New FX drama The Americans aired this past Wednesday night. With an intriguing premise and Whiteboard Favorite Keri Russell as the lead, we were excited to check this one out. Now we are both here to give our impressions of the pilot episode of this promising new series (Spoilers for the episode below).
Matthew: There is a lot to like about The Americans. It’s portrayal of a pair of Russian spies as sleeper agents in the DC area is well done. It is rather interesting to see Keri Russell in this type of role. I’m a fan of hers mostly from Felicity, but even other stuff I have seen her in weren’t anything like this. It was actually kind of awkward seeing her in this show at first (that opening scene was a bit much as was the tape played later on… for me at least), but seeing her kicking ass throughout was a lot of fun.
While I expected to like Keri going in, I was more impressed with Matthew Rhys’ Philip character. While Russell’s Elizabeth is all about doing the right thing for her country, he is more concerned with his family. After years of being in America, he has grown to care about the family they have developed that started as a cover for his job. And he isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to defend them whether that means killing the captain who raped his wife or doing some terrible things with a BBQ fork to a pedophile who hit on his daughter.
And these two at least partially opposing viewpoints from our lead characters should make for a great dynamic to build the show around. The acting was strong from both of them and some of the other familiar faces that make up the American side of this show’s look at the cold war. And if the pilot is any indication, this series will be filled with great action sequences that have you pumping your fist and tense scenes that have you biting your nails. The first episode represents a strong start for The Americans which looks to add another quality drama to FX’s portfolio.
- Best Scene: I love the garage scene that takes place about an hour in. You get Elizabeth kicking the Captain’s head through a wall and Philip’s reaction to finding out why she wanted that guy dead so much. The pedo beatdown was a close second though.
- The reveal that Philip was in the corner with a silenced pistol during that final scene was fantastic too. It just struck me as cool.
- I also just love Phil being a regular guy. He’s great at it and pretty damn funny too.
- “You know the moon isn’t everything, just getting into space is a remarkable accomplishment.” It must be tough for Elizabeth to see her kids grow up as Americans.
Omarey: There were so many things I liked about last night’s episode of The Americans on FX. I went into it expecting to enjoy it. It is a show on FX, which usually puts out quality programming, with a cool concept, and one of my most beloved actresses, the lovely Keri Russell. What I found was a show with great depth of quality and packed with intriguing subtleties that can be explored. Simply put, it blew me away.
I loved the subtlety of the performances. Russell revealed a lot of what her past was like through her actions and her rationale for them. For her it is country above all, despite the cost to herself or those around her. With the scene of where she “rewards her husband for his chivalry” she shows a subtle crack in her tough exterior that can be explored more in the future. The pain she was able to convey was amazing. I really look forward to finding out more about Elizabeth Jennings.
Matthew Rhys was great as Philip Jennings, you could tell he loved being a dad and husband. Just look at the ice cream Olympics. The subtle looks he gave throughout the episode were so telling. Even in small scenes like the cowboy boots one you learned a lot. You could tell how much he has grown to love America. You also learned how important his family was to him. There was so much contained in those family scenes to convey how close they were. I think the differences in primary motivations for Elizabeth and Philip will be fun to watch as they unfold.
One of the other strengths of the show is that it is a period piece. It is neat to see spying in the 80s. I am so used to seeing espionage in present day that it is refreshing to see how it was done before the 90s.I loved the use of the pay phone anonymously and the mini tape recorder. Those subtle touches were neat to see and it will be cool to see how technology effects the way they operate.
- Best Scene: As much as I loved the garage scene, I really loved the tension of the introduction to the neighbors. It was tense but not over dramatized. I especially loved that sequence between Philip and Stan. “Have to make sure I don’t do any spying around here” “Yeah you better not, especially for those Russians” “Yeah they’re the worst right?” “They certainly are Philip, they certainly are.”
- How sultry was Keri Russell in that opening scene? OMG.
- I hope there are plenty more costumes. They were a really fun feature of the show.
- I knew Philip was gonna take out that pedophile dude but it was so gratifying when he did.
That is our take on The American‘s pilot. What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.