The Americans Series Premiere Review: Cold War Threat of a Nuclear Family

The Americans S01E01: "Pilot"

For your listening pleasure, Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" (click the middle of the black bar)


Before we, the grand old stars-and-stripes-waving America, started evaporating goat herders in the Middle East with the latest in drone technology or peering over our shoulderpads at the technological advances and manpower of the waking dragon that is China, we had another enemy. I'm talking, of course, about Nikolai Volkoff. Or at least what he represented in the '80s, anyway. Under the leadership of acting president and resident actor Ronald Reagan, America used to HATE Russia and Russia hated us right back. The Cold War was established and everyone's paranoid eye was on the sky in case Boris blasted a hail of nukes at us.

This is the backdrop of FX's new thrilling drama The Americans, but it's just window dressing for what the show is really selling, which is one fucked-up family. Though promos made sure we knew The Americans would follow two Russian spies posing as an American couple (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings) that does spy things behind enemy lines, it's the family politics that stand out over the White House/Kremlin ones.

The basics of The Americans are going to invite comparisons to Showtime's Homeland, which are both easy and appropriate to make. But The Americans is Homeland as told from Brody's point-of-view, where Jessica is also a spy instead of a stick in the mud. In tonight's pilot episode, we learned that Phillip and Elizabeth were married in a KGB office and then given one-way tickets to the U.S., where they would pose as suburban Americans and never talk about their prior lives. The less they knew about each other, the more convincing their cover would be. These rules are essential to understanding exactly how much The Americans has to offer, which is plenty. The Americans is a busy, dense piece of television that jumps from one aspect to another like Baryshnikov doing "Swan Lake (Skrillex remix)," and there's enough story to fill an entire network's worth of shows.

First there's The Americans: Wantin' to be 'Merican!, about a conflicted Russian spy named Phillip who questions whether America is such a bad place after all. He recites the Pledge of Allegiance accent-free, he likes that America has hockey, he even goes shopping for the most American of American footwear, the cowboy boot. Maybe he's reached a point of assimilation, but aside from producing a pedophile here and there, America didn't end up being the hell hole his bosses told him it would be. Phillip is also a family man who realizes his job puts his children in danger, and when a chance to defect with a three-million-dollar payday comes knocking, it sounds like a great idea.

Then there's The Americans: BJs for Gorbachev, about a heartless android disguised as a Russian spy disguised as an American woman named Elizabeth. She's so fiercely patriotic to Russia that she'll go two knuckles deep into horny American intelligence officers for a lead. Even as she lives two lives, it's duty first with her. Having fun while getting ice cream can wait.

Not to mention The Americans: I Now Pronounce You Husband and Spy, about a couple that routinely confuses marital bliss for patriotic duty and vice versa. Phillip's totally into the sham marriage, but Elizabeth sees it as a bit of a nuisance. Are they supposed to have sex like a regular couple? Should Phillip be jealous when he hears a tape recording of some mark having his wife for dinner? Should Elizabeth take a chance at an opportunity for a better life for her family, or has she given up on any semblance of a normal life? Can two people living a lie actually be in love?

And that's not all: Don't forget The Americans: Oh Yeah, We Have Kids Too, about a mother and father raising their kids in a web of lies. Or The Americans: My Nosy Neighbor Is Trying to Get Me Deported, about an FBI agent who lives across the street from spies. Or The Americans: Don't Forget We Also Do Spy Things because Phillip and Elizabeth will be getting orders from the KGB!

It's the collision of those first few shows that will keep viewers coming back, but it's the last show that brought them in, and they shouldn't be disappointed that it takes second place because it's a damn nice consolation prize. What makes the spy action work better than that of other spy shows is that it's set at just the perfect era. In the '80s, cell phones were the size of telephone books and going undercover meant throwing on a bad hairpiece and putting some silly putty on the bridge of your nose. Technology was secondary to cunning, smarts, and teamwork. There will be no hacking wi-fi-enabled pacemakers in The Americans, no waiting for files to decrypt or upload, no phone-cloning, no computer viruses, and no incriminating information or leads culled from fake social media sites. In other words, no unbelievable loopholes for the writers to sneak through. In the old days, spying was more intimate and dangerous, and that was evident during the pilot's awesome nine-minute intro scene to the tune of the extended dance remix of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk."

As far as the actual nuts and bolts of The Americans, it already has a veteran feel. Rhys is absolutely spectacular, letting us see the gears turning in his head while Phillip assesses situations. Russell makes us forget about NYU and boys as the icy Elizabeth (she kicked that dude's head through some drywall!), and Noah Emmerich is more than formidable as Stan Beamon. The direction and production is purposefully understated to harken back to the dark and gritty thrillers of the '80s, giving the series its own feel compared to the rest of TV. And don't get me started on the music! Fleetwood Mac and Phil Collins? Turn it up!

Like many of today's terrorist dramas, The Americans asks the audience to be wary of the threats that may be living right next door to them. But the show also asks the same of its characters, and on an even more invasive level: Be careful of not only of the threat that lives across the street, but also of the threat on the other side of the bed. If The Americans lives up to the potential displayed in its pilot and explores the right roads, it could be one of TV's best. An excellent start to the year's most intriguing new series.



NOTES

– Phillip and Elizabeth's character arcs within the episode were very telling. As soon as Phillip realized that Timinev had raped his wife, his dream of defecting ended and his nightmare full of windpipe-snapping began. DON'T MESS WITH HIS FAMILY! Elizabeth, however, went from sexually absent to bow-chicka-wow-wow after she and her husband dissolved a guy in acid. Is it the job that turns her on, or was it Phillip's defense of her honor when he killed Timinev? Maybe a bit of both? Fickle, that Elizabeth.

– The Americans also has the luxury of telling its story from the middle out. Not only will we follow Phillip and Elizabeth moving forward in time, but there's plenty of backstory to unfold, both in their pre-Jennings lives and their time as a young couple. I mean seriously, this show can go anywhere from here.

– BBQ poker to the balls. That's how they train people to fight in Russia? Not cool, Russia. Not cool.



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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How does anyone watch these shows on here? Everytime I click ANYWHERE I just get a page that is blank but hear audio with commercials. Nothing else. :(
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I was on time for The Americans but late to TV.com, so I missed this review. It's a good one. The international politics do indeed take a back seat to the gender politics.
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Loved this pilot ...only things that bothered me ....FBI guy was so quick to have suspicions..and unless the garage was soundproofed...where the heck were the kids...mine wouldn't have slept through the head in a drywall scene!
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I couldn't past the ignorance in the first paragraph
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Don't be too hard on them, for all we know that is what they are teaching in schools today, without bothering to ask the people that lived through it....
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Great pilot! I'm always afraid of watching new shows because usually the ones I like end up being cancelled. The Americans was really interesting, the characters, the plot, sure I'll be watching the next episode! Let's hope it keeps the level =D
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since I wasn't expecting much the first episode blew me away!
I mean, I felt for Felicity! c'mon! :) and she kicks ass! awesome!

