Tag Archives: The Americans

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Covert War”

the-americans-slice1

The Americans has its flaws, but the one thing it gets really right — and that it dedicated almost all of “Covert War” to — is its bleak deconstruction of marriage.  The Americans has always been dour, and it’s not a show I ever get excited about watching.  But once I’m in the show’s world, I’m interested to see how things play out.  “Covert War,” though, highlighted some of the best things about The Americans, and in the process, made everyone feel like crap.  Hit the jump for why “I only have fear … and you.” … READ MORE

THE AMERICANS Recap: “Only You”

the-americans-slice1

“We’re in a war, even if it’s a secret.  Blood gets spilled.  It’s the way it goes,” Gaad tells Stan this week on The Americans, and how true it is.  But unlike other shows that depict violence, The Americansalways makes it personal.  The show has gone from being a little sterile to being very emotional, all in the same muted tones of the Cold War it depicts, but those smothering feelings, whispers and quiet anguish make it all the more visceral.  A lot of The Americans is built on issues of trust — Elizabeth and Philip need to be trusted by everyone, but they themselves trust no one (not even, sadly, each other; at least, not fully).  Stan lies to his wife and to Nina, but they are also forced to trust him whether they want to or not.  In war there are always sacrifices, and as we experienced this week, martyrdom.  Hit the jump for more about how “we’re not monsters.” … READ MORE

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Safe House”

the-americans-slice1

The Americans took a break last week — something FX never does with its dramas — because of filming delays, but “Safe House” was well worth the wait.  Things got messy thanks to one personal mistake that lead to a Cold War crisis, and it was handled with controlled chaos.  What was great about the confusion and fallout that happened throughout “Safe House” was that it wasn’t arbitrary.  On some series, miscommunication and mistakes happen because people don’t speak or are unwilling to ask basic questions or confirm anything (Lost comes to mind, a show where almost no one asked anyone anything obvious).  The Americans pulled off an amazing feat of plotting this week by allowing things to happen realistically in turn, and following a situation until its natural, though most extreme, end.  Hit the jump for more on why “we should have fried chicken every day!” … READ MORE

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Mutually Assured Destruction”

the-americans-slice1

The title for The Americans really said it all this week, didn’t it?  There is a secret war going on that no one wants to become full-fledged combat, regarding both the U.S. and the Jennings’ marriage.  Parallels!  That being said, the Jennings’ marriage (one of the strangest yet most honestly portrayed ones on TV) went to some dark, sad places this week whereas the rest of us got a history lesson.  I said early on in The Americans that the show presumed probably a little too much from the audience in terms of a deep knowledge / understanding of that time period and the political motivations within it.  This week, the show did a good job of having the characters ask some pretty straight-forward questions about why the U.S., if it knows but doesn’t “know” that the Russians are targeting the country, retaliate?  “We do not want to start a war,” was the straight-forward reply.  Hit the jump for why we just have to “act like nothing happened.” … READ MORE

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Trust Me”

the-americans-slice1

Dobry den, my comrades – The Americans got real tonight, da?  Philip and Elizabeth’s story took a surprising turn (quite a few turns, though not quite how I expected), but even they were overshadowed by the tricks Stan pulled to keep Nina from harm, not to mention that haunting interlude where Paige and Henry decided to hitchhike.  This was a pretty flawless episode from top to bottom, building off of what we have experienced in the last five weeks (Elizabeth and Philip’s relationship, Stan’s protectiveness towards Nina) and rewarded us for staying true to the cause.  Things are coming together as much as they were split asunder this week, and per usual I’m not sure what to expect going forward (one of the series’ greatest traits).  But for now, hit the jump for why “I believe in God, not coincidence. ” … READ MORE

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Comint”

the-americans-slice1

Another nuanced episode of The Americans this week, focusing on the tit-for-tat back and forth of intelligence and counterintelligence.  Just as the FBI found a way to not only encrypt but make portable its communication, the Russians (via Elizabeth and Philip) found a way to hear them anyway.  Within a day the FBI had adjusted the code to block out the Russians, and so forth.  The bigger revelation was not this cat and mouse game, though, but that the Russians discovered that there was a mole.  And, despite their Herculean efforts to keep their agent in the Department of Defense, Adam Dorma (who we meet briefly at the start of the episode), in the end he became as much of a liability to them as an asset because his loyalty was briefly questioned in his moment of distress.  In the spy world, the slightest hesitation could mean everything.  Hit the jump for why you shouldn’t ask questions, even for all of our 35 years and 8 months together! … READ MORE

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “In Control”

the-americans-slice1

I solicited a lot of feedback about The Americans this week because I was confused about how I could still be left so cold by a show that seems so beloved and full of things I should like (spies! Russians! Keri Russell‘s hair!).  It seemed I wasn’t really alone though, and there were plenty of people who felt like I did, that while the show was objectively good, it lacked a spark.  However, last week’s episode, “Gregory,” went a long way in repairing my feelings about the show, which is tough and can be difficult to follow.  It’s not a casual experience, but a deeply involved one that asks us to be completely engaged in it, with a fair amount of background knowledge.  It’s a show that, I know, will grow richer with repeated viewings.  Finally though, this week, I saw the light.  “In Control” was a very solidly entertaining hour of TV.  Hit the jump for more on why “one mistake is all it takes.” … READ MORE

THE AMERICANS Recap: “The Clock”

the-americans-slice1

There’s something missing in The Americans that I can’t quite put my finger on.  The concept is certainly compelling, and the pilot set up so much on both the KGB and FBI sides of the story.  The series is written by a former CIA officer, and the show is nuanced to a fault and is backed up by great casting.  But there is still something lacking in the execution of the material.  I wasn’t blown away by the pilot, though it did deliver a lot for the series to cover, and this second episode, “The Clock,” felt like it was a mid-season coaster rather than an early season episode that would really revved up viewers (particularly as a new show).  The Americans is not an easy series, but it may have great pay off.  Is it grabbing us enough, though?  … READ MORE

THE AMERICANS Recap: “Pilot”

the-americans-slice1

The Americans capitalizes on two great American loves: spy thrillers, and stickin’ it to our old Cold War foe, the former Soviet Union.  It’s not all as simple as that, though, since the protagonists are, indeed, Russian, and they are here to fight against all things Americans.  But The Americans combines elements from two of the best shows currently on TV, Breaking Bad (with the hidden darkness of seemingly vanilla suburbanites with close encounters with federal agents) and Homeland (embedded terrorist sleeper agents) yet comes up with a few twists of its own.  The show came out with a strong pilot that sets up much to come — hit the jump for more on the premiere and why “the moon is nothing, getting into space is the real accomplishment!” … READ MORE