Yep, on the Season 2 premiere of “The Americans,” they really went there… and there. You know which scene we’re talking about: The one between the newly reunited Elizabeth and Philip, in their bedroom? The one accidentally witnessed by their teenage daughter, Paige? The one that involves an act which is often referred to by a number that represents the birth year of celebs like Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, and “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus?
Yeah. That scene.
Shocking though it may have been, the intimate act wasn’t intended merely to titillate — heh heh, we said "titillate."
“A lot of people had questions about it. For us, it was about looking at, Was there a way for what was going on in that bedroom to be expressive of a new intimacy between Philip and Elizabeth?” showrunner Joel Fields tells Yahoo TV.
“How could we express that sexually and visually, and based on everything that had happened at the end of Season 1 and even earlier in the episode? That seemed like both a great way to do it, and something that would resonate, in all the right ways, for Paige, in its shock, its visual shock.”
During Season 1, the Jennings briefly separated, until they both realized their fake marriage had, somewhere along the way, sparked genuine feelings for each other. They reunited in the season finale, and that led to the very up close, and very personal, scene Paige walked in on.
But the scene, aside from horrifying and embarrassing their daughter, was a confirmation that Elizabeth and Philip, undercover KGB agents whose marriage began as an arrangement to help establish a cover for them in America, were back on track.
“That's right,” showrunner Joe Weisberg says.
“I don't really know why Paige was so upset,” he jokes. “Would she rather they're separated again? My God.”
Meanwhile, star Matthew Rhys told reporters during a conference call last week that performing even the naughtiest of sex scenes amounts to just another acting exercise.
“I mean, we’ve all done a million of them in this crazy life we sign up for,” he said. “The first one is always the hardest, and then you do realize there’s a very perfunctory element to it, where cameramen shout, ‘Put your hand up more, down with your elbow, or lift your leg up higher,’ and the clinical element of it kicks in, so it takes away from [the] embarrassment in a way.
“You realize there is something that you have to accomplish in a technical way, and that, I think, takes the onus off the sort of embarrassment of it. But I think by now I have to say I’ve sort of done it so many times with men, women, and varying animals, in showbiz related terms, that it’s not really a problem anymore.”
As for the rest of the season, the Jennings' marriage continues to grow deeper, but the secretive nature of their jobs, as well as their less-than-luxurious formative years in their homeland, lead to family drama.
[Related: 'The Americans' Season 2 Red Carpet Premiere]
In the premiere, the couple catches up with fellow undercover agents Emmett and Leann — spoilers ahead — who are later murdered in their hotel room. But while the two couples are exchanging info about their children, Philip wistfully remarks how their American offspring have cushy lives, with worries no bigger than cheerleading and boys.
It’s a surprising comment from the man who has fully embraced his American lifestyle, and who, in Season 1, even talked to Elizabeth about possibly defecting.
“I'm so happy to hear you talk about that moment like that, because, to me, that's like a precious little moment. I've had a concern of it happening by unnoticed. Everything you just said about it is the layers of that moment, all of them,” Weisberg says.
Adds Fields, “One thing Joe and I talk a lot about with each other and with the directors who come through and with our writers is that we want to have this world be one in which, in the psyches of our characters, contradictory things can be true.
“Philip can be jealous of his kids, and also look down on how easy they have it. He can be grateful that they have it so easy and genuinely be concerned that it's going to leave them soft and ill‑prepared for the world. All of that can clatter around in somebody's psyche, and create wistfulness. And all of that, actually, is going to play out over the course of this season.”
Back to that steamy scene in the premiere: We think the best reaction comes courtesy of Paige herself, lovely actress Holly Taylor, who tweeted:
a nice reminder that if you're a teenager and plan on watching The Americans with your parents, please don't 🙈
— Holly Taylor (@HollyTaylor97) February 27, 2014
"The Americans" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.