In The Air Tonight was a great soundtrack for their sex in the car, you could feel the struggle in both of them come to a halt when it's about their feelings for each other..
I'm gonna keep watching for sure!
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I LOVED this show!! I was really looking forward to it when I heard about it because, it had things I'm into...spies, the 80's, the return of Kerri Russell and her gorgeous hair. I was in. This pilot was spectacular, one of the strongest pilots I've seen in a while, because it didn't suffer from pilotitis. everything was paced well, they gave us just enough, I feel like I know the characters just enough to empathize with them (the enemy at that) but not too much where they aren't still enigmatic. Fantastic.
-I really loved Elizabeth and Phillip and how they fall on opposite ends of the spectrum, and in a way unexpected for stereotypical of their gender especially during that time. Phillip is all hear and emotion. He no longer knows where the mission ends and his life begins. He got lost in the cover and is seemingly enjoying it. doesn't even know if he dislikes America like he's supposed to, he's the most Americanized and it shows. And him being family oriented is the icing on the cake. I love Phillip. I love Phillip to pieces because of how conflicted he is. It was almost easy to forget that he was in fact a spy...a trained spy, when he's smiling at his son and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and line dancing in cowboy boots at the mall, but the moment that pedophile entered the picture I was patiently waiting for Phillip to kick his ass, and boy he didn't disappoint. I have a character crush. Then you have Elizabeth who is all duty and allegiance to a country that she's been distant from for some time. That distance has made Phillip feel lost...Elizabeth on the other hand after 16 years has still managed to maintain that Russian stoicism and dedication without it ever wavering and i find that equally as fascinating. She doesn't seem into their lief, or their mission, and dare I say she doesn't even seem as into their kids. She wants to protect them with the slightest of maternal instincts but for the most part she's all duty and honor and country. Phillip seems closest and more protective of his kids and his family in general. I find the contrast between their characters very interesting and complementary. Not to mention neither of them feel "wrong" because they are both such sympathetic characters. Elizabeth's emotional detachment and coldness could be easily explained by her sexual abuse and you can't not understand her as a result.
-I love in an hour and half how we seen so many stages of this marriage of theirs that is as fascinating as the characters themselves. Phillip seen it as a real marriage from the beginning and Elizabeth did in fact see it as a nuisance. Clearly they only had sex to have kids...but in watching this man who is her partner become so enraged at what happened to her years ago, that he gave up on his previous position of turning the general over and killed him with his bare hands, and proceed to dispose of the body with her...it was disturbing but also gripping, and kind of beautiful watching that shift in their relationship. clearly for the first time for both parties it actually looked like real love.
-Did agents always come out so easily and say they were agents working with Counter-Intelligence and what not and talking about spies with people they barely knew? It seemed like someone running around and telling everyone they knew that they worked for the C.I.A something that you clearly shouldn't do. But okay. It definitely will be interesting watching him investigate them and them trying to stay under the radar. I too love that it's set in the 80's because it's good old fashion investigating and spy work minus the technology used as a crutch to explain away things, make them easier for the writers, and get from plot A to plot B.
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Considering this was the new show I was anticipating most, I wonder why it took me a few days to finally watch it.

Anyway, this was a pretty great pilot. It had a nice balance of introducing the characters, showing some sexiness (which is seemingly required by cable dramas now), and laying the groundwork for the few main plots. I'm typically not a fan of period shows, but this may be the ONE that I'm really able to enjoy.

The only downside of the show for me is that in quite a few scenes, Matthew Rhys reminded me of Zach Braff. I kept being taken out of the moment, wondering why the hell JD was a Russian spy.
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i thought the exact same thing about Zach Braff/Matthew Rhys
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I wasn't this blown-away by a pilot since... Homeland's. I'm not comparing them, or maybe I am, but only quality-wise.
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"a heartless android disguised as a Russian spy disguised as an American woman named Elizabeth"
- Kind of harsh here.

It's a very common fact (they did a study and everything) that people are more loyal to a group when they have physically and mentally suffered to be in it. The reason makes a whole lot of sense too: if you went through hell to become a part of something and then just quite halfway through/turned traitor, then it's like your suffering was for nothing.

It's obvious that Elizabeth has been through hell. Her literal blood, sweat, and tears were shed for her country in ways that Phillip's has not (e.g. the rape, the children she had for their cover, who knows that else), so it makes complete sense why she is more loyal to the mission no matter what. Otherwise it would be like everything she has been through was for nothing.
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That's EXACTLY how I was understanding Elizabeth! Aside from the whole love-of-country thing (which Philip got over pretty quickly), she suffered through so much just to become a KGB spy that if she flips sides now all of that sh*t she went through was for nothing. So of course she's going to be more loyal than Phil who, as far as we know, didn't pay as dearly to become a KGB operative. She has more invested in this than he does.

Also, how romantic was it when Phil killed his wife's rapist in front of her? Sooo romantic! I'm excited to see what they do for the Valentine's Day episode now.
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may be her loyality makes more sense coz she's russian do you consider that? Why wouldn't she? Can't she be patriotic? Or homesick? It's not like in USSR men have been raping women all the time. It's her motherland first of all, not KGB.
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No more ridiculous flashbacks in which pseudorussians speak with each other in bad english, FX don't embarass yourself. Stick to your roots - shock scenes and overdramatization. I hope this show won't turn into Sons of Anarchy.
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I agree. Whats wrong with subtitles during the Russian flashbacks? They should be speaking Russian, no excuse. I would have understand if they were bred to have perfect American accents, but it seems that they were recruited in a later age. They should have an inclination to speak in Russian while they were in Russia. I don't believe that those high ranking Russian officers were just helping those two to practice their English. Other than that, I really liked the show.
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I loved the soundtrack for this show. Not only did they make great song selections, but they put them in at just the right moments. I'll be tuning in again next week.

Also: I hate to break it to you Tim, but the Cold War was established waaaay before Reagan took office. In fact he was the one American primarily responsible for ending it. The guy wasn't perfect and he made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions, but he deserves more credit for fighting communism than "acting president and resident actor".

Unless that was just a play on words, in which case . . . yeah. Not your finest work.
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fighting communism ? didn't know you could fight ideologies ? Or are you getting into the theme that saw two crazy leaders of two ideological driven countries nearly blow the rest of us up with them.
Apart from that totally agree with you on your comments about a great show and a great soundtrack.
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Of course you can fight against an ideology -- or do you not fight against, for example, racism? It's an ideology. You disagree with it. You "fight", in a metaphorical, non-physical sense to end it and stop it from spreading. I'd bet you *would* fight it physically if you had no other choice (unless you're some kind of horrid racist, which I really hope you're not).

Seriously, if you think Reagan or Kruschev wanted to blow up each others' countries, you need to do more research on those men and on the history of the Cold War in general. Neither of them were madmen, neither wanted to cause massive death on a global scale. Both had inherited a conflict which Reagan saw a path to end, and which was ultimately completed (more or less) by Gorbachev and Yeltsin after him.

