TIME Television

The Unbelievable Just Happened on Grey’s Anatomy

ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" - Season Ten
Danny Feld—ABC/Getty Images

Did that really just happen on Grey’s Anatomy?

In a shocking twist, the beloved character Dr. Derek Shepherd, aka McDreamy, was killed off in Thursday’s episode of the ABC drama. The development is particularly surprising because Patrick Dempsey, 49, signed a two-year contract extension last year that would have kept him on Grey’s through a 12th season.

The episode, however, made it clear that Dempsey’s run on the show that made him a worldwide star is definitely over.

“Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character – for Meredith, for me and for the fans. I absolutely never imagined saying goodbye to our ‘Mcdreamy,’ ” creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes said in a statement. “Patrick Dempsey’s performance shaped Derek in a way that I know we both hope became a meaningful example – happy, sad, romantic, painful and always true – of what young women should demand from modern love.

“His loss will be felt by all. Now, Meredith and the entire Grey’s Anatomy family are about to enter uncharted territory as we head into this new chapter of her life. The possibilities for what may come are endless. As Ellis Grey would say … the carousel never stops turning.”

Derek’s death wasn’t that surprising given all the bread crumbs that ABC and Rhimes have been dropping over the last few weeks. First, the drama began to foreshadow the possibility by having him miss a meeting in Washington, D.C., which worried his wife Meredith (Ellen Pompeo).

Then, promos began airing after last week’s episode that seemed to suggest that Derek was involved in a fiery car wreck. After helping victims of a car accident, Derek ended up getting into one himself and was taken to a hospital that didn’t follow proper protocol to save him.

This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com

TIME Television

Can Science Conquer Late-Night TV?

Smart talk: Tyson and guests in a season one episode
National Geographic Channels/Scott Gries Smart talk: Tyson and guests in a season one episode

A new talk show starring Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a play in an unlikely time slot

Carl Sagan had it easy. The famed astronomer, author and TV host, who died in 1996, may have mastered one of the most head-crackingly complex disciplines in all of the sciences, but when it came to explaining its mysteries to everyone else, he didn’t have to look hard for an audience. Space is intoxicating, Sagan was engaging and there just weren’t that many distractions that would keep people from tuning into his Cosmos series or reading his books.

Not so today. With 500 cable channels and an infinity of Internet options all vying for attention, customers are harder to come by. And too many of the ones who are left are being picked off by the forces of informational darkness—the anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers and moon-landing hoaxsters all peddling their chosen rubbish.

It’s those challenges that astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium and host of the 21st-century reboot of Sagan’s Cosmos, must face every day. He’s done an impressive job so far, wooing science lovers with his books and TV appearances and Star Talk radio show. Now he’s stepping up his game, bringing Star Talk to TV in a frank bid for the minds and eyeballs of science’s non-lovers, non-believers and can’t-be-bothereds too.

Everything about the new Star Talk—which premiered on April 20 on the National Geographic Channel with a first-season, 10-episode run already in the can—breaks the science show rules. It ditches the familiar format of smart guy prowling a set with zillions of special effects to make the technical stuff go down easy in favor of a talk show recorded before a live audience in New York City’s Rose Center for Earth and Space, home to the Hayden. His co-host is a rotating cast of comedians, and his guest is typically a non scientist—Star Trek‘s George Takei, sex columnist Dan Savage, Interstellar director Christopher Nolan, President Jimmy Carter.

Much more daring—or much more reckless, depending on how you look at these things—is the show’s time slot: Monday nights at 11 p.m. EDT, when both basic cable and the broadcast networks bring their comedic sluggers to the plate. But the audience for the likes of Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon is exactly the demo Tyson is after, even if he’ll have to work hard to win them.

“We recognize candidly that a scientist alone would not have served as a draw for the audience to come to the show,” he says. “The icon or the celebrity is the excuse to talk about the science and we try to blend that with the pop culture and the comedy.”

It’s a mix that can work in both predictable and unpredictable ways. No surprise if you find Nolan talking wormholes and time dilation and the other cosmological puzzlers that made Interstellar go. No surprise either if Takei talks about the science of Star Trek and how much of it can—or already has—come true. But it’s refreshing if Carter does not have to talk about the Middle East peace process and instead can be allowed to show off the nuclear engineering cred he earned in the Navy. Something similar is true of Savage talking sex while constrained by the guardrails of an academic anthropologist who specializes in the neuroanatomy of love appearing with him.

