Last week’s ratings for The Americans seemed to take a fall after the overnights were reported, but three days later, we found out there was a significant uptick in viewers watching it on their DVRs. It’s good to know people are watching it, even if they’re a few dates late on it. If you’re a DVR viewer, please stop by after you’ve seen the episode to discuss.
Indeed, The Americans is getting more complicated rather than less, as the series progresses and more moving parts come into play. There’s a lot going on through three episodes. It’s definitely a show one needs to pay attention to, although last night, there was one rare but brief exposition dump, as though the writers were listening when some in the audience were like, “Wait a second. Back up. What exactly is going on here?”
Let’s get to it, and we’ll tell you what’s going on.
The Setup — The major crux of what’s going on, and the revelation that drives this story, is that we find out that the KGB spy who was killed in the premiere episode attempting to abduct a Russian defector actually had a secret wife and child in Philadelphia. Phillip discovers that through a classified ad left in the newspaper by the secret wife, and the FBI discovers it from their spy in the Russian embassy.
The Mark — Her name is Joyce Ramirez. She’d been married to the dead KGB spy, Robert Owen McKenzie, for about a year. The question is: What does she know? Will her information be valuable to someone? Or put someone in danger?
The Players — Elizabeth and Phillip, the latter of whom was very close to Robert, need to find Joyce and figure out what she knows. The catch? The FBI also knows about Joyce, and they interrogate her to find out if she has intel that might put the KGB’s secret spy program in danger. How can Phillip and Elizabeth remove her with the FBI tracking her?
The Shill — Gregory (Derek Luke) is an American recruited into the KGB by Elizabeth. He does surveillance and pulls off missions for the KGB, and who would suspect a black Russian spy? The FBI just assumes he and his crew are drug dealers because the FBI is racist. Here’s the rub: Gregory is in love with Elizabeth. Elizabeth was once in love with him. Now? Not so much, but Gregory is not going to take no for an answer, even if it means confronting Phillip, revealing their years-long affair, and pissing Phillip off in the process. However, Gregory is successful in abducting Joyce before the FBI can.
The Complication — At first, Joyce doesn’t know anything, but because she can’t keep her damn mouth shut, she connects the dots and, after living with a man she assumed sold drugs for a year, it quickly dawns on her that he’s Russian spy (shut up, Joyce!). That puts Elizabeth and Phillip in jeopardy, but Phillip feels he owes a duty to Robert to protect Joyce. Joyce also had a piece of paper left by Robert with an invisible coded message, which reveals the name and number of a dirty FBI agent.