A The Americans Community
Wednesday 10:00 PM on FX

The Americans S02E01: "Comrades"


I could honestly watch a whole show about the Jennings just being a family. Henry wanted a rad Intellivision for his birthday, but instead he got a dorky telescope, while Paige discovered her parents sixty-nining. That’s basically Modern Family minus smirks. It’s called "life," guys, and The Americans started off its second season by reminding us all that this isn’t just a show about wigs and secret codes—there is an emotional center. Just like The Americans' best Season 1 episodes, "Comrades" offered heightened interpersonal conflict that in turn elevated the stakes of espionage. The most gripping subterfuge needs human drama to matter, and vice versa. So yeah, that's how a solid episode works, but what distinguished this expertly paced premiere from Season 1 was a very real dovetailing of the two spheres—spycraft and family—as The Americans moved into territory we knew was just around the corner...


No, that wasn't an average Super 8 Hotel room, that was the kind of room service that'll be in store for the Jennings if they don't shape up. A classic game of family Twister, only with way more bullet holes. Remember the days when you could have a fake happy spy family with a white picket fence and barbecues with the neighbors and trips to the amusement park in Alexandria WITHOUT the fear of being murdered all together in your hotel room? Those days are over! Though, to be fair, I DID experience something very similar at Disney’s California Adventure, so maybe this is not a tragedy exclusive to spies. Regardless, the Jennings have always struggled to keep the KGB away from the dinner table, and this new season is poised to make that challenge even more difficult.

I'm sorry, but it was legit sad when we saw the two spy families make plans to meet at a local theme park and then, as a viewer, to realize they couldn’t even acknowledge one another. In that exact moment, I felt like spies were the most unfairly persecuted of all minorities. It's like, spies are people too, you know? Only hoo-boy, talk about the danger of using your family as cover during an "op." Yeesh, why even sign up to be a secret spy? It’s like all you do is make excuses to every single person you know, and then you almost get killed a minimum of three times a day. Maybe that's fun in some cultures?


Or, as the series creators suggested in a friendly chat, this very conflict is what "animates" Philip and Elizabeth as people. It is the same premise that makes us excited to see them behave the way they do, while we intermittently shout "Just go to Canada or something!" at the flatscreen. Of course, it is way, way stressful to be a Russian spy with basically American children while trying to become closer as a family unit IRL, but that's what makes for OUR entertainment (a.k.a. I'm just explaining the basic concept of watching characters do stuff here). 

Look, I've seen a lot of Burn Notice and I learned a fair amount of spycraft from that program via narration, so I couldn’t help but notice Gaad's voice saying, "Someone’s going to have to take the fall" over Martha and connecting the dots. Pooooor Martha. I think there are four sources of humor in this show (wigs, parental squirming in front of the kids, dated references, and Martha’s life). She has no idea how duped she’s getting, plus she could face federal charges if the spy-pens ever get traced back to her. In a sick way, though, that’s kind of funny, because she’s so mainstream. Sorry for being a villain y’all, but Martha is sort of a fuddy-duddy and it's enjoyable to watch her play house in a fake relationship without even knowing it.  

Now, I have not seen the Meryl Streep flick that Agent Stan Beeman enjoyed with Nina and Sandra (it was NOT Death Becomes Her nor She-Devil), but it seemed like both viewings helped him understand Nina and himself a little more, while also furthering his sham marriage with Sandra "self-help" Beeman. Good for... Stan? Noah Emmerich's character has the most interesting starting point this season, and the most interesting potential journey, too. His partner is dead, he's got a source who no one believes, and he's already deep into an affair with the enemy who herself is spying on him. He's basically scrambling in the eyes of his boss, and everything he says at work, the Russians know. There are certainly some stacked chips there. But hey, everyone loves a comeback, and I’ve always felt that Stan's plight sometimes feels like that of a detective in a noir film; seeing him shamed in a disobedient world offers the best of both character arcs. 


Like, during Season 1, it was engaging to watch the straight-laced Stan loosen up and lose control in the process (R.I.P. Amador), and this season we'll see him slide further, or get his act together, or both. For the time being, he's content with borrowing pirated films from what I think was an early Blockbuster Video. That attendant offered GOOD movie descriptions, such as his take on Mad Max: "Guys on motorcycles, half the world’s destroyed." It reminds me of how Cassandra Ferguson of ABC’s The Bachelor described The Hobbit as "that movie about the people that live in the hills." Much like Bilbo's quest, there are murky, dangerous, and overall interesting places for Stan to explore if he chooses to continue down the extramarital path. 

