SPOILERS for The Americans TV show’s season four finale, which aired last night on FX. In the wake of “Persona Non Grata,” showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg won’t spill too much about the upcoming fifth season and the show’s end in season six. They have, though, talked about working up to the end of the series, starring Kerri Russell and Matthew Rhys, Holly Taylor, Noah Emmericah, and Keidrich Sellati.
Anyone who watched The Americans’ fourth season finale knows one storyline sure to heat up in season five, because while the plot was introduced in the first season and teased in season four, “Persona Non Grata” contained a big reveal about a character who is sure to figure into season five. Spoilers after the jump.
While Philip and Elizabeth ended the fourth season pondering Gabriel’s suggestion to take their children and return to Mother Russia, and worrying about Paige’s involvement with Matthew Beeman (Danny Flaherty), they have no idea they should also brace for a visit for someone from the old country.
Expect Philip’s son with Irina (Marina Squerciati) — Mikhail Semenov or “Mischa” (Alex Ozerov) — to feature in season five. In “Persona Non Grata,” after he returned from Afghanistan, the Soviet Army veteran was institutionalized for criticizing the USSR’s involvement, there. He was released because high-up connections intervened on his behalf.
Back home, his grandfather Fyoder (Dimiter D. Marinov) gave Mischa a package Irina sent for him, before her arrest. It contains passports from the USSR, Deutsche Demokratische Republik (East Germany), and Canada, as well as assorted currency.
Mischa knows his father is a travel agent in America and says his mother said she would leave instructions on how to find him. With the FBI closing in on them in the wake of William’s (Dylan Baker) death, the last thing Philip and Elizabeth need is a Russian young man knocking on their front door, with Agent Beeman likely to pop in for dinner at any time.
Sarene Leeds of The Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog asked Weisberg and Fields about the upcoming final seasons of The Americans.
Have you two started mapping out the next two seasons? Or, I guess the better question here is where are you in that process?
JF: We’ve written the first two scripts for season 5, and we’ve written the next five stories. So we have about half the season plotted out, as well as done a lot of detailed work on the rest of season 5. We also have some specific ideas for the shape and big moves for the conclusion of the show over the sixth season. Which is why we are going to enjoy our summer!
What’s next for Henry? Is it me, or is he the biggest threat to the Jennings’ cover?
JW: Yeah, that’s interesting! That’s a good pitch – I like that idea.
Well, I just keep thinking back to that dinner scene, where he just kept blabbing stuff in front of Stan, because he doesn’t know the truth.
JW: That’s right, he got Stan in there in the first place, by being his innocent, happy little self. Paige thought she was doing something awful when she told Pastor Tim, but imagine if Henry found out and he just told Stan, because he doesn’t even think about it.
JW: ”Hey, Stan! Guess what I just figured out! Oh, my God! The coolest thing! We have two concealments in the laundry room! I’ve been looking for Dad’s porn stash, but I found wigs, guns, and a code book!”
Despite Philip’s warning, what are the odds that Paige will stay away from Matthew Beeman?
JW: She’s a teenager!
The events of “Persona Non Grata” culminate on February 22, 1984, the night of Super Bowl XVIII, in which the Los Angeles Raiders beat the Washington Redskins 38 to 9. Here’s more on the fifth season timeline, from Deadline [emphasis ours]:
Though tonight’s episode reminded us that the series is still set during the 15-month reign of Yuri Andropov (Nov. 1982-Feb. 1984), Weisberg and Fields remain tight-lipped as a captured spy about subsequent seasons, with Fields noting that the plan is to have “the characters traversing the history.” The Americans will be heading into the short-lived Konstantin Chernenko era (Feb. 1984-March 1985) in the near future, a time during the Cold War that was just as hard-lined as the Andropov reign. All this despite tonight’s warning from Elizabeth and Philip Jennings’ boss Gabriel that they “should return home” and “the job wasn’t meant to be forever.” With a final two season renewal through 2018 from FX, The Americans and its spies won’t be retiring soon.
EW asked Fields and Weisberg what viewers should keep in mind about the fifth and six final seasons:
We know there will be two final seasons to wrap everything up. What are the big questions we should be asking while we wait for seasons 5 and 6, and what are the two of you pondering as you move forward?
FIELDS: The questions we ask are the character questions. What’s going to happen to these people? What’s going to happen to their souls? How are they going to emerge from the trials that they’re in as humans?
In an interview with Fields, The Hollywood Reporter (THR) asked about the decision to end the show and how he and Weisberg will approach wrapping it all up, as well as the new series the duo is developing for FX.
How did you end up deciding you needed two more seasons rather than just one?
Well, Joe and I walk a lot and we really talked about what story we had to tell on our walks. We talked about looking at it both ways [one season or two seasons more.] None of this is new — we’ve been talking about how the show is going to wrap up for quite some time now. And it just became clear that the show really needed two seasons to fully tell its story.
Why are you ending with a 10-episode final season instead of the usual 13?
It’s funny, it just seems like the right vessel for the storytelling. We’ll see when we break all the details of the season, but we have a pretty good shape of the season and it seems right so far. We’re really much deeper into the specifics of season five than we are of season six right now. I’m sure if we found that we needed an extra episode or something, we could ask the network, as they’ve been so supportive. But somehow, everything seems to fall into place in the right shape and I have a feeling this one will too.
You’ve said that you have a general idea of where you want to end it, but have you actually nailed it down?
We know for sure the direction we’re headed and we have an ending in mind that we’ve had in mind for a while. There’s some different versions of it that could unspool for us. One interesting thing about our process is that we tend to know very clearly where we’re going but also tend to be very open to the story surprising us and changing along the way. So there are certain storylines over the course of the last four seasons that we broke early or in the middle in season one and for the next three and a half seasons played out exactly as scripted — and others that we expected to play out a certain way and then surprised as they unfolded.
Will there be any time-jumping moving forward? Will you take us through the end of the Cold War?
Again, you slip in these spoiler-y questions. Tell me about the glance at the end and then, by the way, could you tell me about the end? [Laughs.] We will be moving forward in time, that I can guarantee. The rate of that movement, I can’t speak to.
You and your creative partner Joe recently signed an overall deal with FX. Are you not working on any next acts until you’re done with The Americans?
We’re talking about it, we think about it. But I think honestly, until we’re through season five and we really have the back broken of season six, Joe and I won’t be jumping into specifics of that. It’s hard to assess how far away that is. We made a lot more progress on season five than we expected to, so here we are about to take our writing hiatus and we’ve already written the first two episodes of season five and really, half of the season is completely outlines — and we have a very good sense of the rest of season five and a very good sense of the general shape of season six. So we’ll just see how it unfolds. I think once we feel like we really got our arms around it, then we’ll be able to take a breath and start getting concrete about what’s next. But we need a little bit of a breath. [Laughs.]
What did you think of The Americans season four finale? What do you expect will happen with Misha in the fifth season? How would you like The Americans TV series finale to play out? Let us know, below.