The series finale of The Americans was always going to be bittersweet. For 75 episodes spread over six seasons, the FX show did its best to avoid television convention, favoring methodical and realistic storytelling over spectacle and fan service. That slow-burn approach took a toll on viewership, but those who stuck with the saga about the Jennings, a seemingly all-American suburban family who also happen to be undercover KGB spies, could claim (and very often did, to whoever would listen) that they were witnessing one of the finest dramas in TV history play out.
While no series' legacy is secured until its last episode has aired, it would have taken a true stinker of a finale to tarnish a program that's been this consistently great throughout its run. The incisive performances from Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, the incredible soundtrack, the allure of espionage and sexual betrayal, the oddly timely political aspects, the scene-stealers (e.g., Martha, the mail robot) -- The Americans rarely disappointed. And I'm relieved to report that "START," the extra-long episode that capped off the Jennings' story, leaves the air with as much oomph as it has sustained since day one.