'The Americans' Second Season Premiere Review: A Tense Episode Makes For A Promising Season 2, Filled With Action And Family Drama
The season premiere of The Americans, an FX original series, spared no expense when it came to suspense. However, more and more it is becoming clearer that the show is about marriage and about family, as creator Joe Weisberg has previously indicated.
When Elizabeth (Keri Russell) returns home after being shot, her husband, Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and their two kids Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati), welcome her back with lovingly open arms. The sense of a normal American family couldn’t be more present, even though this follows a scene where Phillip takes down two Afghans during and undercover operation. The pacing of the show keeps the audience on the edge of their seats the entire time.
From season one it is clear that Elizabeth and Phillip are constantly watching their back and covering their tracks. Their neighbor and family friend, Stan, is a counter-intelligence agent for the FBI and the threat of their covers being revealed has never been more real as it is now, after they narrowly escaped being discovered at the end of season one.
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Elizabeth and Phillip’s anxiety can be felt from the very beginning of the episode but is heightened when their daughter, Paige, suspicious of her parents’ strange behavior, walks in on them during sex. The intertwining of real-life parenting situations with the threat of being identified as undercover KGB agents is a huge part of the episode that will seemingly continue to play a huge role throughout this season. The same is true for Stan, who despite having a wife and son, has another lover on the side, who just so happens to be a Soviet mole (Annet Mahendru).
The episode comes to a climax when a normal fun day at the carnival with the kids turns into an op where Phillip is forced to use his son Henry as a disguise to receive a package out in the open without being viewed by an American tail. He successfully obtains the package, but feels uneasy about using his kids as a cover, having previously decided never to do so with Elizabeth. With very little time Phillip and Elizabeth are to rush to a hotel leaving behind their kids to meet up with other agents, only when they arrive they find them and their children dead.
This leaves Phillip and Elizabeth to wonder what this object that they have recovered is intended for and if they and their children are being targeted as well.
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This episode would lure anyone who hasn’t previously seen The Americans and returning fans. It featured all you could want from a suspenseful, spy thriller: double-identities, double-allegiances, action, deception and a strong sense of family. I give this episode and series, as a whole, four and half stars out of five. It is heart-warming at times because you want Phillip and Elizabeth to be able to live a normal family life and care for their kids, and yet it is action packed with major suspense as you recall that they are world-class undercover agents who, at times, must kill or be killed.
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