FX’s ‘The Americans’ Imagines Moment When Soviets Learned of Reagan’s Plan to Deploy SDI

Last week’s second episode of The Americans (the third episode will run tonight, February 13, on FX), dramatically ended with a scene showing the horror realized by KGB operatives at the Soviet embassy in Washington, DC when they learn President Ronald Reagan intends to build “a ballistic missile shield” – aka the Strategic Defense Initiative. (video below)

The Americans is centered around husband and wife KGB sleeper agents (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as “Philip and Elizabeth Jennings”) who live with their kids as ordinary Americans in suburban Washington, DC when Ronald Reagan becomes President.

In the February 6 episode, “The Clock,” “Elizabeth” poisons the college student son of Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger’s maid, ruthlessly forcing her to remove a clock from Weinberger’s home office and return it with a radio transmitter installed or else her son will not get the antidote to save his life.

This occurs in advance of a meeting Weinberger will have at his home with John Nott, the British Secretary of State for Defence, who did, indeed, accompany Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on a visit to Washington, DC in late February of 1981. (SDI was publicly announced in 1983, I don’t know if it’s plausible it was discussed with allies two years earlier).

Previously: “Three Scenes in FX’s ‘The Americans’ Which Should Hearten Conservatives
 
In the scene which ended the episode, two KGB agents listen to the recording “Philip” made from his car parked near Weinberger’s home and react with horror, as the dramatic music rises to end the episode, upon hearing British Secretary Nott tell Weinberger:

The Prime Minister fully supports your efforts to build a ballistic missile shield, provided it covers Europe, as well as the United States. Think what a different world we’ll live in as soon as we don’t have to worry about their nuclear missiles.

Audio: MP3 clip

The audio voices in the scene:

JOHN NOTT: The Prime Minister was very impressed by how far you’ve come.

CASPAR WEINBERGER: The President and Mrs. Thatcher always see eye to eye. But it’s useful when you and I chat ourselves to make sure our bosses fully understand each other.

NOTT: The Prime Minister fully supports your efforts to build a ballistic missile shield, provided it covers Europe, as well as the United States. Think what a different world we’ll live in as soon as we don’t have to worry about their nuclear missiles.

WEINBERGER: Amen to that.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center