'The Americans': Will Martha Find Out Clark's Secret in "Killer" Episode?

The Americans S03E05 Still 2 - H 2015
Craig Blankenhorn

The Americans S03E05 Still 2 - H 2015

Martha (Alison Wright) has gotten herself into a bind on FX's The Americans.

When the bug the FBI secretary placed in her boss' office on behalf of her husband/top secret KGB agent Clark (Matthew Rhys), is found, Martha realizes she's on the verge of getting caught with the receiver in her purse. Despite Martha and Clark never drafting a contingency plan, she's able to successfully deactivate the device and escape the bug-sweeper.

But when a man from the office of professional responsibility gets involved and doesn't tip her off that he knows who she or Clark is, Martha get suspicious. According to the story she's been told, Clark's office is aware of the operation — and her doubt only grows when he comes home that night and appears to have no knowledge of the incident.

"She’s finally realizing that this little alarm bell that was ringing quite far away is now ringing a little bit closer," Wright says.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Wright to discuss Martha's fate, her baby fever and those steamy sex scenes.

Do you think Martha having doubts about her marriage at this point?

It’s not something that she’s willing to think about or trying to solve immediately. It’s too big of a thought for her to formulate. Was this all a lie? She’s not there yet. These thoughts are coming really slowly. It’s just pure survival at this moment. She’s really in shock and it’s the first time she’s thought, “Oh, I could go to jail here.” The fact that Clark comes in and doesn’t mention knowing anything about it — he doesn’t burst in the door and say, “Oh my God, I know what happened today" — is slightly terrifying to her. She emotionally shuts down with him, but she also doesn’t want to raise any suspicion or alarm yet because she doesn’t know what all of this means at this stage.

What was your reaction when you first read the script?

It was surprising to me when I saw that she didn’t immediately talk to Clark about it or even ask him about it. That was a really surprising character move for me, and something that I talked about with showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields. It really added another level, and it definitely gave her more strength and independence and resolve than I had credited her with.

Was asking to see Clark's apartment a way for her to figure out if he's really who he says he is?

That’s probably the next normal thing that he hasn’t done for her yet. She’s asked this a bunch of times and he has always put her off. If that was something that was worrying her — the fact that he didn’t have an apartment — at least she can solve that question. At least she knows the apartment is definitely there and is real. And amazingly for Clark, it was.

How do you think Martha would react if she were to find out the truth about her marriage?

She’d spontaneously combust. She couldn't handle that, the poor girl. No way. Her eyes would just pop out of her head. She wouldn’t be able to process that at all. But I don’t think there’s much chance of that happening.

What's next for her?

She has to wake up and go to work the next morning. She knows that Walter Taffet is going to be there and he’s going to want to start having interviews with the staff. She doesn’t know if the FBI is going to be on total lockdown tomorrow — that if they go back in that they won’t be able to come back out — or if there’s going to be multiple agents in there or if they are already on to her. Her brain is completely scrambled, but she is going to go to work and try to save it.

Will she approach Clark in the next episode?

They are going to have a heated conversation, and he does profess that he’s going to tell her the truth about certain things. So yeah, she does make it get to that point. It’s a killer of an episode. 

Martha's had some serious baby fever for a while now. Do you think she can even handle raising a child at this point?

I think Martha would be a wonderful mother; she has natural feelings to do that and she would excel at that and she knows that she would be great at it. It’s definitely something that she wants in her life, and even though Clark has said on numerous occasions that it’s not something that he really wants, she’s still pushing for it. She’s OK about not having the baby herself at the moment, but now she has a new idea about blustering the baby or maybe that’s going to lead to adopting the baby. But it’s not something she is willing to give up on, no.

Do you think that Phillip will ever concede to Martha's request?

It’s Philip’s job and it’s in Philip’s best interest to keep Martha happy and to keep that asset working. If it’s something that she really needs, I think she’ll acquiesce. I think she’ll get it, I really do.

But how could Phillip possibly raise another family as his alter ego?

God knows. The man seems to have a lot of time on his hands, so maybe he could swing it. Maybe it would be a nice distraction for Martha, he would think. The writers come up with crazy stuff for us, so I’m sure they would find something exciting.

Do you think it's even feasible to stay married to Clark for a long time?

That’s what happened in reality. Joel Weisberg is always talking about how these marriages happened multiple times and lasted for years — some of them years and years — and some of them had children. As crazy as it seems, this is a factual part of the story. Most of what I can find is from the Romeo, which is what they would call the men, from their point of view. It was, of course, all their reports, everything that they were finding out about the women, letters that they would have from being in correspondence perhaps before they were married or, if they were married, when they were separated. Those letters would go to the psychologist and the psychologist would then analyze the best way to get this woman to do whatever they wanted. It was really, really specific like that. And the women, when they found out eventually, it was fatal for almost all of them.

Each time you get a new script, are you afraid it might be your last?

Absolutely, and I think everybody in the whole cast does. They put it on that level right when we lost Agent Amador (Maximiliano Hernandez) in season one. That was completely shocking. No one was expecting that. I will say that our showrunners are very kind and it would never be a case of reading a script to find out. I know that they’ll let people know beforehand because that would be the worst.

What ever happen to Jennifer, Clark's sister and another one of Elizabeth's (Keri Russell) cover identities? Will she make another appearance anytime soon?

Martha would love to become BFFs with Jennifer. She’s not supposed to talk about their marriage to anybody, but she was totally delighted when Simple Jenny came over and they hung out. If they were to actually meet again, who knows if Elizabeth might not just snap her neck though.

Do you think that Elizabeth gets jealous of Phillip's relationship with Martha?

I liked what we had in season two when she made the mistake of asking Phillip to show her who Clark was in bed. I thought that was fantastic because it was so hideously awful. There are moments in this season where Elizabeth maybe pokes at him a little bit and says a couple of slights here and there about the situation because in these real relationships that happened. Sometimes the guys did develop feelings and sometimes it became hard to exactly distinguish what the relationship was, especially if you’re with somebody who is loving and warm and wants the best for you and is providing you a safe haven of sorts. Even if you’re just liking them and respecting them as a person, that’s going to start bring different feelings into play. I know Phillip is cold-hearted — don’t get me wrong — but it would be a really cold person that could be with somebody for years and not have an ounce of empathy for them.

Speaking of Clark and Martha's sex life, what was it like to shoot that infamous sex scene in the beginning of the season?

It was remarkably easier than the one in the first season where I was on my hands and knees and say, “Shoot yourself into me, Clark.” Matthew is super sweet and helpful and chivalrous, so once we decided on a position that we could tell the story in that would also be funny, you just have to bite the bullet and do it.

What’s your reaction when you get a script like that?

I vomit in my mouth a little bit, and then open a bottle of wine.

Do you have any warning when it comes to those scenes?

No. I read something interesting once when someone had asked Joe and Joel how they break it to actors when they have to do something like this, like one of those sex scenes, and they that they just tend to throw the script and duck. That’s their attitude. They just send it out to us and disappear and hope we won’t be screaming and shouting at them.

Interesting approach.

Cowardly, some would say. They’re only men, I suppose. They’re only men.

The Americans airs at Wednesdays at 10 p.m. Do you think Martha will discover Clark's secret? Sound off in the comments below.

Email: bryn.sandberg@thr.com
Twitter: @brynsandberg