Of course, no sophomore-season opener would be complete without a looming, unknown threat meaty enough to sustain 13 episodes. Just who orchestrated the Griswold Family Massacre? Could it have come from the "inside?" Yes, and my rubles are on Claudia: She sent her regards via the eventually murdered spy family, Philip once had to tell her to stay away from his own children, Elizabeth beat the tar out of her, and she’s got a ruthless streak when it comes to playing by the rules. Just saying.  

President Ronald Reagan once said himself that "family has always been the cornerstone of American society." Well wouldn’t you know it, turns out that’s true for non-American societies too. What community doesn’t in some way benefit from an older generation loving and protecting the younger one? Even spy societies value family. It’s just that in the case of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, they’re not only guarding a social unit, but a cover as well. Here's hoping they pull through without drawing too much attention. 


SPY NOTES

– Paige is snooping like crazy, but maybe walking in on her parents will put a stop to her curiosity.

– Oleg, the new administrative employee enjoying a cushy job with the KGB: Dang privileged military kids pulling strings just to work for the KGB in America. They have it so easy. (Also I like this guy, mainly based on his jamming to Rod Stewart at work. He's the Zack Morris of the Rezidentura). 

– Leo Buscaglia: One of a few references to help contextualize the era. Also: The French Lieutenant's Woman, WKRP in Cincinnati, and the FBI's own Robo-Secretary. I want one of those machines to bring me napkins in an orderly fashion. 

– Phil's questioning of the mark: "What do you think’s so different about tonight Roy? New cologne?" Ha, Roy's a dork.


What'd you think of The Americans' Season 2 premiere? 


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 6/8/2016

Season 4 : Episode 13

61 Comments
Comments (61)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Very accomplished start to Season 2. I hope I can catch up.
Reply
Flag
Staff
I enjoyed it immensely. Will watch it again.
1
Reply
Flag
SO good this show.

That is all.
4
Reply
Flag
Strong start to season 2. Good job Americans. I do have to think however that Phillip is skating dangerously close (more so than usual) to getting caught. The 3 Afghans, followed by the 3 spies whom Phillip was seen leaving the room of. I doubt they had hotel security cameras at the time, but if they did. Look out.
Like that Stan is developing as a character. He knows there's things that just aren't right but can't quite put his finger on it. It's odd his boss, John Boy, has gone to the reverse and has lost all his suspicion and paranoia.
2
Reply
Flag
This show...
Perfect beginning, I had to lol at Paige snoping in on her parents 69 but the breakfast after killed me with the stupid's brother story about choking on an apple - LOL! Who would have known that the Americans can be that funny?
Also kind of funny: Gaad and Stan stating that "You think that ONE shot to the head was enough..." and the weird automated file despenser.
The assassination of the Griswolds was for me absolutely surprising and I have no clue who's behind but it wasn't the FBI or any other US agency. Was it Claudia? Most probable but it could be someone "new" from outside.
This freaked me out immensely:



