The Americans Season Three


The Americans is one of the best series on television and it’s baffling as to why more people aren’t watching it. Do yourself a favor — watch the first two seasons on Amazon Prime and then start watching The Americans when it airs. It’s the best show on now about marriage, children and wigs. Watch it.

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The Americans Echo

Credit: FX

When The Americans began, Philip suggested to Elizabeth that they could defect and stop working undercover for the KGB. Elizabeth was angry about Philip’s suggestion, and it drove a wedge between the two that was not removed until towards the end of the season when Elizabeth was shot. The good news for the Jennings is that they don’t have to go through it alone. By design, they have each other. The irony is that at the end of the second season, the Jennings come to realize that they have been co-opted by life in America in a way they didn’t previously understand; they thought the lives of their children were their own.

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The Americans Operation Chronicle

Credit: FX

The season started with Elizabeth recovering from the gunshot she received at the end of season one. She was staying in a cabin in the woods and as she drove away Elizabeth had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting a family of deer. By the end of “Operation Chronicle”, Jared, the son of Emmett and Leeanne, is staying in the same cabin in the woods, and there is a danger nearby. Will Jared escape like the deer?

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The Americans Stealth

Credit: FX

There wasn’t really that much new in “Stealth”. Instead the episode was really a large noose tightening around the main characters. Larrick kills Kate and is getting closer to locating the Jennings. Nina has to convince Stan to give her information on Echo or she will be sent back to Moscow and likely killed. And Stan’s marriage is ending just as Nina tells him that she needs out.

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The Americans Yousaf

Credit: FX

“Yousaf” picks up almost immediately after the end of the previous episode. Philip has returned home after threatening the pastor at Paige’s church and Elizabeth offers to make him something to eat. Philip is struggling to find something to believe in as doing his job has eaten into his soul, and he starts kissing Elizabeth, hoping that it will be enough.

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The Americans Martial Eagle

Credit: FX

When I go home at the end of a work day, I leave work behind. Sure, I may check my work e-mails and plan what I am going to do the next day, but for the most part I don’t have to take it home with me. The work me is not very similar to the home me, and if you ask, I’ll tell you that the home me is much closer to the real me. For the three main characters in The Americans, there is no meaningful separation between work and home, and the work versions of those people are the only ones who really exist.

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The Americans New Car

Credit: FX

The confidence with which The Americans is conducting its second season has been impressive. The writers understand exactly what the strengths are of the show and even in an episode like “New Car”, which primarily functions to move things into place for the end of the season, the writers are able to weave in themes that have been developed over a season and a half to make, and make it richer.

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The Americans Arpanet

Credit: FX

Full disclosure: When I watch TV I am not usually conscious of the form. I’d never thought much about this until the Matt Zoller Seitz post urging people who write about television to discuss form. And, of course, Seitz is right. I tend to think (and write) more about content and The Americans is one of the series that I find a lot of content to think about and not so much about form. (Justified is the same for me, while on Mad Men I think about both.) “Arpanet” is the first The Americans episode in a while that I thought about form while I was watching it instead of thinking about it later when I sat down to write.

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The Americans Behind the Red Door

Credit: FX

When you start a romantic relationship you present the best version of yourself to the other person. The underlying idea is that if things work out with the other person then they will help you become that better version of yourself. And instead of understanding that the other person is doing the same thing, you create a story about that person, about who they are, and that story is about the best version of that other person. The hope is that by the time you start to figure true things out about each other that it too late, that you’ve both decided to love the other no matter what.

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The Americans The Deal

Credit: FX

On the one hand, “The Deal” was about the trade made between the KGB and Mossad, the KGB trading one Mossad agent and Jews being detained in Russia in exchange for an Israeli scientist. On the other hand, “The Deal” was about the same things The Americans is always about; the changing space between who the characters are and who they pretend to be.

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