The Americans: Reagan’s Evil Empire Takes Root in Season Finale

The Americans
Patrick Harbron/FX
The Americans

March 8, 1983, is the day President Ronald Reagan dubbed the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and escalated the Cold War. “March 8, 1983” is also the title of tonight’s twisty season finale of The Americans. The drama’s central spies, Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) and wife Elizabeth (Keri Russell), may live in Reagan-era America, but their hearts belong to the USSR.

Still, executive producer Joe Weisberg says, the two are beginning to show “growing cracks in their [loyalty]. Philip in particular is not comfortable with all he is called upon to do.” (One example: being urged to have sex with a 15-year-old whose father is the head of the covert CIA Afghanistan group.)

And the recent seismic changes in the Jenningses’ personal lives could not only expand those cracks but threaten to bust their marriage wide open. The couple’s biggest source of discord is how to handle teen daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) since she forced them to reveal their true identities. Elizabeth has been determined to stay true to her cause and start training Paige to become a spy, while Philip is adamantly opposed. Despite some fans’ fears and/or wishes, one thing is certain, Weisberg promises: “Philip and Elizabeth would never kill their child to keep her quiet. Not even the KGB is that insidious.”

There are no such guarantees, however, for Philip’s unwitting accomplice, FBI secretary Martha (Alison Wright), the other woman he married (using the alias Clark Westerfeld). Now that he’s confessed to her that he’s not a government employee, “Martha has had to face up to some of the things she’s willfully denied since she’s been with the man she calls Clark,” says Weisberg. “She’ll have to make a leap of consciousness, which will change everything for them.”

That is the major theme of the season finale–spy-vs.-spy drama be damned–according to fellow executive producer Joel Fields. “We really look at not only where these characters are,” he says, “but how their evolution as characters affects their relationships.”

The Americans, Season finale, Wednesday, April 22, 10/9c, FX