We’re not going to begrudge Paige (Holly Taylor) her gloomy disposition this season on “The Americans.” Given all that she’s currently dealing with — the whole parents-as-Russian-spies thing, her new after-school unpaid internship watching Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin), her first real boyfriend being the son of an FBI agent… She has a right to the occasional sourpuss.
But we have faith that the oldest Jennings offspring will not just bounce back, but actually flourish once she embraces her inner double agent. Even Noah Emmerich, who plays Stan Beeman and has begun dabbling in directing episodes of “The Americans” agrees that Paige isn’t totally broken. According to him, she has a strong mettle, and a resilience that will serve her well in the future.
Does that mean that she’s gearing up for a Centre-sponsored sleep-away camp anytime soon? Not officially. But if you know where to look, there are certain clues to Paige’s potential in the early seasons. Let’s take a look back at some episodes, and see how and where the seeds have been planted all along…
Season 1, Episode 6
What happened: While Paige and Henry (Keidrich Sellati) are off at the mall, Philip and Elizabeth (Matthew Rhys & Kerri Russell) are being tortured by their KGB comrades. Realizing no one is coming to pick them up, Paige makes the decision to just walk home. This being the ’80s, walking leads to hitch hiking, which leads to a ride from a creepy guy named Nick… Who decides to take a quick detour to a duck pond, crack a beer, and rant about God and faithless Americans. Keeping her cool, Paige plays along — until Henry spots the guy’s knife, and they both decide it’s time to split. Henry pops Nick on the head with a beer bottle and they make their escape, promising never to tell their parents of what just went down…
Spy Attributes: Calm in harrowing situations; ability to compartmentalize and keep secret information for long periods of time.
Season 1, Episode 13
What Happened: Paige’s innate sense of curiosity blossoms over Season 1, culminating in her snooping around the laundry room in the first finale. After catching Elizabeth emerging late one night (where she’s been secretly listening to tapes from her mother back in Russia), Paige decides to sneak in and investigate. She ends up not finding anything (Elizabeth is, of course, way too good at covering her tracks and keeping everything contained in that fuse box)… But Paige is definitely on the right track, and is now forever suspicious.
Spy Attributes: Healthy sense of curiosity and suspicion; willingness to snoop on just about anyone; persistence and instinct.
Season 2, Episode 3
What Happened: One of the best early signs of Paige channeling her inner spy is in this Season 2 episode where she decides to make a surprise visit to their “Aunt Helen,” about whom she’s heard so much but never met. Deciding to skip school and go introduce herself, Paige finds the house and invites herself in — probably half expecting (like we were) to find no one at home. But there she is! A woman clearly suffering from dementia and a photo of Elizabeth prominently placed on the wall. These people are scary good.
After Paige leaves, “Helen” gives Philip a call to let them know she had a visitor — and revealing that she, too, is part of their KGB network in the D.C. metro area.
Spy Attributes: tactical planning, casing the joint, and straight up courage in pursuit of the truth… Who just walks into a stranger’s house?!
“The Americans” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.