When The Americans first debuted, Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) weren’t quite the happily married couple their neighbors suspected they were—you know, since they’re actually Russian spies who were forced to get married and pretend to live the American Dream. But, over the course of the first two seasons, the duo actually came to love each other and find common ground.
However, the introduction of the Second Generation Illegals program—which would recruit their young daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) to be a spy like her parents—could tear that all apart. While Elizabeth is open to the idea of her daughter following in her footsteps, Philip is vehemently against it, which has already caused tension between them in the season 3 premiere. Could this issue ultimately break them up? Or will the FBI finally grow wise to the Jennings’ true identities this season? EW caught up with executive producers Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg to get the scoop on what’s ahead:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Could the decision on what to do about Paige and the Second Generation Illegals program potentially break up Philip and Elizabeth’s marriage?
JOEL FIELDS: We’ll see. What we wanted to explore was what happens to a couple who has now found a place where they deeply love each other, where they want to be married, where they care about that marriage and want to nurture it. And yet, they find themselves, as couples often do, on the opposite sides of the most important thing in their lives. What happens when you disagree over something that essential? How do you navigate your marriage? Can you navigate your marriage?
Will it ultimately be a moot point and Paige figures out her parents are spies on her own?
JOE WEISBERG: It’s interesting you say that, because one thing we said from the beginning—really before we had any idea where the story was going—is that these kids, both of them, in a sense, know everything. Not consciously, but unconsciously they know everything. If you grow up in that family, you have enough evidence flying around in your unconscious to understand it is all wrong and essentially put it together. Figuring that out is about putting the pieces together. She may not be capable of it or she may be, but it’s not a crazy idea.
How much should Phillip be worried that Martha (Alison Wright) is learning to shoot a gun?
FIELDS: It is never a good thing when your fake wife gets a real gun. But by the same token, one of the things that has surprised us at each season is that strangely that Clark and Martha marriage seems to get stronger and stronger. Martha is really growing as a person through this marriage, and as she does that is potentially dangerous for Phillip, but there is also something beautiful in it.
Martha still has a desire for children. How will that cause issues with Philip’s ultimate plan for her?
WEISBERG: It is a big wrench. What is great about it, or what is hopefully most effective about it, is that it’s neutral in terms of his ability to get her to continue downloading the bug and use her for all the intelligence purposes he wants, but it potentially throws off everything in terms of the marriage plan that he had in terms of his ability as an agent handler. Realistically speaking, would he be able to do that? Could he consider it? We try to follow that thread for a while and see what that might actually mean if it were taken to it’s logical conclusion.
How will Elizabeth’s mother dying affect her?
WEISBERG: She’s done such a good job. You think about having to leave your homeland and leave your family behind in the way that these two have, and the way that both of them have been so good at that. They have been able to repress it or deal with it in a way that they have built a whole new life for themselves and a whole new family. And you don’t hear them complaining. You don’t get the sense that they’re walking the streets every day yearning for their parents. So whatever they have been able to do with it, whether it was the natural instinct or training, seems effective. And then along comes the thing that might crack that ability, which is the fact that now it’s forever. It has a lot of potential to throw of her whole game.
How close is Elizabeth to getting caught because the FBI now knows this woman is injured, so are they actively trying to find her?
WEISBERG: Well, they are certainly looking for a woman who was injured in that way, but Elizabeth is no fool. So the challenge for her and Philip is to always stay one step ahead.
FIELDS: We will play that story out of how the FBI can look for a woman with that injury and how the Jennings will deal with it. We’ll play that story out in typical Americans fashion, which means not like most TV shows will do it and it should be fun and interesting. But it’s not going to gobble up the show.
With the FBI hot on their trail, do you think the Jennings are getting more careless or the FBI is getting wiser?
FIELDS: I don’t think it is exactly either. I think it’s that part of their job is that they have to take risks and in certain operations where the stakes are high because something is more important, like the war in Afghanistan and their need to gather certain types of intelligence, that very often means taking a higher risk. So I wouldn’t call it being less careful as in being sloppy. Something’s important and the risk goes up.
At what point does Stan (Noah Emmerich) look foolish for not being able to figure out his neighbors are Russian spies?
WEISBERG: Well, there is no real reason for him to figure it out. And it is really not foolish at all for him to not figure it out. There is no reason at all he should think that his friends across the street are anything but what they say. I mean, if you think about it from his point of view or their point of view, they haven’t done anything really to tip him off at all. So we’ll see going forward whether there are things that may tip him off. The bigger question really is, to what extent are Phillip and Elizabeth playing with fire in that relationship? Because on the one hand, there’s the potential to gain Intel and access through him, but on the other hand, the closer they get the more there is a chance that he will get a whiff of something. And that is a dangerous trade-off.
Stan tried to win his wife back in the season premiere, but that didn’t seem to work. What else are we going to see for him this season?
WEISBERG: He’s been on such a painful trajectory with so many things happening in his professional life that are so completely intertwined with his personal life. That is what we love about his journey and some other character’s journey’s as well is you really can’t separate their professional and personal life. And even using those terms is a bit funny: professional and personal lives for our characters, they really tend to all be the same thing. What’s coming up for him, in terms of his drive is that unlike some of our other characters, he is going to have the need to sort those two things out; to actually start making some distinctions, to figure out that the intertwining of the professional and the personal is not exactly sustainable for him.
FIELDS: It did not go well for him last season.
We’re finally going to find out what’s going on with Nina (Annet Mahendru) back in Russia. What can you tease of what she’s dealing with?
FIELDS: She’s dealing with the consequences of her actions.
WEISBERG: Alright, here is what Nina’s dealing with in terms of her struggles back in Lefortovo prison. The joke is Lefortovo prison has the best view of any building in Moscow. And you say, “Why? Why is that Joe? Why would Lefortovo prison have the best view of any building in Moscow?” Because from Lefortovo prison you can see Siberia.
FIELDS: If there is one thing we know about Nina, it is that she is an expert at getting herself out of trouble.
But that raises a bigger question for the series: How many times can people get out of trouble without consequences?
WEISBERG: We think once more.
FIELDS: We’ll see. That’s the question. But you know, you say without consequences and one of the things that we try to deal with are not only the plot consequences of whether it will be Siberia prison or some other fate, but also the emotional consequences. What are the costs to Nina and these other characters for their souls and for the things that they do in order to achieve what they need?
How is Oleg (Costa Ronin) dealing with Nina’s absence?
FIELDS: Oleg has really been heart broken. If you think of when we first met him in his fancy clothes and listening to Rod Stewart, he’s a guy who hadn’t been heartbroken before and if he had, it was in an almost adolescent way. He is now a guy who really has been devastated in a more thorough and adult way, that he is heartbroken and truly doesn’t know what to do.
The Americans airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
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