The premiere episode, with Takei, also featured a scientist, astrophysicist Charles Liu of the State University of New York College of Staten Island. Judging by that first installment, the show could use a little tweaking—or perhaps relaxing—with everyone on the panel working a little less hard to fill their assigned roles and instead just allowing the conversation to go wherever it wants to go.

Future episodes could push the envelope of the new format further—perhaps even until it rips. Tyson speaks openly about the possibility of having both Charlie Sheen and, discomfitingly, Jenny McCarthy on the show. “Sheen was in the museum and asked some very deep philosophical questions about the universe,” he says. “Jenny McCarthy had me on her show and has a very curious mind about the universe. If she brings up vaccines I’d be all over her, but only if it goes there.”

Guests like that may just be a ratings play. Nothing could make Sheen’s gyros go haywire like talking cosmology—and you wouldn’t want to miss that. But there may be tactical genius behind bringing on someone like McCarthy. Scientific know-nothingism is a modern scourge, and an inquisitive but academically rigorous interlocutor like Tyson might be the kind of person who can school McCarthy in the difference between finding things out and making things up.

“Is science a satchel of facts that is poured into your head or is it an understanding of emergent truths?” he asks—clearly knowing his answer. “Science literacy is not just what you know but how your brain is wired for thought. If you can achieve that, you never have to ask if the moon landings are real again.”

Tyson is willing to take a flier on the possibility that viewers in the playtime slot of late-night TV might be willing to invest an hour in getting smarter. If he doesn’t succeed, it may say more about us than him.

Read next: Watch Neil deGrasse Tyson Explain the Meaning of Life

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TIME Television

David Letterman Farewell Special to Air in CBS Primetime

David Letterman in New York City on March 2, 2015.
Kevin Mazur—SeriousFun Children's Network/Getty Images David Letterman in New York City on March 2, 2015.

Ray Romano will host

CBS announced Thursday that it will air David Letterman: A Life on Television in primetime, a little over two weeks before Letterman signs off from The Late Show for good. The 90-minute retrospective, set for May 4, will be hosted by Ray Romano.

According to the press release, A Life on Television will “mine the video vault”—meaning fans can expect interview highlights, a look at Letterman’s best Top Ten Lists, Stupid Pet and Human Tricks and more. Letterman’s take on world events, including his Sept. 17, 2001 broadcast following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will also be featured on the show.

Letterman’s last Late Show is set for May 20. Guests expected to appear during his final run of shows include George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern and Tom Hanks.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Television

James May Says He Won’t Return to Top Gear Without Jeremy Clarkson

James May interview
Ian West—PA Wire File photo dated 10/12/12 of James May, who has ruled out returning to Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson.

Without Clarkson, Top Gear would be "awks"

Top Gear presenter James May has ruled out a return to the BBC show without Jeremy Clarkson on board, saying a show without the original presenter would be “lame.”

May called a return alongside fellow co-host Richard Hammond with a new presenter in place of Clarkson a “non-starter,” the Guardian reports. Clarkson’s attack in March on a producer got him axed from the show.

“Me and Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter, it just wouldn’t work. That would be lame, or ‘awks’ as young people say,” May said.

“It has to be the three of us. You can’t just put a surrogate Jeremy in and expect it to carry on. It would be forced. I don’t believe they would be stupid enough to try that.”

Clarkson was fired from Top Gear, which the trio has hosted for 12 years, after a ‘fracas’ in which he physically and verbally attacked producer Oisin Tymon, leaving Tymon to seek hospital treatment.

[The Guardian]

TIME Pop Culture

How Well Do You Know Full House?

Can't wait for the Full House remake that's coming to Netflix? See how much you remember about the Tanner family

Read next: 17 Burning Questions the Full House Revival Must Answer

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TIME Television

Mr. Feeny and Eric Matthews Coming to Girl Meets World in May

Will Friedle (L) as Eric Matthews and William Daniels (R) as Mr. Feeny in "Boy Meets World."
ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images Will Friedle (L) as Eric Matthews and William Daniels (R) as Mr. Feeny in "Boy Meets World."

