The second most searing scene in the final episode of “The Americans” take place in a parking garage when Stan, the FBI agent who has been living across the street from the Jennings, blissfully unaware that they are Soviet spies, confronts them with a drawn pistol. The confrontation has been long in coming [VIDEO], six whole seasons that spanned much of the decade of the 1980s. For Philip, Elizabeth, and their hapless daughter Paige, the Cold War ended not with a bang, but with a whimper.

'For all these years my life was the joke, not yours'

The scene in which Philip literally begs for his life and those of his wife and daughter reveals the pain of the KGB spies who realize that all the lies, all the deaths, all the lives destroyed were all for nothing.

Philip had long ago lost whatever motivated him to go to a country his government had told him was his enemy and work to subvert it. Elizabeth, who says nothing during the confrontation, goes through that process, a Soviet patriot and a fervent communist who hates the United States and all that it stands for. But now she knows her own country is ruled by evil, corrupt men grasping for power for its own sake. As for Paige, well, we find out later something about what she is thinking.

The scene on the train

As the train passes through border control into Canada, Elizabeth and Philip witness, to their horror, that Paige is abandoning them. The naïve, idealistic girl who, for God knows what reason, thought she was doing good by serving the Evil Empire came to her own decision. The last scene, when Paige is drinking vodka in Claudia’s old apartment, speaks volumes for a girl who has some of her parents’ Russian character but is too much of an American to follow them to the Motherland.

The end game

Philip and Elizabeth are back in Russia, a country they have not seen in decades, a place that has changed in the decades since they left for America and is due to change even more. They have left their children behind, secure in the knowledge that they hate their parents for what they were and what they did. Their future is decidedly uncertain and may be short indeed due to the upheavals to come.

That “The Americans” did not end with the Berlin Wall coming down, and the Hammer and Sickle being lowered for the last time was a curious artistic choice. Unless a movie is made tying up those threads, it will be left for the viewer’s imagination how that impacts our doomed characters.