Thursday, 5 May 2016

The Americans, Season 3 (2015)

The Americans is one of the best - albeit sometimes one of the bleakest - shows on TV.  As long as you're okay with the lack of moral certainty or happy endings, you should watch it.

... what, you're still here?  What more do I need to say than that?

Oh okay, I guess I can give you a bit more information.  Deep cover KGB agents Elizabeth and Philip begin this season faced with what may be the most challenging task - both professionally and personally - they've ever been given.  Their Moscow-based handlers want them to start grooming their 14 year old daughter to join them as spy.  This instruction quickly becomes a point of conflict between them.  Philip is dead-set against the idea, while Elizabeth - who has always been more of a Soviet True Believer - wants to comply with the directive.  What neither of them expects is that the decision about what to tell their daughter may ultimately be taken out of their hands ...

Meanwhile, there's still all the usual spy stuff to be getting on with.  These include efforts to infiltrate bugs into FBI headquarters, to get photographs of the stealth bomber, and to sabotage US plans to supply the mujahideen in Afghanistan.  There's also a sub-plot involving South Africa - which was still under apartheid at the time - that is refreshingly frank in depicting the ugliness of that particular situation.

The show also branches out more with its other characters in this season, too: they've always been around but we have previously seen them mostly in the context of how their lives intersect with Elizabeth and Philip.  This season, they get their own sub-plot that is only loosely connected to that of the main pairing.

Like I said above, this is one of the best things on TV.  The writing is taut and tense - they know how to use silence like few other shows around - and it has a fine cast of characters that are played by equally fine actors.  I'm very much looking forward to season four.

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