No, Mr. Feeny won't be a ghost this time around

If the Girl Meets World universe has so far felt incomplete to you, relief may be on the horizon: Mr. Feeny and Eric Matthews are coming to the show in May.

William Daniels (George Feeny), who first appeared in the pilot as a ghost-like figure, will show up on May 11 in the season two premiere“Girl Meets Gravity.” The episode will see Riley and Maya with a new teacher whose identity has yet to be revealed. Calling Mr. Feeny!

Daniels will return on May 14 for “Girl Meets Pluto,” which will also feature Shawn (played by Rider Strong). In the nostalgia-tinged episode, Cory, Topanga, and Shawn take Riley and Maya to Philadelphia to dig up a time capsule they buried 15 years ago.

Eric (Will Friedle) will make his much-anticipated GMW debut May 15 in the aptly titled, “Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels.” Playing mediator between Riley and Maya when they get into a massive fight, the role isn’t new for him: In Boy Meets World, he tried to prevent a falling out with his friends after a prank goes too far. Then, in an imagined future, he abandoned society and took the name of Plays With Squirrels. Here’s a refresher:

Friedle and Daniels join fellow BMW alums Trina McGee (Shawn’s ex-girlfriend Angela), Blake Clark (Chet Hunter), and Anthony Tyler Quinn(Mr. Turner), who are also making the jump to the spinoff series. The show’s second season also comes with brand new episode each night for the entire first week.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME technology

A Decade of YouTube Has Changed the Future of Television

Technology-Japan-IT-copyright-compnay-Yo
Samantha Sin—AFP/Getty Images www.youtube.com displayed on Aug. 2, 2006

YouTube's first video was uploaded on April 23, 2005

In the 1980s and ‘90s, anyone could turn on their local public access television channel and find moms doing yoga, talk shows focused on beer and local sports, or even strippers and porn stars cavorting between ads for 1-900 numbers (thanks for everything, Robin Byrd). Public access was revolutionary in that it gave everyone access to a broadcast platform—but, sadly, that platform could only reach those with the same cable provider. Neither international fame nor anything close to fortune ever came for those who were the superstars of the medium.

All that changed with YouTube.

The video sharing service posted its first video on April 23, 2005. (That video, Me at the Zoo, has subsequently been viewed 19 million times in 10 years.) YouTube changed everything about television, from public access to major networks. In one decade, YouTube has developed a culture of its own and is a threat to the conventional business model of television—but not in the way world expected.

YouTube was originally created to make it easy to upload videos and post them on blogs, a medium that was then pushing past the fringes of the Internet and into the mainstream. Quickly, YouTube became a destination of its own, one that traditional television producers thought they could harness to tap into the growing power of the Internet. The first clip I ever remember going to YouTube specifically to watch was Lazy Sunday, the first “Digital Short” produced by Saturday Night Live. It went on YouTube, iTunes and a few other websites on Dec. 17, 2005 and was perhaps the first viral video — particularly on YouTube, where it was free.

The Lazy Sunday story exemplifies early fears about YouTube. It racked up 5 million views but was pulled by NBC two months later. (These days you can visit Hulu or Yahoo Screen, platforms that didn’t even exist at the time, to watch it.) In YouTube’s infancy, many television, movie and music companies were worried that users would steal all of their copyrighted material and post it online for free.

That never really came to pass on a large scale. Instead, YouTube evolved as a platform that cooperated with television. For one thing, the company started taking down clips if the owners complained. To this day, it’s still nearly impossible to find a clip from The Simpsons on the site. In 2006, the same year that TIME named “You” the Person of the Year, YouTube entered into a marketing deal with NBC. In 2007 it partnered with CNN to ask the presidential candidates questions that were posted on YouTube and in 2012 it partnered with ABC to live stream the debates directly on the site.

And it wasn’t just a matter of working alongside television: YouTube has become integral to the success of many TV shows as the place where they post clips, highlights, trailers, previews, recaps and other goodies that don’t make their way directly into the show. Just this month Amy Schumer racked up 2 million views with her parody video “Milk Milk Lemonade,” which is really a preview of the upcoming third season of her Comedy Central show.

