"I told him you were the most dedicated, loyal person ever to serve the organization." ―Philip to Elizabeth
Elizabeth Jennings is a main character on the FX series, The Americans. Initially she is the wife of Philip Jennings as a cover story (officially married as of Season Five) as well as the mother of Paige and Henry Jennings. She, along with her husband, is an undercover KGB Directorate S Officer operating near Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s. She is also a businesswoman who runs a travel agency with her husband, the primary purpose of said travel agency is as a cover for their real intentions of being in America.
When FBI counterintelligence agent Stan Beeman and his family moved to their neighborhood, Elizabeth and Philip befriended the Beemans while staying one step ahead of Stan during their operations.
Life as Nadezhda (1943-1960) Edit
Elizabeth was born as Nadezhda (Russian: Надежда) in Smolensk, Soviet Union, in 1943. Raised by her single mother, growing up in post-World War II Soviet Russia was so harsh that she never had a real childhood.
Elizabeth's mother was always very serious. She told Elizabeth that she should always rely on herself in their tough world. As a bookkeeper for their local party committee, she was very patriotic to the Soviet Union. Elizabeth's father was a coal miner, and she never knew him because he died during World War II when she was a baby. When she asked her mother why she never attended his memorial, her mother said that he was a deserter during the War and therefore the memorial was not for him.
Elizabeth and her mother lived in an apartment flat with three other families, and she often had trouble falling asleep due to the noise. When she was 14 years old, her mother was diagnosed with diphtheria; Elizabeth took care of her for 10 months without any help.
When she was 16 years old, the KGB approached her to join the organization and gave her a week to decide. Although she was not allowed to tell anyone about it, she told her mother everything, and her mother did not hesitate in encouraging her serve her country. By 17 years old, she officially joined the KGB.
KGB Training (1960-1965) Edit
Because she showed great promise, she was advanced to become a Directorate S Officer, an undercover Soviet operative hiding in plain sight in America. As a young cadet in training, she learned how to speak English with a flawless American accent, how to be an effective spy and how to think and act like a typical American. Her name was changed to Elizabeth Korman, a stolen American identity of a deceased female of the same name.
In Moscow, Soviet Union, in April, 1962, General Viktor Zhukov introduced Elizabeth to Philip, another Directorate S Officer in training, who was to be her husband in America solely as a cover story. They were instructed to never speak Russian again and to never discuss their former Russian lives. Gabriel later tells Philip that he was the second potential husband introduced to her; Elizabeth rejected the first. Still, Philip was not what Elizabeth expected, causing Zhukov to meet with her privately in 1964 to address her unhappiness, while defending The Center's pairing.
Life Undercover (1965-1981) Edit
After several years of intensive training, Elizabeth and Philip arrived in America in August, 1965. In order to further their cover, they produced two children together, Paige in late 1967 and Henry in 1971. The Jennings became owners of a travel agency while continuing to pose as average middle-class citizens. Through the first fifteen years of living undercover in America, she strongly held on to her Soviet ideals.
In 1981, Elizabeth, disguised as a hooker, seduced a federal worker in order to get information about the now-defected Nikolai. Three days later, she, Philip and their spy colleague Robert McKenzie kidnapped him and hid him in their car trunk. When FBI agent Stan Beeman moved in across the street from them, she dismissed it as a coincidence and was against the idea of defecting when Philip mentioned it. After Philip killed Nikolai for assaulting her in training, she began to feel intimate with him for the first time and told him about her old Russian life (Pilot).
In order to bug Caspar Weinberger’s home office, Elizabeth and Philip targeted Viola Johnson, the Weinbergers’ maid, to plant the device. Dressed up as a nurse, she poisoned Viola’s son, Grayson, and used the poisoning as leverage for Viola to do the task. After Viola planted the bugged clock in the office, she cured Grayson (The Clock).
After Robert died, the FBI knew he was a Directorate S Illegal and went after his wife, Joyce Ramirez. When she sent out an emergency signal, Elizabeth called on her agent, Gregory Thomas, to hide her from the FBI. While in a safe house, she deduced that Elizabeth, Philip and Gregory were spies. She was sent to Claudia, their new handler, and was killed by the KGB. During the mission, it was revealed that Elizabeth had an ongoing affair with Gregory but broke things off because of her newfound interest in Philip (Gregory).
When President Reagan was shot, Elizabeth and Philip scrambled to find out who did it. Dressed as federal workers, they found out through a nurse that the president was fine. However, Claudia ordered them to go through with Operation Christopher, assassinating those responsible for a possible coup. During the operation, Elizabeth killed a security guard who asked to inspect their vehicle. While listening to a recorded device from the bugged clock, she told Philip that it sounded like America was planning a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union, but they ignored the potential threat thanks to Philip’s intuition (In Control).
