The Americans wastes no time in showing perspective new viewers what it’s about. Yes, it’s about putting Matthew Rhys and Kerri Russel in awesomely bad wigs. Sudden violence in the name of a greater cause, you might not quiet believe in anymore. The paranoia of a time and place just long enough past that something like this could exist and not be labeled traitorous, automatically. And more importantly instead of being a martial-spy drama, it has become a family-spy drama.
In a moment of awkward parenting after Paige walks in on the Jennings in 69 position, Elizabeth tries to assure her daughter that everything will be back to normal now that she is back. It’s worth noting some of the more comedic aspects of the scene prior which included Henry talking about mouth pain, and a seductive shot of Kerri Russell chewing on some bacon. We know that what Elizabeth is saying is a lie, but it’s a two way lie to not just Paige but her and Philip as well. Raising an interesting question, what is normal for the Jennings family? Is it killing targets and going to dead drops like clockwork in time to watch hockey? Whatever notion of normality the Jennings had is shattered, when they find their Directorate S comrades Emmet and Leah and one of their children all with a bullet in the head. First a perversion of their rules by using their kids in their work and now sudden examples of what this life hath wrought. Season 1 ended in a montage set to “Games Without Frontiers” by Peter Gabriel, a song about the realness of war and geopolitics juxtaposed against a French game show. Even back than when it implies that this Cold War has no borders, there are still rules mainly you don’t kill children. Children ar sacred cows in television, even the ones you only see.
Of course the majority of “Comrades” was running like normal for the Jennings. Together with Emmet and Leah, they make a new mole their side, impersonating FBI after setting a Lockhede employee up with Leah and Elizabeth. Philip takes care of his operation involving weapons smuggling in Afghanastan, with a haunting message that “the United States cannot protect you, Allah cannot protect you, and the KGB is everywhere.” Too bad he had to kill everyone making us the only ones who get the message. Even the impromptu handoff with Henry seems to go off without a hitch. All of that normalcy and routine are meaningless though once they discover their friends with headshots. Phillip quickly rattling off a list of people who could possibly have done this more to reassure himself that he can kill whoever did this than make Elizabeth feel better.
Going into this season, the marketing material had me wondering if The Americans would kill of Paige or Henry. Now it seems a distinct possibility with the season announcing that the Jennings really is a family that needs to be looked after. Paige and Henry are their kids, even if they are American.
There is a real warmth to the Jennings relationship now that allows for this kind of drama to function. Last season, Elizabeth was a bit of an ice queen to all involved and now that she’s back and everything is normal it has melted. Focusing on the family will also allow us to see if these child actors are worth their salt. They aren’t that bad, I particularly like Keidrich Sellati as Henry. He acts and is his character is written like you’d expect someone his age to act.
Stan Beeman is a tricky character. You’ve got to keep him a credible threat but he can never truly win and he’s being played by Nina. It’s the type of predicament that could turn the character into an annoyance quickly. His off remark about the Colonel shooting that deranged gambler in the head twice is a good middle ground. It keeps Stan barking up a tree, just one that isn’t right an will likely not lead anywhere. The state of his marriage is something I just don’t care about on any sort of level. Now if he and Nina were to go on a tour of 1981 cinema, that’d be fantastic. This week it’s The French Lieutenant's Woman directed by Karel Reisz starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons.
The Americans is back and with Justified makes for a nice one-two punch of TV watching.
The Bits At the End
So far they haven’t revealed but is the travel agency an overall KGB front or is it just a place that they work at. You get the feeling Philip really likes the idea of being a Travel Agent.
There’s a new person in the Embassy, a young head of Line X the science division. He could be fun, Nina thinks him soft in the head but he’s of an upper and more modern class than her own.
Sadly no awesome 80's music this episode but there is talk of the Intellivision