It’s been a boon for late night programs, the place where many Americans go to watch the antics of Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. Bill Maher does an extra segment of his HBO show Real Time, called Over Time, directly on YouTube. Getting videos to be shared widely is no longer an afterthought, but rather something that is integral to a show’s success and sometimes a means with its own end. Kimmel infamously created a fake “Twerk Fail” video that went viral with 18 million views and then went viral again when he exposed it as a hoax, gaining another 20 million clicks.

But just as television was starting to adapt to YouTube, with networks treating the site as a sidebar, the viewers started treating it more like a public access station. Around 2007, just as television was warming up to the site and the late night shows were gaining attention of viral videos, a new crop of stars started to emerge. With the ubiquity of video cameras in laptops and cell phones and the ease with which people can use digital editing software, it became easy for anyone to start their own YouTube channel and ride it to huge success. PewDiePie, which started in 2010 and is now the largest YouTube channel, with 37 million subscribers, is just a dude making funny voices while playing video games. Tyler Oakley (6 million subscribers, since 2007) just talks about his life and love of celebrities. Bethany Mota (8 million subscribers, since 2009) gained popularity for “haul videos” where she would show people what she just bought at the mall. Using YouTube’s ad-revenue sharing partner program (and even more lucrative endorsement deals), those gurus and stars stood to gain in ways that old-fashioned public-access creators couldn’t.

YouTube started developing its own culture and its own genres, from makeup tutorials and song parodies to GoPro skateboard theatrics and toy-unboxing videos. Television no longer has to worry about YouTube stealing their shows, because YouTube has plenty of shows of its own. YouTube even started calling them “channels” and in 2011 Google spent almost $200 million to launch their own original channels with partners like Madonna, Pharrell Williams, VICE and The Wall Street Journal.

YouTube serves as a source for some of television’s most innovative new ideas. Broad City, originally a web series, made the jump to become one of Comedy Central’s biggest and buzziest shows. Grace Helbig strated a YouTube channel in 2007 while bored at a house-sitting gig and now interviews celebrities on her E! talk show. VICE, the media company whose short documentaries are available on YouTube, just signed a huge deal with HBO to provide a daily news broadcast. Though television may still be more prestigious than the Internet, the creativity is online. And the public access nature of YouTube is starting to bleed onto mainstream television. Just last year, FYI network ordered 13 episodes of a show based on Epic Meal Time, an extreme cooking show that has almost 7 million subscribers.

YouTube is not only the future of television, but also preserving its past. It serves as an online time capsule preserving all sorts of things that we never had access to before. Want to watch an episode of the Gummi Bears, your favorite cartoon from your childhood? Find it on YouTube. Need a refresher on the lyrics to the Full House theme song? Thanks, YouTube. Want to watch all the fights from Dynasty? Thank God for YouTube.

Rather than pirating off and siphoning from television, YouTube serves to amplify it, cultivating our remembrance and interest, giving us reasons to tune in — where would John Oliver be without all the YouTube clips? — and creating ideas for future shows. YouTube has not only replaced public access television, a place where anyone could have a voice, but has perfected it, creating its own ecosystem that is a parallel to television. And these days, with teens thinking YouTube stars are bigger celebrities than the cast of the Big Bang Theory, it’s only a matter of time before public access takes over all the airwaves.

TIME Television

HBO’s True Detective Releases Hauntingly Brilliant Promo Posters

The second season of the Emmy-nominated series is due to screen in the summer

HBO teased fans of the hit series True Detective Wednesday by releasing three posters with an animated twist while reminding all of us that “we get the world we deserve.”

Much like the ominous mood that bestowed season one, the posters transport viewers to this year’s scorched California setting by using .gif-style animations with eery themes.

Season two is a star-studded affair with Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams playing three police officers ensnared in a murder full of conspiracy and treachery. Vince Vaughn also stars as a professional criminal whose enterprise is at risk because of the killing, according to HBO.

HBO released a teaser on April 9, which you can check out below.

Read next: Forget TV — This Is the Best Streaming Service for Movies

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TIME Television

This Is the Ronald Reagan Speech That Just Showed Up on The Americans

President Ronald Reagan addressing the National As
Diana Walker—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images President Ronald Reagan addressing the National Association of Evangelicals in a speech calling the Soviet Union an evil empire, on March 8, 1983

The episode title — "March 8, 1983" — is a clue

Contains a spoiler for the third-season finale of FX’s The Americans

Anyone who knew the title of Wednesday night’s season finale of The Americans might have guessed that a particular Ronald Reagan speech might make an appearance. After all, “March 8, 1983″ — the title of the episode — was also named by TIME, in 2003, to a list of the 80 days that changed the world.

