the americans tv banner
Latest TV Show Reviews

TV Review/Recap: “The Americans” Echo (Season 2 Finale, Episode 13)

Phew! The season finale of The Americans was quite a blood bath. Three (possibly four, if you count what will probably happen to Nina) supporting characters died, Stan chose country over “love”, and Emmet and Leigh Anne’s murderer was revealed! We are also left with quite an interesting plot for season three, the conflict between Elizabeth and Phillip regarding turning Paige into a second-generation KGB agent. Can we also cheer that Margo Martindale was back as Claudia at the end of the episode! Just when we think we’ve seen the last of her…

It still blows my mind that this amazing, critically-acclaimed show is still flying under many people’s radar. But we, the passionate fans, are being rewarded for our loyalty with some GREAT television! Homeland, what? I’m already starting the countdown for season three!!!

Matthew Rhys Keri Russell The Americans 212
Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX

RIP Fred

The first casualty tonight comes to our old pal and KGB informant, Fred. The Jennings meet with Fred to give him the special shoes that will collect microscopic RAM paint samples from the factory floor. When he is done collecting the samples, Fred is to drop the shoes in a dumpster and use a neighboring phone booth to call the Jennings, who are waiting at another phone booth nearby. Fred sets off on the mission, while Elizabeth and Phillip wait in the car and talk about their issues with Paige. They both start reminiscing about their own difficult childhoods; Elizabeth talks about nursing her mother back to health after a bout of diphtheria, while Phillip talks about dealing with gangs in Tobolsk. Their story is interrupted, however, when they hear over a police scanner that shots were fired at the factory.

As soon as they hear that the suspect fits Fred’s description, the Jennings start to head over to the area. That is, until the phone in the booth rings. Fred is on the other end and says he made the shoe drop but was shot and is bleeding out. Although it initially seems the Jennings had every inclination to zoom to the area to help Fred escape, they quickly realize he is beyond help and if they try to save him, they risk getting caught themselves.

They quickly pick up the shoes and start driving; when the police cars are heading in the opposite direction of the Jennings, it’s obvious that they aren’t going back for Fred. Though it’s unclear whether Fred died from the injuries he sustained, or if he is now in police custody, it’s pretty safe to assume his life is over. At least he died for “the cause”, right?

Larrick vs. The Jennings

It’s finally here. The entire season has been leading up to this point, the showdown between Larrick and the Jennings. Thankfully for us (and season three), the Jennings won, but let’s break this whole thing down.

Okay, so during one of Phillip’s rendezvous with Martha, she again brings up the idea of children and inevitably decides she doesn’t know if just Phillip will be enough for her; she may need children. Hopefully Phillip’s disinterest in having kids will be the deal-breaker for Martha. It kills me that she is wasting so much of her life, and putting so much trust in Phillip who is just going to bring her down. Anyway, during this deep conversation, the phone in Martha’s apartment rings. It’s Phillip’s “sister” (Elizabeth) on the other line saying he needs to come home urgently because their uncle is missing. Knowing Elizabeth would only call if it were an emergency, Phillip rushes back to the house.

When Phillip arrives home, Elizabeth informs him that Larrick is back in the United States. The Center found out that he put in for leave with the military and is now AWOL. Phillip and Elizabeth can only assume he is coming after them so they immediately wake up the kids and pretend they are going on a last-minute vacation. Of course, Paige can tell something is up, but isn’t quite sure what it is. Despite some complaining, Paige gets in the car. The Jennings head to their safe house in upstate New York. However, little do they know, Larrick followed Jared to that same location. New York is the last place they need to be right now.

The American Season 2 Finale
Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX

After arriving at their destination and getting everyone settled into the motel, Elizabeth heads to the safe house to check on Jared. Phillip also leaves to go get breakfast and covertly tell an extraction team Jared’s location so they can get him out of the United States. However, things quickly take a turn. As Phillip goes to get back into his car, Larrick shows up behind him with a gun and captures him.

Cut to Elizabeth at the safe house. This time, she doesn’t have a disguise on so now Jared can see what she really looks like. Jared continues to ask Elizabeth where Kate is, but Elizabeth still has no information. All of a sudden, Elizabeth hears a noise and tells Jared to be quiet. Unfortunately, it’s too late and Larrick appears out of the woods with a gun. As he makes them walk back to what turns out to be Phillip’s car, Larrick (like any villain) starts telling Elizabeth the grievances that brought him to this point. He thought everything between himself and the KGB were over, but when he found out they killed soldiers during Martial Eagle he had to come back for revenge. Um, this is seriously what set him off? He didn’t think this outcome was a possibility when he gave them the intelligence? It seems like Larrick was just look for an excuse to come back for the Jennings.

Larrick opens the trunk of his car, which contains a handcuffed Phillip, and then asks Elizabeth to handcuff herself. He says he plans to turn Phillip and Elizabeth in to the FBI. Before he can get too far, though, Elizabeth starts getting Jared riled up by asking about the murder of his family. Surprisingly, Jared pulls a gun out of his jacket and shoots Larrick, but not before getting shot himself. Unfortunately, Larrick isn’t fatally wounded and Elizabeth has to fight him herself. Being the badass that she is, Elizabeth makes quick work of him and when he drops the gun in the trunk accidentally, Phillip takes the opportunity to shoot him. Now comes the twist….

