‘The Americans’ Anxiety Report: Can Someone Please Let Henry Jennings Live?

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The Americans Anxiety Report is a weekly rundown of the people and things we are currently most worried about on the show. It will get weird, because many of the people and things we will be worrying about will be tools in a plot to ruin America, put in motion by another country. Blame the show for this, not us.

10. Henry (Last week: Not ranked)

Henry is the only happy and well-adjusted character on the show. He is excited about the possibility of going to a prestigious boarding school that will give him a chance to get into a good college. He might even get a scholarship, thanks to his own hard work and connections. It’s a great opportunity for him, not only for the future he knows it might provide, but also because it gives him a chance to escape the hellscape of a life his sister is trapped in, unbeknownst to him. He looks happy and hopeful. If he can just convince his parents to let him go, things might actually turn out okay for him.

But nothing good ever happens to anyone on this show, especially not if they think it might, so he’s probably doomed. I can’t talk about it anymore. It’s too upsetting. LET HENRY LIVE, THE AMERICANS. GEEZ.

9. Elizabeth (Last week: 6)

Elizabeth didn’t have to kill anyone or teach her emotionally devastated teenage daughter how to ward off violent hobos or hike any trails with Ben (all equally bad, in my book), so this episode should have been a winner for her. But it’s not always the big things that can wear you down. Sometimes it’s little things, like a motherly instinct kicking in and wanting to bring Tuan dinner and keep him company, only to find the house suspiciously empty, thus triggering her ultra high-alert DEFCON 3 spy senses. Lady can’t catch a break, even when she’s just trying to do something nice.

8. Dmitri the grocer (Last week: Not ranked)

This poor guy. What did he ever do to anyone? He’s just out there in Russia, making the best of an impossible situation, greasing some palms to get some nice nectarines, doing what every other grocer has to do to get by, and next thing he knows he’s locked up in a glorified dungeon getting squeezed for information about dangerous crime bosses who might murder him and his family. That’s a rough swing. I hope some other grocers show up to break him out of prison. Using regular things you’d find in a grocery store. Like they take out some guards by winging cans of soup at them, and others by dumping vegetable oil on the ground behind them as they flee. I hope they all band together to take down the crime boss themselves. Vigilante grocers. Gabriel can advise them. He’s got time on his hands.

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7. Paige (Last week: 3)

Says a lot about the current Paige situation that she can basically disappear for an entire hour and still outrank a jailed Russian guy who just turned snitch on a mob boss. What do you think she was even up to this episode? I kept picturing her sitting in her closet with the door closed, in the pitch black, rocking back and forth in terror like Bart Simpson in his scary clown bed, Although maybe she went the other way and spent the whole episode in a slaughterhouse throwing haymakers at slabs of beef. Paige is not doing great. That’s what I’m saying.

Also, not her biggest problem in the grand scheme of things, but it must drive her nuts that she had to dump Matthew but her little brother gets to keep going over to Stan’s to yuck it up about girls and various meat-stuffed vegetables. It’s a classic older sibling “It’s not fair!” situation, but with more potential nuclear consequences.

6. The KGB operator lady (Last week: Not ranked)

This doesn’t seem like a fun job. Sitting in front of a switchboard all day in a windowless room, alone, waiting on calls and then having to quickly match the incoming message to the correct secret code and pass it along. And if she messes up, even just a little, missions are ruined and people probably die. The whole thing falls apart without her. It must be such a weird mix of boring and incredibly stressful. I kind of want to know more about her. Not a whole spinoff or anything, but maybe one single Leftovers-style episode told from her perspective. What does she do between phone calls? How long are her shifts? Is she, like, okay, or is this tearing her apart like it is everyone else? I must know more.

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5. Stan (Last week: Same)

Stan thought he had an out. He thought he could justify not selling out Oleg by getting the blessing of Frank Gaad’s wife. He thought he could appeal to her and explain himself and use it all to settle his conscience about his power play with the CIA. It wasn’t a bad plan, honestly, even if it was a little selfish. (I imagine she would have been fine without the information that the KGB hunted and killed her husband.) Unfortunately for him, Frank Gaad’s wife is a bloodthirsty vengeance-seeking savage and now Stan is feeling pressure from his boss, the CIA, and an angry widow. Stan is the Charlie Brown of this show. I’m not sure if that analogy works, but I stand by it 100 percent.

4. Philip (Last week: 4)

Again, screencaps of Philip’s face tell more of a story than any words I can string together. The man is a wreck, always, about everything. The Camaro isn’t even helping anymore. It’s not great.

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3. Martha (Last week: Not ranked)

Heeeeyyyy Martha. How have you been since we saw y-… oh. Living in Russia in a bleak, gray apartment, with no friends or social life outside of the state-appointed translator who comes to teach you Russian sometimes, eating a sad potato for a snack, and just now realizing how you were used and discarded by the people you are now completely dependent on for safety and basic life needs?

That’s cool.

2. Tuan (Last week: 10)

Two possibilities with Tuan:

  • He’s was telling the truth and he’s a messed-up kid who is taking a bus to Harrisburg by himself in secret so he can call a dear friend with leukemia without ruining an entire undercover operation, and the closest thing he has to real parents assaulted him and pulled a gun on him when they found out.
  • He’s lying and is playing double — triple? — agent somehow, and now people are suspicious, and the only thing that might save him is Philip projecting his own dread onto the situation and assuming it was a cry for help.

Not ideal, either way.

1. Oleg (Last week: 2)

Somewhere around the beginning of this season, not long after we first saw him at home in Russia and comforting his mom, I went completely in the tank for Oleg. It’s a strange feeling, because he was very much a Russian spy and was trying to destroy the country I live in. I shouldn’t like him so much. Part of me knows that.

And yet, when he was getting questioned by the cigarette-smoking authorities and sitting in that chair in his bomber jacket with very cool “Zack Morris getting asked about shenanigans by Mr. Belding” posture, there I was, totally invested in his well-being and worried to my core that this will be going south for him soon. My man is facing potential heat from the CIA, his own intelligence agency, and the crime boss Dmitri ratted out. This will not end well. I know it. It will destroy me.

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