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. Mikhail Gorbachev (Last week: Unranked)
The thing about shows set in the past, at least the ones that try to maintain the general idea of historical accuracy, is that history itself ends up being a spoiler. So like, we know that Gorbachev does in fact come home from this summit, and we know that he stays in power beyond 1987, and we know that he’ll introduce glasnost in 1988. None of that is a secret. It’s all up on Wikipedia. You can Google it and everything.
The fun thing, though, is wondering if The Americans, a show that thus far has maintained that kind of historical accuracy (mostly), will hang a hard left in its final episodes ever and just have everything go to heck and have the Centre and the military overthrow him and go all The Man in the High Castle on us, but with the Cold War. It won’t happen, obviously, probably, but it’s wild to think about. I’m picturing Claudia taking over all of Russia and Putin never coming to power. That would be a twist.
9. Stavos (Last week: Unranked)
There was a time, not all that long ago, that telling Philip you know that he’s up to something in his back room would earn you a one-way ticket to Murdertown. This is a different Philip, though. A broken Philip. One who shows up at former employees’ doors to pour his heart out. One who looks like he might start crying at literally any moment. One who screams out cuss words at toy car races like an unhinged maniac. You can say whatever you want to this Philip. Stavos could have looked him in the eye and said “I know you are a spy, you little pee pants baby,” and Philip would have probably slumped his shoulders and been all “Yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry.” He’s like a handsome Eeyore.
So we don’t worry about Stavos getting killed. Or Stavos going to the authorities and getting the full Gennadi. No, we just worry because it can’t be easy for a man with a thick Russian accent to get a job in America in the middle of the Cold War, and we like Stavos and want him to be happy.
8. Stan (Last week: 1)
Let’s just skip over the thing where Renee is about to land a job at the FBI, provided she proves to be “a loyal American,” which was as close as this show has ever come to having a character look dead into the camera and wink at the audience. I’ve had it with her. Part of me hopes the show ends with Stan arresting Philip and then Renee shooting them both and pulling off her mask and revealing that she’s been Nina the whole time.
Let’s instead talk about the fact that he’s popping into Roy Rogers restaurants to question employees — and you are forgiven for not recognizing Curtis at first, because I did not either and I watch this show professionally — and show them pictures of his neighbors. I loved that conversation. It made sense to us because we have seasons worth of information, but pull a little context out and…
STAN: Do you remember working with a woman spy?
CURTIS: There was a real hot one with luxurious hair who smoked a lot of cigarettes.
STAN: That’s definitely my neighbor.
Stan is going to catch them or go completely insane.
7. Roy Rogers restaurants (Last week: Unranked)
Roy Rogers is about to go on a wild ride, man. In 1990, there were over 600 Roy Rogers locations. Today, there are under 50. In between, various franchises were sold to Hardee’s and Boston Market and Wendy’s and McDonald’s. I know this because I paused this episode dead in the middle and went to the Roy Rogers Wikipedia page, which contains all that information plus a section titled “1984 murder” plus this chunk of text, which reads like it was written by a bitter Roy Rogers megafan:
In 1990, Marriott sold the chain for $365 million to Hardee’s, a Southern chain seeking expansion into the Mid-Atlantic market again. Hardee’s converted the remaining non-franchised locations into Hardee’s restaurants, although many of the converted Hardee’s continued to offer Roy Rogers’ fried chicken. The conversion of the Roy Rogers chain caused a customer revolt and the units returned the Roy Rogers brand. The restaurants promoted new flame-broiled hamburgers, but they were not the same as the original Roy Rogers products and they later failed.
Online is wild.