That was the day on which President Reagan, speaking before the National Association of Evangelicals, delivered what is known as the evil-empire speech.

It was a time of potential change in the history of the Cold War, as advocates of a nuclear freeze or of nonintervention in countries like El Salvador, where a civil war was under way, were turning away from some of Reagan’s hard-line policies. The President took the opportunity of speaking in front of a religious audience to reiterate his belief in the existence of good and evil in the world, and that the U.S. and the Soviet Union were firmly located on opposite sides of that line. The USSR was the evil empire, and in that context, no hard line was hard enough.

At first the speech seemed to have backfired. That April, TIME noted, “Public-opinion polls showed that confidence in Reagan’s handling of foreign and defense policies had actually fallen during his monthlong hard-sell campaign on behalf of those policies” and that some White House officials called it his “Darth Vader speech.”

But, in the end, Reagan got what he wanted: the end of the empire in question.

In an earlier draft of the speech, noted TIME’s Romesh Ratnesar in explaining the speech’s inclusion on that 2003 list, Reagan had distanced himself from the strong language of good and evil. The version he ended up delivering, however, did anything but hedge — and that made all the difference:

His uncompromising rhetoric unsettled members of the Washington establishment, who warned that it would reheat the arms race and threaten peaceful coexistence with the Soviets. But Reagan managed to touch the hearts and minds of those who mattered: the rebels behind the Iron Curtain who ultimately brought it down. Nathan Sharansky read Reagan’s speech in a cell in Siberia. Knocking on walls and talking through toilets, he spread the word to other prisoners in the Gulag. “The dissidents were ecstatic,” Sharansky wrote. “Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth — a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us.”

Read original March 1983 coverage of the speech, here in the TIME Vault: Hardening the Line

TIME Television

The Americans Watch: The Evil Empire Strikes Home

THE AMERICANS -- "March 8, 1983" Episode 313 (Airs Wednesday, April 22, 10:00 PM e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings, Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings. CR: Patrick Harbon/FX
Patrick Harbon/FX

The end to a spectacular season sets up more dilemmas than it resolves.

Given the title of The Americans’ season three finale, “March 8, 1983,” it was not a spoiler to anyone with Google that the episode would involve Ronald Reagan’s famous “Evil Empire” speech about the Soviet Union. That this series would use that signal moment in the Cold War isn’t surprising. How it used the speech was more so.

Reagan’s speech was not only a saber-rattling declaration. It was an ethical argument that his audience must choose a side–it cast the Cold War as a moral battle not just between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. but one within the West. Reagan gave the speech not to Congress or some think tank, but–befitting Paige’s spiritual crisis and turn to activist Pastor Tim–to the National Association of Evangelicals. As The Americans has showed, there was a strong pull toward the nuclear-freeze movement among some faithful, who heard a Biblical call for nonviolence and disarmament. Speaking to a more friendly religious group, Reagan made a counterargument:

So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

I don’t think The Americans is using Reagan’s words to say that he was right or wrong about the arms race. The show has never been very interested in relitigating the ideology of the Cold War, and it’s deeply empathetic with its killer Soviet protagonists (which does not mean it’s sympathetic to their goals or tactics).

But the show uses the speech to underline a more philosophical argument: that every person, weak or powerful, has moral agency and thus moral obligation. It can be tempting to believe otherwise. It’s such a cliché that Philip writes it into the suicide note he dashes off for poor, collateral-damage Gene: “I HAD NO CHOICE… I’M SORRY.”

An overarching theme of “March 8” was: you do have a choice. Maybe not a good one, maybe not an easy one, but a choice. A dependent, frightened teen like Paige has a choice–if maybe a disastrous one–to decide that living a lie is not in her character and to call Pastor Tim. Even prisoners in the gulag have choices within their limited range, as Anton tells Nina when she realizes she’s no longer willing to “keep buying back [her] life”: Turn down the comforts they offer, however hard it may be, and they have no power over you.