And yes, one side in that conflict espoused principles that were more conducive to freedom and right living -- the American-led West. But hey, if you think communism in any way compares to the freedoms you enjoy in America, try getting internet access or a fair wage/fair work job in China. Or Cuba. Or Vietnam.
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Hi thanks for your reply. Your first paragraph is nonsensical and not worthy of a reply but i am happy to reply to your other points.
Well i like to think living through that period (the cold war) gives me a pretty good historical perspective. I am not sure you did; please correct me if i am wrong. And let me add it was the scientists from both west and east working together and telling the facts to the world producing documentary films like the day after about the consequences of a nuclear war and lobbying governments to stop the arms race between the u.s.a and the u.s.s.r that led to a change in political direction. The end of communism is a different issue which ended through economic mismanagement and social revolutions throughout Eastern Europe. The guy who you give the credit to (Reagan) once joked live on air that he had pressed the button and the missiles were on their way to bomb Russia ( which i might add scared the rest of us senseless in the west)and drew on the advice of his wife who got her opinions from a clairvoyant.
Also when it comes to freedom the usa does not have a monopoly on freedom and considering the amount of clandestine government services that oversee your people. i would say it has less freedom than any other western country. Which i might add is a shame; for it was once an icon for the rights of the individual. And please don't assume that everyone who uses this site lives in America or is American.
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Just FYI, I wrote out a large reply to yours, but now I'm not seeing it. I hope this is just a glitch, and it did, in fact, appear. But in case it didn't, here's the short version:

1) Of course you can oppose ideologies. Why would you believe you can't?

2) Your emphasis on scientists and film makers is odd and, I believe, misplaced.

3) Your point about Eastern Europeans rising up doesn't address my original assertion that Reagan was "the one American" responsible.

4) Your attacks on Reagan seem to be confused; by way of example please search "we begin bombing in five minutes" on wikipedia for a refutation of your first attack.

5) I never said America has a monopoly on freedom; only that it led the west during the Cold War, and that it provides better freedom and right living than communism does.

Cheers
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The Wall came down more than two years after Reagan's speech - Bush was President. Reagan had little influence over it.
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If I had said that Reagan's speech was responsible for ending communism in Russia, or even that his speech was responsible for bringing down the Berlin Wall, then you'd be right.

But I didn't say those things. I said he was "the one American primarily responsible for ending" the Cold War. He doesn't get all the credit for it any more than Bush would, but Reagan's policies were the right ones, for the right time in history.

Bush was like the backup QB you bring in during the 4th quarter, when you're already up by three touchdowns. At that point it's all a matter of holding steady, and not completely screwing up.
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like all disagreements, truth is a subjective concept.
This excerpt relaes to my point about the movie the day after:

President Ronald Reagan watched the film several days before its screening, on November 5, 1983.5 He wrote in his diary that the film was "very effective and left me greatly depressed,"5 and that it changed his mind on the prevailing policy on a "nuclear war".6 The film was also screened for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A government advisor who attended the screening, a friend of Meyer's, told him "If you wanted to draw blood, you did it. Those guys sat there like they were turned to stone."5 Four years later, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed and in Reagan's memoirs he drew a direct line from the film to the signing.5 Reagan later sent Meyer a telegram after the summit, saying, "Don't think your movie didn't have any part of this, because it did."2 In a 2010 interview, Meyer said that this was a myth, and that the sentiment stemmed from a friend's letter to Meyer; he suggested the story had origins in editing notes received from the White House during the production, which "...may have been a joke, but it wouldn't surprise me, him being an old Hollywood guy."5

The film also had impact outside the U.S. In 1987, during the era of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika reforms, the film was shown on Soviet television. Four years earlier, Georgia Rep. Elliott Levitas and 91 co-sponsors introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives "expressing the sense of the Congress that the American Broadcasting Company, the Department of State, and the U.S. Information Agency should work to have the television movie 'The Day After' aired to the Soviet public."
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enjoyed the discussion
although yes i wouldnt call myself a relativist
i am very careful to question what is truth
especially when i believe i know the truth :)
p.s
look forward to your comments
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Never said films didn't have a major impact, nor am I arguing that *only* Reagan had an impact. Only that, when all is said and done, I posit that Ronald Reagan, in his position as president of the United States for 8 years, made more critical decisions leading to the end of communism than any other American.

Also, a note on truth and subjectivity: how we perceive the truth may be subjective, but the truth itself is not -- events happened a certain way, and no other way. Not knowing the entire truth of how something came about, doesn't make the events themselves, known or unknown, any less true.

It's an important distinction -- we don't want to wander down the path of "truth is entirely subjective, therefore nothing matters". That way lies Bad Things.

You may wonder why I bother to make the distinction; it's not because I think you're a relativist, but because I've encountered many, many people who desperately want to believe that truth itself is relative, so that they can believe what they want and act as they wish without feeling guilty or having to do the hard work of thinking. I want to clarify where I stand on that basic issue.

Cheers
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so far so good....actually I'm excited about the show and as the pilot/premiere progressed it seemed to get better. If it keeps going the right direction I really see it ending up as a "must see". I'll have to watch a few more episodes to really know but I"m loving it so far.

great review!

my main question, are the kids old enough to be left alone in the middle of the night without a babysitter while the parents dispose of the body? I don't have kids and don't remember when I was left alone and usually had older brothers around until Junior High School...that's when the trouble began...lol
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The daughter is 13 & that's plenty old enough to be left alone w/ the little brother. It was perfectly acceptable in that era. I was a latch-key kid myself before I even entered middle school.
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yeah, 13 is old enough---I just mind blanked on how old she was.
Hmm, 7th grade-->I was 11 and I was left home alone (but I hope no one snuck out at night and I would of freaked out if I woke up in the middle of the night and no one was home when they were supposed to be)

I became a "latch-key" kid myself in Junior High (around 7th grade~actually elementary school but my older brothers were around at that time so I didn't feel like a "latch-key" kid until 7th grade)--that's when the fun/trouble started:)

The 80s sometimes doesn't seem that long ago but at other times it seem long ago.

I'm trying to eliminate the following words from my vocabulary: dial, record (as in a music storage device), album...so many more. I have a feeling this show will make me nostalgic---maybe, depends on how the show plays out and what it incorporates into it to make the setting the 80s.

The music isn't enough to establish it as an 80s period piece since my iphone has tons of 60s-modern music on it...tons of 80s included. The lack of computers and cell phones (use of pay phones) helps the setting, as does the tape recorder (it looked mid to late 80s imo but I'm probably wrong) and I look forward to more reminders of the 80s.

Nostalgia is a big draw for many...this post is already to long to go into this (all I wanted to say was thanks for telling me her age)...here goes: thanks for clarifying her age;)
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heh! no worries...& just so you know, I'm right there with ya on the 80's. I haven't even touched a VCR in years, yet I still 'tape' shows on my DVR. I think the Cannonball Run is the best children's movie ever made & I always recognize Jenny's number when I see it :-)
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are you snorting kittens in your "video" and your page on tv dot com? It looks hilarious--it doesn't look like any animals were harmed so I say hilarious
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:-)

It would make more sense if my name was Jenny but I have never been able to get that number out of my head--so I use it ;-)

I have to add "tape" in that context (Betamax and VCRs) to my ever growing list! Soon cursive will be on that list. I hear they aren't teaching cursive in schools anymore.

