The Americans – “EST Men”

Season Three, Episode One


Grade: B+

In the very beginning of season three, Elizabeth has in her coat pocket a list of Near East and Special Activities Division operatives working against the Russians in Afghanistan. Her source turns on her and two FBI agents confront Elizabeth, which turns into a fist fight with Elizabeth certainly winning, but not without some scrapes and bruises. The bad news for her is that, 1. she loses the list and 2. Agent Gaad gets a pretty good look at her.

We establish plenty of story-arcs for this season of The Americans. Carrying over from last season’s finale, Paige is still being watched and pursued by the KGB. Philip still isn’t on board with his daughter, but Elizabeth’s stance is a bit muddled. Does she want to protect her daughter from being recruited, or does she think that she would make a damn fine spy for the next generation?

One thing I’ve always liked about The Americans is how vulnerable the characters are. While I don’t anticipate the Jennings being killed off any time soon, it’s refreshing to have main characters that can get bruised and beat up every now and then. And the fact that they’re parents who love their children simply adds a dimension some other shows desperately lack. But that’s the struggle with Philip and Elizabeth, when push comes to shove which takes priority? I’m beginning to feel their beliefs are split.

So what’s been up with our good buddy, Stan Beeman? He’s still separated from his wife and has been spending a lot of time with Philip, along with taking Martha to a shooting range (that can’t be good news for Philip). Stan’s world has completely been flipped upside-down. He once had a family with a lovely wife who had just moved for his job, and on top of that he had Nina, the gorgeous Russian who he fell in love with. Now they’re both gone and he has nothing. I’m not sure how long Stan is going to stay at rock bottom, but something tells me that he’s going to figure out the real identities of the Jennings soon, and it’s not going to be pretty.

We meet Gabriel, played by the great Frank Langella, who is their handler and also someone Elizabeth and Philip has reported to in the past. He seems kind and interested in their well-being, though he does push the issue about Paige. The main thing here is that the KGB know how valuable the Jennings are, and they did plenty to show that throughout the season three premiere. The closing scenes has Annelise being choked out, with Philip knowing very well what was happening. While Philip is the parent we can usually side with more often with being logical, he’s still a great Russian spy and if that means throwing an agent losing sight of the prize under the bus, so be it.

That’s the great thing about The Americans. Seeing the Jennings in action as spies and as parents are contrasting, yet always parallel with each other. Sometimes they can get caught up in the situation and even when they’re not wearing wigs and glasses, they fool themselves in believing they’re something that they’re not. Can they ever escape the fact that they’re Russian spies? Will their disguise as parents run too thin, or is that their true identity?


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