February 8, 2013 by David K. Sutton
The Americans: FX’s Cold War Drama Delivers
If one thing is clear after two episodes of FX’s new 80s-era drama, the quality of scripted television has never been better. The Americans, created by CIA officer turned screenwriter, Joe Weisberg, is a cold war drama about covert Soviet KGB officers living as American citizens. The show stars Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings and Matthew Rhys as Phillip Jennings. They are a married couple with two children and living the American dream in 1981, they also happen to be Soviet KGB agents.
In the pilot episode we learn that the spies have been together for two decades, first coming to America in 1965. During the course of that first episode they capture a Russian operative trying to defect, avoid detection by their new FBI agent neighbor (Noah Emmerich), and Phillip tries to convince Elizabeth that they should break ties with Mother Russia and embrace their lives as Americans. Oh, and while their marriage was arranged by the KGB, Phillip has fallen in love with Elizabeth.
While watching the second episode, it crossed my mind that Phillip (Matthew Rhys) looks like he walked right out of the 1980s, particularly when he’s in disguise. He has such an interesting face, it works really well for the part that he’s playing.
In the second episode, Elizabeth and Phillip are given an impossible task to bug the private office of Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger within three days. It’s an operation that Phillip himself says would normally take six months if they are to be careful not to blow their cover. The plan they devise is cunning and Matthew Rhys shines during his cold and calculated delivery. I won’t reveal all the details here as to not spoil it for those who might want to tune in.
The Americans premiered on FX on January 30 to over 3 million viewers with a super-sized episode. The second episode aired this past Wednesday. Future episodes can be seen Wednesdays on FX at 10pm and previous episodes should be available via on-demand on most cable systems.
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