The Americans Season 2 Interview: Matthew Rhys Teases What’s Ahead In FX’s Compelling Spy Drama

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FX’s spy drama The Americans was one of the most critically acclaimed series of 2013. Tonight, Wednesday, Febryary 26th at 10pm, the drama about Cold War era Russian spies Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings returns. Before you get ready to dive back into the world of domestic and political intrigue, TV Equals has highlights from a recent conference call with series star Matthew Rhys (Phillip) that you will not want to miss. Read on to find out how Philip will balance two marriages, where the series could end up and much more.

The Stakes Are Higher In Season Two

Matthew Rhys noted more than once that Phillip and Elizabeth are under constant threat this season, even more so than they were in the past. Elizabeth and Phillip were often at odds last year, but Rhys said “they’re a much stronger front as a unit” and as a family as they find themselves facing a “prevailing and present danger that’s encroaching on the Jennings’ household.”

What is interesting is the danger will come from both outside and within. The couple’s daughter Paige is becoming increasingly suspicious about her parents lives. Her curiosity puts both her and the family at risk. They made a decision long ago to keep their double lives a secret from the children, but Paige is 14 at the start of season two and Rhys pointed out having an “incredibly inquisitive teenage daughter” has caused them to question “their ideals.”

The Marriage Triangle

Everyone wanted to see Phillip and Elizabeth embrace their arranged marriage for real last season and in season two, Elizabeth will finally realize and accept she has real feelings for her husband. Of course, this comes at a time when he is balancing a marriage of convenience with Martha. Rhys revealed we might get to see a jealous Elizabeth. Keri Russell, Elizabeth’s portrayer, was terrific at playing the devoted, often cold and guarded spy in season one, so seeing her channel a more emotive side will be interesting.

As for Phillip, his feelings haven’t changed. “I don’t think he does have any feelings for Martha,” Rhys said. “I think from the onset his feelings for Martha have been very clear.” His challenge will be in putting his new wife’s desires to advance their marriage on hold, despite her eagerness. His goal is to gather information, but with his marriage to Elizabeth more real than ever before, suddenly doing their jobs will be a lot harder.

On the Reversed Gender Roles

One of the most intriguing aspects of The Americans is the way it plays with preconceived gender roles. Traditionally on television, men are the distant, career driven characters, while the women are nurturing. On The Americans, the roles are reversed. Philip is the one who values family life and wants the picket fence dream, while Elizabeth displays a steely devotion to the cause. Rhys couldn’t be happier about the dynamic.

“I think in many ways what I loved what Joe (series creator Joseph Weisberg) did with their relationship is he kind of flipped obvious clichés on their heads where Philip, the male, was slightly closer to the children, possibly the better parent figure, and Elizabeth seemed to be the harder, colder, more hardline, aggressive one,” Rhys elaborated. “And in that respect where sometimes the archetypal clichéd version is that maybe the wife or the girlfriend spends too much money or enjoys the fine things, and this time it’s the male of the relationship who kind of says, “No, I want to buy a good cashmere, and why not?” So I love those particular dynamics that come to the relationship.”

The Return of Granny

Rhys wouldn’t reveal how Granny, played by the amazing Margo Martindale will return, but she will appear this season– albeit in a smaller capacity. Her limited time onscreen will not affect her impact on the story though, according to Rhys.

On the Disguises

Fear not, The Americans‘ fans, season two will bring more elaborate disguises for our favorite spies. In season two, the couple will be even more determined not to be recognized leading to more intricate disguises. However, Rhys’ favorite disguise is still one of the first disguises he ever donned as Phillip. “He’s called Fernando,” Rhys revealed. “He has longish hair. We actually saw him in the first episode of the first season when he beat up someone who was being rather lascivious with his daughter at a department store.”

Could Elizabeth and Phillip Ever Have a Happy Ending?

While everyone involved wants The Americans to go on for many seasons to come, it is impossible not to think about the series’ endgame. Given their dangerous jobs, it is easy to imagine a scenario where the couple die for Russia, but Rhys is far more optimistic about the possibility that the series could one day end on a happier note.

“I think that was laid down by Philip in the first episode the first season where he presented the defection packages basically saying they could go into witness protection, they could work for the U.S. government, they could be put into hiding, make a lot of money, and live out their days,” Rhys said of Phillip’s dreams for the family’s future. “And I think there’s an element of Philip that still hangs onto that dream, because I think the realization of how sustainable their lives are and how unsafe it’s becoming for the children sort of grows day-by-day. So I think that, in the back of his mind, the happy ever after for Philip is louder than ever.”

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