FX presented a panel for the final season of The Americans, coming March 28. Stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys were there along with creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg to preview the final season.
Rhys said he’s been cautious not to overplay any final moments.
“The sort of perennial struggle of The Americans, and I’m sure I’ve bored many of you with this, is knowing where to land it, as an actor,” Rhys said. “Where to land these kind of huge momentous moments, and I think one element of trying to restrain yourself in a final season is preempting any of that or playing as if there’s a sort of temporal to something, to an impending end or anything of such. You have to remember that it’s the present. You’re not working towards an end, so that’s a process that I’m still grappling with.”
Russell is still focused on filming, but reflected on what Elizabeth Jennings has meant to her.
“I just think as a woman, it’s been an incredible feminist role to get to play,” Russell said. “It’s so rare to get to be so singleminded, and she is so successful in doing it. It’s just a rare girl part so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m happy it’s ending when it is, on such a high note, and while I’m still so excited and interested in the storylines of it.”
The final season begins three years after the prior season, in 1987.
“For a show that’s so focused on marriage, family, and characters, the time setting of the show was dictated by two big political figures,” Fields said. “Joe decided to set the show in the early ’80s because of Ronald Reagan, and that’s when the Cold War was at its fiercest. The time jump came about because as we looked at what we wanted to do with the end of the show, Gorbachev was such an important figure and we knew would trigger so much for Philip and Elizabeth and the other characters, so that’s what really took us there. Season 5 ended with Philip and Elizabeth in a very particular place with some very big decisions about their marriage and family, and the time jump allowed us to see how incremental changes over time impact a marriage in a big way when we came back.”
The late ‘80s were also a time when Putin rose up in the KGB. There may be hints of that in the final season of The Americans.
“In a sense, we’re going way in,” Weisberg said. “You’re not going to see Putin as a character, but the actual way that the factions were dividing up in 1987 and later down the road is something we’re exploring, and we’re doing it in a way that is quite true to history. We’re trying to just skirt that line, where no one says, ‘Oh, my God, this show has gotten so wonky, we can’t even believe it’s a television drama.’ But we want to get very close to the line. So then how that would affect Philip and Elizabeth who, as you can see, very naturally would be probably different in where they might go in the factions, is going to then create some of the drama for the show, because one of the things that was interesting about the show and kind of made it work from the beginning was that Philip and Elizabeth, as human beings, there was no fundamental line between their politics and their hearts. You couldn’t really separate out politics. They were political, emotional human beings. There is a way in which Philip eventually came to make some separation there, but Elizabeth, not so much, really. So how that plays out in 1987 becomes fundamental to everything that’s going to happen in the next season. “
While they have not had much time to reflect yet, the final scripts are in and the cast is happy with how it ends.
“We really only have two months left, but I will say, because we’ve sort of read a lot of the scripts now, that it feels really good and satisfying what Joe and Joel have created,” Russell said.
The Americans returns March 28 on FX.