Emmy episode analysis: Keri Russell (‘The Americans’) contends for final time in ‘The Summit’

Emmy was slow to recognize the quality of the work in “The Americans,” and that includes the performances of co-stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as undercover KGB agents Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings who are operating in America. But TV academy voters woke up at last. Russell has received Best Drama Actress nominations for her work in the series’ fourth and fifth seasons and is nominated again this year for the sixth and final season of the FX series. Can she prevail at last?

Russell shrewdly selected “The Summit” as her Emmy episode submission, as Elizabeth is the driving force behind most of the film’s major plot lines. She learns that her activities, deemed suspicious by some in Russia, have been spied on by her partner Philip at the request of a Soviet bigwig. When the attempt to kill Elena doesn’t quite do the job, Elizabeth is then asked to finish her off, and she successfully suffocates her target. Elizabeth has also been monitoring the goings-on of Fyodor Nostorenko, a Russian negotiator aligned with General Secretary Mikhail Gorbochev, whom the KGB is secretly trying to kill.

Elizabeth then seduces an intern and asks him to place a bankers box that contains a bugging device in a room where Nostorenko will be participating in a negotiation. But the intern finds the bug and confronts Elizabeth, who is tempted to kill him but decides not to. She has another crisis of conscience when Claudia (Margo Martindale) tells Elizabeth that the KGB wants Nostorenko eliminated and that Elizabeth should take care of it. But when faced with the negotiator, whom she believes to be innocent, she finds that she can’t pull the trigger, a failure to follow through that may cost Elizabeth dearly.

Will Russell win for “The Americans” on her final nomination? Let’s dive into the pros and cons.


Russell is dominant in this episode in a way that voters may not be able to deny. Yes, there is action, which Russell handles skillfully. But, as is the style of “The Americans,” the big dramatic character moments aren’t handled by yelling but instead either by quiet understanding or seething rage.

As “The Americans” has had its most successful nomination year yet, Emmy voters might be tempted by the final opportunity to reward Russell’s powerful performance while there’s still time.


Best Drama is a murderer’s row of talent this year, and for Russell to take home the Emmy, she would have to take down Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Claire Foy (“The Crown”), who star in series with far more nominations than “The Americans.” Yes, the vote could be evenly split among the five other nominees, giving Russell the chance to get a plurality. But that’s a tough road on which to rest your hopes.

“The Americans” has never won an Emmy at the live Primetime ceremony — its only victories have come at the Creative Arts — so history is not on Russell’s side.

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