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The Americans - Series Finale - Post Mortem Interviews

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I've compiled a list of great interviews from a variety of great publications, please click the links were appropriate to read the entire interviews for the series finale, only a question or two are shared here.

Uproxx Interview

The show doesn’t end with Philip and Elizabeth dead or arrested, and they get to go home, albeit without the kids. What was it about this particular set of circumstances that felt right to you as the way to end the show?

Weisberg: There’s a true story about a couple of illegals, I think from the ’50s or ’60s, who at the end of their assignment came home with their 10-year-old boy, who they had raised in France. And when they landed at the airport in Moscow was the first time they told their son who they really were. He didn’t speak a word of Russian. As far as he knew, he was French. And he was 10 years old and his world fell apart at that moment. And so did the parents’. Their whole family was destroyed. And it was interesting when we heard that true story, because you realized the way that family was ruined without anybody being killed or anybody being arrested. It was very much emotionally true to our series. We didn’t think that we’d model our ending after that. But we understood an ending like that was kind of close in spirit to what our show was about. An ending that really had things landing in the emotional realm of the family’s story could be as devastating as any kind of story where somebody got killed or arrested. And in a certain way, more devastating. Because everybody’s living on to kind of meet their fate.

You said before that there was a version where one kid went with them and one kid didn’t. And one of the more shocking moments of the finale is Paige is suddenly there on the train platform and not on the train with them. How did you come to that decision?

Fields: We just ran a bunch of different alternatives. I remember we just ran the alternative with them taking Henry and not taking Paige. With taking Paige but not taking Henry. This was the one that we cooked up early on, but we really tried to run through all the iterations to see what would be emotionally impactful. And from a technical standpoint, the train was a late-breaking development, because we were just figuring out how they would best exit the country. For a while, they were going to leave through the Mexican border in a car and one of them on foot. Then we had an airplane at one point. So we played with it at a story level; it was a bunch of options.

Collider Interview

“It’s sort of interesting because, you know, what is left you don’t know really how it will work out,” Rhys said. “Ultimately they’re the only allies in each other that they have, that someone else who understands this incredible journey they’ve been on. Therefore they do need each other in that respect.”

Russell added a more hopeful note, saying that in discussions that were had about the character, “Elizabeth sort of leaving the system and going rogue and going off on her own was in a way choosing Philip and the relationship. And I would argue that they were inching along toward that past the whole way. You know, they were always sort of taking steps away from the center and getting married in private and telling each other secrets they weren’t supposed to tell and that bond was getting much stronger than I think and the level of intimacy much more than just average operational, you know, relationship.”

Vulture Interview

When I asked her where she thinks Paige probably is five to ten years after the events of the finale, she had an immediate answer.

“I think she’s probably not really talking to her parents, only concerned about Henry, probably staying as far away from the U.S. government as possible,” she said. “I don’t think she would even want to have a job in the State Department like she was planning on, because it’s like all that has kind of ruined her life in a way. Maybe she wants to get away from it – become an author of some spy thriller novel and just drink her vodka alone, with some cats. She probably has some cats.”

NY Times Interview

What also makes it relatable is that if you are a parent, your kids are going to eventually grow up and move out. This was an incredibly wrenching version of that.

RUSSELL And to think that those are her last moments with those kids. The last moments are Paige calling Elizabeth a whore, and then Elizabeth saying, “No, you can’t bring anything. We’re leaving right now. No, we’re going to leave your brother.” Just this massive panic and anxiety. That’s the world you’ve given them, and that’s what you’re going to leave her with. It’s so [expletive] up. And Henry, they were trying to leave him in this safe space. Leave him with his friends, where he’s happy and successful. He was outside all of it, and we haven’t messed him up. But we abandon him. It’s so awful. So you can’t win on any level. That’s why it’s so satisfying and heartbreaking at the same time.

Variety Interview

Fields and Weisberg went with U2’s soaring 1987 hit “With or Without You,” but the choice was not obvious or immediate. The showrunners are mum to say which other songs lost out, but there were many and Weisberg knows someone will eventually make a YouTube smash cut featuring potential alternatives.

Weisberg and Fields have heard many such spinoff ideas — from Paige working in the state department to Henry as a hockey star to Stan following up to see if FBI officers saw him interrogate the Jenningses in that parking garage — but they have no plans to bring any of them to fruition.

“It really feels like this one wants to be fully told at this point — it feels like that kind of story,” Fields says. “It does seem like the story is over to us.”

THR Interview

What did you think when reading the words you had to say for the first time?

