The Americans returns Wednesday, January 28, but FX's Cold War spy drama, and perhaps television's most shamefully snubbed series, ended on a deliciously alarming note. Our covert Russian spy couple, Elizabeth (Kerri Russell) and Phillip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) received orders that not only will their eldest daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), find out the truth (that mommy and daddy aren't really travel agents), but that the 14-year-old will be recruited as a spy herself. Read to start The Americans Season 3?
The possibility seemed like a no brainer to any fan of the show—of course that's never going to happen! Elizabeth and Phillip might love fighting for their political ideologies, but they kind of seem to hate being spies. They hate having to kill innocent people, they hate the temperamental KGB "Centre," they hate that their children's lives are in danger and for most of their marriage, they hated being married. Why on Earth would Elizabeth and Phillip want their daughter to become a spy? So it was no shocker when just a few moments after receiving the news, we see Phillip, who has always been the less indoctrinated of the two, echo those very points. The trouble is Elizabeth isn't quite on the same page.
"She needs something, Phillip," is what Elizabeth tells her husband. Elizabeth isn't wrong, of course. Paige is more like her parents than we had imagined. What seemed like a cultish fascination with a Christian youth group was really just a medium for Paige to facilitate her own personal politics. When she sees her pastor arrested during a protest Paige tells her parents, "I was moved." Though they are unimpressed. Civil disobedience is child's play to two Directorate S. spies. While Elizabeth and Phillip might oppose their daughter's new found religion, they surely can't condemn her political convictions. Elizabeth sees becoming a spy as a better alternative than becoming a Christian. Phillip, it seems, would rather run away from it all and become a normal family.
So that brings us to the most important question: Is Paige going to find out? Yes. Probably. But maybe not. I've got two theories.
Why Paige Will Find Out
1. Simple: They Basically Told Us That She Will
The premise of Paige becoming a Directorate S. spy wouldn't be cliffhanger worthy if it weren't a real possibility. In fact, the series made that possibility clear when they introduced fellow spy couple, Emmett and Leanne, as the central narrative arc for Season 2. As Elizabeth and Phillip spend the season trying to avenge their spy friends' deaths, they learn that it was their son Jared, recruited by the KGB, who murdered them. Those "Spy Kids" are out there... why shouldn't Paige be one of 'em? It's not like there are really that many Directorate S. offspring to choose from.
2. Paige Is Subtly Being Primed To Emulate Her Parents
It isn't hard to recall the conversation Elizabeth and Phillip had in bed. Elizabeth reveals her reservations about what would happen to her children, should she and Phillip be caught. She believes Henry, their youngest son, is strong like Phillip but fears Paige is, "delicate somehow." However, Paige's actions bear great contrast to Elizabeth's perception. She intuitively knows something is up with her parents and begins spying on them, listening in on phone calls, going through their things, and eventually tracking down their fictional aunt and sneaking off to meet her. Paige is practically a spy already and with her new convictions, she'd make an excellent candidate.
3. The Dramatic Pay-Off Is Irresistible
Paige finding out would destroy the fabric of Elizabeth and Phillip's lives. Whether she is down for it or not, knowing the secret would cause as much friction as not knowing it. If the show plans on sticking around for a while, we're going to have to cross that bridge.
Why Paige Won't Find Out
1. Simple: They Basically Told Us She Won't
It sounds like they're not quite jumping into Double-O-Paige just yet. Creator Joel Fields told Alan Sepinwall of Hitfix, though the series returns around four months after the news about Paige's recruitment,"She is not already a KGB sleeper agent." Meanwhile, actress Holly Taylor told the NY Post she was hopeful about Paige's future story lines, "I’m just excited to hopefully be a spy; that would be awesome." I'm holding out hope too... maybe.
2. Paige Is A Red-Herring, Henry Is The Real Recruit
Remember how I mentioned Paige is a lot like her parents? Well, so is Henry. He might be a kid but Henry has proved his Directorate S. candidacy on his own. In the ominous episode where he and Paige are kidnapped, it's Henry who steps up and smashes the perp's head with a beer bottle. Later on Henry spies on his neighbor with his telescope, finds out where they hide their spare key, breaks into their home and plays Intellevision. Paige may have the convictions but Henry's got a good soldier's aptitudes. Besides if Paige is anything like Elizabeth, and she is, she's not going to give up her beliefs in the church without a fight.
3. The Dramatic Pay-Off Is Too Damn Cheesy
Why would the show go there if it didn't have to? A spy family? Can you really see Elizabeth and Phillip slowly manipulating their daughter to become a spy and then what — forcing her into an arranged marriage? Can we really see the Jennings family kicking ass by day and having a quiet family dinner by night? Like, c'mon! The show is a little too nuanced and delightfully somber for that ish.
Images: Craig Blankenhorn/FX; Giphy (6)