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The Americans season 4: Violence won't escalate, say showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg

‘We can’t help what Philip and Elizabeth have to do,’ EP Joel Fields says

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Eric Liebowitz/FX

As KGB spies living in the suburbs of D.C. during the Cold War, Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) have learned to improvise during missions. They don wigs, come up with aliases, and occasionally retreat to safe houses. 

And from time to time, they’re forced to pull off disturbing tasks. Season 3 saw the pair memorably (and violently) dispose of a corpse by breaking the bones and stuffing the body inside a small suitcase — a gruesome scene that showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg say they’re not looking to match in season 4. “You can’t up [the violence],” Weisberg tells EW. “At least, we can’t. We’ve hit bottom, or reached our ceiling, whichever way you look at it.” 

After all, the suitcase scene was harrowing enough to dream up. “Right after we wrote that, we sat there, and there was a brief moment when [Joe] turned to me and said, ‘Well, we’re going to hell,’ ” Fields says with a laugh, before adding that he’s still stunned they pulled off a scene like that in the first place. “A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about some show, and I said, ‘It’s excellent, but honestly, it’s just too violent for me.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And I said, ‘Oh yeah…’ “

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Still, don’t expect season 4 to skimp on shockers just because it’s hard to top the crack-and-pack. “Last season, our script coordinator kept this body count tally, and at one point, she just went, ‘Well, you’ve outdone yourselves! I’m done,’ ” Fields recalls. “We’re not trying to create these shocking moments. We can’t help what Philip and Elizabeth have to do.” 

The Americans returns March 16 at 10 p.m. ET on FX.

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