‘The Americans’ shocking twist could be Emmy game-changer

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SPOILER ALERT:
Do not read this item until you've watched the “Chloramphenicol" episode of "The Americans."

Producers of "The Americans" pulled off a rarity in today's world of social media — a shocking surprise on Wednesday's episode, the fourth of the fourth season. One of the key characters was killed off and the repercussions of this are sure to reverberate throughout the rest of the run of this FX political drama. And all the buzz could finally bring the show to the attention of Emmy voters. 

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Nina Sergeevna (Annet Mahendru), a one-time KGB spy convicted of being a double agent, was executed. In the first two seasons of the series, she had worked in the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., bedding down with FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich). Then, in season three, she was shipped off to a Soviet prison after being charged with treason.

In recent episodes, she was given a chance to avoid the death penalty by exerting her influence on kidnapped scientist Anton Baklanov (Michael Aronov) who was refusing to work on stealth technology.  However, she chose to ally herself with him and worked to get letters to his teenage son in America. Discovered by the KGB, she admitted her deception and expected to spend the rest of her life in prison. 

In “Chloramphenicol,” her one-time lover Oleg Burov (Costa Ronin), who has returned from Washington for his brother's funeral, asks his powerful father to exert his influence on her behalf. We see her given plane tickets and expect she will be freed only to learn that she was dreaming. Instead, we see her shot and her body unceremoniously dumped. 

We are left wondering if either of her lovers — Burov and Beeman — will learn of her death. 

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"The Americans" has pulled off a series of such game-changers this season. Soviet spies Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew RhysKeri Russell) are dealing with the aftermath of their daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) finding out their true identities. Their KGB handler Gabriel (Frank Langella) is unrelenting in his demands that they eliminate those she told. And he coerces them to work with an American scientist (Dylan Baker) who passes along a deadly virus, which ends up infecting all of them. 

Last year, "The Americans" won Best Drama Series at both the Critics' Choice TV Awards and the TCA Awards, where it was also nominated for Individual Achievement in Drama (Rhys) and Program of the Year.  But it has yet to contend for this top prize at the Emmys. This snub is even more surprising given that the first four Critics' Choice champs went on to win at the Emmys. And the last TCA winner of Drama Series not to reap at least a bid at the Emmys was "Boomtown" back in 2003. 

However, the TV academy often takes time to catch up with shows and the roster of Emmy latecomers includes such eventual champs as "Seinfeld," "The X-Files" and "Will & Grace." Will fourth time be the charm for "The Americans"? 

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Photo Credit: FX

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