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‘The Americans’ Series Finale: Top 25 Moments


It all ends tonight. The sixth and final season of The Americans will air at 10 PM ET on FX, and it’s anyone’s guess what will happen. In case you missed it, here are our top episodes and top characters from the series. There have been dozens of great moments over the years (so much so that we could easily make this a top 50 or even a top 100), but these are our choices for the best moments of the series heading into the final episode.

 

25. Elizabeth fights Agent Gaad and Agent Aderholt (S3E1)

The opening scene of Season 3 sees Elizabeth at a restaurant meeting with Charlotte, a CIA source providing intel on Afghanistan, but the source gets cold feet about what she’s doing and calls the FBI. Once Charlotte pushes for Elizabeth to stay longer, she quickly leaves knowing something is up. It seems like she is in the clear when she walks alone on the sidewalk, but two FBI agents stop her on a dark, isolated street to question her—and they happen to be Agent Gaad and Agent Aderholt. Fortunately, Elizabeth fights and escapes, with the final shot before the opening credits being a swift punch of Gaad’s nose (and the camera).

 

24. Venter and Todd are captured (S3E7)

Venter’s death scene in the next episode was also something that could have made the list (if you don’t remember, Ncgobo puts a tire around him and sets him on fire), but the end of “Walter Taffet” was top-class action. A lot is going on, but basically, Hans is keeping watch while Philip fights Venter, who was going to assassinate Ncgobo, and Elizabeth shoots Venter’s getaway driver in the head. Then, with Philip struggling in a public brawl, Hans repeatedly bashes the car horn, causing Elizabeth to drive up in the van, which Philip throws Venter into before they get him inside as Ncgobo gets Todd in the back. The episode ends with Hans looking at them drive away with a shocked and relieved look on his face.

 

23. Philip uses axe to decapitate Marilyn (S6E7)

Philip got out of the spy game because he didn’t really have the heart to keep killing people, especially after a couple innocents were killed in Season 5, but he’s obviously back in action after his wife needed help in Chicago—and it led to him needing to axe off Marilyn’s hands and head so that she couldn’t be identified after her death. You could see the stress on Philip’s face as he did what needed to be done.

 

22. Stan refuses to commit treason (S2E13)

For as good as he is at his job, Agent Beeman found himself in a lose-lose position by falling in love with Nina, as the KGB attempted to leverage their relationship and her life in order to get intelligence about a computer program from Stan. However, when it seemed like he might actually give them what they need by arriving at the drop site, it turns out he just dropped a note that said, “Tell Nina I’m sorry.” And with that, she was sent to Russia, with the last scene between them being Stan looking on in his car as Nina is being driven away from the Rezidentura.

 

21. Elizabeth kills mugger in parking lot (S4E11)

By the end of Season 4, Paige is getting closer to her parents and becoming more comfortable with their real occupation, but she didn’t quite know the extent of their work. That changed, though, when two muggers attempt to rob Elizabeth and Paige in a parking lot at the end of “Dinner for Seven”. Obviously, Elizabeth had no choice but to fight to keep her daughter safe, and Paige is shocked when she stabs one attacker in the throat with his own knife. The other runs away, and Elizabeth hurries a frozen Paige to the car.

 

20. Elizabeth beats up Claudia (S1E6)

It was a surprise to see Philip and Elizabeth captured and interrogated as Russian spies by the middle of Season 1, but we soon find out that the captors were actually KGB agents themselves, with Claudia being behind their abduction because they wanted to see if the Jennings couple could be trusted. That causes Elizabeth to flip out—understandably considering how loyal she is to her country—and nearly beat Claudia to death.

 

19. Annelise is stuffed into suitcase (S3E2)

One of the best aspects of The Americans is just how realistic it is, and a literal bone-crunching example comes at the beginning of the episode aptly named “Baggage”. In the previous episode, Annelise is choked to death by Yousef, so Philip and Elizabeth come to help get rid of her body by putting it in a large suitcase, and the whole situation allows them to blackmail the Pakistani diplomat. The scene was difficult to watch as a young woman’s dead body was treated like a slab of meat, but the realism is what made it so great.

 

18. Philip and Elizabeth discuss their future (S5E13)

The final scene of the penultimate season is an honest talk between Philip and Elizabeth, and it’s simply impossible to explain what makes it one of the best without watching it again for yourself.

 

 

17. Elizabeth loses it on Paige (S4E8)

“The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears” starts off with Martha finally leaving for Russia, and after that tensions really grow in the Jennings household when Elizabeth tries playing it off like it was nothing, while Philip looks at Martha as a human being. That causes Gregory and Irina to be brought up, and the fighting continues when they go meet Gabriel. However, the boiling point comes when Elizabeth returns home and sees that Paige skipped Bible Study, and her mother flips out, saying, “Thanks to what you did, [your relationship with Tim] is all that stand between us and this family being destroyed!”

 

16. Philip blows up on Paige (S2E9)

Elizabeth is the one that usually gets loud in an argument with Paige (including last week’s penultimate episode), but when Paige gives the church $600 without her parents’ knowledge, they are both furious. Philip in particular has had a lot of stress building up, and he lets it out by ripping pages out of his daughter’s Bible and yelling in her face, “You respect Jesus, but not us?!” It was frightening enough that Paige cried, and all the arguments are testament to the acting of Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell throughout the series. In fact, Rhys decided to not reveal how he’d play the scene beforehand, and Holly Taylor’s crying was a genuine reaction to the blow up.

 

15. Darkroom scene (S5E10)

Despite her parents previously saying that it’s too dangerous to be snooping around in Pastor Tim’s diary, Paige does it again and takes pictures this time—and Philip and Elizabeth decide they might as well go to the laundry room to develop the photos since they have them. That creates an awesome scene in the red-and-black darkroom to end the episode.

