'The Americans' Season Finale Recap: Who Got Shot?
"The Americans" -- "The Colonel"
It wasn't the best episode of the season, but that leaves a lot of wiggle room, because FX's "The Americans" was most certainly one of the best new shows of the season. And while the final scene of Wednesday's installment, "The Colonel," was underwhelming, there was still plenty to like, which set up plenty to look forward to in Season 2.
We'll start with the bad, only because there really was very little of it. But the finale's last scene, with Phillip and Elizabeth's daughter, Paige, going down into the basement/laundry room to snoop for … something? The fact that she found none of the evidence of her spy parents' secret double life wasn't inherently underwhelming (if she had made some great discovery, it would have meant that the Jenningses were sloppier spies than we've known them to be); but the fact that this scene ended the episode, the season-finale episode, when it would have been a fine penultimate scene, was a let down.
But the good (and again, there was a lot of good about the finale, a lot that makes us sorrier that we're going to be waiting until 2014 to see new episodes):
- Phillip and Elizabeth have been wavering all season about how they feel about their marriage, with each of them being more committed to what started out as a KGB-arranged relationship. In the finale, they're finally on the same page, as she asks him to return to the Jennings family home. And all it took to bring it about was for her to get seriously wounded by a gunshot!
- No worries, she's going to survive, but her recovery time in a safehouse already pushed Phillip to have to call neighbor/friend/FBI agent Stan to ask him to look after Paige and her brother while, Phillip told him, the Jenningses were off to tend to Elizabeth's sick aunt. If, as the producers have suggested it will, Season 2 picks up right after the events of the finale, the Jenningses are going to have to milk that aunt story for all it's worth to explain Elizabeth's absence, which is good because the Jenningses' slippery interactions with Stan are among the show's most delicious moments.
- Oh, and Stan's got problems of his own. His wife, fed up with his absences and emotional aloofness, refused his offer of a makeup vacay. Not only did Stan's mole, Nina, help blow up the FBI's setup, but now that she's come clean to her boss, Arkady, about spying on her Russian cohorts for Stan, Arkady has charged her with trying to flip Stan (Stan, in a rare blind spot, sees Nina only as a victim he needs to protect, not someone capable of thoroughly ruining his world). And Stan may have been the one who shot Elizabeth, which Phillip certainly won't let go unavenged if he finds out it was Stan's bullets that landed in Elizabeth's gut.
- The car-chase scene. We're not talking "Bullitt" here, but Phillip's skillful maneuvering through roadblocks and a hail of gunfire while Elizabeth held on (not yet revealing that she'd been hit) was an exciting, unexpected little action sequence.
- Claudia. The potentially bad news here is that Margo Martindale is committed to a CBS comedy with Will Arnett next season, meaning that Phillip and Elizabeth's request for a different handler may come to fruition if that series gets picked up. Martindale, especially in her interactions with Keri Russell's Elizabeth, provided many moments of levity throughout the tense season, so her departure would be a loss for the show. As would the absence of Claudia, just when she proved herself willing to do whatever was necessary to protect the Jenningses; if not for her diligent watch, and acting on that tip that a setup was afoot, she and Phillip would not have realized in time that it wasn't his meeting with the Colonel that put them in danger but rather Elizabeth's seemingly innocuous trip to pick up a tape from Caspar Weinberger's office. And her "granny" act to facilitate her revenge against the American agent who killed her pal Zhukov? Fierce.
Here's hoping that if that CBS show is a go, the networks and producers find a way to share the great talent that is Emmy winner Martindale.