At first, I didn’t think it seemed fair the first time I read it. I was thinking that I would never, ever say those words to my mother in real life, so I thought it was very different. But then I understood the circumstances that Paige is in and how much is kept from her. She’s really trusted her mother all this time and she’s asked her this question straight out before, if she does participate in these kinds of activities and she lied to her face. I think that it was fair for her to feel betrayed and lied to at this stage.

When do you think she actually made that decision?

I’m sure she’s thinking of it the entire time. But I think once they’re at the train station and they’re getting on the train and she has some breathing room from her mom and dad and figure things out for herself, I think she took advantage of that moment of privacy and made her decision for good.

Deadline Interview

In regards to why Stan didn’t fire, and why one Jennings spouse didn’t jump in front of the other, Fields says, “Killing one of them off, wasn’t in the cards. This is the ending we’ve been steering toward for some time. It always felt right and viable. We experimented with a lot of creative and different endings.”

“Once Paige’s parents left, their identities are blown, and there’s no real way for her to carry on as a spy with her parents exposed,” says Fields, “She’d be under so much suspicion, she couldn’t carry on.”

EW Interview

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your reaction to reading the garage scene in the script?

NOAH EMMERICH: I was really, happily surprised. I thought it was very beautiful and humane and poetic, and very Americans. This whole endeavor has been, in a way, about excavating the humanity in people, inside these roles that we play in this world, and these political divides and the socio-economical divides that we have in this world. I felt like it was really true to that dynamic. I found it very moving and very beautiful.

THR Interview

The whole storyline of Philip and Elizabeth having to leave their kids behind, why did you decide that was the right way to go?

Weisberg: We're always guided by what feels like it would happen. So a lot of things that are happening in the story are engines that we put in motion and then it feels to us like the story takes off on its own and we try to follow it. That didn't mean that it couldn't go off in one direction or another, but we always try to stick with what feels most real and most true to us. So if you think about what would happen as they were leaving and how would they feel about their kids, what would their kids do, these seemed to us like the most likely events to unfold. And then we have to ask ourselves certain questions like, "Does it then make for an ending that is both true and real but also satisfying?" And we felt that it had to be tragic, so, "Is it tragic and does it work on all of the levels we need it to work?" And it seemed to us that the answer was "Yes." We were devastated in the right way.

What about Renee? Why did you decide to leave that open-ended as to whether or not she's a KGB agent?

Fields: I think for us, we were really thinking about what our characters know, so to us we weren't leaving it open-ended. Philip had information and he made a decision about what he could do with the information that he had but in order to get any other answer, we would have had to create more plot and give answers to the characters that they didn't have and that seemed unimportant to us at this moment in the story. What seemed important was what the characters would do with what they knew rather than adding information to the mix.

EW Interview

In other words, the finale wrapped up quietly. And for Russell and Rhys, that’s exactly how their final day on set turned out to be as well. “I think I was just sort of stunned, you know what I mean?” Russell says of finishing her final scene. “I kind of get quiet in those moments. I don’t give a great rousing speech or anything like that. That’s not my speed. I tend to go internal.”

Then again, no one really had the energy to stick around for a speech or a proper goodbye. The night the cast filmed their last scene happened to be another frigid shoot in New York. “It was about 5 a.m., and it was starting to get light,” Rhys recalls. “There was also a storm, so everyone was incredibly cold, incredibly keen to get home. Everyone was so tired. As soon as they said, ‘That’s a wrap,’ everyone grabbed [their things] and ran to their trucks and their cars, and that was it. The final two episodes were difficult to shoot.”

EW Interview

Speaking of heartbreaking shots, why did you choose to show Paige drinking vodka back at Claudia’s? Why not end with her on the platform?

WEISBERG: There wasn’t a particularly conscious construction there as much as we were looking for one more emotional moment. We felt like it was one thing to leave her in that moment, in the decision, and yet another to see her sometime later living with it, as she’s going to have to for the rest of her life.

THR Interview

When do you think Philip decided that Henry should stay behind?

Matthew Rhys: That's a good question. I think the germ of that [idea] was planted a long time ago in Philip. I think that kind of question and indeed everything that entails the fleeing has been thought through so many times — the execution of what they do, where they'll go, how they'll do it, etc. I don't think Philip had a conversation with Elizabeth about him not coming but I think it's been something that had been growing inside of him for quite some time the more he sees him flourish in school. It goes back to season one, episode one where this is what he wanted for them, for them both really. And he sees that it's still a possibility for Henry, and it's kind of the ultimate sacrifice. He wants him to grow up safe in this country with having all the opportunities he never had and free from his own baggage. So I think it's been germinating in him for a long time, but obviously he tells it to Elizabeth in that moment.

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