The movie Idiocracy is becoming more and more accurate in it's portrayal of the future :-(
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What do you guys think general's last words to Elizabeth, "You were just a child" meant?
Do you think somehow he knew of the Captain's abuse on her back in the 60s?
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Maybe it was an acknowledge about the abuse or maybe it was a metaphor for how inexperienced she was when she basically took the difficult task of becoming a spy. (It was the 60s and now it's the 80s, that's about 20 years. So chances are she was in her 20s maybe teens back then, depending on whether or not she's suppose to be in her 30s or 40s now.) Or maybe it was kind of both.
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At the end of the episode she sais her dad died in the battle of Stalingrad when she was 2, so she was born in 1940.
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yea good insight
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I think the general knew all along that captain raped Elizabeth. I'm sure she wasn't the only one who suffered from his hand.

I suspect general is the same kind of bastard as captain was. After all, the captain said that free access to female cadets was a perk of the job. When general approached Elizabeth in the safe house I thought he was going to force her to have sex with him. Fortunately, he only touched her shoulder.
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I wasn't impressed or disappointed with the pilot. I found the tone of the opening weirdly comical. They were trying to capture a trained killer after all. The 20 year flash backs were a joke too. Make the video a bit fuzzy and we are supposed to believe they are 18? I will say that I enjoyed Keri Russell and Noah Emmerich's performance so I'll be giving it a few more episodes.
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The pilot was very well done with a lot of good comments on here. I lived during that time and there was always a feeling in the air about the Russians. It seems that it would be difficult to put Russian spys in America without the fear of having them want to defect. Of course I never wanted to ever be a spy and love of one's country is not the same for all people. So I found the premise quite plausible with the contrast between Phillip and Elizabeth. It hasn't been a good year necessarily for good TV shows as too many good ones left and weren't replaced - Fringe, Alphas and others. The current crop seems a little lean, so I'm really glad to have The Americans to fill in the gaps. Hope it stays good for a long time...
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Tim you review the best shows!
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I'll need a few episodes to decide i like it. I missed the first 10 minutes or so and there were things I did not catch such as there being together for more than 15 years. The performances were very good and the 80's atmosphere seemed well done, but there were some plot things that nagged at me.

In general, I think Azryan1 below made some good points and like Mate, I also wondered why the kids did not hear the garage fight. That would have been interesting to see them cover that up or explain to the kids what was going on, not to mention the tension that could have resulted. It also would have been a good scene to see the risks they are taking with the kids around.

I didn't like that Rhys went after the pedophile. I felt they should have left it at the store where he restrained himself, despite his daughter and the employees keeping him in check, but we the viewers knew he could kick the guy's ass, so ending it there as they did would have been a better choice. This could also have been an experience for him to doubt liking America as much or make him realize America is, at times, possibly no different than Russia. Going after the guy later just seemed to come across as needless, gratuitous violence. Instead, that scene in the store could have served to reinforce his killing of their captive along with the realization of what was done to his wife, so killing him was also taking out his anger about the pedophile. As it was, that whole pedophile scene seemed kind of random and just used to serve the violence later. Since they did do the scene, it may have also been better had that pedophile not been with the girl he was with, as that may have made it creepier. I was also surprised the guy was so overtly expressive about it. I would think someone like him wouldn't want to advertise what a creep he is.

Anyway, I'll keep watching to see how it goes.
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The pace is good and the casting is really good. It had good ratings so I guess this show has a chance of making it. Thanks for the song !
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It was a good start but not without few screw ups. Actually after end credits I'm not that optimistic as Tim here.
I can't grasp highly implausible idea of russian spies getting infiltrated in american life that deep, to the extent of becoming true americans. It's great premise for such series as "Chuck" but I need more effort to believe in such premise in serious drama. And FX does only serious dramas I'm guessing. There could have been russian spies disguising themselves in US as regular Joes, working on american soil but I doubt about such an extent (have family of american russian kids, live almost more than decade). And are they supposed to go back to USSR when mission is over? And what is their mission exactly? They are supposed to live till death in US?

Flashbacks are lame, it's a weak spot, better if they take it away. As russian I cringed when american actors who were playing russians spoke with each other in english with wooden russian accent. I understand that we should close our eyes and imagine that they speak in russian coz they are obvsl in USSR and people in USSR don't speak english between each other. I know I'm nitpicking. But russian element is essential to the show. And it was just ridiculous when Keri Russel in flashback spoke with russian accent all of a sudden. Why? We know art, we can imagine that she spoke in russian, no need to make an accent. But I insist better not to show these "back to USSR scenes" at all. You will always misstep, showrunners. Don't embarass yourself.

After all this show is about american way of life and american problems more than spy stuff I guess. So I hope writers will pay more attention to this stuff. For now I don't get any of spy activities. Too foggy.
And to nitpick one more time - how could two professional spies be such short-sighted about noisy fight that they had in garage with their comrade superspy? Are u kidding me? And what about unnecessary beat down of baldy pedophile in his backyard? How short-sighted of our protagonist! Can't pedophile call the cops after all that? It's ridiculous stuff for the sake of outrageous. It's a FX, shock matter, I forgot.
But anyway Fleetwood Mac fit opening chase scenes wonderfully. And I'm glad for Susan Misner that she got more important gig - poor woman can't get out of episodic roles' limbo.
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I'm guessing you didn't like Salt either?
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Jolie's movie vehicles make me yawn. It was the most idiotic plot I've ever heard of.
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Not to be 'that guy', but um... If there was ever a person or a group of people who successfully managed to live another life in another country doing their own country's bidding whilst disguised as normal citizen for a long period of time... YOU WOULDN'T KNOW. Because that is the entire point of even doing it.
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Eventually media would know. Such outrageous things always come out in the end. But since we've never heard of such brave disguise among any spies then I must say it's implausible premise and I still need an effort to believe.
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Frankly I'm struggling to answer this comment. The...media would know? How exactly would the media get to the point of figuring out that some ordinary citizens who have perfectly valid jobs, families, lives, were in fact undercover? You think the media have journalists on rotation to 'investigate if there are undercover agents in this country' ? Tell me, how does even such investigation start by a media outlet? I think you are thinking of what happens in movies and books.
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Great show! A lot of it had a "Mad Men"-type vibe, except more action, and at a later time. The first scene felt a bit like a cliche "action movie" sequence, but the rest was great, especially moving across the street from a former white supremacist, FBI agent who is already suspicious of their motives. Will definetely be tuning in for more of this.
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To talk about RUSSIA vs USA smackdown during the Cold War is to be just plain wrong. Sorry, my Eastern Europeanness/education is yelling at me. It just bugs me to no end. There was a country called the Soviet Union that consisted of Russia and a bunch of other countries. It might seem a small detail for yall but believe me you guys, there is a MASSIVE difference. There was no country called Russia at that time and the spies were Soviet spies not Russian. Ending my rambling monologue now.