When Adam Dorwin, an unstable KGB recruit, threatened to expose KGB agents, Elizabeth paid him a visit to evaluate his condition, only to kill him later on. While on another mission to learn about the FBI’s new portable technology, her target beat her after having sex with her. After getting home, Philip saw her bruises and wanted revenge on the abusive man, even though Elizabeth got the intel. Later, at a car repair shop, Elizabeth got into an FBI car’s trunk to copy the encryption codes of the portable technology. The car drove off with her still inside, but she narrowly escaped (COMINT).
Because Nina Krilova helped supply Stan with classified information, the KGB realized they had a mole. They suspected Elizabeth and Philip, and kidnapped both of them. They physically roughed up Philip and psychologically tortured Elizabeth. When the Jennings found out Claudia was behind the event, Elizabeth brutally beat her. Philip realized that they were suspected because Elizabeth reported over the years that he liked America too much (Trust Me).
With Philip away in New York for a mission with Irina, Elizabeth targeted Sanford Prince, a KGB informant with a gambling debt. Dolled up as a black-haired vixen, she approached him and paid off his debt, making him her agent. Later on, she apologized to Claudia by saying she was sorry she did not kill her. Missing Philip, she called him while he was in New York, telling him to come home (Duty and Honor).
Desperate to stop a rogue KGB assassin, The Center enlisted Philip and Elizabeth to do the job. After locating him in a hotel room, they told him to stop what he was doing, but he refused, and they killed him. Later, Claudia told Elizabeth about Philip’s affair with Irina. Hurt from the betrayal, she told Philip that they could not continue their romantic relationship but could carry on with being colleagues (Mutually Assured Destruction).
At dinner one night, Elizabeth announced to their kids that they were separating, and Paige and Henry took the news hard. After Philip accidentally injured FBI agent Chris Amador, Elizabeth went to the safe house where Philip hid him to try to get information out of him. After Chris died, she and Philip tried laying low for a while (Safe House).
Determined to maintain their cover, Elizabeth met with Gregory to tell him of the crisis. Claudia told Elizabeth to persuade him to be exfiltrated to Moscow, as the KGB framed him for Chris's murder. After one last night with Elizabeth, Gregory told her that he did not want to live in the Soviet Union. As a result, Gregory decided to commit suicide by cop (Only You).
When Claudia revealed the news that Zhukov was assassinated, Elizabeth tracked down CIA agent Richard Patterson, the man responsible for the operation, seeking revenge. In disguise, she met Richard at a bar, and took him to the bathroom for sex. When he caught onto her plan, they fought until she knocked him out. However, doubting her actions, she later frees him. When Elizabeth visited Philip’s motel room, she told him that she was ready for him to return home, only to hear that he got an apartment (Covert War).
Meeting with Elizabeth once again, Sanford told her that he recruited an Air Force colonel who knew information about Reagan’s missile defense program. Fearing a setup, she discussed the meeting with Philip. Meanwhile, with Philip’s alter ego, Clark, marrying FBI secretary Martha Hanson, Elizabeth disguised herself as Clark’s sister, Jennifer, at the wedding. She was touched by their vows to each other since she and Philip never actually said them. Simultaneously, Viola confessed to the FBI that she planted a bug inside the Weinberger office (The Oath).
Due to Viola's confession, the FBI planned to catch an illegal by the Weinberger house if anyone approached the car holding the tape. Philip met with the colonel and Elizabeth went to pick up the Weinberger tape. When Philip realized that Elizabeth was compromised, he rushed to her location and they eluded the FBI. Later, it was shown that Elizabeth had been shot by Stan during their escape. After getting surgery in a safe house, Elizabeth asked Philip in Russian to come home (The Colonel).
Elizabeth was away from home for a few months due to her injury, and her cover story was that she had to take care of her great aunt Helen Leavis in Pennsylvania. In actuality, Abigail, another KGB agent, took care of her in her New York cabin.
Elizabeth returned from her hiatus. After a successful mission with Emmett and Leanne Connors, another Directorate S couple, it was shown that she and Philip were in a much better place in their marriage. During a family day at a fair, they later found Emmett, Leanne and their daughter, Amelia, murdered inside their hotel room. Later at home, she wondered if their identities were exposed and feared for her family’s safety (Comrades).
Anxiously staying at home for safety reasons, Elizabeth spent time with Paige and Henry. When she got a distress call from Lucia, a Nicaraguan intelligence agent, she dropped her children off at the movie theater to go help her. After Philip returned home from investigating Fred, one of Emmett’s agents, she asked him how they were going to live in paranoia (Cardinal).
