SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the series finale of “The Americans” that aired on Thursday.
“We were nervous that we were never going to get it because, really, the whole finale — therefore the whole series — depended on it working,” said Joe Weisberg, one of the showrunners. “If it wasn’t believable … we were screwed.”
During Wednesday’s screening of the series finale and FYC panel, moderated by Variety‘s Cynthia Littleton, Weisberg and the rest of the “Americans” team discussed the show’s ending at length — particularly a scene in which FBI agent Stan Beeman, played by Noah Emmerich, holds his longtime friends, the Jennings, at gunpoint after finally discovering that they are Russian spies.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure on that scene,” Emmerich told Variety on the red carpet. “Maybe, in a way, the most pressure on any scene I’ve ever filmed, just because of all the time that went into earning that scene.”
Matthew Rhys, who plays Philip Jennings, was also daunted by the script, which tasked his character with convincing the trained spy hunter, and his best friend, to let him and his family escape.
“It’s like being given a 747 (airplane), and going, ‘Right, land this,'” he joked during the panel. “How? Where? It’s too pivotal. I overthought all the choices.”
When it came to filming heart-wrenching goodbye scenes, however, Rhys and Keri Russell, who plays matriarch Elizabeth Jennings, said the filming experience was not quite as moving, despite knowing the show was coming to a close.
“It wasn’t as emotional as I thought because it was usually around 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning, and there was a snowstorm,” Rhys told Variety. “It strips away any emotion or sentimentality when all you want to do is sleep or get warm.”
But watching them back for the first time, Russell said those moments in which the Jennings must part with their loved ones felt like a just way to end their story — though she admitted the finale is one of the only episodes she’s actually seen (“It was okay,” she joked).
“You’re watching these characters, and you want them to sort of pay in some way,” Russell said. “You made them pay in the worst possible way — in the most damaging way — and that’s what’s so good about it. I just think it was kind of pitch-perfect for the show.”
As of Wednesday night, “The Americans” had officially come to an end, however, on the red carpet, some of the cast entertained buzz around a potential spinoff starring Holly Taylor, who plays the Jennings’ daughter — and later Elizabeth’s spy protegé, Paige.
“Something I would definitely like to see is how Paige transitions from working with her mom 24/7 to working on her own,” said Keidrich Sellati, who plays Paige’s younger brother, Henry. “If Henry is introduced into the show, I would like to see how he has his relationship with Stan and see how he grows up without his parents, knowing that they were Russian spies and left him behind.”
Taylor, who has been following the fandom’s call for a Paige spy drama on Twitter, is pleased with fans’ devotion to the show and to her character.
“I’m all for it,” Taylor said. “The way it ends, it kind of just looks like she’s going to become an alcoholic somewhere by herself, so I don’t really know where that takes her, but I’m sure she’ll make a good future for herself.”
But should there be an “Americans” offshoot starring Paige or anyone else, it won’t come from showrunners Weisberg and Joel Fields, who agreed any continuation of the Jennings’ stories past the finale would be unnecessary.
“I think the story’s told — I think we finished it,” Fields said. “We’ll let tonight bring the curtain down.”