THE AMERICANS: The Complete Third Season Reviewed
From the outset this show has pulled that wonderful trick of getting me to cheer for people who are actually the bad guys. Phil and Liz Jennings have been trained and set up in the US by Russia to do what they can to slow down our brand of Democracy. Usually they come off as pretty nice folks and we want to like them but then they go on a mission and then we are reminded that oh yes, they are Russian Spies!
Season three the bar has been raised. Reagan is making the overtures that will eventually “end communism” and the Russians are having more than a few problems with their war in Afghanistan. Now more than ever Liz and Phil need to do what they can to help the mother country. Part of this is aided by an older mentor coming in to help run missions. Of course he is also manipulative and will do what ever he needs to do the get results.
One of these goals involves this happy family recruiting their teenage daughter to become a spy, essentially betraying the country she was born in and believes to be hers. She eventually does discover what Mom and Dad are up to and becomes more than a bit of a wildcard. As a teenager I cause my parents some problems but this kid is out of control. Of course my parents were not out spending evenings trying to destroy the US.
There are some things in this season that remind us that the Jennings really are bad guys. Early on a woman they recruited ends up dead. They use this as an opportunity to recruit someone else higher up. Of course they still have a dead body so we have a scene in which we witness them folding this poor woman into a suitcase to smuggle out the body. If you think it sounds warped you need to see it to understand. It was horrifying and yet mesmerizing. There is also a heartbreaking scene when a witness needs to be killed to protect their identities that was much more powerful than I thought it would be.
This is a great series capturing the eighties and the politics of both sides well. For us it is must see TV and will be as long as it airs.