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The Americans Post Mortem - Alison Wright talks Martha's position, her marriage & more

Warning: Major spoilers for tonight's episode of The Americans follow.

"For the KGB."

It's been a long time coming for Martha Hanson (#PoorMartha), but she finally learnt the truth about who 'Clark' works for. After being whisked away by her husband to a safehouse where he informs Gabriel that she's done, Martha asks point blank who he works for, and he doesn't lie.

It's a difficult scene to watch, one that feels like a weight has been lifted from the show's shoulders, and one in which Alison Wright is absolutely terrific. I wrote more on that here, along with my thoughts on the remainder of the episode. Last week, Wright jumped on the phone with me to discuss Martha's discovery, her own state of mind and the state of her relationship with Clark, and much more, all of which is below. This will be a two-part interview as I had also watched next week's episode prior to speaking with her, and we discussed a whole range of things pertaining to that episode, so look out for that next Wednesday.

So, Martha finally knows that Clark is KGB. What was your reaction when you read the script?

Alison Wright: These two - six and seven - I think they gave to me at the same time because really for my character they might as well just be one episode. I needed to have seven to understand six. But there’s so much going on for her, so many layers of the onion being pulled back and things that she’s learning all the time, things that she’s learning are not true, new information that she’s getting, new things to be afraid of, things she’s never thought of before, that was really one more of them. Of course, I felt a tremendous responsibility as an actor, the importance of getting that scene right and it’s four seasons of chaos so no pressure, no pressure there at all. Hopefully it works out well.

I actually made a note as I was watching this episode that watching this show is so stressful, and a lot of that comes down to Martha’s story. As the person playing this character, do you have a similar reaction when you read the script?

Alison Wright: I think since we started season four, in fact even before, where we left off in season three, I’ve been stressed too. Everybody is under so much pressure though. There are so many storylines this season that are timebombs that are waiting to go off. Everything appears to be coming to a tremendous head so the pressure for everybody is gigantic. You’re not the first person to say they’re very stressed out when they’re watching it. I’ve had people on Twitter asking me to share Martha’s Valium and if they’re going to come and have a glass of wine with me, so you’re not alone.

I’d have to ask [showrunners] Joe [Weisberg] and Joel [Fields] but I think that’s probably the intent.

Alison Wright: Yes, yes. And it’s wonderful that it works, and it’s a testament to the show that it works.

As the season has gone on, Martha’s obviously found out more and more and more. In terms of that, has it been almost a case of with each piece of information, Martha is in so deep that it doesn’t really matter to her how much more she finds out because she can never reverse what she already knows?

Alison Wright: That’s interesting to think of it like that. But that sort of ties in what I said before about [finally] asking “who does he work for?” [It’s] just another layer. So I suppose I feel a little bit of that way too. The first episode in season four when she finds out that her husband is a killer, which no matter what she thought about him before, she never thought that. She finds out that he’s murdered somebody for her, because of her, they’re inextricably bound out of guilt, among many things. She’s bound tighter to him because of that. So he’s her only standing post. He’s the only person that she can go to at this point, for anything, so all of this information and these things that are happening push her closer to him because he’s all she’s got. She has him, or she has nothing at all. And maybe jail. That’s where she’s at, at the moment.

We see her learn in this episode that Clark is KGB, but she doesn’t know that that whole relationship has been a lie. We’ve seen her struggle a lot with the partial truth she’s given, but learning Clark’s real identity and learning that the whole relationship was a sham, would that be her breaking point?

Alison Wright: For most people it was. For most of the victims of these ‘Romeo’ spies, all of the documented cases, three out of four of them committed suicide within 24 hours when they found out the truth. When they found out, not just who they were working for - that was something that they could put up with; [in] quite a few cases, they could have put up with [it] to a certain extent - but finding out that the whole relationship and marriage was a sham was too much to handle, understandably. To find out how much they’d been manipulated and lied to and that even the relationship that at least they thought “oh well, at least I’ve got this, we have this really good relationship. It sucks that he’s a spy or it sucks that he’s working for whoever he’s working for, but we have each other,” to then find out that “no, you don’t have that, you don’t have anything,” is devastating.

Obviously, Martha found out she’s been unknowingly helping the KGB since the first season when she planted the bug. Now that it’s all out on the table, has this felt like a long time coming for you - and for Martha?

Alison Wright: Absolutely. 100%, and for the audience, I think. For as much as she’s asked to know, most of it has really been about Clark: him the person, not his job. I think she’s compartmentalised that for a long time and not focused on the seriousness of what she’s doing, she’s just helping her husband. I think that’s how she managed to get this far, doing the illegal stuff at the office and whatnot. We’ve never seen her toy with the idea of “just tell me, who is it?” And because of the time period that this show is in, there is no doubt in my mind that the KGB is the worst possible answer that could come out of his mouth. How much she already suspects that that’s what it is, or fears… I’m sure she fears because that’s the worst answer he could give. Ronald Reagan’s on TV talking about the “evil empire” and they are the worst possible people at that moment in time, so that’s the worst possible answer she could get from him.

You say she maybe half expects it, but at the same time, it’s outlandish, it’s awful.

Alison Wright: It’s a tragedy, yeah. Because she’s had a few years to think about and wonder about - to what extent is debatable - who could it be? Even if you’re not asking for an answer about something, you think about what your options are. You think it could be this, it could be this, it could be this, and that’s the furthest end of the spectrum, that’s the worst case scenario. And I suppose there is a big part of her - there is definitely a big part of her - that feared that would be the answer and a big part of her suspected and worried that would be the answer. Because there’s no coming back from that, there’s no happy resolve after that. It’s no wonder she hasn’t asked until now.

Once you’re a KGB spy, that’s it.

Alison Wright: Game over, right? Game over. Like, she’s not going to be spared at all if she gets caught.

She might have a better fate than Nina did, but that’s not saying much.

Alison Wright: Might. But someone’s stolen her gun, she doesn’t know where it is, so I don’t know.

She really struggles to come to terms when she’s told that she won’t be able to go home again. Is that maybe a worse fate for her than simply knowing that she’s been sleeping with the enemy?

Alison Wright: I suppose it could be. It’s certainly a level of, I felt, disappointment and disgust almost, that this was the reality, that her whole life has been taken away from her. Not only is she guilty of all of this stuff, and ‘who is her husband?’ at this point, but you’ve taken my future away from me. You’ve taken my parents away from me, who she’s very close to, you’ve taken my whole life away. And of course, she’s responsible for that too, not just him.

It was her choice to do all of these things, but once she knew what she was into, once she was aware he wasn’t who he said he was, it was too late for her to get out.

Alison Wright: Right, right. She’s too invested at that point. And then you think “oh, I’ll just ignore that and hopefully that will go away, let’s not focus on the…” People do it every day in relationships, not focus on the glaringly obvious problems that they have with the person and just choose to focus on the other stuff.

About the Author - Bradley Adams
17 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, co-host on the SpoilerTV Podcast. Created and is in charge of the yearly Favourite Episode Competition and currently runs the Favourite Series Competition. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, while some of his all-time favourite shows include 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Banshee, Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul and many more. He also runs an Arrow fans site, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email
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