FX’s critically acclaimed spy drama The Americans is set to begin the series’ penultimate season with the season 5 premiere. It promises to be another tension-filled story revolving around Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, and their increasingly precarious position as a pair of Russian spies posing as an ordinary American family. Of course, anyone who’s tuned in to the show knows stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are anything but ordinary, which makes the show’s intense focus on the domestic side of their characters’ suddenly politically relevant situation all the more fascinating.
Since the series premiere, creator Joe Weisberg and co-showrunner Joel Fields have successfully reaped plenty of drama from and examination of the balance between their characters’ duty to their country and the duty they have to one another as well as their two American-born children, Paige and Henry. Those conflicting obligations have frequently resulted in plenty of anxious moments and explosively dramatic situations, putting a whole new spin on the phrase “being a parent is the toughest job you’ll ever love.”
While Philip and Elizabeth have their hands full with two temperamental teenagers – one who knows everything about her parent’s dual lives and one who remains blissfully in the dark about his Russian heritage – there’s another child, Philip’s Russian son Mischa, who looks to play an important part in the series’ final seasons. Mischa’s path may one day cross with his biological father’s, but such a reunion wasn’t always something the producers had in mind.
During a recent interview ahead of The Americans season 5 premiere, the co-showrunners were asked by Screen Rant about Mischa and their plans for this familial outsider. As it turns out, they only ever intended to make Philip aware he had a child with another woman, not necessarily introduce a now-adult Mishca to the program. Weisberg said:
“… we had no intention at that time of ever bringing that story up again or going further with it. I think that we probably would have said that was the end of the story although you never know. And then just as we were as we were breaking the story from last season you often go back to anything in a character’s life to see if there’s something rich or good or complicated. And the idea with all Philip has gone through since then, the idea of this child that he has who is not a child anymore, who has served in Afghanistan, which of course Philip is obsessed with partly just because he’s a Soviet intelligence officer, and partly because he thinks he knows his son is in danger there, the idea of having this character appear back in the shelter to pull all the heartstrings he can pull. He just seemed like a natural idea. It was almost like it was like a seed we had planted that we didn’t realize it was such a good seed.”
Looking past the reproductive pun, the reasoning behind Micsha’s introduction certainly fits with the high emotional stakes the series is known for. With season 5 now underway, the premiere made it clear that Mischa was on his way to find his father in America. Considering Philip has his hands full with Paige dating an FBI agent’s son, adding another child to the mix should certainly ratchet up the tension on The Americans.
The Americans continues next Tuesday with ‘Pests’ @10pm on FX.