I love the idea, the actors and the end product. I am hooked. Hoping this will continue. Really interesting to see how an American show tackles those difficult times through the eyes of their enemies. It feel authentic, even like the small details. For example the tea cups they were using when they were back home, they were not just regular mugs but they have taken the time to get to know the culture and find authentic glasses. I noticed, it was nice.
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As part time russian) I must add that it's not that wrong to say russian spies instead of soviet spies. There were countries like Uzbekistan (countries in so called Middle Asia zone) where people didn't look like russians but were raised under Soviet Union (mostly russian traditions and culture). And people can be russian if they feel like it, they don't have to look like stereotypical russian Ivan-type. Russians were mixing with different small ethnicities of Syberia and other regions since day one. So true russianness matters only for russian nationalists.
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Well but at that time, there was no Russia, the spies were not working for Russia, they were working for the Soviet Union. Their nationality might have been Russian but the country they served was the USSR. So I think there is a huge difference.
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They served for USSR yes, but they were russians, soviets is a rarely used term. It's just semantics. there was no huge difference. I promise you russians won't mind.
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Yeah that is true, Russians wouldnt mind :D
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is USSR acceptable:)
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Yearp (:
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Yes good point sadly some people have little knowledge of recent world history.
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Any other Comcast subscribers have severe signal problems during the last half hour of this show? I pretty much missed the last half hour.
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yep. happened to me too in SF
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Tim, you seem to get most of the good shows for reviews ;P

Great pilot. A captivating arc for this single episode. And they established many good starting points for arcs to cover a entertaining and suspenseful season.
I especially liked how they turned the usual concept of "weak woman / strong man" around. At least concerning the convictions in their mission. That makes for a unusual family dynamic. Also that Elizabeth thinks she can "re-educate" her children to become socialists plays into that theme nicely.

- I think Elisabeth was turned on by Phillip defending her honor. But I think it was also a show of real and passionate love for his wife to kill Timinev.
- BBQ poker to the balls.... LOVED IT :D would have been better if it was Elisabeth.... so, Very cool, Russia!

Over all, I'm glad American TV is able to replace great show that end, with new shows that have great potential.
You wouldn't believe what we have to put up with on TV in Germany. You guys are in TV-heaven so to speak. Just to bad I can't contribute to viewer numbers for those great shows.....
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I really liked it. I actually think the family dynamic was the most interesting, with Phillip kind of wanting out and Elizabeth remaining loyal to Russia. And it is also so weird because they are married, but I don't know if they actually love each other, or if they are just in it for their cover (Especially Elizabeth). I hope they do the flashbacks like Person of Interest does, where it isn't every episode but they are used strategically throughout the series to make it stronger.
And Every time I saw the FBI agent I just thought he was the assistant coach in Miracle. That may take some adjusting. Can't wait for Margo Martindale to show up.
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I loved it! I am hooked, hooked, hooked. Keri Russell is magnificent and the rest of the cast is just as good.
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I thought it was weak and a disappointment. Very messy and disjointed. Didn't like the way they threw in that third wheel blonde spy and then conveniently killed him off before we could ask who he even was. It was a way to show danger without harming the main pair.
Paying the old black guy to use his window seemed interesting until it went nowhere and made no sense since the operation was constantly on the move on foot and in a car.

Thought there was a lot of filler for the extended length pilot with the 'ice cream game', silly boot-scootin' at the mall and entirely unbelievable 'openly pedophile scene'. Then totally predicable later 'punishment scene' (and a Russian spy/killer would've totally killed that guy). That pedophile bit made it seem even goofier when I was already thinking that they'd never let their daughter dress like that. I don't think a little boy would be able to 'Holy shit!' either? Guess it depends where you grew up but I think it was implausible.

The main thing though was that horribly confused relationship of the spies. None of it fit right. They've been together for 20 years, have two kids, been Americans for ~15 and somehow they don't know what their relationship is in so many ways?? But seemingly in the pilot, much of that sorts itself out? I assume it'll remain plenty messy though.

I don't get how Queen Elizabeth is so staunchly for Mother Russia when she was raped by the KGB? Prince Phillip meanwhile seems to just love America and has been on the edge of defecting this whole time, yet when he actually betrays his 'wife' and DOES almost defect, she totally trusts him for the first time ever just because he kills the other defector?
Yes, I realize it was because he was pissed that his 'wife' was raped, but that shouldn't have been good enough. They had to kill that guy by then anyway. We all know he still totally wants to defect.

The ridiculous new FBI neighbor moving in across the street was AWFUL. Yes, I suppose it 'could' happen, but SO convenient that it was hard to buy -especially when he announces he's an agent to everyone? Not, 'I work for the Government' or something more subtle/covert at least??
And they only met because the spies brought over brownies? It isn't 1956. They live 'kinda across the street' -you might say 'hi' and introduce yourselves, but would spies trying to blend in be that super outgoing? No...they wouldn't. The writers didn't need them to be either, so I don't see why they did it?

And then their car totally fits what the FBI's looking for and the agent is allowed into the garage on a lame 'jumper cable ploy' and comes 5 inches from the exact guy he's looking for? NO. No way. Too silly.
Then he sneaks into their garage and Phillip was already in there ready to kill him? Did Phillip just happen to already BE in the garage in the middle of the night? No reason for that, so that means the FBI agent had to've made so much noise breaking in that he's an complete idiot.

For no reason, one of the spy couple says they can't kill the defector now that the FBI agent lives next door. That made no sense? They had to do SOMETHING, and leaving him alive in the garage day after day would be an insane risk. So later they kill/get rid of him. So why say you couldn't do that when you could, should and DID??

Such perfect timing that they get rid of the defector right between the two times the FBI is by their trunk. And when he breaks in, he doesn't notice the trunk smells of cleaner? That'd be passable if not for so many other cheap mistakes. What if the agent was in the basement? Why was the trunk all the FBI guy cared about? It was only because the writers knew that's where the defector had been. BAD writing.

Eliz telling her son getting to the moon first isn't 'so' impressive seemed needlessly silly. She'll have two kids and a husband she doesn't love or even trust, but will blow bits of her cover on a petty dig at NASA? No. It was lame.

Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk' was ok, until it went on forever! And 'In The Air Tonight' just needs to be completely retired from ANY movie or TV show -especially one 'about the 80's'. It's just been SO overused by now that it's totally worn out. My god, it got famous IN the 80's on Miami Vice and has been the hack, go-to track for any dialogue-free 80's montage scene since.