Both of the Jennings have been seen at the crime scene, the only surviving kid has nodded a hi to Phil... They are fucked and now I doubt it was Claudia because she KNEW the Jennings would come so why risking to compromise the assets? Too dangerous, even for Claudia.
2
Reply
Flag
I wouldn't put it past Claudia to try and frame the Jennings, knowing they were coming to the room.. She's got a score to settle with them and she's a ruthless bitch
Reply
Flag
So just to settle a personal score she sets the cops and the FBI on their heels? Blowing up the whole program? Therefore putting yourself in danger? I don't know. Admitted, the boy surviving and seeing Phil was probably NOT planned but that's the point: even angry Claudia wouldn't risk something so big - there is no reason big enough to ... wait: what if the KGB CUTS ALL TIES TO THE WHOLE PROGRAM AND THE JENNINGS GOT OUT JUST IN TIME? No that would be too huge to do at this point of the series, it's too early. Or is it? This show is so good, it makes me paranoid already!
1
Reply
Flag
i am seriously just constantly blown away by this show
2
Reply
Flag
I predict Oleg wont last. His ass'll get banged up quick because he doesnt take his job seriously. The enemy's playin' for keeps, and they have no problem lettin' the hammers fly.
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
The more I think about it, the more I wonder if Oleg is an exceptional talent as a result of his connections. I could see him staying around as a foil to Nina's hard-earned history, and the way he rattled off the phrase about how "anything of legitimate value is too valuable to give away..." makes me think twice about his incompetence. I could even see him discovering something about Nina she doesn't want known, and blackmailing her with it.
3
Reply
Flag
we waited for so long and it is finally back!!! IT WAS GREAT!!!!
3
Reply
Flag
Yea it was, now calm down. There's more to come. I wonder who'll get shot up next?
1
Reply
Flag
I think this was an awesome premiere.
9
Reply
Flag
This was awesome. I remember when I started to snoop around the house, but thankfully I never walked in on my parents.
When the Afghani ripped Phillip's wig off I noticed how much force it took. Of course we already knew that from Clark, but the KGB had awesome wigs.
It was heartbreaking seeing that family's son walk in on them like that. That may be one of the most devastating things I've ever seen.
And Martha is still awesome. I do kind of feel bad for her, but she is so blissfully happy and it cracks me up.
17
Reply
Flag
Re: the wig that got ripped, I wonder if it was a shout-out to all those viewers who were complaining about how the wigs (especially Clark's) were able to stay in place in Season 1. If so, awesome!
3
Reply
Flag
Very good season premiere. I doubt the FBI or the KGB is responsible for the family death. It is a sad and interesting way to start the season. I think one of the children survives and I wonder what will happen to him. Maybe we will never know.

I forgotten some of the stories from last season so this review helps. Now Wednesday is getting very exciting with Arrow, Tomorrow People,Survivor and this show. Almost as good as Sundays !
3
Reply
Flag
I was glad they showed us some more Directorate S officers and was surprised that they were introduced & killed off in the premiere. Killing them in a hotel room instead of interrogating them seems sloppy & impulsive. Any government agency would want them alive for the chance to turn them, get intel from them, and/or arrest & prosecute them as trophies. Their apparent willingness to use children in their ops & their short notice to Philip about needing his help are probably hints that they weren't as careful as they should have been. They must have gotten involved with some very dangerous people, people who don't mind killing multiple people, including a teenager, in a hotel room during the day where they're sure to be found rather quickly & the incident would be very public knowledge, instead of following them home, waiting for the right opportunity, and trying to make it look like an accident. I wouldn't be surprised if non-US or Soviet elements come into play, such as more Afghans like we saw, Mossad, a drug cartel, or the mafia from any country. I forget who John Carroll Lynch's character was but I think he'll be back because they cast John Carroll Lynch.
More+
6
Reply
Flag
Indeed, there's absolutely no way we won't see a good deal more of Lynch, and that's fine by me. I always enjoy his performances.
1
Reply
Flag
Damn this show is good. It has no weaknesses. The performances are top notch. I am still constantly surprised with Keri Russell and how good she is in this. I never really thought her as an actress that could do a part like this until she did it and literally kicked its ass.

The various plots intertwine perfectly, the whole being parents and spies and them trying to not get caught by not only the FBI but now their Daughter Paige is a great way to keep the tension. I mean really how can you keep things normal when now with the suspicion of Paige you don't even have your house to let your guard down. That is going to bring a lot of tension and I have to wonder what they are going to do about it. I mean they can't kill her, can they tell her? I am not sure, Paige is an outlying variable that I bet they didn't think was going to cause them to worry.

Mina, is still my favorite. I love that she hated the Meryl Streep movie that most women love. It was just hilarious. Beeman really is over his head with her. She is going to end up being a spymaster. She is that good.

