I finished “The Americans” in less than 24 hours

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I hooked my laptop to my TV last Saturday night and hunkered down to binge The Americans. Skipping the pilot (which I’d already seen twice), I got through episodes 2-7 by 3 a.m., and then finished the rest Sunday afternoon. I knew there was going to be no other way to do it than to gorge on what I knew would be a kick-ass series. I was right. By the end of Gregory, I was doing that little internal happy dance you (or maybe just I) do when you realize that yep, you did just discover an awesome show and there is nothing in the foreseeable future that will stop you from devouring episode after episode for the next few hours. It’s like looking forward to something that’s already happening. So, some thoughts …

The Cold War ended when I was still a baby, therefore some of the politics of the show were lost on me, but it was still riveting television. The “relationship” between Beeman and Nina, while probably not that unusual, gave me the creeps. I finally appreciate Keri Russell as an actress.

Sidebar: How in the hell did neither of them get Emmy nominations, but Margo Martindale did? I didn’t recognize her, but a glance at her IMDb page shows I should know her from an episode of Smash, an episode of New Girl, and the Hannah Montana movie. Well, I couldn’t pick her out of a line-up, which means I know essentially nothing of her acting history and can actually base this assessment on her performance in The Americans alone: There was nothing Emmy-worthy in any of her ten episodes! She was bland and unimpressive and she had not one ounce of emotion to her. If that was her character, fine, but you don’t win awards by announcing, “This isn’t the set-up,” with the same tone you’d use to tell a waiter, “This isn’t what I ordered.” I’m glad we won’t be seeing her again next year. Use that opportunity to give Keri or Matthew the recognition they deserve. End of sidebar.

I delighted in each new disguise Matthew Rhys wore. Hell, I just delighted in every scene that brought him to my screen. (Matthew appreciation PSA still forthcoming.) I’m still not quite sure why it was necessary for him to marry Martha and I’m wondering how he’ll get out of that when the time comes that he needs to. And of course, because I’m a hopeless romantic, I loved following the trajectory of Philip and Elizabeth’s relationship/marriage/whatever it is these days. I should have suspected that it wouldn’t be all sunshine and daisies—it took them this long to finally admit that there were/are real feelings hiding beneath the job description, so naturally it wouldn’t be smooth sailing. Still, I didn’t think they’d separate! My heart broke for their kids in “Safe House.”

As for the finale, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop …

Oh my God, they’re going to catch Elizabeth! Oh my God, Stan’s going to recognize them! Oh my God, Elizabeth’s going to be in a coma! Oh my God, Paige is going to discover something!

… but nope. All things considered, it didn’t knock my socks off like I’ve come to expect—I have Grey’s Anatomy Syndrome when it comes to season finales. However, it definitely set the groundwork for season 2. In fact, the only thing that put a damper on the whole experience was the realization that I have to wait until JANUARY for the adventure to continue. I’ll probably re-binge as a refresher in late December, but until then, I’ll just have to re-watch my favorite moments!

Here are my five favorite scenes:

5. Episode 1.11 “Covert War

I loved Elizabeth’s vulnerability here. You can tell she’s not used to it, given how quickly she flees. I sympathized, because that moment when you realize you’ve gotten your hopes up just to have them come crashing down on your head is an awful one.

4. Episode 1.5 “Comint

Stone cold Elizabeth, getting the job done as usual. I loved watching the horror just spread across Philip’s face as he realizes what she has to endure sometimes. That righteous anger would’ve carried him straight out the door if not for Elizabeth throwing in his face the fact that they are not an average married couple and need to behave as such. Ouch.

3. Episode 1.13 “The Colonel

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I loved the “normal” image of a loving husband waiting anxiously by his wife’s bedside. And yet, there is nothing normal about how they came to be there. There was something beautiful in the fact that the first thing Elizabeth says upon regaining consciousness is his name, followed by what I assume are the first Russian words she’s spoken since coming to the U.S. Nothing brings out honesty more than near-death experiences. This better mean they get to fall in love again in season 2.

2. Episode 1.6 “Trust Me

Such a pivotal episode! My heart leaped into my throat when Philip was kidnapped and it was a thrill ride from then on out. It had so many awesome moments (like badass little Henry taking out that creep), but obviously the best was Elizabeth beating the shit out of Claudia. Can’t say I blame her. The other kicker was Philip’s realization of Elizabeth’s betrayal: “I was supposed to be able to trust you and I did. And I shouldn’t have, I never should have.” Ahem. Please give Matthew all the awards. Thanks.

1. Episode 1.3 “Gregory

This scene … I can’t. Powerful acting from Keri. My heart just shattered for Philip who, even though he spoke only a word, was the picture of a broken man. Matthew has always been phenomenal in the subtleties he brings to his characters—from the hopeless look he gives her at the words “strange man” to the single tear that rolls down his cheek when she says it never happened that way for them. “But I feel like it’s happening now.” At least it ended with hope.

What were your favorite moments from season 1 of The Americans?
Will you be watching season 2?

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