I wanted to love this show, but I don't buy half of what they presented and didn't find the characters compelling at all. Like others have said, the Cold War was already lost by the 80's -we just didn't know it back then. But we know it now, so it seems like they intend to make this couple live in the 'gray area' of right/wrong/caught between both sides until they reach enough seasons to hit Perestroika and permanently defect. I'll give it a chance to get it's act together, but I'm pretty sure I'm ready to defect right now.
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I don't necessarily agree with most of this, but I do love that you spelled out what you found wrong with it, in an eloquent fashion w/o being rude or anything of the like. I really respect that. :)

-I think the boot scootin and pedophile scene etcera were essential for laying the foundation for the characters. I thought it was pretty smooth character development and explanation w/o spoon feeding the audience too much or not giving them enough. It helped established their roles and character. Phillip is more conflicted, more inclined to be Americanized and embrace the culture, he's more emotional, family oriented and the one most likely to jump ship in favor of the American dream. I don't know if we'd have gotten that groundwork for his character so soon or at all in the pilot w/o those scenes. My mom would never have let me dress like that and she certainly would have tolerated the language. However, I've actually seen some children who get away with such things so it honestly wasn't too far fetched to me.
- their relationship was one of the most interesting aspects to me. They have conflicting personalities and handle things differently so Phillip going into his mission with the mindset that she was legitimately his wife and as real as a wife as anything totally clashed with her being more task focused, entering it as the professional with no emotions even after all those years. Her abuse only solidified her behavior. But her sexual abuse was what lead to her being who and how she was, the moment that was addressed it would have shifted things. I do think if they really wanted too they could have held off on the man they captured being her abuser for down the road, maybe midway through so that we got to see more of their marriage before this big leap. I probably would have held off on that myself, even though I enjoyed that shift immensely because they did a good job of establishing what it was like before.
- She gave everything for her country, for the KGB. So even though an aspect of that violated her, not going through with it all would almost be like she suffered in vain. That actually makes sense. She seemed to have a passion for getting into that for sometime, maybe because of her father. Phillip on the other hand gave the impression that he was sort of being pulled along for the ride. He didn't appear as duty bound. the impression I got was that he had to give up someone he loved in order to get into this, and unlike Elizabeth, him being more people oriented, family oriented, emotional...it makes sense that he would be most likely to second guess himself. especially once he had kids that he loved, and got to know people etc. Connections matter to him, you take him away from connections he had before and plop him into a new place where he's made new ones for sixteen years, he'd feel conflicted. For the first time, Phillip being the emotional out of the bunch actually worked in her favor, because it was probably the first time she really realized the he genuinely loves her, that she's part of who he's trying to protect..not just the kids.They were never able to discuss their paths and genuinely connect and that was the first time that they did, as a result she seen him in a new light, which prompted her to be even more open with him. No more barriers between them. In turn she found herself equally as protective of him, since she's the one that does most of the talking with the KGB.
- Most of the rest is just creative licensing and the necessary suspension of belief required to get through any and every fictional piece be it television or novels, in order to actually enjoy a fictional piece. Without that suspension of belief and long rope with some leeway there would be no stories to tell.
Again, even though i don't agree, I like that you at least expressed your dissent in a well thought out fashion! I hope you find something else to your liking! : )
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I thought the ice cream game, more than just showing how Phil is fun/loves being a dad and Elizabeth isn't, was actually really similar to the boxing training scene. Like, he was teaching the kids how to feint and predict the ice cream's (enemy's) movements. It was like secret training for the kids in guise of a game.

Yeah, the pedo in the mall thing was ridiculous. Unless the 80's were incredibly different from the 2000's, no one acts like that in the mall. And I hung out at sketchy malls.

And as far as Elizabeth's loyalty, I thought it totally made sense! She paid dearly to join the KGB and the way she sees it now if she just defects to the US, all her suffering was for nothing. So she clings to it harder than Phil would because she paid more to get there. Psychology, man.
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(PS, Let me say that, even if we're in disagreement, I appreciate that you actually outlined your problems with the premiere, instead of just saying, "That sucked" like so many others do. At least we can engage in thoughtful dialogue, which is what any good viewer wants to do, yes?)
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Wow, I guess we read everything completely differently.

1. All the things you call "filler," I call "character development." Take, for example, the ice cream scene. It was a perfect way to show the contrast between Phillip and Elizabeth--he has bought into this family while she hasn't. She's worked very hard to remain cold and distant, while he's grown to love and care about his children and wife. That's also why the pedophile scene happens--Phillip takes a HUGE risk attacking the guy, but it's because he's grown attached to his children and is enraged by the idea that someone who could even potentially hurt his daughter even exists.

2. Of course their car is going to match the description the FBI has because, uhhhh, it's the car they actually used. I don't get the big deal there.

(I'm taking things very out of order here)

3. Phillip probably heard the FBI agent breaking into the garage. He's a spy and probably fairly aware of his surroundings, etcetera.

4. You're certainly welcome to find the coincidence of the FBI agent moving in "next door" to the spies as convenient, but really, just about everything is coincidence. The best friends you have? Probably coincidence. Elizabeth and Phillip being the two KGB agents to end up working together? Coincidence. Elizabeth getting raped by the defector she's supposed to capture? Coincidence.

5. Their decision to not kill the defector was explained pretty thoroughly--Phillip killed him in a bit of rage after the reveal that he raped Elizabeth; it wasn't really part of the plan.

6. The "In the Air Tonight" choice was used because the show is supposed to have an 80s feel. Yes, it's overdone, but I thought it was the right choice here, because it's 100% in line with the vibe/tone the show is trying to create.
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Not to mention that Phillip beating the crap out of the pedophile after finding out his wife was raped as a teenager just makes sense.
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Without coincidence most TV just wouldn't work. Most cops and agents rarely draw their guns in real life and if that was the case how boring would most TV be? The agent next door is a good coincidence...
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And, actually, it's not that much of a stretch. They live near DC. Which is where, you know, the FBI is located. So an agent moving into a neighborhood right near the KGB spies isn't that outrageous.
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I had high hopes for "The Americans"... and now I'm pretty sure this show will be one of my 2013 favorites. I already like it more then "Homeland" (which is great as we all now). Please FX don't ruin it with bad plot.

1. Finally a good American 80's period piece. Phil Collins is a perfect background music for a love scene. Great work art department. The creators of abomination called "The Carrie Diaries" (which was advertised as 80's period piece) could learn so much from "The Americans"...

2. Keri Russell - she was fantastic as Elizabeth (I might not be objective about her - I love Keri since "Felicity") First we saw her as ruthless spy who went to bed with Departament of Justice guy to gather information. At that moment I thought she's going to play a cold bitch. I was wrong. Fortunately, she has other side. Elizabeth is complicated and mulit-layer character. I cried when Timinev raped her. I know that's how things looked in Soviet Union, but it was still very painful to watch. Elizabeth might be brainwashed by Mother Russia, but I have no doubt she loves her kids. When Phillip killed Timinev (and sacrificed his chance of freedom to save her honor) she understood her husband loves her. Having sex in the car was her way of saying "thank you". The scene in bedroom was touching. I think Elizabeth might fall in love with Phillip if that didn't happen already. She knows he's her only friend now.

