The Americans – A Retro Spy Trip Back To The Early 80′S

Poster for the FX series The AmericansA new drama on the FX channel debuted Wednesday night called The Americans. It stars Keri Russell and some other guys. I like a good spy story and this show had some good plot points but I was disappointed on how obvious it was overall. It did have a good soundtrack.

The big scene at the start of “The Americans” is a kidnapping of a guy by two guys and a woman. The mark makes a run for it and the two men chase after him. At one point the helper gets stabbed but eventually the mark is caught and the woman pulls up in a 70′s Ford LTD. A fight ensues and the woman kicks some ass subduing the guy. They rush to drop the kidnapped guy off to their handlers but the unhurt man talks the woman into dropping off the injured henchman off at a hospital and that makes them literally miss a boat for the kidnapped guy. They decide to stash the guy in the car trunk in their garage at home.

The man and woman is Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings, played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, a suburban Washington DC couple with two kids in the early 1980′s who are also a deep cover Soviet KGB sleeper cell.

Other scenes at home show the family as regular people going to school, the mall, and getting ready for work although we don’t know what the Jennings cover jobs are. They have a daughter who is 13 and younger boy who both were born after their parents arrived in the US. They have no clue their parents are spies.

The other side of the show is the FBI team that is charged with finding and eliminating all the sleeper cells in the US. The kidnapped man from the beginning of the show was a KGB defector who tipped the Feds off about the sleepers. Noah Emmerich plays Agent Stan Beeman who has rejoined the FBI after a few years undercover in a white supremacist group. In what seems like a wild coincidence, Beeman and his family move in across the street from the Jennings.

Another interesting character on the FBI side is a CIA agent played by Richard Thomas who is attached to the task force.

We also get to see some scenes in flashback of the Jennings in the USSR before they are sent to the US. They didn’t know each other before being paired up and they are told not to share their Soviet personal history just the fake back story of living in the US so they don’t slip up if they get caught. We find out that the kidnapped man from the beginning of the episode was a KGB guy who raped Elizabeth during training so she really wants to kill him.

In most of these family sleeper cell stories, the wife is the one who falls in love with the country and wants to quit being a spy and the husband is the one who tells her to straighten up but in “The Americans” Phillip is the skittish one who tries to talk his wife into defecting.

Probably another plot thread will be Phillip and Elizabeth really loving each other even though Elizabeth is not keen on doing more than is required for their cover.

Agent Beeman suspects something is “off” about the Jennings and there is a scene where he breaks into the garage and pops the trunk. Phillip is seen watching in the dark with a nasty looking gun ready to kill Beeman but Beeman sneaks out of the garage.

A final scene is Elizabeth and Phillip in bed and she starts to tell him her real personal history.

Keri Russell does a great job with her role and was kind of kinky when we hear an audio tape of her seduction of an FBI agent. Matthew Rhys was good even if he slipped into his mother tongue when he mispronounced electricity in one scene.

I really liked this episode but many of the plot points I’ve seen before in all the other spy stories on TV or the movies. I have a feeling that it will be predictable. This is another great concept for a movie or mini-series but I don’t know if it can last as a weekly series. I hope I’m wrong.

The Americans (2013)
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