With intelligence from Fred, Philip and Elizabeth posed as movers at a submarine plant. While trying to find specific plans to photograph, she blackmailed Derek, one of the plant workers, into keeping quiet after he realized that she was not actually a mover. Later, posing as a social worker, she visited Jared, the Connors' orphaned son, to deliver a letter written by his parents that would reveal their true identities to him. She ultimately burned the letter, figuring that he was better off not knowing that his whole life was a lie (The Walk In).
In order to find Emmett and Leanne’s killer, Claudia asked Elizabeth and Philip to track down Andrew Larrick, a Navy Seal who was blackmailed by the Connors, to determine if he killed them. As a result, Elizabeth seduced Brad Mullin, a seaman recruit, in order to get Larrick’s file. Later, after a fight with two Mossad agents, she Philip failed for forcibly exfiltrate Anton Baklanov (A Little Night Music).
Elizabeth helped Philip find a safe house for him and one of the injured Mossad agents. Back home, she listened to Martha’s frustrated phone messages to Clark. Dressed up as Clark’s sister, Jennifer, she visited Martha to smooth over her problems with Clark. While there, a drunk Martha told her sexual details about how Clark, making her jealous (The Deal).
Disguised as CIA security, the Jennings met with Larrick and discovered that he did not kill the Connors. After learning about Martial Eagle, a base where the US secretly trained Nicaraguan Contras, Lucia granted Elizabeth access to a Capitol Building office, where she photographed documents pertaining to the base. Curious about Martha’s description of Clark being an animal in bed, Elizabeth teased Philip until he behaved similarly with her, leaving her shocked and miserable with the experience (Behind the Red Door).
Since Kate, their new handler, instructed Elizabeth and Philip to assassinate the field commanders at Martial Eagle, they formulated a plan to get in there with Lucia and Larrick. When Larrick told Elizabeth that he was going be out of the country during the operation, she learned that Lucia had planned to kill him once they were inside the base (ARPANET).
When Lucia tried to kill Larrick in his home, he called Elizabeth for help. She let Larrick kill Lucia when she realized that it was no use trying to save the out-of-control agent. Later, the Jennings kidnapped a Martial Eagle truck driver and learned how to infiltrate it. Back home, she and Philip dealt with Henry breaking into their neighbors’ home (New Car).
During their Martial Eagle operation, Elizabeth assassinated the field commanders while Philip took pictures of the Contras training. The next morning, they attended Paige’s church’s and learned that she donated $600 to it. On a school night, she woke up Paige to do chores, lecturing her about what it means to be an adult and to make adult decisions. Posing as an alcoholic, she attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to befriend Lisa, a Northrop employee with personal problems (Martial Eagle).
Because of the tensions in Afghanistan, Kate told Elizabeth and Philip to target Yousaf Rana, a Pakistani intelligence officer, to learn about the US arms shipment to the Afghani Mujahideen. Instead of Elizabeth seducing Yousaf, Philip used his agent, Annelise, to do the job. Since Yousaf did not know much information, Elizabeth killed his boss, Javid Pervez, so that Yousaf would step into his position (Yousaf).
After learning the FBI discovered the Connors’ true identities and that Stan visited Jared, a disguised Elizabeth visited Jared. Afterwards, she spotted him meeting with Kate at a restaurant and wondered why she was out of disguise. With George, their telephone operator, dead and Kate missing, she and Philip went to Kate’s apartment and found a note saying to exfiltrate Jared (Stealth).
Rushing to exfiltrate Jared, Elizabeth drove him to a train station, leading to his stay at Abigail's cabin. Larrick followed closely behind (Operation Chronicle).
After learning The Center could not find Larrick, the Jennings woke their children and drove to a motel for safety. Elizabeth visited Jared the next day at Abigail’s cabin but was shocked to find Larrick confront them. Larrick had already found Philip, shoved him in his car trunk and handcuffed Elizabeth to turn them in. Jared brandished a gun, and he and Larrick fatally shot each other. A dying Jared then confessed to killing his family. Later, Claudia told Philip and Elizabeth that Jared was part of the Second Generation Illegals Program, and that they wanted Paige to be next (Echo).
Due to The Center's demand to recruit Paige into their new program, Elizabeth began to spend more time with her. During the summer of 1982, she started attending church with her, despite not believing in spirituality.
