The Americans: "I Did It The Way I Wanted."

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Last night's first season finale of The Americans saw the partial repair of one fractured family (the Jennings clan) and the further splintering of another (the Beemans). Phillip and Elizabeth failed in their objectives (meeting the Colonel -- we'll call that one a do-over -- and collecting the Weinberger recording), but found their relationship strengthened by the experience.

On the other hand, I fear Stan is about to enter a Very Bad Place.

We open with Stan (Noah Emmerich) questioning SDI insider Sanford Prince (Tim Hopper) following his deadbeat dad arrest. Prince isn't talking, at first, but Stan seems pretty confident he'll sing if they let him cool his heels. Sure enough, a few hours later and Prince is blathering about "immunity" and "$500,000." But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Looks like blushing bride Martha (Alison Wright) just got initiated into the Campus Crusade for Cunnilingus, at least that's the impression I get, given her reaction. Poor Phillip is dying, having to go from that to talking about wallpaper. Welcome to marriage, tovarisch.

Speaking of dying, Claudia (Margo Martindale) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) discuss the pending meeting with the Colonel (Prince's SDI contact). Claudia wants Phillip to get the recording of a hasty meeting between Sec. of Defense Weinberger and James Baker (White House Chief of Staff ... read a book). They go around and around for a bit (the Jenningses asked the KGB to have Claudia removed), and Claudia tells her she knows Elizabeth "better than she knows herself." Oh shit. Claudia's Elizabeth's mom?

Oh, not really. Elizabeth and Phillip discuss the probable doom coming down on them. She wants him to take the kids to Canada if the shit hits the fan, he protests. Their plan is to bug out once the Weinberger tape is picked up and the meeting with the Colonel takes place. If it goes tits up, Phillip is to head to the Great White North. He leaves, and she listens to a tape from her mother telling her how happy is she is "Nadezhda" has a family.



Arkady (Lev Gorn) lays it out for Nina (Annet Mahendru): she can return to Moscow for trial and she won't be executed, or she can continue meeting with Stan and feeding them everything he says. Arkady wants him turned, saying he's probably more vulnerable than he seems. As if to underline this, Stan's attempt to mend fences with still-pissed off Sandra (Susan Misner) via beach vacation falls on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, Claudia finishes the Patterson job by paralyzing him, then cutting his carotid artery and telling him how she and Zhukov met while he bleeds out. That's Siberia cold, baby. On the flip side, she tells Arkady the meeting with the Colonel feels wrong, even after he informs her she's been reassigned.

Agent Gaad (Richard Thomas) and Stan have set up the Weinberger/Baker meeting, intending to trap whatever Directorate S operative shows up to pick up the tape. Even "better," Stan tells Nina she's going to be exfiltrated -- after the FBI grabs the spies -- she rushed back to the Residence and reports to Arkady, who chooses an unorthodox method to send an abort code (spray painting official cars and sending them driving around town) for the meeting with the Colonel, which is of course not who the Feds are staking out.

Even worse, Phillip has gone to meet the Colonel, forcing Elizabeth to go pick up the tape. Thanks to Claudia's interrupting him and the Colonel, he manages to snatch up Elizabeth before she's arrested and they escape, but Elizabeth takes a bullet. Nina manages to sell it to a demoralized Stan that it totally wasn't her that threw the monkey wrench in the works before seducing him in his weakened state. Operation Bone-a-Stan is proceeding according to plan.

In the season's final scenes, Prince dishes on the Colonel, while Nina gives Arkady a file on Stan. And Paige (Holly Taylor) -- staying at the Beemans with Henry while Mom and Dad are "away" -- snoops around the Jennings family basement, obviously suspecting mom of ... something. Play us out, Peter Gabriel.

Strong first season. I look forward to the next, where we'll see more of Stan's steady decline, Nina's asserting power, and Phillip and Elizabeth dealing both with nosy teens and the pesky matter of Phillip's *other* marriage. Also, I can't believe I was rooting for the fucking Russkies at the end there. I must turn in my Miracle on Ice DVD as punishment.

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