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Tear Jerker / The Americans

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  • Philip listens to an audio recording of Elizabeth having sex with one of her honey trap targets and obviously does not like what he's hearing. Later he is told by Gregory that he and Elizabeth have had an ongoing affair for years and that it has only recently ended, and it's clear from the look on Philip's face that he is deeply hurt by this revelation. From the first couple of episodes it's clear that while Elizabeth has always viewed her marriage to Philip as part of her assignment, Philip has actually been in love with Elizabeth for a long time.
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  • After Philip and Elizabeth are kidnapped and tortured by the KGB during the mole hunt, Philip figures out that the reason Elizabeth was not tortured as harshly as he himself is because she told the KGB that Philip considered defecting. When he confronts her about it she says that she only told the KGB that Philip was too comfortable in America. The look of betrayal on Philip's face is heartbreaking. Basically, he just found out that his wife trusts the KGB more than she trusts him.
  • Philip and Elizabeth are in a fight following the KGB kidnapping/torture incident. Then Philip is sent to New York to assist his old girlfriend Irina on a mission. While in New York Philip and Irina have sex, but he gets a call right after that reconciles him with Elizabeth. And when Philip returns home to Elizabeth he denies that anything happened between him and Irina. Later on Claudia tells Elizabeth the truth about what happened in New York. Elizabeth is heartbroken by the news, and it makes her decide to separate from Philip even though he begs her to give him another chance.
  • Anton Baklanov's exfiltration. A Jewish refusenik himself, he gets betrayed by the very Israelis who promised to protect him.
    • A particularly tear-jerking moment happens when Baklanov is in the car with Philip. He breaks down sobbing while he pitifully begs to be let go, knowing that he'll never see his family again. He then accuses Philip of being a monster whose humanity has been trained out of him. Philip is unable to say anything in his own defense and looks disgusted by what he's doing.
  • Lucia is forced to murder the congressional aide she's become involved with as a way of covering her tracks. But this is complicated by the fact that she has begun to care about him. She decides to do it by letting him inject himself with a lethal amount of heroin. After the injection she asks him in there's anything he'd be willing to die for, and he mentions his mother. As the drugs kick in and he starts vomiting and convulsing, Lucia begins to cry and tells him to think of his mother.
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  • After Lucia attempts to kill Larrick, Elizabeth is forced to decide which of the two of them is more valuable to Russia. As fond as she is of Lucia, Larrick is vital to one of her operations, and thus Elizabeth watches as he chokes Lucia to death. She spends the rest of the episode feeling terrible about it.
  • After Henry is caught breaking into his neighbors' house to play their Intellivision video game, Philip and Elizabeth go into their room to talk to him. Henry tells them he knows what he did was wrong and that he hates that his neighbors and parents think he's a criminal but he's still a good person. As he begins to cry, Phillip and Elizabeth look at each other realizing their son is tortured by guilt the way they often feel being spies. Henry starts saying he's "good" over and over, sobbing on his bed.
  • The Jennings kidnap a man who services the septic system of one of the Martial Eagle camps so they can use his truck to enter the camp. After they get the info they need, Elizabeth wants to kill the man but Philip doesn't allow her, and they leave him tied to a tree in the middle of the woods so that they can release him later. After they pull off their operation they return to the man, only to discover that he died either of exposure to the elements or suffocation from his gag.
  • Philip, in a dark mood after recently killing innocent civilians, becomes enraged at Paige for giving 600 dollars she saved to a Christian youth group. He yells "YOU RESPECT JESUS AND NOT US?!" at her and tears pages from her Bible, causing her to cry.
  • Philip plays a secret audio recording to Martha of her boss Supervisor Gaad calling her "ugly" behind her back. In reality Gaad was defending her to his colleagues who were insulting her, but Philip edited the tape to make it sound like he was agreeing with them just so she would turn on her boss.
  • Philip convinces one of his recruits, a sexy blonde named Annelise, to seduce a Pakistani intelligence officer so that she can obtain information from him. After Annelise's first sexual encounter with the Pakistani, she returns to the hotel room where Philip has been monitoring her from and unleashes a torrent of anger and regret at him for basically pimping her out. Philip subdues her and calms her down by saying that asking "the woman he loves" to give her body up for a cause greater than either of them is something that he never takes lightly. This scene is heartbreaking because it's obvious that Philip is really talking about Elizabeth, and because Annelise had to suffer because of Philip's jealousy over other men having sex with Elizabeth.