In November, 1982, a mission-gone-wrong led to Frank Gaad and newcomer FBI agent Dennis Aderholt confronting Elizabeth on the streets. After the violent showdown, she lost a list of names of the CIA Afghan group, escaped and went home with bruises and a sore tooth. The next day, she went to church with Paige. Afterwards, she and Philip visited Gabriel, their old handler who returned to service, replacing Claudia. Gabriel gave her a tape recording from her mother saying that she was dying. Late one night, she trained her new South African agent, Hans, in surveilance (EST Men).
Elizabeth helped Philip and Yousaf dispose Annelise’s corpse by folding it into a suitcase. Because of the horror of the last operation, Philip told her that Paige should not enter the spy business. After she discussed her mother’s condition with Gabriel, Philip suggested that she should see her one last time. In order to get the names of the CIA Afghan group, Yousaf called the members for a meeting while the Jennings followed and took photos (Baggage).
Once The Center identified the Afghan group members, Philip and Elizabeth attended CIA agent Ted Paaswell’s open house. After Philip planted a bug inside his portable radio, he and Elizabeth tailed Ted until they realized the CIA was tailing them. Philip rolled out of the car to signal The Center for help while Elizabeth continued driving into the night. After escaping the CIA trap with the KGB’s help, she went home where Philip pulled out her sore tooth. The next night, they found out that Ted had a babysitter named Kimberly Breland, who happened to be CIA Afghan group head Isaac Breland’s daughter (Open House).
Elizabeth spied on Kimberly and her friends while they bought weed from a dealer. When a new Northrup factory opened, she went to Lisa’s house where she learned that Lisa and her husband, Maurice, were having money problems. With Pastor Tim and his wife over for Paige’s birthday dinner, Paige used the opportunity to request being baptized, much to her parents' dismay (Dimebag).
After persuading Lisa to move into her mother’s old house to take a break from Maurice, Elizabeth killed another Northrup employee to ensure that Lisa would get the open position. Dressed in expensive clothing, she told Lisa that she met a guy who took her out, asked her questions about work and paid her for it (Salang Pass).
Sitting with the church congregation, Philip and Elizabeth watched Paige’s baptism. While training Hans, he reported a suspicion that a fellow student named Todd was a South African spy supporting Apartheid. When Gabriel pressured her to move forward with Paige’s recruitment, she took Paige to Kenilworth and told her about Gregory and her activist past (Born Again).
When Reuben NcGobo, an ANC operative, arrived in Virginia, Elizabeth, Philip and Hans planned with him to capture Todd and another South African spy. Disguised as Michelle, she took Philip, under the alias Jack, to have dinner with Lisa at a fancy restaurant. After learning about Philip’s other son, she, Philip, Hans and Reuben abducted Todd and Eugene outside of a diner (Walter Taffet).
Under questioning, Todd confessed they schemed to set off a bomb at the university to blame students protesting Apartheid. Elizabeth persuaded Reuben to let Todd go after Philip found the bomb in his dorm room. Later, she asked Gabriel to get The Center to pull Mischa from fighting in Afghanistan (Divestment).
Since Todd saw Hans when they kidnapped him, Elizabeth told him that they could not work together anymore. Hans then killed Todd to keep working with her. The Jennings were assigned to bug the FBI mail robot and during the mission, Elizabeth came across Betty, an elderly bookkeeper with a heart condition at the machine repair shop. She listened to Betty’s stories and told her personal details of her life before making her overdose on her pills so her cover would remain secure (Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?).
After Philip switched the tapes at Kimberly’s house, he and Elizabeth learned that the ISI was planning to send Mujahideen commanders to meet with the CIA. Since they were going to stay at the Clayton Hotel in Crystal City, a disguised Elizabeth seduced the hotel manager, to gain access to hotel security. Later that night, Paige confronted her and Philip about their abnormal behavior and lack of family. They finally told Paige the truth and hoped that she would not spill their secret (Stingers).
Curious about her parents’ lives, Paige began to ask Elizabeth and Philip many questions. Back at Lisa’s place, Elizabeth was surprised to see Maurice there. He and Lisa requested that they give Northrup information to Jack/Philip, to get money in return to cover their financial problems. At night, Elizabeth told Paige about her mother and other details of her life in Russia (One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov).
Disguised as a telephone operator at the hotel, Elizabeth found the line that connected to the room where the Mujahideen planned to stay. At Lisa’s house, she taught her how to take pictures of a fuselage with a purse camera. Back at the hotel and posing as CIA security, Elizabeth and Philip got Abassin Zadran, one of the Mujahideen commanders, to meet privately with them. After convincing him to kill the other two commanders, the CIA canceled their meeting and opted not to send the Mujahideen weapons (I Am Abassin Zadran).
