Last night was the pilot episode of FX’s new series The Americans. Nowadays, I am pretty obsessed with anything that even remotely smells like espionage (especially if it has to do with Russians) so I was very excited last night to finally get to see an episode. From the beginning, my understanding of what this show was, and was supposed to be has been constantly evolving. The first commercial I saw was the one where they keep writing “God Bless America” a bunch of times across the Tv screen and eventually highlight a message that says “Rise Comrades”. When I saw that, my first thought was ‘Damn, somebody earned their pay this week coming up with that ad.’ Then I though ‘I wonder if this show will be any good’. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t really think anymore about it (probably too busy trying to figure out what the f#$k was going on in American Horror Story: Asylum!). Then there was the ad with the red slashes on different houses in the neighborhood which eventually form a hammer and sickle when viewed from a certain angle. Again, another really clever ad which made me think ‘I should probably find out when this show starts and watch the pilot so I can at least know what all these ads mean!’ Then at last, they began airing the ads which actually show the actors and hint at different plot points and then I was really hooked (although I didn’t really like those ads as much). Finally I knew the premise for the series and it was time to get excited!
Now I suppose, since the first episode has aired, the question becomes: Is it time to stay excited? . . .
I would say ‘yes’ but maybe just tone down the excitement a little. It doesn’t have to be overbearing (like how I get about Archer. Man does FX have me dialed in!) but maybe a moderate enthusiasm would be healthy in this case. I will say that I believe the show has great potential (and I’m also not trying to say that it isn’t delivering, because it is) but I do feel this show is going to take some investment. Which is good so long as the pay-offs are big. And I think they will be. So what do we already know?
1. Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) are actually KGB agents who are working undercover in America and posing as an American family.
2. Their kids aren’t in on it.
3. Some FBI agent just moved in next door (coincidence? it seems so right now but who knows).
4. Oh and that Philip seems to be in love (for real, not just a cover) with Elizabeth who . . . sleeps with him? Not really sure she’s in love but she does seem she is opening up to him finally. She tells him about her life before meeting him, and also gives him her real name at the end, which she isn’t supposed to do. Seems like a good set up for a betrayal later in the series but . . . I’m just speculating.
5. Matthew Rhys is so much more badass in this series than he was in Brothers and Sisters (god why do I even know he was in that!).
Elizabeth seems to be the higher ranked official and ‘in charge’ so to speak. She also seems to care more about Russia than Philip who seems to just want to defect and make a ton of money. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in later episodes now that Elizabeth is finally opening up to Philip. I think the job becomes a lot more dangerous with these kind of attachments (kids, love, a husband etc.) but I also think you’re not a good person if you can’t have these responsibilities and care about them. I sense some tough decisions coming ahead.
Finally, I think it’s pretty stunning how good Elizabeth and Philip are at their job. The scene at the end when the FBI Agent breaks into their garage and looks around in the trunk of their car, really put this in perspective for me. You don’t realize it until the final shot but Philip was there every step of the way, ready to kill that guy if anything should go wrong. How did Philip even know he was there?!! Clearly they’re much better spies than I’ll ever be.
Anyway, my final thoughts are these:
– This looks like it could be a really good show if the audience is willing to put in the investment and get attached to the characters.
– I hope the show doesn’t try to use their ‘fake’ way of life to comment too much on our ‘real’ way of life. At least not too blatantly.
– I also hope the show can continue to keep up the intensity it has started without making things so intense they just become ridiculous.
We’ll see what happens. See you next week after the new episode airs!