The Americans producers on finale, and if season 5 was too slow

The Americans showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields take our questions about the season 5 finale and some high points from the acclaimed FX drama’s penultimate season. (Note: Spoiler alert for anybody who is not yet caught up.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So before we can talk candidly: Is Henry here?
JOEL FIELDS: Not to our knowledge, but we have not swept for bugs today!

Whew, okay. First I want to start with something I loved this season: The darkroom scene a few episodes back was amazing. Just terrific editing, the music choice, performances. You made reading a pastor’s diary riveting.
FIELDS: That’s a scary scene to write. If Chris Long isn’t your producing director, it’s especially scary, but we knew we were in good hands. The entire team delivered sensationally. But when you sit down and decide to hang really the entire landing of the episode, and a key transformational moment in your big season and series-long stories, you’re hanging them on the audience reading photographed pages from a diary, it’s a real challenge. I remember sitting right here in The Vault — this is where we do our writing — and we were talking about how that was going to be filmed, and how close you could get to the photos and what you could expect the audience to read. It’s a real testament to the filmmakers on the show how powerfully that landed. And it really captured what we hoped to capture — Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth’s (Keri Russell) experience of reading that with their daughter and catching the landing of those phrases.
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The Americans recap: ‘The World Council of Churches’

They got to Pastor Tim. They tempted him into biting the apple, and he didn’t even know it.

While he and Paige are saying their farewells after a successful afternoon of food-banking, the good reverend tells her he has accepted a job with the World Council of Churches in Argentina, running their interfaith mission.

He has her parents to thank for that career boost, although he doesn’t know it. And he certainly doesn’t realize he’s being moved out of the picture.

“Wow,” Paige says. “Wow.”

“We’re going to miss you, Paige.”

“You and Alice have been really good to me. Meeting you changed everything for me,” she tells him.

“We’re going to keep in touch,” he responds.

She wants to know who will be the next pastor, and he says that’ll happen in the weeks ahead. He has two months before his departure. (If he can keep his mouth shut and not get a dose of polonium tea from the KGB before that.) Continue reading The Americans recap: ‘The World Council of Churches’

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The Americans recap: Dyatkovo

The punishment doesn’t always fit the crime. Sometimes it merely worsens the crime.

This is as close to a stand-alone episode as we’re likely to get this season, with Philip and Elizabeth dispatched to investigate whether a late-middle-aged woman from Boston is actually a Nazi collaborator hiding under a new identity.

We start with Henry getting a promise from his father that he will be allowed to leave for the private boarding school he wants to attend.

“I’m going to have to talk to your mother. But it’s fine by me,” Philip says.

Then Philip goes to see Tuan, his “other” son, and the two sit silently watching TV while Philip daydreams of his own father, pretending to be airplanes as they fly around their old apartment. Continue reading The Americans recap: Dyatkovo

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The Americans recap: Darkroom

Quite a day to recap The Americans. Pity the TV series about Russian subterfuge that has to keep up with real life.

Anyway, time for a stiff drink.

Alexei Morozov offers Philip some home-brewed Soviet-grade moonshine, and they have a gripe session about married life. Alexei, whose wife Evgheniya (unbeknownst to him) is having an affair with one of her CIA students, has noticed a cooling off in their house after relentless fights over his decision to defect. “Now, no fights. She is quiet. Like dog somebody beat with stick.” His son is no better off. “Just sad, sad, very sad boy.”

Philip, Elizabeth, and their second son Tuan are helping make life miserable for Pasha Morozov because the KGB wants this family back, back in the U.S.S.R. The man the wife is having an affair with will soon be the CIA’s man in Moscow. They want the affair to continue. Good blackmail fodder.

Even Alexei is feeling a little homesick. He tells a story about his mother, a biology professor, who took him ice skating rather than rush home to make dinner. “Moscow was nice city with my mother.”

Elsewhere, Elizabeth meets with Tuan, who was last seen sneaking off to a mystery meeting in Pennsylvania, allegedly to check in on his brother. “I know I made a mistake. I’m sorry. I failed you. I failed my people,” he says. Continue reading The Americans recap: Darkroom

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4 reasons why Keri Russell could win Best Drama Actress at 2017 Emmys

After more than 25 years on television, it is hard to believe that Keri Russell earned her first-ever Emmy nomination just last year, as voters finally caught on to her critically acclaimed performance on “The Americans.” Russell plays Elizabeth Jennings on the FX drama, who poses as a travel agent in the suburbs of Washington D.C. but is really a covert KGB spy along with her husband Philip (Russell’s off-screen partner Matthew Rhys) in early 1980s America.

According to our exclusive combined Emmy odds, Russell is nipping at the heels of frontrunner Claire Foy (“The Crown”) in second place with 11/2 odds. After last year’s breakthrough career nomination, can Russell go the distance and win this year? Below, see four reasons why she’s a threat to win Best Drama Actress. Continue reading 4 reasons why Keri Russell could win Best Drama Actress at 2017 Emmys

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The Americans recap: ‘IHOP’

We open on a subplot that has largely shifted to the background: pot-smoking teen Kimberly, and her father – the head of a CIA group specializing in Afghanistan.

