Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

The Americans recap: The Great Patriotic War

We’re close to the halfway mark on the final season of The Americans, and the title of this episode gives you some idea where we’re heading: “The Great Patriotic War.”

As Paige learns during her Russian Immersion Training from her mother and fairy spymother Claudia, this is what Soviets call World War II, where they lost (by Claudia’s estimate) 27 million people to the Americans’ 400,000.

There has always been a body count on this show, but it’s usually strangers who meet untimely ends. Chances are, we’re going to start losing people we know very soon.

That brings us to Sofia and Gennadi, the Russian defectors nicknamed Mr. and Mrs. Teacup by the FBI. Stan helped recruit and manage them, but now their cover has been blown and they are in protective custody.

This humiliation cannot be allowed, so The Center has dispatched Elizabeth and her team to eliminate Mr. and Mrs. Teacup. We open with them using Stan as the trail of breadcrumbs that will lead to them. Continue reading The Americans recap: The Great Patriotic War

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

The Americans: Philip and Elizabeth are living in very different final seasons

Elizabeth Jennings keeps killing. Halfway through The Americans‘ final season, the Soviet spy played by Keri Russell has shot, strangled, or stabbed six people. That’s 1.2 murders per episode.

Well, “murders.” She could plead self-defense in one case: Attacked by traitorous General Renhull (Victor Slezak), she shot him with his own gun in his own hands. That blast face painted her with chunky blood, boiled skull, and ambient cortex, so she looked like Bill Paxton at the end of Near Dark.

It’s not always so messy. Last week, Elizabeth earned a 100% stealth rating by Solid Snaking her way through a darkened warehouse. She popped the lightbulbs with her silenced pistol, and then she popped three security guards. That scene was thrilling, but death can be funny on The Americans, too. In the third episode, Elizabeth staged the old “Security Audit” ruse, inviting a guy from the warehouse to a hotel room. The rube explained all the ways a savvy operator could sneak past the guards — and then blathered on about his gal pal, who worked in security. With a weary my-day-just-got-longer sigh, Elizabeth thanked him for his service — then grabbed his neck, and pressed Triangle for Skull. Continue reading The Americans: Philip and Elizabeth are living in very different final seasons

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

The Americans recap: Mr. and Mrs. Teacup

“We can make peace with them. Now…is maybe the best chance we’ll ever get. That’s why I’m here.”

This is Oleg and Stan….I mean, Philip (God, I’m so used to writing about the other pairing) standing on the steps of a park at night. Philip is considering the idea of spying on his own wife, but first he needs some answers from the man asking him to do that.

“I don’t really understand what’s going on.”

“The people running The Center, we believe, are actively trying to get rid of Gorbachev,” Oleg tells him. “They can’t stand progress. It’s a threat to them. Our country having any kind of openness or freedom…they think it means we won’t be communists anymore.”

“My wife would never do anything to hurt our country,” Philip answers.

“We know how loyal she is,” Oleg says. “But that loyalty can be used. We have to know what she’s up to.” He tells Philip about Elizabeth trying to secure a radiation sensor. He tells him about the Air Force general who ended up dead. Continue reading The Americans recap: Mr. and Mrs. Teacup

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

The Americans recap: Urban Transport Planning

“There’s trouble back home.”

Elizabeth is talking about Gorbachev and the party leaders working to secretly undermine him, but her warning also applies to the Jennings household. Paige witnessed the violent death of one of Elizabeth’s contacts. Not only does she know her mother has blood on her hands, but she also has it all over her face, clothes, and hair.

Paige makes it back to her family’s house before her mother, and Philip tries to comfort and reassure her. (Almost pathetically, he plies her with some EST self-help techniques.) Then Elizabeth blows through the door like a thunderstorm and rips Paige apart for reacting to the gunshots and running to the scene, rather than waiting in her position.

Nevermind that, one way or another, Paige was going to figure out what happened. Even if she’d stayed put, how was Elizabeth going to explain being covered in an Air Force general’s blood and brains? Continue reading The Americans recap: Urban Transport Planning

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

The Americans recap: ‘Tchaikovsky’

Life is still a frozen sea between Philip and Elizabeth. Last week’s season premiere ended with him coming very close to alerting her that elements of the Soviet government want him to begin monitoring her, but her chilly dismissal silenced him.

Now, he watches Elizabeth descend the stairs. He has heeded her advice. They’re still not talking.

Back at FBI headquarters, we see Stan Beeman in his new role. He’s discussing an ongoing sting, and although the name of the target is never mentioned, we can put the clues together (cocaine purchase, city official, alligator shoes) and know he’s talking about disgraced D.C. mayor Marion Barry.