Elizabeth took Paige to West Germany. While there, The Center arranged for her ailing mother to meet them. At home, she told Philip that the trip was good for Paige and that she was glad she saw her mother one last time. While Philip struggled to tell her his concerns about their job as spies, she heard Reagan making a speech on the television, calling the Soviet Union an evil empire (March 8, 1983).
Elizabeth is a reserved but stern woman. As a wife, she first came across as cold towards Philip, only to fall in love with him after years of being together. As a parent, she practiced her own mother's tough behavior and was strict with Paige and Henry. As an operative, she is hard as nails and unrelenting, often using intimidation tactics to finish a job. What sets her apart from Philip is that she is able to compartmentalize her duties and her family life.
Possessing a die-hard spirit for the Soviet cause, Elizabeth is unwavering in her loyalty to her country. Perhaps her devotion stems from her patriotic mother along with the knowledge that her father was a traitor. She once stated that she would lose everything before betraying the Soviet Union.
Skill Set Edit
Elizabeth has the gift of persuasion and uses tradecraft such as encrypting and decoding messages, making dead drops, tailing targets, planting bugs, and most importantly, blending in while accomplishing assignments. When called for, she carries out assassinations either by gun or other means.
It is evident that her KGB training transformed her into a force to be reckoned with. With a fighting technique resembling Krav Maga and Systema, she is an incredibly skilled combatant and possesses great strength, speed and quick reflexes. She is quite resilient and able to sustain injuries during violent confrontations even if her opponent is larger than her. Using vigor and brutality, she is capable of killing both combatants and innocent bystanders without remorse if the mission calls for it.
Spy Life Edit
It is assumed that Elizabeth and Philip's missions were not as often or complicated in the late 1960s and 1970s as they are in the 1980s. Missions occur fairly often during the span of each season, forcing her to juggle many tasks.
Before an operation, she either receives a signal or phone call from a KGB telephone operator in the form of a coded message to meet with her handler. From there, her handler tells her the details of the assignment.
A true chameleon, Elizabeth is a master of disguise. The following aliases are either recurring or significant identities she used during operations:
- Kelly Mainstill―Deputy Chief of Staff for the vice president's office. Purpose: To check on President Reagan's condition with a hospital source after his assassination attempt. (Season One)
- Frances―Psychologist. Purpose: To assess the mental stability of KGB informant, Adam Dorwin. (Season One)
- Jennifer Westerfeld―Clark Westerfeld's sister and Martha's sister-in-law. Purpose: To provide Clark with a family for believability purposes. (Seasons One-Two)
- Jackie Mackelhan―Mover at a Newport News submarine plant. Purpose: To steal classified plans of a particular blade that Emmett and Leanne Connors were after before their deaths. (Season Two)
- Ann Chadwick―Social worker. Purpose: To look after Jared Connors after his family was slaughtered. (Season Two)
- Laura Gering―CIA security officer. Purpose: To handle Andrew Larrick and to convince Abassin Zadran to murder two other Mujahideen commanders. (Seasons Two-Three)
- Michelle―Alcoholics Anonymous attendee and General Dynamics employee. Purpose: To use Lisa, her sponsor and a Northrup employee, to grant her access to secret stealth technology. (Seasons Two-Three)
- Ms. Lefler―Businesswoman. Purpose: To seduce Neil, the Clayton Hotel manager, in order to gain access to the hotel room where the Mujahideen commanders stayed. (Season Three)
- Patty - Aspiring Mary Kay consultant. Purpose: To gain the trust of the Seong family and steal necessary information to which Young-He's husband, Don, has access. (Season Four)
- Dee Eckert - Airline attendant, married to Brad Eckert (Philip Jennings) and adoptive mother of Tuan (another undercover agent from Vietnam). Purpose: Spy on the Morozov family who fled the Soviet Union. (Season Five)
- Stephanie - In-home nurse. Purpose: Gain information from Glenn Haskard who works with Soviet negotiators. (Season Six)
Her numerous aliases conceal her true identity and also protect her assets. She brings these varying personas to life with the help of wigs, costumes and different mannerisms. It is implied that she changes into these individuals at safe houses. Most of the time, she uses cars other than her own during assignments.
In order to fulfill missions, Elizabeth has a network of the following informants that assist her:
- Gregory Thomas (Season One)
- Sanford Prince (Season One)
- Lucia (Season Two)
- Andrew Larrick (Season Two)
- Lisa (Season Three- Season Four)
- Hans (Season Three- Season Five)
Only Gregory and Lucia knew her true identity. Sanford, Andrew and Hans only knew that she part of the KGB. Lisa is her only informant that does not know her true intentions. Each of them supplies her with information or helps her during operations.