We knew that bad things were coming for Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, the Soviet double agents on FX’s “The Americans”. Not just because President Reagan had declared the Soviet Union ‘the evil empire’, but because the same day he was giving that speech, their daughter Paige, who had just learned of their dual identities, had confided to the worst person she possibly could – Pastor Tim, her confidant since Season 1.
It was only a matter of time before they found out about it, but Elizabeth (Keri Russell) after bugging the church and planning the reverend’s death, got punched in the stomach when Holly, overcome with guilt, told her about it. Now, more than ever, it seems as though the walls are closing in around the Jennings’, as the multiple cons they have been playing are starting to come back on them. Philip’s source in the FBI (who he had pretended to marry) has just learned about his dual identity as well, and just learned that a superior in the bureau was murdered to keep her secret safe. Which is problem enough, but more and more their next door neighbor, Agent Stan Beaman (Noah Emmerich, who keeps getting better) seems to be getting personally suspicious. Officially divorced from his wife, he nearly threw his job away trying to negotiate the release of his former lover Ana (Annet Mennerhedu) from a Soviet prison – an action which enraged his immediate boss (Richard Thomas) but impressed a higher superior. He has become friendly with the Jennings’ son, who seems more drawn to him then his own parents, and recently attacked Philip for his perceived involvement with his wife.
As if this weren’t becoming dangerous enough, both Philip and Elizabeth have tasked with working with a new double agent, known only as William (Dylan Baker, working on perfecting his creepy level again). Working at Fort Dietrich, William is currently involved in a new level of biological agents. Ultra paranoid, he refuses to get involved with either dead drops or promotions, and sees no problems in leaving his handiwork with the Jennings. The most recent attempt to get it out of the country led to another death, so its still in the Jennings home, another bomb waiting to go off.
“The Americans” remains one of the high points on a network that seems determined to keep churning out brilliant drama. It has been making some progress at the Emmys (last year Margo Martindale won her second Emmy for planning their handler, yet to appear in Season 4) and won last summers prize for Best Drama in the Broadcast Critics Choice Awards. The series has everything that a great drama should: brilliant acting from Matthew Rhys and Russell down to Richard Thomas and Frank Langella, some of the most tension filled moments of any series on TV, and a genuine chemistry between the two leads. With the worries about Russia’s current government, as well as brilliant anachronistic moments, it works as both a historical drama with current moments. Some major slots held by the Emmys have disappeared or will be gone by the end of the season. May we humbly suggest this series ‘for their consideration’.
My score: 4.5 stars.