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The Americans 1.2 Review, “The Clock”

the clock 1

rating: 3

After a very solid and gripping pilot episode that had me on the edge from beginning to end, the second of FX€™s new period drama felt a bit lacking. However this is not to say that the episode was terrible. A lot of televisions shows share the plague of a decrease in quality with the second episode, and this show can now share that distinction. It€™s completely understandable, because with the pilot, much more care is taken with its preparation. There is more time to make it, and likely more money spent on producing it. Starting with the second episode and beyond, production of the show takes on a continuous schedule. Episodes are made one after another, often in frantic paces in order to fulfill deadlines. It is usually here that we start to get a sense what the rest of the show is going to be like for the rest of the season. With this in mind, The Americans decided to keep things simple, while at the same time keeping up the same spirit established by the pilot for the most part. The episode starts with Phillip getting with it on with a blonde woman who is not at all his wife. This fairly naughty scene is intercut with a conversation between Phillip and Elizabeth, and it is revealed that it is all part of an operation to turn the blonde woman into their asset. Her first job is to take pictures of a politician€™s study. We then find out that the Jennings€™ superiors at the Russian Embassy have tasked them with outing a wire tap in the politician in question€™s study in order to intercept information. The catch is that they have to do the job in three days. A job like this is usually a month long affair, so naturally our spies next door were put under pressure. With the gathered information from the pictures of the office, Phillip and Elizabeth determine that the listening device can be placed in a small clock on the shelf. Their daring plan was simple. Have cleaning lady of the office take the clock to them and plant it back once they have installed the listening device. Simple right? Well, no. This show isn€™t Burn Notice after all. As expected, the spies like us run into a few kinks, especially since they persuade the maid to work for them by getting her only son sick. Complications arise, emotions run high, lives are threatened, but in the end, the main follows through and now the Russians have a plant to receive vital information about America€™s secrets. Yay! Right? Oh wait, that€™s a bad thing. T On the other side of things, Noah Emmerich€™s Agent Beeman went to work on turning a Russian Embassy employee into an asset for the FBI. So this episode turned out to be a how to guide into manipulating people into doing your bidding for you. The Jennings€™ used a more direct threat, i.e. sickness with only one cure and all, while the Beeman and the Feds preferred the good ol€™ threat of deportation route on their asset. Finally, Phillip used the oldest and surefire way to turn his asset onto his side. What is that you may ask? Sex, of course. Understandably, this episode featured a more slow burn style of storytelling, allowing us to dig deeper into the people that are Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings. After Phillip was seduced with defecting last time, it was Elizabeth€™s turn to go around the bend of doubtfulness, as the ridiculous time pressure of their mission forced her to see the outlook of her family in a much different light. This opens up plenty of great character moments for Kerri Russell to work with. The scenes with her daughter were especially touching. But wait, we haven€™t forgotten about Matthew Rhys. He continues to impress us with his acting chops, portraying a man who will carry out his duty, no matter what the cost, but at the same time visibly expresses the toll it can take on an individual. It€™s those small nuances and slivers of doubt that illustrate his character perfectly. The second episode of The Americans does not quite compare with the first episode. It was a slow build up of a story that was mostly moving pieces around checker board (you thought was going to use a chess metaphor didn€™t you?). It set up potential conflicts in the shows future and furthered the already existing storylines without lagging. Many may find this episode to be lacking in many departments, but that can be because the only point of reference is the excellent pilot. While not at all a perfect episode nor top quality television, what the episode did do well was delve deeper into its characters and establish more of the world the show exists in. It wasn€™t particularly intense of thrilling, but it was moving and dramatic, in a good way.
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Patrick G. Emralino hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.