As for the deaths of their fellow agents. I am not sure that this is was an inside job. Remember these people are spies and they not only have the FBI to contend with but they also have our spies, the CIA. there are the Brits with MI6 plenty of others. But if it was one of them, likely would have tossed the place and found the notebook. That scene in the hotel looked profession. It was quick, three shots, three hits in the head or neck, no time for trained agents to react. Which could lend it to the belief that it was one of their own and that maybe they let the person in, perhaps Claudia since her name was mentioned. But I think that is a red herring, someone of Claudia's calibre wouldn't have done that in the hotel and she wouldn't have left them there and she would have taken the notebook in the briefcase. Also she wouldn't have left the son. The son was in the pool for maybe a half hour, that is plenty of time for the family and for him. So with that it seems a bit sloppy. Pros clean up everything as we saw with Phillip at the restaurant, he didn't need to kill the bus boy but he did because you don't leave loose ends and people that potentially can ID you. The son is a loose end and a real pro would have taken him either in the hotel room waiting, or in the pool. And with that I can't ignore the introduction Oleg.

Oleg is the kind of moron that would have skills but have no sense in using them. He thinks he is above it all and he likely would go after or have someone go after one of the families for some inane reason that makes sense to him or to someone back home to do good but generally does the opposite. Perhaps a faction within the KGB, I am not sure.

Either way, this is setting up to be a fantastic season of really, maybe the best new show of last year. Certainly the best show on FX since Justified has slid in quality this year. I can't wait to see what they come up with.

More+
6
Reply
Flag
Paige probably thought mom and dad had a fight and were sleeping 'traumatically' head-to-toe.
Spies should expect everyone to be cheaters. But, and it's a big one, when it's your non/partner can you ever move beyond it? I don't think so.
1
Reply
Flag
I forgot just how much I loved this show. The pacing, the tension, even the cinematography. I LOVED the way the camera followed Elizabeth's return home car from above, just a great framing. And poor Paige indeed.
2
Reply
Flag
Wow, great way to start the season! I'm really glad that Philip and Elizabeth aren't separated any more.
9
Reply
Flag
the episode ended on a weird note thought. its hard to be with someone and love them when you know theyre with someone else on a regularly basis. it requires you to really get a hold on your emotions. seems practically impossible for most ppl.
Reply
Flag
Staff
You know at times I've thought about how the KGB agents in this show play things a little more progressive than the FBI counterparts, and wonder if the missions they're on are some how a therapeutic release to normal suburban living - interracial relationships, extramarital sex, Nina's criticism of American womanhood in popular entertainment. Worth keeping an eye on, but yeah it'd be super stressful to manage all this.
2
Reply
Flag
Just as well Phillip and Elizabeth are not most people :) Juggling being a spy, a spouse and a parent is simply a fact of their lives. The show does a great job at showing that they are always going to have to veer from one to the other and back again - and not be able to blink while doing it.

Aside from the craziness that is Elizabeth/Phillip/Clark/Martha, we also see it in their relationship with their kids. Moving from birthday celebration to the supposed 'date' - the honey pot involving the Lockheed employee. Also the sheer terror on Phillip and Elizabeth's faces when they looked for the kids at the park. But later back home, Elizabeth acknowledged that the handover with Henry was simply something that Phillip had to do at the time. (On a lesser show, for the sake of 'consistency', she would have ripped into him for using their son.)

For viewers, all the back and forth keep us on our toes - it makes for great (albeit discomfiting) viewing!
3
Reply
Flag
"Guys on motorcycles, half the world’s destroyed."

After the worlds been destroyed, as in post-apocalyptic. I watch that scene a second time, just to be sure.

This was a strong episode. Wednesdays are fast becoming my favorite night on television. I started of with an excellent episode of Arrow, then watched the crazy thrill ride of True Detective s1e4: "Who Goes There", and capped the night off with the season premiere of The Americans. Heck of a night of tv!
2
Reply
Flag
A show that cannot go wrong. Amazing start up to season two.
4
Reply
Flag
I had forgotten how good this show is. Seriously, both Keri and Matthew do great work here. If the show keeps on going the way it is now, I could see it becoming one of the best tv series of our time.
5
Reply
Flag
What a great season opener.

The amusement park and hotel room set-piece was fantastic. That was seriously tense stuff. My heart broke when the adults could only smile at one another from afar, and you could see the joy on their faces when they were 'showing off' their kids to one another. And it broke again when Elizabeth and Phillip discovered the bodies in the hotel room, and then again when Phillip walked past the boy, realising what he was about to find. Ugh, this show.

Nina is just so gorgeous. She'll need to watch out for Oleg though - that one has troublemaker written all over him.

