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How Is Martha Doing on The Americans?

Photo: Victoria Stevens

With each passing week on The Americans, Poor Martha wades a little further into dangerous territory. Throughout the season, we’ll be on regular Martha Watch, checking in with Alison Wright to gauge her character’s state of mind and general welfare. This week, Wright explains why we shouldn’t be too worried about Stan … at least, not just yet.

Was Martha’s phone call to Clark a mistake? She seems to regret it midway through, but finishes the message anyway. What’s going through her mind?
It may well have been a mistake. She had multiple moments in that phone call when she regrets what she’s saying. She knows she’s not supposed to call repeatedly, she knows she shouldn’t leave a message that could in any way be incriminating but she’s trying to let him know she desperately needs his advice on how to handle Aderholt. Not only is she struggling to find the words to tell him everything without actually saying anything, she also panics that someone may be listening in at that moment. She has to cover and not raise suspicion.

She tells Clark “I love you” at the end of her message. Does she mean it? 
She absolutely means it. She loves him completely, and she’s bound closer to him now than she ever was before. Her saying “I love you” at that moment can be translated as a few things: I’m still with you, I’m not giving up on you, we are in this together, are you okay?, please help me, don’t leave me to do this on my own.

How much does Martha suspect Agent Aderholt’s motives right now?
She doesn’t know what he wants from her. This could be completely innocent. Aderholt has been sweet and engaging with Martha from the moment he arrived. They have a connection and Martha genuinely likes him. When she can’t speak to Clark beforehand and realizes she’s going to go into this alone, I imagined her trying to remember the tricks Clark taught her to avoid looking guilty. I imagined her practicing in the mirror, how and what she should say, which is incredibly sad to me. And I can, of course, take those improvisations with me into the scene. She has to deflect Aderholt from thinking anything is wrong or suspicious, and it takes a toll on her. She may have done quite well by the end of the evening, but at what cost? Brandon Dirden [who plays Aderholt] and I both hoped that our characters would become more involved with each other as the story progressed. I liked the conflict of Martha developing a possible confidant at work, but I don’t know if that’s even possible after tonight’s episode.

Can you talk about the logic behind Martha saying she’s seeing a married man? Is she describing her relationship essentially how she sees it?
The precise logic will be explained in next week’s episode, during one of my very favorite Martha scenes of the season, directed by Noah Emmerich.

Stan rummages through Martha’s apartment and finds the gun, a copy of the Kama Sutra, and a few photos. What are those photos? Has he found anything particularly incriminating?
No, he hasn’t found anything particularly incriminating. Just the opposite. Normal photos, normal people in them, a normal childhood, and life fully documented. Stan hasn’t found anything to support his case … yet.

How much danger is Martha in right now? Did saying she’s seeing a married man help explain why she’s been so preoccupied in the office lately?
She hopes that is what it has done. Telling the cover story of a paramour serves a few purposes. It can explain any odd moods or behavior at work, it can keep Aderholt at arm’s length, hopefully deflect his attention if he is romantically interested in her, and, lastly, it gives her a chance to speak her truth out loud. We the audience may be more aware than she actually is that if you replace “married man” with “Russian spy” it’s her story. Clark is married to his cause and she is the other woman, and that’s a sobering realization.

How Is Martha Doing on The Americans?