He gets a call from Agent Aderholt to come down to his old office at counter intelligence and have a conversation in the Vault. Two of their past recruits, the courier Gennadi and his wife Sofia, are having troubles. Stan will have to help patch things up. Continue reading The Americans recap: ‘Tchaikovsky’

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

Keri Russell on Wrapping The Americans and Why She’d Rather Be Camping

As her hit series The Americans enters its sixth and final season, Keri Russell talks about wide-open spaces, raising adventurous kids, and more.

So Keri, how are ya?
Well, right now I’m talking to you from bed, because I have the flu, which turned into bronchitis and pneumonia. I’m just in bed going, “What the fuck.”

That sounds terrible.
Yeah, but I’m also a working mom of three kids, so when you’re not sick, you have these fantasy dream sequences every day where you’re like, “Oh my god, if I could just get sick, I could lie in bed. I just need a week of rest where I’m not working outside in the freezing New York snow, and I’m not fucking taking care of kids.” But then it actually happened, and I’m like, “Waaahhhh.” Part of me thinks I should really just be relishing this and ordering everyone around, but the other part’s like, all I want to do is drink 8,000 cups of coffee and run around and get on my bike. Continue reading Keri Russell on Wrapping The Americans and Why She’d Rather Be Camping

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Keri Russell for Rhapsody Magazine

Oh my god,” says Keri Russell, hazel eyes wide and mouth agape in shock. “Wow.” Pause. “Holy crap.” She shakes her head and looks up at the ceiling for a moment, doing the math in her head. “Is it?”

Yes, this year really is the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Felicity, the show that rocketed Russell and her mass of curls to stardom when she was just 22. Sitting across from the actress at an Italian restaurant in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge on a foggy February afternoon, I can’t help but think it is a bit of a shock that Russell is 41 now. Her creamy complexion is smooth enough to get her carded (just a few fine lines around the eyes) and she’s just as tiny as she was when Felicity followed Ben across the country to enroll at a New York university. She looks bike-ride ready today in a red-and-white striped linen T-shirt and white jeans, and, although her hair is fairly straight now (she does Keratin treatments, shhh), wisps at her forehead are fighting to curl again on account of the humidity.

Suddenly, a lightbulb moment. “Oh yeah … maybe that’s why they’re asking about a reunion!” she says with a laugh, explaining that she had been invited to this summer’s ATX Television Festival, where, in the past, the casts of Gilmore Girls and Battlestar Galactica came together for much-publicized events. “Huh. That’s crazy.”

You could forgive her for not being aware of such a milestone. Since Felicity’s four-year run—which also helped launch the career of creator J.J. Abrams—Russell has had three kids, appeared in 14 movies, and spent the last five years trying to bring down the U.S. government as an undercover Russian spy on The Americans. Last month brought the sixth and final season of the critically adored FX drama, which has nabbed Russell two Emmy nominations for her role as the fiercely loyal, ruthless KGB operator Elizabeth Jennings—not to mention a baby daddy. After the series’ first season in 2013, she and her on-screen husband, Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, started dating, and in 2016, she gave birth to their son, Sam. (She has two children, River, 10, and Willa, 6, with her ex-husband, Shane Deary.) Continue reading Keri Russell for Rhapsody Magazine

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys on Saying Goodbye to The Americans

The FX drama series The Americans has been truly excellent throughout its run, with compelling storytelling and exceptional performances from everyone in the cast. Among many highlights, it’s shown us how good Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are, in their roles as Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, KGB spies posing as Americans, it’s allowed us to watch Holly Taylor grow the teenage Paige into a compelling character, as she doubted and questioned what her parents were really up to, and it’s taken us on a roller coaster, as we’ve wondered what the ultimate outcome of the Jennings family could possibly be. The fact that it’s entering its final season is bittersweet, as it’s always sad to say goodbye to such a great TV show, but it’s also exciting to know that the creators were able to write to an ending that they chose and are saying that goodbye on their own terms.

During this interview with Collider, co-stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys talked about how good it feels to end The Americans on a high note, not having had enough time to reflect yet on the series ending, the journey that Elizabeth and Philip will be on this season, and where the family dynamic is headed with Paige, and how emotional it was to read the final episode. Continue reading Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys on Saying Goodbye to The Americans

Categories Articles & Interviews The Americans

The Americans premiere recap: Dead Hand

“Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win.”

— Crowded House “Don’t Dream It’s Over”

A few years have passed.

The Americans begins its final season in the year 1987, but this super-sound of 1986 opens the episode as we see Elizabeth engaged in a series of new assignments — some dull, some sexual, some dangerous — while Philip goes about the mundane work of operating their cover: the travel agency.

The Berlin Wall will fall in two years, but as the song suggests, there is another one being built between these two Soviet agents. They were once partners; now they lead increasingly separate lives. Continue reading The Americans premiere recap: Dead Hand