‘The Americans’ Series Finale: Noah Emmerich Talks Stan’s Shocking Decision
The Americans, FX’s riveting Cold War thriller with the heart of a family drama ended in the late hours of May 30, 2018, the way we thought it would. In other words, with unexpected twists and turns — and with plenty of open questions.
In the end, the survival and freedom of Philip, Elizabeth, and daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) all came down to longtime next door neighbor, FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich). Stan cornered the trio in a parking garage, aiming to take them in. For what seemed like an eternity, Philip used every one of his wiles to try to convince Stan — who, in another world, Rhys says, “would have been Philip’s best friend” — to let the family of spies go free.
Maybe it was the presence of Paige, the talk about younger brother Henry (Keidrich Sellati) who was probably closer to Stan than his parents, or the fact that Philip had been Stan’s best friend, but the agent couldn’t pull the trigger and the family drove away.
TV Insider spoke with Noah Emmerich about Stan’s big decision below.
In the end, Philip and Elizabeth’s lives came down to Stan. Why do you think he decided to let them go?
Noah Emmerich: The relationships he has with Philip and the rest of the family is incredibly complex. I will say, in the macro, it was a humanistic choice. It was the dominance of Stan’s humanity as a person of the Earth versus his role as an American federal agent serving his country. It may not be that he chose to let them go, but that he couldn’t do anything else. He may not have been able to physically overpower them or arrest them.
It was too conflicted for Stan. One of the areas the show is most interested in is who we are and questions of identity. How we relate to each other and how we treat each other and what we’re capable of and what we’re not capable of. It sort of touches upon all those issues in that one very loaded moment.
Would Stan have taken them in if they had cooperated and let him handcuff them?
He would have. They didn’t just surrender.. It forces Stan to make a deeper choice as he had when he transferred out of counterintelligence. The game was too costly, too high a price to pay. He’s pulled back into it, and here he is with the biggest decision of his life with the biggest cost. What he thinks of as his best friend and that family, how’s he going to impact them, and what’s he gonna do with that information now that he has it?
What did you think of Stan’s choice?
I loved it. I was really surprised, but I thought it was beautiful and poetic and human and very real. I was grateful for it.
Will he question his choice in years to come?
I’m sure. I think it will haunt him through the rest of his days. As will the entirety of these relationships.
Elizabeth, after all, did kill Americans — many innocent.
Yes, but she didn’t kill the kid, the film buff in the car, when you thought she would. It might be the first time she makes an operational error like that. All the characters, to some degree, are changing their willingness to participate in a system where they’re just following orders. They take more agency in their lives and question why and what they’re doing. Philip start doing that years ago and Elizabeth and Stan just started, as well.
Will Stan stay in the FBI?
I think he can because he got away with it, but he’s clearly gutted and his sense of identity is shattered. So how he’ll reconstitute is hard to predict.
Do you think his wife Renee (Laurie Holden) is a Soviet spy, as Philip intimated and some fans believe?
That’s certainly on the horizon for Stan. He’s going to look into it. After what’s happened, it will hard for him to regain trust.
Will he become Henry’s surrogate dad?
It seems that way. There’s real love there.
Do you expect debate over Stan’s actions in the finale?
I imagine there will be opposing opinions. Some people will think he’s a miserable failure at his job and others will be grateful. It all depends upon which perspective you’re looking at it from. If you just saw the headline Al Qaeda terrorist released by FBI because he liked them, you’d go bananas. We’d say, ‘Lock that guy up!’ The profound power and beauty of the show that they’ve written and that we’ve made together, id that we don’t see these people as archetypes. We see them as people inside and we relate to them and we cheer for them and we connect to them and we love them. So it’s not so black-and-white.
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