SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't finished watching "Safe House," stop reading now.
The swift murder of a low-ranking, cheeseburger-munching KGB operative in tonight’s masterful episode of The Americans, "Safe House," stands out as the most aggressive measure taken to date by the normally even-keeled Agent Stan Beeman. Aside from being one of the tensest scenes of the series, the gesture marks a turning point in actor Noah Emmerich’s character—for better or for worse. In a conference call with reporters held earlier today, Emmerich offered his take on the notable moment.
On why Beeman killed Vlad:
"Stan gets himself into a corner to some degree. He contacts the Rezidentura, he says 'I know you have Amador and if you don’t give us Amador we’re going to kill your man that we have.' Then Amador shows up dead. If he doesn’t follow through, then the U.S. will lose all authenticity or reliability in terms of their threat. Once Amador is killed, Stan feels that if Vlad is a member of the KGB, if Vlad is in fact a covert warrior in this war, then he has to go. I don’t think it’s an emotional, rash decision. I think it’s a calculated chess move that he feels must be made. He’s drawn a line that unless Amador is returned in full health to his job there will be repercussions. I don’t think there’s any pleasure in it at all. It is revenge, I don’t think it’s personal, though. I think it’s political."
On how Beeman’s personal decision affects the Cold War:
"Vlad is clearly not a major player—although he is a KGB spy working to bring to down America, he’s not high-level enough that it would move the DEFCON threat level anywhere. [Beeman] sees it as a justifiable and promised retaliation for the murder on American soil of a federal agent. It’d be more dangerous from Stan’s point of view to do nothing. To not retaliate. To therefore give the KGB the green light saying, 'You can indiscriminately execute American citizens on American soil' would be a much more dangerous thing to do. Nothing is more dangerous at that point than something. Things are getting quite out of control. The KGB seems to be getting broader and broader with the license which they take to threaten and harm U.S. citizens. Beginning with the scientists and coming all the way now to actual federal agents. It’s critical that something be done to halt that acceleration. The murder of Vlad is a step in that direction."
On Beeman's suspicion level regarding Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings:
Sadly, my recording device fussed up a little (or the KGB blocked my signal), but to paraphrase, Emmerich went on to suggest that Beeman’s suspicion of Phillip has purposefully been kept vague to allow other storylines to play out. He noted that himself Matthew Rhys, and executive producer Joe Weisberg have had ongoing discussions about the level of suspicion Beeman feels toward Phillip, and did not want to guide the viewer one way or another in interpreting their dynamic.