Margo Martindale as KGB handler Claudia, in one of the best scenes from this season of ‘The Americans’

Next Wednesday will be the series finale of The Americans, the great FX drama about a married couple living undercover as KGB spies in 1980s Washington. Boy, am I ever going to miss that show and its characters. If you’ve never seen it, I encourage you to give it a try — though of course you’re going to have to start at the beginning. It’s violent, and sexually explicit at times, but the show — created by a former CIA agent, Joe Weisberg — is not only excellent drama, but morally penetrating too in the way it forces you to confront what it means to be loyal, and what you would do for your country.

Because I don’t want to ruin the show for those who haven’t seen it, I’m going to put my answers to these questions below the jump. If you think you will ever watch the show, don’t read my answers or the comments thread. As for my fellow Americans fans, I’d like you to answer the following:

  1. How would you like the series to end?
  2. How do you think they will end the series?

My answers below. If for some reason the coding doesn’t work, and you can see what follows, STOP READING RIGHT NOW TO AVOID SPOILERS!

How would I like the series to end?

With Philip and Elizabeth caught. If they escape back to Russia, I will be really disappointed. There has to be justice.

Really, that’s all that matters: that they’re caught. I want to see the scene where Stan confronts them, and they’re made to see in his trusting face the full cost of their betrayal. I want to see the look in Paige and Henry’s faces when they understand what their parents did.

I want Burov to go back safely to his wife and children in Moscow.

How do I think it’s going to end? 

For years I’d figured that Philip was going to end up going over to the US, not only because he had come to love our country, but because he wanted a better life for Paige and Henry. I thought that their marriage would ultimately fall apart irretrievably, and that would be the impetus for him to betray Elizabeth for the sake of their children and his own future.

Clearly that’s not going to happen. So what will? This thing could end so many ways, but I think that having introduced the cyanide pill in an earlier episode, Elizabeth is somehow going to choose to take it. This week’s episode ended with Elizabeth having received a signal from Philip, who is on the run, that she should clear out. The word “topsy-turvy” must have been the “abandon ship” code. She now knows that she’s running for her life, and no doubt headed to meet Philip at a safe house. They will be arrested at that safe house. The final act will be how they negotiate their futures.

Whatever happens in that coming exchange between the FBI and Elizabeth, it will end with her taking the cyanide pill. She really does love her country, and I think that having lost her children (Paige has turned on her, and Henry hasn’t loved her in a long time), she will find herself in a situation where she fears betraying under interrogation the only thing she has ever really loved: Mother Russia.

What will Philip do?  will strike a deal to go into witness protection in exchange for secrets. The possibility of living as a normal American would be the thing he wants more than anything.  More than that, he wants to cleanse his tormented conscience.

Burov will be sent home. About Paige and Henry? Dunno. It doesn’t really matter, does it? They’re Americans; they can’t be sent to Russia. Hard to see the government punishing Paige. Their parents were spies, yes, but now they get to be normal Americans.

I am sorry that we’re probably not going to get to say goodbye to Martha. Poor Martha is the reason above many others that I do not want Philip and Elizabeth to escape. I don’t see how the showrunners can allow them to.