The Americans: Episode 2

Last night we were all able to see a new episode of The Americans on FX. First impressions . . . still pretty much on board with this show but last week’s episode didn’t do a lot for me. Some moments which I think were important:

Philip and Stan eat Caviar together – This scene was especially interesting to me because of the way Philip reacted to the Caviar. I know that’s a super popular thing in Russia so I found it interesting that Philip said he’d had it but didn’t like it (pretty obvious later in the episode that he did). I would have thought it would have been easier to fake never having had it before which I also think is probably the more ‘American’ thing to do. After all, I don’t know anyone who has ever eaten it. Also, I think it’s important that Stan seemed to be legitimately trying to build a relationship with his next-door neighbor. The tension of the scene comes from the idea that Stan is snooping around trying to catch Philip in a lie, and whether or not Philip will get caught. However, I feel like they were having a legitimate bonding moment and that Stan actually didn’t like that guy at the speaker store so he took his Caviar. Stan is about to delve into what happened but then realizes he shouldn’t. The trust is almost there, which could be very valuable for Philip and Elizabeth . . . but they don’t know it yet.

Philip and Elizabeth in bed together – The bed as a place of trust and discovery (don’t make that weird!) seems to be a theme in this show. In the last episode, the two are in bed together when Elizabeth starts telling Philip about her old life. This week, she begins to wonder about what would happen to the kids if something should happen to them. They decide that their son would be ok. He can adapt. He’s like Philip in that way (her words). But she worries about the daughter; says she’s fragile in some way. I like the way that part was done. We see Philip looking at Elizabeth and we know that he feels she is fragile (if we keep going with the comparison of parents to kids). Elizabeth seems to be only thinking of her daughter but she is almost there . . . almost realizing it about herself. She doesn’t know exactly yet but she’s close. So Gooood!

Philip strangling the Maid’s son with the pillow – I was really curious to see what would happen. Would Philip actually go through with it? It’s obvious he doesn’t want to and in the end he doesn’t have to (cop-out?). But I still wonder what would have happened. I mean technically they were the enemy. Philip could have eased his conscience at least a little in that fact. In the fact that it was for the greater good. But he also likes America too so . . . it seems like a mixed bag for sure.

Phil’s girl on the side! – Still up in the air as to whether there is anything really going on between these two. Yeah it’s for the operation but she doesn’t know that and I’m sure Philip kind of likes it. Elizabeth doesn’t seem to mind (although we did get that one comment ‘You didn’t tell me she looks like that‘) but I can never tell what she’s really thinking. Brings up a whole bag of issues about extra-marital activities. Is it cheating? (C’mon babe it’s for the good of the country. I had too.) I don’t know. Sadly, I think it makes their cover more authentic. Extra-marital sex seems very American (awk . . .)

Oh and they added a character! – Almost forgot about it but yes they added a character. Nina is her name and according to IMDB she’s listed in more episodes than Matthew Rhys or Keri Russell so . . . I guess she’s important but I’m not sure how yet. She’s a Soviet turned American (don’t think that’s a good way to put it but eh). The CIA finds out about her and basically blackmails her into defecting. Now it appears she is still working as some kind of secretary in an important Soviet office and presumably feeding intelligence to America in that capacity. Lastly, I suppose I probably shouldn’t be judging how important a character is, or how long they’ll  be around by how many episodes they’re listed in. Afterall, Stan is seemingly a pretty important character and Noah Emmerich isn’t even listed on IMDB. Also, don’t even get me started on Game of Thrones. If any show proved to me that you can’t always count on your main characters to last the full season, it was that show. I’m still in mourning.

Well, that’s mostly everything I’ve been thinking about after watching the second episode. I know I said I’d talk about the things that were important but I think I ended up just talking about everything. Still, it seems to early to start calling plot points and there probably won’t be any big reveals for a while, but the show is doing a pretty decent job of keeping things interesting (if not rivetingly so). Could do with some more action. Hopefully we’ll get another fight scene next week. I’ll certainly be watching for it so . . . see you then? Laters!

Americans!! Episode 1

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!