3. Matthew Rhys - it may take me a while to stop seeing Kevin Walker in him. However, I think he's convincing as a spy. He won me over when he killed Timinev. I think every (heterosexual) girl / woman wants a guy who will take care of her and avenge her if something bad happens. Also he looked great standing in the darkness with a pistol ready to kill that FBI guy.

I can't wait for the next episode.
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I agree with your full review. Great pilot! And much more interestingly done than what I was expecting. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this one has me on board.
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I was completely surprised by how much a truly enjoyed the pilot. I have my fingers crossed, hoping they don't somehow ruin it.
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Impressive premiere. I was skeptical at first but now I'm on board. Well crafted, especially the idea of having an FBI man living next door.
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A fantastic pilot episode. I am excited for more. And I am fully behind you on this, Tim. This is the PERFECT time in technology for this show. No stupid computers and internet in everyone's hands, on their desks, in their cars, etc... If you have information, you actually have to HAVE it. Like in your hand. Or in your head. Which means simply killing you kills the information rather than the information somehow becoming its own entity where it goes out to everyone on the internet. I LOVE this premise, and have always been a big Keri Russell fan and was looking forward to this show partially because of it, but I never knew much about Matthew Rhys. Well no more, he impressed me quite a bit, and is a big reason I am looking forward to next week's episode.
-I am hoping that it's a combination of both for Elizabeth. Certainly the job would turn her on. But the look on her face when Phillip just STRANGLED that guy (and snapped his neck) when he realized the rape, AWESOME. And the look on his face was amazing, too, calling back to when he was listening to the tape. Awesome acting work to both of them.
-I loved all the scenes in the past, in Russia, etc... I seriously hope that they continue these stories quite a bit. They are fantastic.
-Not cool, but AWESOME TV. You don't mess with Philip's daughter (or anyone else's for that matter).
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Loved it. For once, a series that lives up to the hype. Smart, intriguing and I'm very curious to see what happens next. How many episodes are there in the first season?
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Evaporating goat herders? Acting president and resident actor, Ronald Reagan? Surette, you are a typical clueless jack-ass. No doubt a member of Code Pink. And no doubt were not alive in the 80's so you have no first hand experience with the events of that time. And are clueless as to the events of present day...and only see things through the prism of bias. No doubt you are late for your, 'Gay awareness' meeting. Clown.
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Staff
You're cute.
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Tim, you clearly mispelled douche...
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What is your problem? Have you never read something by Tim before? His typical work balances some lighthearted humor with his critical insights (whether the jokes are funny or not). Jeesh. Why the hell do you need to attack him needlessly? What the heck do his comments about a FICTIONAL STORY about the 1980s have anything to do with whether he's clueless regarding present-day events or not? And what the hell does "gay awareness" (whatever that means) have to do with ANYTHING WHATSOEVER?
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It's best not to feed the troll honestly. He's got his own bias & cluelessness & no one is going to magically change the dude with a post. Better to just laugh at it's silliness & move on to smarter observations from others.
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I'm hooked already. Can't wait til next week.

I love the gender reversal of having Philip as the sensitive family man and Elizabeth as the cold career woman. They are both sympathetic/empathetic in their own ways. Plus, they have fantastic chemistry. Maybe it's an easier show to swallow as a non-American, but I am perfectly down with rooting for the Russians.

Also, ever since I learned during Brothers & Sisters that Matthew Rhys is actually Welsh, I am just floored by him and his accents.
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I was disappointed.
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Loved it. The style of direction and cinematography reminded me of the great 80s-90s gangster films (think "Good Fellas") and Rhys was phenomenal; as with Tim, I completely forgot that Keri Russell used to be frizzy-haired Felicity. That means great acting. Most importantly, I'm cheering for the antagonists--Elizabeth and Phillip are the bad guys! But I want them to succeed? That's great writing! I'm so stoked for this show. Glad I checked it out.
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Angela Davis wasn't poor. Yet she was USSR's favorite American communist. In fact, a lot of radical socialists were middle class.
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Oh, I almost forgot one thing: I thought it was very weird that Elizabeth would readily tell Phillip her life's story so early in the series. It feels like a moment that needs more building up to.
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Let's not forget, though, that Phillip and Elizabeth have been together for about 15 years at this point, so we're at a much different place in their story than they are, so in some ways, for THEM, that moment made sense, even if, in terms of our chronology of experiencing the story, it seems to have come early.
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I was expecting to like it and I wasn't disappointed. The premise is interesting, the actors are great and the storytelling is compelling. It could go to almost anywhere from here. Personally, I'd like to see a lot more from the 60s and their early days in the USA.
Greatest line (by Phillip) because of its truth: "This place doesn't turn out socialists." Socialism is mostly chosen by those who have suffered hardships and see no chance of change for themselves or their children other than in a change of the political order. Unlike their parents these children never suffered hardships in any way. The statement is, however, even true for the whole country, because it is built on the belief that everybody is a free man/woman and can change their own destiny. Phillip and Elizabeth experience what every other parent, who immigrated from a poor and oppressed country does: Their children live a good and safe normal life and have everything they need and wish for, but they will never understand their parents because they never experienced their hardships. In this case it's even harder for the parents because they cannot even talk to their children about growing up in post WWII Russia.
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Well, the cold war was established a little before the 80s, when one of the two players was struggling with its own contradictions (and faltering economy) and didn't really do anything to threaten the other winning one. As I wrote elsewhere, perhaps a setting in the 50s or, even more unconventionally, in the 70s would have raised the stakes.

Still, an interesting series concept!
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Actually, the stakes were pretty high in the early 80s. The Soviets had just invaded Afghanistan, the NATO double-track decision actually led to the installation of intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the middle of Europe along the border of the countries of the Warsaw Pact and under Andropov the USSR underwent some changes in politics. Things could have gone either way in the 80s. A nuclear war was always one of the possibilites. The fall of the Berlin Wall with virtually no blodshed was nothing short of a miracle but it's foundation was laid in the political decisions of Gorbachev.

The political development in the 80s will also question the life decisions of undercover spies like Phillip and Elizabeth which should be interesting to watch.
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I don't think that the USSR stood any chance of survival in that form in the 80s - Gorbachev did what he did out of necessity and the Afghanistan invasion was a swan song already at its start. Reagan just needed to apply the slightest pressure (as the "star wars" program) to accomplish his goals.
I believe that the 80s were one of those periods in history when the danger was more perceived than real... but we are digressing :)
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Bullshit. We in USSR never hated America. We had problems with American foreign politics. We were making movies about "bad CIA". But we never hated America. At most, we wanted Americans to understand socialism and to peacefully join our attempts to build communism. And that was in early 1960s. In 1980s the illusion was long gone, and we all just wanted some jeans and a VHS recorder. Rockets et all were just means to protect us from American first strike. We knew a lot about Hiroshima.
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I see your point.

