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The Americans 1.3 Review, “Gregory”

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rating: 4

Often times when a high concept television show is just getting started, it will spend its first few episodes trying to decide what kind of show it really wants to be. The pilot episode lays down all the cards, and the subsequent episodes decide which ones it wants to play and how much, thereby giving the show its identity. Some find its winning formula immediately while others take their time, whether or not it€™s deliberate. Now in its third episode, The Americans seems to have found comfortably found its identity, being one of the shows that find its winning formula early in its infant stages. That formula is an intense character driven drama set against the backdrop of Cold War espionage. It€™s not just about two deep cover spies behind enemy lines carrying out cool spy missions; it€™s about how those missions affect them as people due to the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves in. Its similar to The Walking Dead, in which each episode is not solely based on zombie killing, but how the situation as a whole affects the individuals caught up in it. This week€™s episode begins with Beeman and Phillip in a friendly game of racquet ball. In the loaded dialogue of the scene, the two men basically outline their personalities and methods through the metaphor of their game. Phillip the one willing to do anything to win, and Beeman being the more patient and methodical one. If anything, this is a precursor to what it would be like once Beeman starts suspecting the Jennings again. As the €œpreviously on€ segment indicates, this episode is heavily centered on Robert, the operative who was stabbed in their fist mission from the pilot episode. We knew that he died and the hospital, and we also knew that this was going to complicate things for Philizabeth (I€™m just gonna call them that from now on). Well, that happened a lot earlier than we thought because they receive a coded message from the now dead Robert. Knowing this is impossible, they dig further into it. As it turns out, Robert had a wife and infant child on the side. That€™s a big no-no in the world of Directorate S operatives. On the other side of things, Beeman and his team put their newly turned asset to good use, as she divulges information on the failed extraction from the pilot, and sends Beeman on the trail of Robert. This leads them to the wife and child, and the two opposing sides of the show are set on a collision course. Beeman puts a surveillance team on the wife. Naturally, Philizabeth are outnumbered, so they call on their own surveillance team. Now this is where things get interesting. Elizabeth goes to see her asset, the episode€™s titular Gregory, played by Derek Luke. She sends him and his team on the job first to do surveillance, then to do an extraction job for the wife. It seems that Philizabeth have a whole network of turned assets willing to work for them. However, unlike Phillip€™s somewhat shallow lovemaking blonde asset last week, Gregory has a deeper connection with Elizabeth. See, back then when Elizabeth was unhappy with her marriage with Phillip, she took her frustration out by sleeping with Gregory. Soon it became intimate, and Elizabeth found herself expressing the emotions she€™s always wanted to express in a normal relationship towards Gregory. She never got to experience it truly, as her marriage is, after all, fake. Now however, she€™s just beginning to fully accept Phillip as her husband, so things are obviously even more complicated when she sees Gregory again. Is what she did cheating? Her marriage with Phillip was fabricated, but Phillip does deeply love her, as we saw in the pilot. This is one of those intriguing questions the show is adept at asking and ambiguously answering. One big development with this episode was the introduction of Margo Martingale as Philizabeth€™s new handler. After her terrific performance in Justified, this can be nothing but a plus to an already great show. She really is good at balancing the nice motherly act with the quite authoritative and even menacing attitude when the situation arises. I have a feeling we€™ll see a lot more of that. 3386277_ratio4x3_width586 This episode really stepped up with its character moments, once again putting Elizabeth in the spotlight and delving even deeper into Philizabeth€™s already complicated relationship. Gregory certainly throws a wrench into what they have built up from the pilot, and it was all very intriguing to see it all play out. We haven€™t seen the end of this for sure, and I feel Gregory will continue to be a constant reminder of how Elizabeth once was. The conflict of the week with Robert€™s wife was good but that strong plot wise, as its tragic end was a foregone conclusion especially when Margo Martingale€™s character was involved. The Americans continues to deliver an ongoing, intense character study of the effects of a life of lies has on someone. There was a good balance between Philizabeth and Beeman€™s side of things, all sprinkled with a healthy dose of dark drama and character development. An improvement from last week€™s adequate episode, €œGregory€ really delved deep into Philizabeth€™s troubled past, and added another hurdle for them to get through. There is really no other romance like this on TV, which makes it that much more fascinating to watch.
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Patrick G. Emralino hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.