The FX spy drama series, 'The Americans' has been renewed for a second season, set to premiere January 2014. For the initiate, the drama is set in the 1980's during the Cold War while President Reagan is in office. According to IMDB:
"A pair of deep-cover Soviet spies masquerades as a typical DC couple whose children, neighbors, coworkers & friends are completely unaware of their activities. At home, they're the stereotypical parents of stereotypical kids; at work, they pose as travel agents; but at night, they weave a web of confidants, lovers, dupes, and historical figures from the Reagan-era Cold War. The startlingly realistic plot twists force the viewer to consider the real cost of an undeclared war, what it takes to protect one's beliefs, if it's worth it, and if it actually worked for either side."
According to Joe Weisbeg the idea from the show was partially based on real life:
"In 2010, if you remember, there were a bunch of Russian intelligence service spies who were arrested in the United States and a lot of people were very surprised that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was still sending this type of deep cover spies to spy on the United States. They were posing as everyday Americans. They were, in other words, illegal, like Philip and Elizabeth. After the FBI arrested them and carted them off to jail, I got a call from the heads of DreamWorks Television, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, who asked me if I'd be interested in developing a television show based on what had happened. I said yes, that would be great, I would love to do that, and then I wandered the streets for a little while until I thought of putting it back in the Cold War, which would make it a little more exciting. That was the genesis of the show."
The series is also making three actors series regulars, Alison Wright who plays Margret, Clark's (Philip's fictional persona) recently married lover, Annet Mahendru, who plays Nina, a Soviet double agent who works in Directorate S and Stan Beeman's wife Sandra.
Annet Mahendru has been a revelation as Nina, bringing the character to life with a rich and subtle depth that keeps you guessing as to what's really percolating under the surface," exec producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields shared in a statement. "And Alison Wright's portrayal of Martha is heartbreakingly real at every turn. We are thrilled to add them to our outstanding company of actors."
Tensions with the Soviet Union are at an all-time high, particularly following the assassination attempt on Regan and the Soviet Union discovering the "Strategic Defensive Initiative" the famous so-called "Star Wars" program which theoretically can block the enemy ballistic missiles, rendering the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal useless in the event of war. Of course with the benefit of hindsight we know the program was useless and little more than a huge bluff, but the Soviets believed it.
The result is a deadly exchange, with the Soviet Union scrambling to get more information to sabotage the project and engaging in assassinations and murders of scientists and police while the US retaliates by assassinating KGB agents, sparking the Soviet Union to counter with revenge killings.
The end of season one left us with a cliffhanger, Philip has learned that the SDI program is impossible and a ruse to waste Soviet resources. However, it turns out that Elizabeth is caught in a trap and her meeting with Weinberger has been compromised, prompting a car chase in which she is shot.
While its certain she will recover, it seems quite likely that the bullet was fired by their neighbor, FBI agent Stan Beeman during a high speed car chase. The question on everyone's mind is, how much does Stan know? Was he able to catch a glimpse of his quarry? We know how suspicious Stan is of his neighbors.
At the same time Nina has just become a double agent, declaring to Arkady that she was spying for the Americans but turns around and offers to spy for him and feed them false information. This is sure to have some major implications for the show, particularly since Nina is also Stan's lover, "That's been such a powerful and intense part of the season, both the spycraft and the emotional journey. Seeing where that goes next season is going to be one of the cornerstones of the season next year."
Another major plot development to keep an eye on is Clark's (Philip's fictional persona) marriage to Martha. That's almost certain to make things complicated, particularly since its inevitable that Martha will begin to realize that her beloved "Clark" isn't who he seems. If they're married she will inevitably pick up on his strange absences, work hours and activities. While she is deeply in love with him, she's not stupid and she does work for the FBI, albeit as secretary.
FX did hint about some of the upcoming themes, mainly the question of marriage and if Philip and Elizabeth would resume their relationship, "It's hard to imagine The Americans without the marriage being the center of it.... but when it comes to jeopardy, I don't think we'd want to try to sustain "are they or aren't they" [going to break up]."
On the topic of if there would be a time jump, allowing the show to fast-forward past the deaths of Brezhnev and Andropov to herald in Gorbachev, glasnost, perestroika and the beginning of the breakup of the Soviet Union, the FX team was unsure, "I'm not sure. The way our timeframe is working, 1981 has gone slowly for us. We're not going to start [Season 2] with a big time jump. But then how the second season unfolds, we don't know."
We know that most of the actors are returning to the series, the only question is Margo Martindale, who plays Claudia, Philip and Elizabeth's KGB handler. She has a lead role in a CBS series lined-up, which means she may be killed off. It would fit with the plot, as she recently went rogue and got revenge on the CIA agent who orchestrated the killing of her former lover, General Zhukov,violating Moscow's order not to take revenge. On the other hand:
"We love Claudia and we love Margo Martindale. You know, we know that there's some pilot that we've been told about, some CBS, little startup - I don't even know that you could call it a network - but the KGB has a very, very long reach and we believe that when given the opportunity, they will return Claudia to her rightful position doing what it is she should be doing."
Finally, the already troubled home life of Elizabeth and Philip is about to get more complicated. The series ended with Paige suspiciously entering the laundry room after seeing her mother go in and leave without any laundry:
"Paige is this daughter in a fake marriage from this family of spies, but really, you know, in a way all that's going on in that finale scene in that laundry room is she's doing what every adolescent does, which is starting to question whether or not her parents are who they really, really said they were, which is something every adolescent goes through and we all can relate to. It's just that in her case, boy is she right."
It seems almost certain that she will find some very suspicious things in there. The question is, can her parents continue to lie to her, or will she need to be told the truth of how her parents are Soviet spies? That will be a devastating revelation for her, as early as the first episode, Elizabeth speculated that Paige was fragile somehow compared to their son Henry and would take the truth very hard. In season 2, we will find out just how difficult it will be.
What kind of plot developments are you expecting for next season?