The Americans Finale Postmortem: Who Survived Season 1?
Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell | Photo Credits: Craig Blankenhorn/FX.
[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Wednesday's season finale of The Americans. Read at your own risk!]
Wednesday's season finale of The Americans left viewers on the edge of their seat as Elizabeth (Keri Russell), not Phillip (Matthew Rhys), walked into a trap set up by the FBI that would've resulted in a striking blow to the KGB.
Believing the meeting with a possible intelligence asset is actually an FBI setup, Phillip decides to take on that mission himself, leaving Elizabeth to simply pick up a recording and then get the kids out of town. But it's Elizabeth's seemingly simple mission that's actually the setup. Nina (Annet Mahendru) is able to deduce a coup is coming after Stan (Noah Emmerich) guarantees her extradition, but, because it's the '80s and there are no cell phones, the KGB is unable to warn their agents, resorting to more archaic methods to send the abort message. But when Phillip realizes the abort is meant for Elizabeth, he goes straight into the FBI's trap to save her — and although they are able to escape, Elizabeth gets shot in the process.
Obviously, Elizabeth will survive into Season 2 — they're not firing Keri Russell, 'natch — but other characters' fates are left up in the air, including Claudia (Margo Martindale) who was told she'd be reassigned, but risked her own life to save Phillip and Elizabeth after getting the abort signal. To get the scoop on Season 2, TVGuide.com turned to executive producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields:
Will there be a time jump between Season 1 and Season 2?
Joel Fields: We're still figuring stuff out. We have a lot of the ideas about the next season. There's not going to be some great leap forward in time. Elizabeth has been shot, but I don't think it's a great spoiler to say she won't die, the relationship will continue, and we'll probably want to pick up the story fairly close to where we left off.
Joe Weisberg: No one ever goes backwards to like '77. That would be interesting.
Fields: One of the things we say in the writers' room is that all joke pitches eventually become true pitches.
What was the decision behind having Elizabeth shot in the finale? How does that change her feelings about the KGB?
Weisberg: The thing that we always try to remember is that it's a show about a marriage. That's the thing that we think lends for the depth of feelings and helps the viewers connect to it. Even when she gets shot, what that really is about is what Phillip and Elizabeth feel for each other. When we first started thinking about that, what intrigued us was how that would alter the relationship between the two of them. That was the main thing that was important about it, that it would be a catalyst for her to be able to say what things she's been feeling ever since that night in the hotel room when she found out that Phillip was getting an apartment. It allowed her to say she wanted him to come home and it pretty clearly motivated him to want to come home as well. I don't think it's something she's going to blame the KGB for. She might blame Stan, but at least he made it up to them by watching the kids. [Laughs]
Do you think that this will reenergize their commitment to the KGB, or will this make them second-guess the organization?
Fields: I don't think what happened in the finale is really going to challenge their attitude towards the KGB. There may be other reasons for them to question that as the show continues to unfold. I think they're soldiers in a military operation behind enemy lines and what happened happened. In that sense, it's par for the course. I think the real question is how does it affect the dynamic of their relationship and marriage? There's probably nothing more lonely than being a spy. You're living a life that's a constant lie and you can't have an honest conversation with anybody. Phillip and Elizabeth are in this strange situation where there is somebody with whom they can try to be honest. Now the question is how much they're going to open up emotionally? That's going to be the story of next season.
Weisberg: The KGB, in terms of operations, was right. They were right that the meeting with the colonel provided almost unimaginably valuable intelligence and they were right that the meeting should've gone forward because it wasn't a setup. The thing that turned out to be a setup neither the KGB, nor Phillip and Elizabeth, nor Claudia could've anticipated. It would be hard for anybody in the world of intelligence to blame anybody else for that. That was just damn good work by the FBI.
Fields: When you think about it from an operational standpoint, the KGB did everything it could when they got the information. Arkady (Lev Gorn) went and spray-painted the cars, which put them at risk for exposing his operation inside the Rezidentura. Claudia, who was not in disguise and had every reason to figure they were past their fail-safe, drove her car into the middle of the park to try to get Phillip up. Had that been a setup, she was giving herself up too!
Weisberg: There you go defending the KGB again, Joel. [Laughs]