The Americans has completed its six season run, and it is truly the end of an era, comrades. The series was always among, if not the, top TV series every year, as its wonderfully nuanced portrait of a marriage was encapsulated in 80s Cold War spycraft that felt increasingly relevant to our news cycle. FX’s The Americans will be remembered for many things, but chief among them was the joy of Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys’ performances as Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, two Soviet spies playing at being Americans to try and bring down a democracy, and yet we loved them. It’s always been complicated being an Americans fan — it feels lightly treasonous to feel so emotionally invested in spies who want to destroy our country. But that’s what made the show so great; among all of the wigs and the amazing soundtrack choices and the fashion nods were stories and characters who felt incredibly real.
Last week, we were able to speak with stars Russell and Rhys, as well as showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields via a series of conferences calls, to dive into the events of that stunning The Americans ending. Series finales are notoriously difficult to pull off, but Weisberg and Fields had the rare luxury of planning for the end in advance, having been renewed for two seasons at the end of Season 4. That afforded them the chance to complete this tale exactly as they envisioned it, and they did so by finding the right balance between what felt right for the story while also satisfying fans. It was a deeply emotional conclusion, one that cements the show’s legacy as one of TV’s best.
Below are some excerpts from our conversations with the stars and showrunners on this final episode, including what made the series so unique, what that dream sequence was all about, the chances of Philip running into Martha in a Moscow grocery store, and so much more. (The interview has been edited for length and clarity).