Our favorite KGB spies returned with a vengeance on Feb. 26, as the Season 2 premiere of ‘The Americans’ featured the most gruesome, tragic moment of violence we’ve seen yet — and this moment will have major implications for the Jennings family.
When we last left Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), one was shot and the other was living in a dank motel. Now, months later, everyone’s favorite non-Americans from The Americans have returned stronger and more united than ever — that is, until a gruesome mass-murder threatens the lives of their children.
‘The Americans’ Premiere: A Horrific Murder Puts The Kids In Danger
I’ve gotta say it — that was rough. Like, won’t be sleeping for a while levels of rough.
When Elizabeth and Philip bonded with their fellow undercover spy couple under that bridge, it was moving and completely heartbreaking in all of the right ways. Whoever these guys are, the Jennings family has clearly known them for eons, but they’re forced to fake their way through relationships with the likes of Stan (Noah Emmerich) and Sandra Beeman (Susan Misner) instead of fostering healthy friendships with people who can even begin to understand them.
And that sucks. We’ve witnessed the difficulties that Philip and Elizabeth have faced lying to their own children, but I’ve never really considered how lonely it must be to lie through your all of your friendships as well. Elizabeth and Philip lit up at the mention of their comrades’ children, and seemed thrilled to see how they had grown up — without them — at that carnival. Seriously, I nearly wept for them.
But then things got so much worse. A simple handoff somehow went bad, and when Philip and Elizabeth entered that hotel room and found the mother, father, and daughter violently murdered on their beds, they couldn’t even warn the remaining living son not to enter the room and witness the devastating image that would haunt him for the rest of his life. It was a move that seemed ridiculously harsh, but you could see it in Philip’s face — it was all for the protection of their own children, who every day face a similar danger.
As much as I’m a “true American” — man, do I feel bad for these KGB spies.
‘The Americans’ — The Wigs & The Murders Return
I felt slightly less bad, however, for Philip during other moments in the episode. Sure, it’s great that he seems do be doing better with Elizabeth, and I know that his marriage to crazy Martha (Alison Wright) is a career necessity headed straight for heartbreaking disaster, but that scene with the Taliban militants was horrifying.
The show received a lot of press for its comical disguises during its first season, so this intense scene — which found good ol’ Phil posing as an American agent agreeing to help Taliban militants fight the invading Soviets — seemed like a wink-wink to the audience when he FINALLY got called out on his ridiculous wig. But the joke ended in tragedy when Philip then had to murder all of them — including the innocent youngster in the kitchen — as a result, so I guess I just didn’t really get the joke.
‘The Americans’ — Trouble From Within?
Of course, despite the threats from those who killed their friends — and of course, the FBI — Philip and Elizabeth’s biggest threat may be coming from within. Their daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) is mid-puberty, and smart enough to know that something is up with her ridiculously shady parents. Walking in on their “69” moment should be enough to deter her for a while, but I’d count on Paige — as well as danger to the family in general — being a major issue this season.
Then, finally, there’s Stan. Stan’s biggest threat on this show has always been himself, since he’s blissfully unaware of the fact that his neighbors are KGB spies who probably wouldn’t really mind it if they had to kill him. But the show’s “everyman” is just as messed up and internally tortured as Philip — if not more so — and his moments with scene-stealer Nina (Annet Mahendru) were some of the highlights of the evening.
Nina was offended when she felt that Stan was comparing her to Meryl Streep‘s character in The French Lieutenant’s Woman — a character that she considered to be a whore — and when Stan’s wife later took him to see the very same movie, it was clear that his emotional reaction stemmed from his difficulties with Nina, and not Meryl’s Academy Award nominated performance. Stan is setting himself up for a complete self-implosion with his family — just like the Jennings — and it will be incredibly interesting to see which bomb drops first.
What did you think of the episode, HollywoodLifers? Were you shocked by the murders, or did you see them coming? How do you think the Martha/Philip relationship will end? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
— Shaunna Murphy