The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the “evil empire” of the USSR not long after, but on one of the best shows on television it is still an unthinkable act of history waiting to happen. Four seasons in, FX’s The Americans is remarkably reliving the Cold War and putting its characters on a path of mutually assured destruction.
Debuting on March 16, the 13-episode fourth season of the Reagan Era-set drama created by Joe Weisberg is, as I say in my video review above, starting to show signs of aging — in a good way. Soviet moles Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, portrayed with symphonic precision by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, are starting to buckle under the strain of their clandestine and increasingly risky work and their fractured family life. However, from the first two episodes written by Weisberg and Joel Fields, what makes this stunning season so commanding is this is where consequences take over – especially with teenage daughter Paige now knowing her parents’ true identities.
That revelation at the end of Season 3 threw the family’s plans and the aims of their KGB spymasters into uncharted territory as the Cold War heated up. This season, from what I’ve seen, the reactions of Paige (played by the talented beyond her years Holly Taylor), is the soul of the show under the weekly wreckage of lives, loves, ideology, trusts and con games that spin around this magnetic series.
The fallout from the supposedly suburban all-American nuclear family also spreads to the FX show’s strong supporting characters and cast. Getting closer and closer to the Jenningses’ son Henry and to finding out who has penetrated the Bureau, there’s neighbor and FBI Agent Stan Beeman played by Noah Emmerich. The excellent Frank Langella is back as the handler Gabriel, trying to navigate the increasingly bruised couple through the toxic perils their American identities have spawned. Add to that exiled once double Soviet agent Nina Sergeeva Krilova (portrayed painfully well by Annet Mahendru), and the now somewhat informed FBI secretary and once duped non-wife Martha Hanson (Alison Wright), and no one escapes unscathed.
What also shouldn’t escape anyone is just how good The Americans is and continues to be. FX boss John Langraf may worry about there being too much TV nowadays, but TV as excellent as this now-veteran cable series needs to rise to the top of your viewing priority.
Click on my video review of The Americans Season 4 above and tell us if you will be traveling back to the 1980s on March 16.