After dropping a massive bombshell, FX’s The Americans returns Wednesday to continue its reign as one of the best shows on TV. Season 4 of the show promises to be the most emotional and tense yet, and LA Fan Cultures Examiner sat down with the drama’s co-creator Joel Fields to discuss what’s ahead for the Jennings family – and how much flak he got from the end of Season 3.
SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers for the Season 3 finale of The Americans and minor spoilers for Season 4. If you have not seen the last season finale, this interview will spoil the ending and also contains some hints for the new season.
Tension in the Jennings house is at an all-time high now that daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) is on the inside. Paige avoided being forcibly recruited into the KGB, but she now knows that her parents are Russian spies – and as if that wasn’t bad enough, she closed out the season confessing that information to Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin) and put the whole family in potential danger.
Fans aren’t happy with Paige, but Joel has different thoughts about that final scene. “It’s so interesting to me that people are upset with Paige,” he told us at the recent Television Critics Association press tour. “Paige has done nothing but be born and try to be a good Christian. All she’s tried to do is be nice to people and do the right thing, and everybody seems to be upset with her.
“I guess that means people are really invested in Philip and Elizabeth,” he conceded, “but as parents, there’s been a few missteps there.”
Parenting’s not the only thing that Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) have difficulty with. They spent most of last season arguing about whether or not to follow the directive to recruit Paige, which also allowed audiences to get a look back into their own recruitment stories. Season 4 opens with a violent scene from Philip’s childhood, but that won’t be the focus of this year. “This is not going be exclusively about delving into that,” Joel said. “I think that’s more something that became the launch of this season but it’s still equally both of their shows.”
Instead, the duo have a new challenge in front of them as Dylan Baker (The Good Wife) joins the cast of The Americans as a new series regular, beginning with this week’s premiere. “He’s going to be a important part of the season,” Joel explained. “He’s a new illegal whom Phillip and Elizabeth will be working with over the course of the season and he’s the vector of some really deadly stuff.”
“It’s sensational working with him,” he said of bringing Baker to the ensemble. “He is one of our great actors and we just felt so lucky to get him for the show. He’s also just a terrific person, so he’s been a great addition to the cast. We’re very lucky with our cast, regulars and guest.”
Season 4 is also poised to be a turning point for the series as a whole. “Many bombs that were set ticking in the first season are either going to have to diffuse or go off,” Joel warned.
“This is a season in which things are coming to a head,” he continued. “We like to try and make [each] season different, for ourselves if nothing else, and I think one thing that happened this season that we haven’t done before is just kept going from last season. We were able to follow the rocket that was this story.”
Considering that Season 3 featured some of The Americans‘ most shocking and emotionally challenging scenes yet, all signs point to Season 4 being another round of episodes that will keep audiences not just on the edge of their seats, but on the edge of what they can take. Don’t miss a minute of the spy show that changed the game.
The Americans returns this Wednesday, Mar. 16 at 10 p.m. on FX. Fans who need to get caught up can use the suggested links below this article to access our recap and analysis archives from Season 3.