Emmett And Leigh Anne’s Killer Is…

Jared! Yes, you read that correctly. As he’s lying on the ground bleeding to death, Jared begins telling the Jennings what has ACTUALLY been happening over the past few years. As it turns out, and with some later clarification from Claudia (Margo is back!!!), Jared and Kate were in a relationship; the two met when Jared became a candidate for a new KGB program. This second-generation spy program would train U.S.-born KGB agents to infiltrate the CIA and FBI; the background checks in these agencies are too strict for someone like Phillip and Elizabeth with stolen identities. Emmet and Leigh Anne wanted absolutely NO part in it so the KGB (with Kate as their proxy) went behind their back and recruited Jared themselves. When Emmet found out about Kate, and her relationship with his son, he was angry and didn’t understand. So, to be with Kate and do what was best for “the greater good,” Jared killed his family. Yikes!!! Before he dies, Jared asks that the Jennings tell the Center he saved them and to tell Kate he loves her.

Sadly for the Jennings, this second-generation spy idea doesn’t die with Jared…

Margo Martindale, Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys The Americans
Credit: Patrick Harbron/FX

Paige Is The Key

It seems Paige is a lot more integral to the storyline than I once thought. Although I was convinced the recent attention on her was leading up to her getting killed off, it was actually setting the stage for her to play an even bigger role in the action next season.

Paige has always been looking for something to believe in and support, something to put all of her passion and drive behind. She wants to make a difference. However, much to the dismay of her parents, she has thrown herself into Christianity by being super involved with her church (including almost getting arrested at an Air Force base while protesting nuclear weapons). She isn’t just interested in her faith, but she also respects that Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good.

This mindset may come into play next season when Phillip and Elizabeth deal with the fact that the KGB wants Paige to take Jared’s place in the second-generation program. At first Phillip and Elizabeth are completely against the idea, not wanting to put their daughter at any risk. Phillip even tracks Arkady down and warns him not to get close to Paige without his permission or else the Jennings will be finished with the KGB.

However, as Elizabeth continues thinking about the “opportunity” more, she inevitably comes around. After all, everything Paige loves about Christianity, she could also find in working with the KGB (except Jesus). Paige loves that Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good, and respects that her pastor was arrested for trying to do the right thing. Isn’t that what the KGB has been preaching to the Jennings and other informants from day one? From Fred, to Lucia, to Emmet and Leigh Anne, all have sacrificed themselves for this elusive “greater good”. Would it be that difficult to make Paige see her service as a sacrifice for this idealistic notion of morality? She has already demonstrated her spy skills, so it seems this may be the perfect fit.

Phillip, on the other hand, does not change his mind and is actually disgusted that Elizabeth would entertain the idea, which goes back on her promise to never get the kids involved in the spy world. Whereas Elizabeth thinks the KGB will fulfill Paige’s quest for  something more and a place to belong, Phillip thinks it will destroy her. It seems this push and pull between the two parents may be the conflict of next season. Will season three be dedicated to making Paige a spy from an early age a la Sydney Bristow?

Stan, Stan The Backstabbing Man

Well, Stan stayed loyal to his country and adhered to the bros before foes mantra, but it seems this is the only loyalty Stan can muster. After all, he wasn’t loyal to his wife and neglected her throughout the series, which inevitably pushed her into the arms of another man. Then, when he finally started to show semblances of loyalty to Nina, such as stealing the surveillance reports to protect her, he couldn’t follow through on that either; when push came to shove, Stan left her at the mercy of the KGB. Of course, Nina had her own bad intentions, but Stan didn’t know that. Should we officially start calling Stan “Captain America” now?

At first, it looked like Stan really was going to come through for Nina.  After all, he went through the motions of stealing information on Echo, such as hiding a camera in his shirt and videotaping Echo’s code on a computer screen. However, after all of this, Stan doesn’t actually go through with giving that information to the KGB.

Arkady tells Stan where to surreptitiously drop the Echo program information. In exchange, the KGB promises the safe release of Nina, who will meet Stan in the location where they first met. However, instead of handing over the tape, Stan actually gives the KGB a piece of paper that says, “Tell Nina I’m sorry.” Thus, Stan knowingly signs Nina’s death certificate, leaving her fate at the mercy of a KGB trial in Moscow (and we all know how that’s going to go). The always classy Nina doesn’t have a giant freakout, begging for Arkady to spare her life. She instead packs her things and allows the KGB officers to escort her to the exit. In fact, Oleg looks more upset at the realization that Stan didn’t come through than Nina.

At first, I thought maybe Stan did hand over Echo and the KGB was double-crossing him to still get rid of Nina. However, that theory quickly changed when I saw Stan waiting outside of the Residentura in his car, watching Nina leave. She sees him through the back windshield and that’s it. The Nina/Stan romance is over. But even though Stan didn’t give the KGB information on Echo, he did still hand over surveillance records. Will the KGB let the FBI know he did that? More importantly, what will happen to Stan next season when he has no wife and no love interest. Time for the KGB to find another Nina.

What a great season finale! It had so many twists and turns and answered a lot of our questions, while also posing new ones for season three! The Americans is the best drama on TV and I can’t wait to recap it again next season!

Leave a Reply