What I find sad is that the USA is becoming more socialist (just my opinion and I don't want to debate it) and Russia is becoming more capitalist. The irony. I hate debating politics and the like, because it just makes me upset--hmm, puppy bowel looking good now:)

In the 80s (pre-teen and teen years) I had the perception that the USSR's general population wanted our jeans and other items and it was just the government (people in power and those influence by the propaganda) that didn't like the USA.

Now it seams like most see us as the "big satan" but I can't think of another country I'd want to live in. I've been to other countries and loved them but won't want to live there. I loved Holland (Eindhoven) but after hearing that 50% of my income would go to taxes I no longer had any desire to live there. I love the Republic of Panama but I've seen so much blatant corruption that I couldn't live there (plus some annoying relatives are there...lol). The list goes on and on but all countries have their pros and cons. Despite its flaws, I wouldn't live anywhere but the USA...but I don't know all countries and haven't been everywhere:)

Love the UK but I like the space in many of the big cities in the USA (like how LA, Dallas, Houston, etc...sprawl outward) but I loved visiting NYC!
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I think for somebody who knew, or at least suspected, what "the west" was like that might be true. For the average guy who tried to survive in a harsh envirenment.

But the USSR and its puppets still had enough people who either profited from the system in one way or another, or really believed in it. Only because of that was the system able to stay afloat that long.

Also... the USSR falling apart in the way it did, was mainly because the east-germans ... well... they f***ed it up. But in the end, I have to say, I'm glad they did.
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And I'm sure you wanted Afghanistan and all countries of Eastern Europe to be free and independent from Soviet Union...
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Spot on. As a non American, I (still) personally hate the US foreign policy but not the country or the nation itself.
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Very interesting post. Kind of cool to see it from the point of view of a civilian on the other side.
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I think that this show needs a lot of improvement if it wants to keep going.
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In what ways? I thought it was just about as flawless as a series premiere gets (and that cold open! BAM!).
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So I watched the second episode last night to see if it got any better and I totally believe everyone is allowed there own opinion. However I don't know if I like the show still. In my opinion its very disjointed, to many characters with too many different stories going on. It seems a little unrealistic. I think it would have been more interesting if they defected and we saw where that took them.
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Of course, that's true that everyone's entitled to their opinions. I asked "In what ways?" not to be aggressive or sound annoyed; I was interested in what you disliked about it, that's all!

But I do have to say I don't really see how it's disjointed. Yes, sure, the scenes are short and they cut fairly quickly, but I do like that--we, as audience members, get to think about what is so significant of these smaller moments. Thankfully (I think, at least), the show doesn't bloat itself by having the characters tell us why these moments are significant; they show us.

I'm not sure what you mean by lots of different stories. There are really two: the FBI agents, and the KGB agents. I guess you could say that the KGB family is one story, too, plus the overarching story of the two "agencies" as a whole, but they're all tied together in what, to me, at least, is a fairly cohesive package.

But to each his own! :)
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Good pilot, looks like a promising show. Have to admit, it was hard to sink my teeth into on a personal level, and might be a challenge going forward. Not a critique of the show itself--everything was great there--but for me, I'm not sure who I can root for. The spies are the protagonists here, so it doesn't feel like I'm supposed to root for the FBI. But I can't root for the "heroes" either. Too much patriotism here to swallow it well when Elizabeth starts talking about how she feels a weakness in our people and how socialism is blahblahblah. It's really difficult to get behind characters like that. Maybe I'm not supposed to?

The only thing I feel like the pilot whiffed on was when Elizabeth had pulverized the Russian defector and he told her how KGB officers were allowed to have their way with cadets and that's just how things were.....I thought he was going to say something along the lines of "See what kind of society/government you're trying so hard to protect? You think Russia is so awesome, look how they value people and their own cadets." Seems like in real life that guy would've tried something like that to try to get her to understand why defecting to America is a better idea than she thinks it is. And in TV-life, I thought the writers would go there. It seemed like an obvious thing to get into, given the moral narratives of the show. He didn't have to convince her, but it would've been interesting to see that line of thought get thrown at her and then watch her mull it over for an episode or two, to see her wrestle with that logic.
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I thought it was implied and that is why Elizabeth walked away but her husband was so upset about what had happened to his wife he reacted "emotionally" by killing the rapist (I can rationalize that). I thought Elizabeth realized it was the system and not just only the rapist. However her fanatic patriotism came back to her. On the other hand she has changed some---lied to the handler and said the killing was her doing and that her husband was on board and neglected to say he was initially taking him to the fbi and defecting. Also she told her hubby a little of her back story.

I want them to defect to the USA but that would end the show and I don't want the show to end.

Maybe the husband is just protecting his family from arrest/deportation/death, hence the end with the gun in the garage and the fbi guy...
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Good pilot. Interesting characters. I just wonder how it is all going to end.

Lame jokes aside. It was good. Not justified good mind you, but better than AHS.

The parts that seemed a bit much for me was that their kids must sleep like the dead because if when I was a kid and my mom would have kicked someone's head through the dry wall in the garage, I am pretty sure I would have heard it.

But one thing on your notes. You missed one. Did Elizabeth go bow Chicago wow wow or did she use her skill with sex to manipulate and reign in a potentially defecting Agent. Like she used it to manipulate the guy from the DOJ. I think the showing of the sex and rape that she experienced in the episode deliberately left it ambiguous. She doesn't seem the type that would be seduced by he power of the kill to want to get it on. She is a patriot and by all accounts is a better agent than Phillip. If she thought he was slipping towards defection, knowing that he was in to her. She is entirely capable of using that sex to swing him back over to the side of mother Russia.
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The children didn't hear it???? Mebbe they did and have learned to "ignore" strange behavior from their parents or in their house. They have lived under this roof for a while and probably know when to go selectively deaf. Also, nothing on TV or the movies is seen or heard unless the script sez so...
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I think that with him killing the Captain we as the audience were suppose to take that as a sign that first and foremost he is loyal to her and his family. So the sex wasn't about reigning him in, since he essentially was reigned in when he chose to kill the guy instead. (this is only my opinion though)
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That was a hell of a pilot, just great. FX has done it again!!!
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I was curiously unenthused about watching this pilot but I had to: It's FX. The chances were way better than 50/50 that this would be good, at least at the start. And it was. In particular, I enjoyed the performance of the husband/father. There's a lot of potential here. And we get Margo Martindale back on TV (!), even though she'll be a "bad" guy. Also a surprise was seeing Richard "John Boy" Thomas. It's been many a year since I've seen him on anything.

FYI, the FBI agent's name is Stan Beeman, not Beamon. You also got the Russian defector's name totally wrong but that's okay. He won't be back.

Thanks for another good review.
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I really enjoyed the pilot, and I'm so glad you're reviewing it, Tim!
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys really sold it, and A++ for the music.
I'm looking forward to seeing where this show goes!
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going to have to watch pilot again as there is so much going on in first half

excellent beginning & looking forward to more
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Great review of a fantastic episode. There are so many possibilities and stories to explore in this show, that if the writers make the right decisions, this will be a terrific, exciting, and very surprising show. There is so much going on at one time, I can't wait to see where this show chooses to go.
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