Oh, Paige.
11
Reply
Flag
Poor Paige.
  • Walking in on your parents just having plain vanilla s*x == shocking
  • Walking in on something that risque == world shattering
18
Reply
Flag
Finally, my favorite new 2013 show is back!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!! I missed you so much The Americans!!!! :)

1. I'm so happy Elizabeth and Phillip are back together. I hope they won't split up ever again.

2. I loved the scene in which Paige walked on her parents and then the morning after talk about choking - priceless. Traumatize your teenage daughter - Achievement Unlocked.

3. Shooting mujaheddins - not cool Philip!

4. Poor Jenning's spy friends :(

5. It's hard to believe Meryl Streep was once so young .

6. Great to see you Arkady - I missed you :)

I loved the season 2's premier and I can't wait for next episode :)

Thanks for review Ryan!
14
Reply
Flag
Its ever harder to believe streep is often mistaken for glenn close.
2
Reply
Flag
What a strong premiere! It really feels like the game's changed this season, the stakes are definitely higher! Stellar episode!

Also how sad and intense was the scene where Phillip crosses paths with the kid in the hallway; and right after that to see Paige with the face-paint was like a punch in the gut!
So good!

10
Reply
Flag
How much fun is this show? So much fun! This had everything a good spy-drama-season-2-premiere needs to be described as 'great': spying, shooting people with silenced guns, wigs, raunchy sex between various people, intrigue, a good portion of family drama and WIGS!

I so feel for Paige, guys. Poor girl.
5
Reply
Flag
poor girl? why do you feel for paige?
Reply
Flag
I wouldn't enjoy myself very much walking in on my parents "sixty-nining" as Ryan so expertly put it. Therefore, I feel for Paige because she, apparently, isn't either.

peterspoor33, you're so right. The not-so-subtle subtext in that scene was awesome.
3
Reply
Flag
she's scarred for life. ;)
1
Reply
Flag
I also like that they don't just leave it at that, Philip asks "Do you think she has been snooping before?" considering how much Paige might know or whether or not they may be compromised and how to deal with it, the old tradecraft bleeding into the family stuff.
3
Reply
Flag
She has trouble watching her Mom eat bacon for starters :-)

Just wow, so much cool stuff;
The cabin by the lake with the star spangled out the front.

The quotes;
"America can't protect you... Allah can't protect you.. and the KGB is everywhere" [spooky]

"When you were in highschool did two cheerleaders invite you under the bleaches to make out?"

"It was just a really bad day"
"It's OK your home now!"

Nothing like a carnival dead drop from a surveilled target with only 3 minutes prep time, you know what that kind of recklessness could get you ... oh!
Beaman accessing 80's pirate videos at the same time as cinema release, go CIA and almost tears at the theatre.
I'm with Arkady, I no like this young hip KGB crowd with their Rod Stewart and walkmans. I want more Claudia playing Pac Man and goading Elizabeth with her Russian name.

7
Reply
Flag
As I said in another column... I just want to kiss Nina's overbite. That is one cute Russkie.
3
Reply
Flag
I think you may have a thing for over bites - Sleepy Hollows Nicole Beharie has one too as does Rachel Nichols. For a full on overbite model Laetitia Casta comes to mind. ;P
P.S. I'm kind of an expert. I had a big over bite growing up and wore braces. 😬🙊
2
Reply
Flag
LOL. Hey sexy. Whatcha doin? Oh wait...you got it fixed? Forget it then.
3
Reply
Flag
Hehe....good one mate! I got old pictures though? :P
1
Reply
Flag
She looks like Shy Love. Same rabbit teeth and everything. I wonder if she speaks Greek?
2
Reply
Flag
This is one terribly written review.
5
Reply
Flag
No. No, it's not. Didn't know there are bridges here.
2
Reply
Flag
this is one terribly helpful comment.
8
Reply
Flag
Certainly is. Looks like this is the first and only comment from spook999.
4
Reply
Flag
An excellent start which touched on all the things that make this show great.

One of the great dilemmas in The Americans is the issue that presents itself in the series' title. Where does one life begin and the other end? At this point, Elizabeth and Philip have lived in America about the same length of time they lived in the Soviet Union. The subtle beauty of the series, for me, is summed up in the line, "it's hard to watch them grow up...here."
7
Reply
Flag
Follow this Show
Members
6,385