  • Stan offers to move out the house for Sandra. Sandra declines, and instead says she'll be the one who moves out. Neither of them has anything left to fight with; both of them know that their marriage is over.
  • Fred completes his mission of gathering the sample of the radar-proof paint and arranging for Philip and Elizabeth to pick it up... and then bleeds to death, because he got shot. Poor Fred...
  • Larrick's death at the end of season two. He came so close to stopping the Jenningses once and for all, and to making up for having betrayed his country and his brothers-in-arms. Then they kill him.
  • Rather than betraying his country by giving the Soviets the Echo code, Stan leaves a note at the dead drop that simply says "Tell Nina I'm sorry." As Nina is taken away from the Soviet Embassy to be sent back to Moscow for trial, Stan watches from a car parked across the street. As Nina is driven away, she notices Stan and the two of them share one last look at each other.
    • Another sad part of this scene is watching Oleg. He can't bear to watch as the woman he's come to love is taken away, where she'll face trial and almost certainly be executed for her treason.
  • * Phillip and Elizabeth sneak into a warehouse late at night to plant a bug on an FBI mail robot being repaired, Elizabeth comes upon the mother of the owner who came in to the office after hours to pay the bills. Elizabeth knows she has to kill the Innocent Bystander who is in her 80s. The woman tries to stall and gain sympathy by telling Elizabeth about her son and her late husband who fought in World War II. Even though she starts to feel sympathy Elizabeth still forces her to overdose on her heart medication, causing her to die a painful death.
  • In "Stingers" after being encouraged by Pastor Tim, when Elizabeth and Phillip come home, Paige confronts them and demands the truth. She knows her family isn't normal, that they have no relatives and her parents receive phone calls and leave the house in the middle of the night. Are they in the witness protection program? Drug dealers? Is she adopted? Illegal aliens? What? Her parents are stunned and speechless. Finally Phillip nods to Elizabeth and they tell Paige they are from the Soviet Union and "work for their country". Paige realizes they are spies and Phillip tells her she can't reveal their secret to Henry or anyone else or they'd go to jail. Paige is shocked by all this information and goes to her room leaving Phillip and Elizabeth are left unsure of what happens next.
  • In the season 3 finale, Paige is so devastated by her family's secret life (especially being expected to lie about visiting her grandmother in Russia) that she breaks down and tells Pastor Tim that her parents are Russians. While this is happening, Phillip is expressing his complete disillusionment with his job and Elizabeth has completely failed to react to them both, engrossed (and repulsed) by Ronald Reagan's Evil Empire speech.
  • In season 4's "Chloramphenicol" Nina's death was so quick and perfunctory it seemed especially cruel and dehumanizing.
  • For all intents and purposes, Paige gets press-ganged by her own mother into playing informant on Pastor Tim and Alice.
  • The Burov family mourning after their son is killed in the Afghan War. His mother has sunk into deep depression and can barely hold it together long enough to scatter dirt on her son's coffin. Oleg breaks down sobbing in arms of one of his brother's comrades, who doesn't look much older than a teenager and is the only soldier to show up. One of the most heartbreaking is Igor Burov. He is introduced as a hardened Soviet official with little patience for people's feelings, but he fights back tears as he fires off an unsanctioned three volley salute after Soviet officials deny those killed in the Afghan War military honors in order to save face when reporting casualties.
  • The FBI were close to finding out about Martha's husband "Clark" and so she has to be taken out of the country by the KGB, for a life alone in the Soviet Union. This leads to a Trauma Conga Line
    • She tells Clark that she'll be able to survive life in Russia as long as they're together, although both he and the audience know that's not possible.
    • She makes one last phone call to her parents, tearfully saying she loves them and goodbye.
    • She leaves on a plane thinking Clark loves only her and that he might wait for her.
  • Gaad after finding out his secretary has been spying for the KGB all this time, right under his nose, realizes his career is effectively over.
  • Finding no other way to blackmail him, Elizabeth drugs Young Hee's husband Don and makes it look like they had sex. She comes home knowing that her friendship with Young-Hee, even though it was for a mission is now effectively over. She sadly tells Phillip "I'm going to miss her."
