The Americans ends its stellar second season tonight. For 12 episodes, the show has zigged when we thought it would zag and has always kept us guessing about what would happen next. The stakes are extraordinarily high for tonight’s final hour. Will Larrick find Philip and Elizabeth? Will Stan betray his country? Will Nina live? What else does Jared know? We’re definitely anticipating a pulse-pounding, nail-biting conclusion.
Before tonight’s finale of The Americans, let’s take a look back at this season’s ten most shocking moments.
I don’t know about you but I worried about poor Jared for most of the season. What if this high school senior who just lost his whole family were to discover that his parents, who coached t-ball and were in the PTA, were actually KGB spies? How devastating would that be? But we found out last week that Jared knew “why his parents traveled so much.” He’s not as oblivious as we thought. Why did Emmett and Leanne confide in their son? What else does he know? My guess is that we’ll find out a lot more about Jared in tonight’s season finale.
We were just getting to know Emmett and Leanne, Philip and Elizabeth’s fellow KGB agents and friends. But by the end of the season premiere, they were massacred in their hotel room along with their daughter. The brutal murders kicked off a season long arc of Elizabeth and Philip hunting for their killers while being worried that they were actually targets themselves.
Claudia confesses to Elizabeth that she fell in love and told the man the truth about what she does. She worries that this man may have betrayed her, and she inadvertently may have caused Emmett and Leanne’s deaths. Like Elizabeth, I was always a little suspicious of Claudia. But now, by exposing herself, we see that she truly cares about Elizabeth and Philip and wants to ensure they are safe.
Last season, I would have thought there was no way Stan would betray his country. But this season, Stan has fallen deeper in love with Nina as his marriage has unraveled. When he thinks Nina is in danger, he hesitates only slightly before turning over confidential files. Now, Arkady is asking for the Echo technology in order to save Nina—and Stan seems just vulnerable enough to do it.
After learning from Martha what an animal Clark is in the bedroom, Elizabeth demands that Philip be like Clark with her. It’s a devastating scene that brings back memories of Elizabeth’s rape and leaves her shattered on the bed.
We all had a lot of fun mocking the advance wig technology the series displayed last year. No matter what Philip and Elizabeth did, their fake hair was seemingly indestructible. So it was a really fun inside joke from the producers to the audience when Philip’s wig came off in the opening moments of the second season premiere.
Martha was infuriatingly clueless all of last year. How, I wondered, could any woman be so gullible? But it turns out Martha is not as dim as we’ve been lead to believe. All along, it seems, she’s known that Clark has been wearing a toupee. What will happen if she ever discovers he has a full head of hair underneath his wig? Is her toupee knowledge the beginning of the end for Martha?
In the first season finale, Paige went to the basement to confirm that her mother really was doing laundry like she said. The second season kicked off with Paige checking to see if her parents are home and in their bedroom. They are, and they are in the throes of something no teenage daughter should ever see. It was the beginning of Paige’s season-long curiosity about what her parents are really up to.
The ever-curious Paige decides to skip school and pay a visit to Aunt Helen, the relative Elizabeth was supposedly helping when she was gone all those months. (In actuality, Elizabeth was recovering from a gunshot wound.) Guess what? The KGB is so committed to their cover stories that Aunt Helen exists, complete with pictures of Elizabeth on her wall.
When we first met Oleg, he was a privileged guy wallowing in nepotism and using his family connections to his advantage. When he started romancing Nina, I wasn’t sure what he was up to, but I was fairly convinced he had a hidden agenda. But then Oleg warns Nina that if she cannot get Stan to turn over the Echo technology, she’ll be sent back to Russian and tried for treason. Oleg loves Nina. Who knew?
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association, and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.