TV Review: “The Americans Season 3” Heats Up the Cold War

"The Americans"


 

On a gloomy, rainy day, something suitable for a spy thriller, I had the chance to go to see a sneak peak of FX’s Season 3 Premiere of “The Americans.” I spent the week binge watching season 2 to get me ready for the premiere. FX’s “The Americans” has received positive reviews and critical acclaim since its debut in 2013.

“The Americans” follows the story of Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys). The Jennings are two KGB spies who pose as a normal American Family in the 80’s during the cold war. The series was created by Joe Weisberg, a former CIA officer. Most episodes focus on the personal lives of the Jennings, who are dealing with missions from the Soviet Union, their personal lives and keeping their identities secret from the FBI.

Season 3 continues the popular formula from the first two seasons and delves more into the personal struggles of Elizabeth and Philip, who must weigh their family’s safety against loyalty to Mother Russia.

The Season 3 premiere opens at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant/bar where Elizabeth is in disguise, talking with a disgruntled female government worker. The woman is venting about how underappreciated she is, and how she was unrecognized for her contributions to her department after a big assignment. After some heavy drinking and venting, she passes a small file to Elizabeth that has a list of CIA names and operatives. She exclaims, ”Screw the CIA.” Having had one too many drinks, the disgruntled woman makes her way up to a bathroom and has a change of heart. Realizing the gravity of what she’s done by passing off the information, she makes a phone call.

Upon returning to the table, Elizabeth senses something wrong and leaves the restaurant. She gets out just before government cars rush in. In true spy fashion, she remains calm as she changes her outfit while walking, but this isn’t enough. An FBI car pulls up behind her and FBI agent Frank Gaad, along with another agent, get out trying to get her attention. “Excuse me, Ma’am!” She keeps walking. As they get closer she attacks both of them. A fight ensues. She takes on both agents. Elizabeth must escape or will get caught and be exposed as the KGB operative that she really is. She eventually defeats both of them after flinging herself and another agent toward an oncoming motorcycle. In doing so, she loses the important list of names.

Elizabeth Almost Gets Caught The Americans

It’s a pretty intense scene overall, and like most episodes of “The Americans,” it’s a slow burn for the rest of the episode (opening more doors and plot lines, leaving with a cliffhanger). One plot line that’s appearing in season 3 is what the Jennings should do about their daughter, who is the target of grooming by “The Centre.” With the Russians wanting to prepare the next generations of “illegals” for their infiltration into America, Phillip and Elizabeth must figure out if their loyalty to family is more important than their loyalty to the cause.

New Handler In The Americans

Starting the new season as the couple’s new handler is veteran stage and screen actor Frank Langella. In this episode, he hands Elizabeth a package when her and Phillip visit him. It contains a message in Russian. The news seems to be bad, although it’s hard to tell since they didn’t subtitle it. Fortunately, the guy sitting next to me happened to speak Russian (what are the odds). He said it was a message from her mother who is sick (I’ll take his word for it). Another plot line is with Stan, the FBI agent who happens to live next door to the KGB couple. He’s still trying to recover from the events that happened to his Russian Mistress, Nina, while trying to mend the relationship with his wife.

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So, lots of juicy plot lines continue us on into season three. I highly enjoyed the episode, and feel like season 3 will be on track to keep the same pace and intrigue of other seasons. Speaking of which, I must admit I may have had a little fatigue from binge watching Season 2 beforehand. Many fans may do that before the premiere of the 28th, so if you haven’t started this show, you should check out the first season. The episodes are fairly consistent in nature, and you’ll get an idea if you like the methodical, slow cooker pace of the show. But like a nice slow cooked meal, the show is full of flavor and spice to make it worthwhile.

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