When viewers last saw the Jennings family on The Americans, dad Philip (Matthew Rhys) was walking teenage daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) back to their house, angrily insisting she avoid hanging out with Matthew, the teenage son of their FBI agent neighbor, with whom she’d gotten increasingly close. Even though Paige now knows the truth about her parents — that they’re Russian spies — the question remains whether she’ll join the family business. Still, she’s already been collecting intel (and reporting back to her parents) on her minister, Pastor Tim, after revealing the family’s secret identity to him. And she reported back to her parents what Matthew told her about his dad’s work.
So is Paige romantically interested in Matthew or just using him to get information about the FBI as a prospective spy?
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter at The Americans’ season-five premiere in New York over the weekend, Taylor said “it’s a little bit of both. And, as teasers for season five show Paige continuing a relationship with Matthew, perhaps knowing what she does about her parents makes her feel like she can push the boundaries as a teenager.
“I think even in season one, she was attracted to Matthew Beeman, so there’s definitely some of that in there,” Taylor said. “But I think also she kind of sees it as like maybe I could get away with doing this because I can use him as a source and I can get my parents to support me. But they don’t really see it that way, so it’s very complicated for her.”
Meanwhile, Matthew’s dad, Stan (Noah Emmerich), remains thrilled about the pairing, seeing his friends the Jennings as an upstanding American family.
“I think Stan’s a big fan of Paige. I think he loves the Jennings, thinks they’re a great, wholesome, warm family, close by,” Emmerich told THR. “Paige seems like a solid young lady. I think he had some concerns about Matthew. I don’t know who Matthew’s dated in the past, but Paige is marriage material. It’s all good with Stan if that continues.”
And Paige’s younger brother, Henry, who’d already been hanging out with Stan, doesn’t see his sister as intruding on his turf, according to Keidrich Sellati, who plays the youngest member of the Jennings family.
“Henry’s kind of a playful guy so he sort of makes fun of her for it,” Sellati said. “[Henry’s] still close with Stan. They do even get a little bit closer. And Paige and Matthew get closer as well.”
Moreover, Henry, who’s been out of the loop with Paige and his parents with respect to his parents’ work as spies, will be more involved with his parents, but that’s due to their initiative not his, Sellati said.
“His parents are getting more involved with his life but not vice versa. So his parents are starting to find out more about him and how he’s been doing at school, out of school, just in general,” Sellati told THR. “No more just playing on the computer for him, either. He’s starting to grow up.”
Teasers for season five suggest that Paige is still shaken by the mugging attempt at the end of season four and witnessing her mom defend the two of them by killing fighting off their attackers and killing one of them.
“I think it really affects her heavily,” Taylor told THR. “I mean it’s not every day you see your own mother kill someone. Never mind seeing anybody dead or anything, your own mother having the capability to do that to somebody I think is so much new and scary information for her, so I think she has to get that image out of her head somehow and also carry the fear that what if someone does come up to her when she’s in the parking lot and she can’t protect herself, so I think it ties into a lot of her emotions.”
Paige also appears to be learning self-defense in the new season, something which seems to please her mom, Elizabeth (Keri Russell).
“These people, so much of their life has been secret, so I think it’s a huge relief to be able to show a part of herself that’s been hidden and that she’s proud of,” Russell says of how Elizabeth feels about being able to connect with her daughter in that way. “So I think there’s an incredible closeness that she feels with Paige and she’s able to share that.”
The one mugger was far from the only person to die in season four, as The Americans also killed off characters Nina Krilova (Annet Mahendru) and Frank Gaad (Richard Thomas), events that are continuing to take their toll on Stan, Emmerich said.
“I think he’s feeling the pain, loss and jeopardy that he puts people in that is the world of his job,” Emmerich said. “I think he is ever committed as always to capturing the illegals and protecting the security of the country. I think the accumulation of the human cost of this world is growing for Stan. He lost his first partner, he lost his lover…. It’s a lot of death and destruction in the wake of this endeavor. I think that has an impact as I imagine it would for anybody who’s not a sociopath. So I think he’s struggling with it. It’s been a hard road for Stan.”
Season five is the first of The Americans’ final two seasons, and while castmembers on hand for this past weekend’s premiere said they didn’t know what would ultimately happen to their characters, showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields are close to figuring out the details of the end of the series.
They’ve already finished writing season five, and have been for some time, Fields said, and are filming episodes 12 and 13 of that season. As for season six, Fields said, “We’re pretty deep into it. We’ve been taking our walks and writing up a lot of story. We had a lot of story but now it’s turning into detail.”
Weisberg added, “We’re in this weird place where we’re both at the beginning and we’re finished. It’s hard to describe. We’ve kind of broken the whole thing but it’s very early stages so we’re at the beginning of it. So it’s sort of a good place to be.”
Earlier he explained that knowing they had two seasons to wrap up the series allowed them to figure out how they would construct the ending across those episodes.
“In a way, we really figured out a lot of the story for both of these two seasons at once, which was very helpful and clarifying,” Weisberg said. “Having that much of a blueprint for where you’re going lets you know both plot-wise and emotionally where you need to go and what you need to accomplish. It sounds harder but it made everything easier. Even this one season was made easier.”