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The Illegals Program

    Gabriel 

Gabriel/Semyon Andreivich

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/gabriel_6.jpg
Played By: Frank Langella

Gabriel is the Jennings' handler before Claudia who is again given the role in season 3.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: Gabriel is a kindly and grandfatherly old man, but he's a veteran spy and just as dedicated to doing what must be done for the motherland as anyone else in the KGB.
  • Broken Pedestal: Phillip once loved the man, but no longer trusts him because he wants to involve Paige in the Illegals program.
  • Heel Realization: In his final exchange with Philip, he tells him that he was right to not want Paige involved in the KGB; previously, Gabriel had been one of the staunchest advocates of involving her.
  • Put on a Bus: He retires from the KGB and returns to the USSR near the end of Season 5.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Tries very hard to be this, but Phillip no longer sees him as such. See Broken Pedestal.
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    Claudia 

Claudia

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ta_102_121213_092_full_6177.jpg
"I know you better than you know yourself. And you don't know me at all."
Played By: Margo Martindale

"Have you been following the sad progress of this country’s Equal Rights Amendment? Honestly, it makes me chuckle. These women here need to learn what you and I have known forever — you can’t wait for the laws to give you your rights. You have to take them, claim them every second of every day of every year."

Claudia is the new KGB handler and contact for Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, who generally get their orders through contact with Claudia. Unlike their previous handler, the Jennings do not trust her and have a combative relationship with her from the beginning. Claudia seems particularly ruthless in her approach to pulling the strings around Phillip and Elizabeth's missions, and Elizabeth occasionally goes over Claudia's head, breaking the chain of command to make sure Moscow is giving the orders that Claudia is handing down.

Claudia does, however, have Phillip and Elizabeth's best interests at heart — despite her very cold and intentionally distant methods. It is clear that Claudia has been doing this a long time and rarely saves time for emotion and feelings.

  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Subjects Elizabeth and Philip to this.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She might be a ruthless KGB officer, but she did love Zhukov and was hurt by his death. She also cares more about the Jennings than she lets on.
  • The Handler: To Phillip, Elizabeth, and likely others.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Claudia comes across as smug and ruthless, but she's really only doing her job and is deeply loyal to her agents; she even asks her direct superior to cancel a mission for their benefit, something a KGB officer is very rarely inclined to do.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In a nice bit of instant justice, Elizabeth snaps and almost drowns Claudia in the basin she was going to dunk Elizabeth in.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: She recounts her trials in Russia and how she survived them.
  • Never Mess with Granny: She's not to be trifled with in spite of being an older woman.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: She receives one from Elizabeth.
  • Not So Different: From Elizabeth, particularly in regards to her past.
  • Old Soldier: She is a veteran of the Battle of Stalingrad.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She might appear to be a hardass, but it's revealed that she's forced to issue directions she does not agree with. She's really on the Jennings' side, and defends them to Arkady's face.
  • Second Episode Introduction: She appears in the second episode, replacing Philip and Elizabeth's previous handler from the pilot.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Elizabeth and Phillip. They have a tense relationship that's more pronounced on their side. Later, after she helps the Jennings escape an FBI trap in Season 1 finale, they have a much better relationship.

    Kate 

Kate

Played By: Wrenn Schmidt

The Jennings' new handler in season 2.


  • Hidden Depths: She is responsible for seducing at least one of the Illegals' children into becoming a KGB agent.
  • Replacement Scrappy: In-universe. The Jennings don't respect her much, perceiving her to be less competent than Claudia.

    Zhukov 

General Viktor Zhukov

Played By: Olek Krupa

Victor Zhukov is a General in the KGB's First Chief Directorate. He is a mentor and father figure to Elizabeth. He is also the man who arranged her marriage to Philip.

  • Cool Old Guy: Zhukov seems to be a genuinely nice person.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: He is assassinated by the CIA in retaliation for the deaths of four FBI agents and a scientist by a renegade faction of the KGB.
  • Old Flame: In "Covert War", Claudia reveals that she used to be romantically involved with Zhukov.
  • Parental Substitute: He seems to genuinely care about Elizabeth and think of her as a daughter. In turn, Elizabeth looks at him like a father.
  • Pet the Dog: A literal example. One scene has Zhukov telling Elizabeth about how much he loves his pet dog.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
  • The Spymaster: As a General in the KGB's First Directorate, his job is to give orders to KGB agents in the field and oversee operations.

    Emmett 

Emmett Connors

Played By: Jeremy Davidson

    Leanne 

Leanne Connors

Played By: Emily Gold
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    William 

William Crandall/Vitaly Sorokin

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/william_3.jpg
Played By: Dylan Baker

A spy within the American biological warfare program.


  • Doctor Jerk: He doesn't have the best bedside manner.
  • Dramatic Irony: He infected himself with the Lassa Virus to try and prevent it from getting passed on to Russia, but after his death, the Centre simply arranged for a sample to be taken of his skin and used that to extract the virus, which they then weaponized. And as a final kick, they named the sample "Variant Vitaly", after his original Russian name.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: He infects himself with the Lassa Virus rather than allow himself to be captured (or allow it to get to Russia where he feared it would get loose under their inferior storage environment.)
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: All the vaccinations he's had to get for his job have left him immune to a variety of exotic diseases, but have also left him deathly allergic to common things, like butter.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Working for the Soviets has cost him his wife and his health, and he resents the hell out of Gabriel's orders, but he still carries them out.
  • Properly Paranoid: He is extremely cautious about everything. Of course, given the nature of his work, this is understandable.

    Tuan 

Tuan Eckert

Played By: Ivan Mok

A teenage operative from Vietnam who has become Phillip and Elizabeth's contact in the Midwest, posing as their adopted son.


  • Dark and Troubled Past: He lost almost his whole biological family during the Vietnam War, and since reaching the US, has been bounced around between families in the Illegals program.
  • Principles Zealot: He berates Elizabeth and Philip for having "petty bourgeois" attitudes after they save Pascha from his suicide attempt.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: He deliberately gives Pasha bad advice on fitting in because he's pushing the poor kid into a suicide attempt in order to pressure his parents into returning to Russia.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Beneath his handsome face and apparent easygoing nature, he is a very angry, bitter kid.

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