  • Elizabeth listening to Young-Hee's answering machine message. Young Hee sounds like she's crying, saying she doesn't understand why she hasn't called her or where she is and that her husband is acting strangely.
  • Arkady after he is declared the fourth season finale's eponymous "persona non grata" and given 48 hours to the leave the country. Arkady is arguably one of the most morally upright characters, (See the Only Sane Man entry on his character page) yet he takes all the heat when the FBI confronts him with a typed up list of the many, many crimes committed by his less scrupulous comrades over the course of the series. Later drinking alone in his office, he gazes up at a bust of Lenin then back down at the list of crimes, his belief in the justice of the country he will soon be returned to shaken.
    • Gaad's death though, the one that was the final straw for the FBI, Arkady did actually have some responsibility for. His death was unintentional though and when accused of his murder by Gaad's replacement, there's a look of remorse on his face.
  • William, the illegal working in the bioweapons research lab, infects himself with the weaponized Lassa fever, leaving the FBI no choice but to lock him up in a secure hospital rated to contain the biohazard. He dies alone in his bed and mourned by no one, with only Agents Beeman and Aderholt behind a thick glass partition to witness his final moments.
  • In the season 5 premiere, the Jennings and a team of other assets (which include Hans, the young South African informant they've been training since season 3) locate and unearth where the government buried William. The Jennings open the metal coffin and cut out and bag a piece of his leg as a sample of the virus. They hand it up to Hans who accidentally falls into the grave and cuts his hand over William's body, possibly becoming infected. He says he doesn't feel anything but Elizabeth has no choice but to shoot him in the head as he tries to climb out, placing him in the coffin with William and closing it.
  • Seeing Martha in the Soviet market is both a relief for viewers, knowing that she's alright and sad that she's now living alone in a place where she doesn't know the language and dealing with the hardship of life in the USSR.
  • Oleg believing Stan betrayed him when he was being blackmailed by the CIA into working for them when in reality Stan was against it the whole time and threatened to expose to the press that the FBI killed a member of the Soviet Embassy unless they leave him alone.
  • Paige, feeling so much pressure of keeping her parents' secret, can't keep lying to her boyfriend Matthew (who is Stan Beeman's son), so she breaks up with him.
  • In the opening of the final-season premiere, we watch as Elizabeth now runs operations completely solo while Phillip tends to the travel agency. While Phillip is shown clearly doing well in his new position, Elizabeth looks increasingly exhausted and lonely.
  • The death of Erica Haskard in "The Summit". Glenn tried to give her a relatively painless death via morphine overdose, but she'd developed a tolerance, and thus Elizabeth uses her own, far less pleasant methods. For added tragedy, Glenn insists on giving Elizabeth one of Erica's paintings. Elizabeth takes it home, tries to light it on fire, can't bring herself to do it, tries to stash the painting somewhere discreet... and then takes the painting out again and burns it. And this begins her Heel Realization.
  • In the series finale "START" The painful 10 minute scene in the garage between Stan, Philip and Elizabeth with Paige fearfully watching. Stan, unable to come to terms with each betrayal he realizes he's been put through (and if Paige ever hurt his son when they were dating), with Phillip admitting - probably truthfully - that Stan was the best friend he ever had. It ends with Stan lowering his gun to let the three flee the country... with the realization it was both the best thing AND the worst thing he could do.
    • During Phillip's trip into McDonalds before reaching the Canadian border, he pauses at the door to watch another American family sitting at their table, sharing a dinner and enjoying themselves, a painful reminder of a life that's going away from him now.
    • The phone call to Henry where neither parent can admit they are abandoning their own son for his own safety.
    • That Wham Shot of Paige standing at the train stop, letting go of her parents, with U2's "With Or Without You" hitting the perfect crescendo as all Elizabeth can do is stare out the window in shock. And Phillip's immediate response seeing Paige outside is to rush to Elizabeth's side, leaving them sitting together but unable to cry or express their loss.
    • This final exchange between Philip and Elizabeth, both on the edge of tears as they struggle to accept the fact that they will probably never see their children again, punctuated with long periods of silence between each sentence, and accompanied by one of the most tragic, yet beautiful pieces of soundtrack in recent memory:
      Elizabeth: They'll be Ok.
      Philip: They'll remember us. They're not kids anymore. We raised them.
      Elizabeth: Yes.
      Philip: It feels strange.
      Elizabeth: Привыкнем.note 

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