Some quick background information: The Americans is a cable drama in its sixth season on the FX cable channel. It stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Elizabeth and Philip Jennings who are posing as Americans but are really deep, deep cover Russian spies. Every week, they make contact with important people in the American government in order to gain access to sensitive information and technology. They use intimidation, violence, and sex to do whatever it takes.
It’s smart, tense, sexy, with thrilling sequences of espionage and, occasionally, if we’re lucky, a mail robot. I’m leaving out half the stuff that makes the show really pop because I need to get to the main points here: it’s in its final season and I’m a huge fan of the show. So, imagine my surprise when in last night’s episode, “Tchaikovsky”, on a show that takes place mostly in Maryland, there was an explicit reference to the 1987 Giants...
Specifically, an important negotiator in a Russia-U.S. peace summit is listening to a radio broadcast of this October 4, 1987 game between the Giants and Braves in which Chili Davis hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the 6th inning. Keri Russell’s character walks into the dining room to talk to him (she’s posing as an in-home caregiver because his artist wife is dying of a chronic condition) and she gets shushed long enough for him to listen to the call. This dude looks visibly deflated (he’s already pretty upset about his dying wife), which means he’s probably a Braves fan (and the call of the game sounded like it was the Braves broadcast — though it’s unclear to me if it was an actual licensed call of the game), which, whatever, fine. I got a positive Giants reference on my current favorite TV show.
How does this relate to the Giants beyond the one reference? Well, the episode starts to setup the idea that Keri Russell’s character isn’t going to survive the series... that all her spywork will get her killed. Specifically, Keri Russell’s spy handler, played by Beloved Character Actor Margo Martindale, describes the composer Tchaikovsky to Keri Russell’s daughter (played by Holly Taylor) in a peculiar way: “His mother died when he was young and his life was full of loneliness.” It’s peculiar in the sense that it’s so specific and resonates with the thrust of the series — the spy business is dangerous — and it could just as easily be a reference to the Mother Country (Russia) as it is to Holly Taylor’s character’s mother: the Keri Russell character (the woman who gave birth to her “died” a long time ago and she’s been lonely ever since, even though they work together as spies now. I’m telling you: you’ve gotta watch the show).
That small reference that comments on the arc of the series was not the only same comment in the episode. Maybe fate — that’s right, I’m talking about the invisible force we cannot see and is likely just an illusion the human mind has invented to survive as a species — dropped in that Chili Davis reference as a small reference to and specific hint about the fate of the 2018 Giants. Why that specific game? Why the Giants and Braves? Seems like the creators of the show would be Yankees fans. We don’t know anything about this negotiator character, either, and for all we know this home could be in Georgia — but we never get the sense that Elizabeth / Keri Russell has traveled out of state for this particular ongoing mission (she’s got several plays in motion at any given time; again, you’ve gotta watch the show).
Does this minor reference mean that good things are in store for the Giants this season? In my professional opinion? Yes. Absolutely.