in exchange for partially protecting Paige. Philip and Elizabeth last see each other with Elizabeth being perp-walked down a hallway, having failed to take her suicide pill. In a montage set to Peter Gabriel, we see Philip considering suicide, Paige in prison, and Henry looking morose as he sits at the dinner table with Stan. Either that, or, just as Stan starts to put together the pieces on Philip and Elizabeth, we realize his girlfriend is also a Russian spy and she kills him. Elizabeth and Philip drag their children back to Russia where they realize the crumbling USSR is just as corrupt and miserable as America. —Kathryn VanArendonk
Stan knows everything and is about to arrest the Jennings.
But, as always, they are one step ahead. Wearing a ginger Afro wig, Phillip takes a bullet and dies to save Elizabeth. Elizabeth
and Paige escape and go back to Russia to live the lives of heroes. Elizabeth steps outside to her porch for a smoke and there is Martha playing with her child on the front lawn next door. Stan is devastated about the Jennings being under his nose the entire time and not catching them, but the FBI is able to take down other KGB spies because of his investigation. Stan and Renee, who is revealed not to be a Russian spy, go to Aruba to decompress. We have no idea what happens to Henry because, once again, his parents and the producers have forgotten him. —Maria Elena Fernandez
There’s no way this slow burn of a drama steeped in existential and marital dread ends well. Let’s look at the facts: Stan clearly knows Elizabeth and Phillip are Soviet spies, the Jenningses’ position within the KGB is increasingly tenuous, and the thawing between USSR-U.S. relations will make escape back to the homeland unrealistic. My prediction is there’s a double suicide between Elizabeth and Philip, because we know the Russians love an epic tragedy. Henry will be sad, but he’ll bounce back and become a successful investment banker. Paige is screwed. Stan will be shaken, but will ultimately believe that he’s eradicated the Soviet spy network until — twist! — his girlfriend Renee (Laurie Holden) walks into the FBI for her first day, and we realize she’s a KGB operative. Sorry, Stan! —E. Alex Jung
Once Philip and Elizabeth are finally caught — Philip dies, Elizabeth gets sent to jail, it’s all very intense — we cut to the present day and realize this was all a book Henry was trying to write about his parents. At a reading for the book in a sleepy local library, someone raises their hand and asks him if he’d ever forgive them. The show cuts to black mid-thought, as if he is Don Draper contemplating his big breakthrough. Then we cut to black again, and we see robots in the future, having killed all the humans, passing down the story of how their great hero, the mail robot, first rose up against the treacherous humans. Okay, really, I have no idea how this show is going to end, but I’m going with the general, safe bet of “it will be very sad.” —Jackson McHenry