 

 

14. Elizabeth burns letter (S2E3)

This moment doesn’t have a great impact on the story, but Elizabeth’s choice to break her promise to Leanne by not giving Jared a letter she was tasked with giving him created one of the most beautiful scenes of the entire series.

 

 

13. Philip hesitates and Elizabeth wants to go home (S5E11)

Being tasked with killing Natalie—a former Nazi collaborator who turned her life around after the war—was certainly a breaking point for Philip, as he just couldn’t pull the trigger on her after seeing the person she became (plus, he wasn’t 100% certain she was “Anna” despite eventually admitting it). That meant Elizabeth had to shoot both Natalie and her innocent husband, and on the drive home, Elizabeth breaks a long silence by saying, “I want to get out of here. We should just go. I mean it. Let’s go home.”

 

12. Paige is told the truth (S3E10)

After nearly three seasons of suspicions about her parents, Paige finally confronts them one night when they come home and demands the truth. All it takes is a single look between the couple to decide it’s time, and they sit her down to explain they are from the Soviet Union and work in the US as Russian spies. Paige doesn’t even want to hear the rest, but Philip and Elizabeth explain that no one can know or they will go to jail. The secret lasted two episodes.

 

11. Philip visits Pastor Tim (S2E9)

Pastor Tim was a thorn in the Jennings’ side from the moment Paige started going to church, so when Philip completely lost it on his daughter earlier in “Martial Eagle”, there was no telling what he was going to do when he visited the pastor in the dead of night wearing black gloves to perhaps avoid fingerprints. However, Tim is able to basically turn the visit around on Philip by saying there’s forgiveness for everyone before Mr. Jennings leaves and stands there with a tear in his eye outside the church.

 

10. Philip says he’s coming to Chicago (S6E6)

Philip deciding to jump back into action gives off some serious Breaking Bad vibes.

 

 

9. Philip threatens Arkady (S2E13)

After seeing Jared bleed out as he revealed he killed his parents and knew they were Russian spies, Philip decided they can’t have Paige follow in their footsteps to become a “second-generation illegal.” However, they had no way of being sure The Center would back off (look how they got to Jared), at least until Philip visited Arkady in a video store to tell him, “If our organization ever gets anywhere near our daughter without our permission, my wife and I are finished.”

 

8. Paige is warned by Philip (S4E13)

When Paige’s crush on Matthew Beeman turns into more, her parents are understandably concerned about what a relationship with Stan’s son could mean for their cover. So, while Stan is happy about the pairing, Philip almost doesn’t know what to say to his neighbor when he comes to pick up Paige after the Super Bowl. He certainly knows what to say to Paige to end the episode and season, though: “Don’t do this, Paige. You have no idea.” It was really just a simple conversation that Elizabeth was watching from her window, but the stakes are so high that it created a chilling final shot of the Jennings house in darkness.

 

7. Philip saves Elizabeth from a set up (S1E13)

The final episode of the first season saw Philip walking into a potential trap meeting with the colonel, and it’s clear there was a set up when the signal came. However, it was actually Elizabeth walking into trouble—namely Stan and the rest of the FBI—which causes Philip to spring into action by speeding around to pick her up. That results in a shootout with the FBI guys and a bullet in Elizabeth’s stomach, but they make it out alive while keeping their cover.

 

6. Jared death/reveal (S2E13)

The big mystery in Season 2 is who killed Emmett and Leanne, and it isn’t until Jared’s final moments that we find out it was actually him, their own son. He insists that he and Kate were in love and they wouldn’t understand, but in reality, Kate was simply tasked with turning him into a second-gen asset for the KGB. It was a bloody death, but all the mysteries were solved to conclude the season.

 

5. Nina is executed (S4E4)

This is really how it happened in Russia and continues to happen in other places around the world, as Nina is giving the results of her appeal (denied) and a quick bullet in the head afterwards. It was a tragic end to a character that was there from the beginning, and it was even more shocking because it just randomly happened in the middle of the season when it looked like she might be eventually released.

 

4. Elizabeth gets ready to escape (S6E9)

It’s about to go down. At the end of the series’ penultimate episode, Philip rings Elizabeth from a payphone and gives the message that it’s time for them to escape, so she frantically grabs money, passports, and everything else they need. And she was sure not to forget their real wedding rings.

 

3. Paige tells Pastor Tim (S3E13)

The look in Elizabeth’s eyes with Ronald Reagan’s speech playing says it all, as Paige reveals to Pastor Tim the truth about her parents with the President calling the USSR the “focus of evil in the modern world.”

 

2. Philip escapes after meeting with Father Andrei (S6E9)

The final scene of the penultimate episode was great, but what led to that was Philip meeting with Father Andrei—and then realizing that the FBI is likely onto them. He then quickly says goodbye, and a fast walk turn into a full-speed sprint with two agents chasing after him. It was a pulse-pounding moment that could have been the end for Philip, but he was able to shed part of his disguise in a blind spot and before finally escaping.

 

1. Stan checks the Jennings’ garage (S1E1)

The very first episode of the series ended with perhaps the best moment so far in The Americans. For whatever reason, Stan has some early suspicions about his new neighbors (even though he was the one that moved in next to them), and the pilot ends with him breaking into the Jennings’ garage and looking at their car—which just had General Viktor Zhukov in the trunk. Fortunately, it’s spotless, and Stan clearly feels like an idiot for even having the thought creep into his head. But that’s not it, as when Stan is leaving, we see Philip was actually hiding in a dark corner the entire time with a gun in his hand for the final shot of the episode.

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