“I got the sense that this was a show where characters were bumped off pretty easily and pretty swiftly, so every script I expected that Martha was going to meet her maker,” Wright says of her character’s tremendous story arc, in which she eventually discovers Clark’s true identity -- after the two are married -- and is extradited to Russia, where audiences find her adjusting to life in season five. Fans surely shared Wright’s assumption that Martha would be dispatched, as tends to be the fate of even central characters who know too much. “It’s a testament to her strength that she’s still alive, that she hasn’t kicked the bucket yet. It’s pretty impressive, I think she’s made of stronger stuff than we all might have originally thought.”
When Martha was spirited away by plane in the middle of the night in season four, many fans assumed she’d never be seen again. But the character made a surprise return in a few brief yet arresting scenes set in Moscow throughout the fifth season, often alone and hardly speaking a word. “I think she’s a very different person than she was before; something important and fundamental to her personality has been taken from her,” Wright says. “Even in the scenes of silence or in the scenes where she wasn’t even speaking English, there was a lot of space to explore what that does to a person like her -- to take away someone’s belief in the goodness of people, essentially.”
Astute viewers caught their first glimpse of Martha wandering the sparsely stocked aisles of a Russian grocery store, and later stepped inside her modest apartment, where Frank Langella’s Gabriel, the mastermind of her fate, paid an unexpected visit. But it is a riveting two-minute scene in the season finale that earned Wright a nomination for the role that put her on the map. She speaks only briefly, in Russian, while conveying a sweeping range of emotion simply watching children play from a park bench. The kids are orphans, and a KGB officer seems to imply that Martha might adopt one of them. “Children are something Martha has always wanted, which they know. It’s her weak spot,” she says.