I can’t remember a show sticking the landing of its finale better than The Americans did in Season 2. Not only did they tie up all the intricate story arcs with a legitimately surprising twist, they did so in a way that organically created an even more disturbing cliffhanger going into Season 3 (and not in a “Wait, we still don’t know who killed Rosie Larson kind of way.”) Revealing that it was Jared, recruited by Kate to become a “second generation illegal,” who killed his family immediately brought the fate of Paige (Holly Taylor) into question. Would she also be forced into the service of Mother Russia, shattering everything she thought she knew about her life and her parents in the process, or would she be allowed to continue with her relatively normal teenage existence, which at the moment mostly involves singing folk songs at her church youth group with a mildly creepy hippy pastor?
The opening scene of the Season 3 premiere, “EST Men,” does not bode well for those hoping that Paige will avoid turning into Elizabeth 2.0. The episode opens with Elizabeth (Keri Russell) recalling the swimming lessons she gave to Paige. While the other mothers at the pool coddled their children with floaties and encouraging words, Elizabeth shoved a nervous and unsuspecting Paige into the deep end. Sink or swim, sweetie. It’s a bit of a heavy handed metaphor, but it also fits with what we know of Elizabeth’s early maternal instincts.