Brow Beat

Anatomy of a Scene: When the Pliers Met the Tooth on The Americans

The Feb. 11 episode of The Americans contained one of the most harrowing scenes in television history.

In the Season 3 premiere, deep cover KGB agent Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) got into a fight with two FBI agents that ended with the G-men battered and bruised and Jennings nursing a broken tooth. Savvy enough to know that the feds would be monitoring dental offices, she couldn’t seek professional help, but in Episode 3, it was clear that the tooth needed to come out. So Philip (Matthew Rhys), her husband and fellow KGB agent, did what was necessary: He took her down to the basement, grabbed the pliers, and started tugging.


In this exclusive video, executive producers Joel Fields (who speaks first) and Joe Weisberg describe how the scene, directed by Thomas Schlamme, came about.

Disclosure: The Americans was created by Joe Weisberg, brother of The Slate Group’s editor-in-chief, Jacob Weisberg.