Philip is still nursing her as an unwitting contact, and that recorder of his remains lodged in her father’s attaché case.

We haven’t really spent much time with him directly, but here we see him getting a report about some act of bloody violence. Cut to Kimberly’s birthday, and Philip cutting a cake. Talk gets a little wistful – getting older, having a family. Not screwing up.

This has been on Philip’s mind a lot. He actually has multiple families to screw up now.

One of them involves Tuan, the Vietnamese refugee who is posing as their adopted son in an operation against the Morozov family. “Does Tuan ever say anything about any girls to you? I just think he’s lonely,” Elizabeth says. She’s planning to go spend the night at their house with him. Give him a sense of belonging.

Just then, they get a call: It’s the Center, with a “doctor’s appointment” for Philip. One of Gabriel’s other operatives needs to report some information.
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The Americans recap: ‘Immersion’

Last week’s episode of The Americans is tough to top. It was the best of the season, and led to a new theory about how Oleg Burov may fit into the overall Elizabeth/Philip puzzle.

This one has more tension than some previous episodes, but it returns to place-setting for action that may take place in the final episodes of the season.

Philip returns home after learning about his father, who was a guard at a brutal prison camp. Gabriel said goodbye by informing him that maybe recruiting Paige was not a great idea.

She has been staring across the street at Matthew’s house after breaking up with FBI Jr., and Philip tells Elizabeth he questioned Gabriel about Stan Beeman’s new girlfriend, Renee. Is she a KGB operative, sent to get close to the counterintelligence officer?

(SIDE NOTE: I may have a new piece of evidence to back up that theory, but that will wait until the end of this recap, since she wasn’t even featured in this episode.)

Gabriel said he didn’t believe she was, then suggested Philip was losing it.
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The Americans recap: ‘The Committee on Human Rights’

The problem with finally opening up and being honest is discovering all the past betrayals of someone you trusted. This episode of The Americans has apparently sent KGB handler Gabriel on his way, but his final line to Philip is simultaneously a refreshing moment of candor and a knife in the heart. Now he tells him?

This episode also opened up potential for a theory that would have colossal ramifications for the show — and could indicate how two disparate story lines may eventually converge. But we’ve got to save that for the end of the recap.

We open in the safe house where Paige has just been invited to meet with Gabriel, her mother and father’s longtime handler, who is soon to depart and retire. “I can’t tell you, Paige, how much I’ve been looking forward to this day,” the old man tells her.

Her questions are simple. They’re treating her like an adult, but the things she wonders are childlike: “Are you a spy?”

“Yes,” Gabriel says. Smiles all around. It must be a pleasure to finally just say it out loud.

“I know it’s been a difficult time, Paige, finding out your parents have withheld things from you,” Gabriel says. “To you they’re just your parents. They probably drive you crazy, because they have driven me crazy from time to time. But to us, they’re honestly heroes. They’ve saved a lot of lives.” Continue reading The Americans recap: ‘The Committee on Human Rights’

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Keri Russell laughs as Matthew Rhys recalls drunkenly asking for her number

When The Americans co-stars (and real-life romantic partners) Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell stopped by Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on Thursday, it took an audience member to ask the obvious question: “When did you two realize you were more than just colleagues, and you both had the hots for each other?”

According to Rhys, their relationship dates back much farther than the beginning of The Americans. “We actually met a very long, long time ago,” Rhys said. “I very drunkenly asked her for her number when she was a young, single slip of a thing. So I sort of knew then, when I was 26.”

To make it even more romantic, this encounter took place in a parking lot after a kickball party. According to Russell, it all came together years later when they reconnected on The Americans. “We did all the readings together, and after a heavy dose of fight training, all sweaty at a lunch, you said, ‘You know, we’ve met before,’” Russell said. “I said, ‘No, we haven’t.’ You said, ‘Yeah, 10 years ago at a kickball party.’ As soon as you said that I went [gasps], of course I remember that!”

Season 5 of The Americans airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX, and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen airs Sundays through Thursdays at 11 p.m. ET on Bravo.


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The Americans recap: ‘Crossbreed’

Gabriel can hardly believe what Elizabeth has learned about the U.S. government’s secret agriculture program. It’s not about blighting Soviet crops but about breeding a pest-resistant stalk of wheat.

“Stobert just wants to end world hunger? Like Miss America?” Gabriel asks her.

He knows this news must have hit Philip hard, since he killed a lab technician thinking the program was aimed at creating famines. Nonetheless, Gabriel sees a bright side: “If they’ve come up with some kind of ‘super wheat,’ think what getting our hands on it would mean to us. No more shortages. No more buying grain from the west. We could make it right.”

The mission will continue. Elizabeth will continue nurturing her relationship with Stobert, which is growing into a robust, healthy thing itself, while Philip will remain with Deirdre Kemp, a witheringly dull weed of a relationship.

Elizabeth sighs. “You’re spread thin,” Gabriel acknowledges. Continue reading The Americans recap: ‘Crossbreed’

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