The Jennings’ very existence on The Americans is in danger in Season 4 (premiering March 16).
While last season found Philip and Elizabeth disagreeing about whether or not to tell their daughter the truth, “the question of how to parent Paige is now secondary to the question of how to fight for this family’s survival,” executive producer Joel Fields said Saturday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena.
In light of that peril, star Matthew Rhys believes the idealistic Philip from the early seasons who wanted to adopt the American culture is gone. “His goal has become more narrow and pure in that he wants his family to be OK,” Rhys explained. “What we see more is this metronome increasing as he goes, ‘I need to do everything as best as I can so that everyone stays alive.'”
Elizabeth – who has a “longer operation that is going to challenge her in new and even more difficult ways,” Fields teased – is going through her own struggles, as well.
“This season feels a lot more about the emotional cost” of everyone’s choices over the last three years, Keri Russell previewed. “There is a big opening for Elizabeth in a new way, especially with Paige and seeing how it’s affecting her. … Between Paige’s fractures and Philip’s fractures, there is a bigger sensitivity to the fragility of her family this season.”
In addition to including several iconic moments from the ’80s – David Copperfield makes the Statue of Liberty disappear, The Day After debuts and President Ronald Reagan gives his Star Wars speech – Season 4 will deal with “bioweapons and the danger of them getting out” at the time, Fields revealed.
Regarding the question of setting an end date for the series, Fields expressed uncertainty about when the FX series will conclude.
“Honestly, I don’t think we yet know the answer to that,” he said. “What we do know is that this fourth season — if you think of the series as a three-act story — it feels like we’re coming toward the end of the second act. Whether it takes a fifth season — or a fifth and sixth season — to tell the rest of that story, we’ll discover that as we dig out of this season. We have the support from the network to do what’s right for the show and make those choices based on what’s important for the story and what we want to do creatively.”