It’s not always easy to acknowledge, though. More efficient to get through life saying you’re trapped, or you’ve already made your decisions, or you have a duty. In her last words to her daughter, Elizabeth’s mother reckons with her choice: “I had to let you go. Everything was at stake.” Talking to Paige about her mother’s decision–with the implication hanging over it of possibly recruiting Paige as a spy herself–even Elizabeth, not one to blink at harsh reality, can’t bring herself to confront the choice head-on.

Paige gives her an opening to do it: “Would you let me do that?” But Elizabeth, whether for her sake or Paige’s, won’t accept the premise: “You would never have to do anything like that. OK?” (Not really an answer, Mom!) There is, maybe, an element of Elizabeth believing what she wants to believe about her daughter, as later when she tells Philip that Paige was “really good” on their trip when she’s plainly not doing well at all with carrying the family secret.

But then again, Elizabeth has a job to do, and she has the constant contrast of Philip, who always hopes for a choice–a way to satisfy both his patriotic duty and his conscience–and is tortured by the thought of making the wrong one. Sometimes it leads him to lash out, in a way that Gabriel likens to the rebellion of a petulant teenager: “Grow up.” Sometimes it leads him to turn inward, as when he returns to EST, maybe consoled by its quasi-Colbert emphasis on not overthinking things: “These feelings in your gut are just as important–more important–than all the shit in your head.”

Occasionally, his struggling works, as when he found a way out of committing statutory rape with the babysitter. Mostly, it leaves him morose, making greater-good arguments that don’t even persuade himself. “Yousaf, I feel like shit all the time,” he says, a stunningly simple and accurate summation of his character. By finale’s end, he’s unloading himself to Elizabeth, saying that he needs to start doing the job differently, but he can’t even articulate how–”From now on, I need to be know what I’m doing better so I…”–before he’s interrupted by the Great Communicator, for whom the answers, the right and wrong, seem to come so easily and without self-doubt.

And that’s pretty much it. Very little is final about this finale, by the standards of The Americans or of other dramas. Unlike in seasons one and two, there is no climactic mission, no violent resolution or reveal. (Who else had “Someone gets stranded in Russia” in their betting pool?) Nina started the season in prison–and she’s still there. Various of Philip and Elizabeth’s operations are still hanging out there. Is Martha dead, or a convert? Neither! She’s still processing Philip’s wig-off confessional (the details of which we never get). Stan’s defector sting is settled but only leaves more questions. And what of the mail robot?

After three seasons, The Americans is fully committed to being serial, to telling its story over however many seasons it gets, to build and build tension without releasing it. Its game is long, its pace controlled. The finale set up more business than it settled. (What’s this connection between Philip and Sandra Beeman? Is the FBI pushing Stan’s loyalty too far by sacrificing Nina?)

That’s had great benefits: it has never tipped over into Homeland-style absurdity in an effort to constantly keep things moving. (After season one, for instance, it had the good sense to dial back the cat-and-mouse game with Stan, which would have either become unbelievable or made him seem incompetent had he constantly been one step away from catching them.) It’s allowed the show to treat the characters, however outlandish the premise, with deep emotional realism. But that may alienate viewers who find the resulting slow burn frustrating, cold and without payoff.

But if you love The Americans like I do, it’s because the investment, the building of dread and its effects on the characters, is the payoff. Overall, season three was an improvement even on season two, which Transparent beat out for first place on my Best of 2014 list last year only by a wig-hair. Confident, soulful, rich: it will be quite a mission to dislodge this as best drama of 2015.

And while I say there was little climax or closure, there was a return to a pattern. Every Americans season finale has ended with Paige: alone in the laundry room in season one with her just-blooming doubts; targeted as an agent by the Centre at the end of season two; calling Pastor Tim here. (While young actors are often in a tough spot in very adult dramas like this–again, see Homeland–Holly Taylor makes Paige’s desperation achingly real.) Last year’s finale showed us the Jennings family in tableau, together, but alone in their thoughts. The finale ends strikingly with them each in a series of fade-ins: Henry (the most truly isolated, even if he doesn’t know it) with Stan, Paige huddled on her bedroom floor, Philip hanging his head, Elizabeth watching Reagan with a hawk’s sentinel intensity.

A war has begun. Little do Philip and Elizabeth know it happened right down their own hallway.

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