Hands down, The Americans is one of the best written shows on television. The plots are layered, and the plots are tight, even if some of the details initials initially seem concealed. Season three marks a huge turning point for the series, as Paige Jennings (Holly Taylor) learns that her parents are KGB spies posing as American citizens. While it’s a surprise for Paige, this revelation causes issues for her parents Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) who have spent weeks arguing about their daughter’s future. However, now that the cat’s put of the bag, Paige has lots of questions, and mom and dad reluctantly try and answer them.
However, as anyone who watches The Americans knows, this is a dreary show, and just giving answers isn’t possible. No matter who Elizabeth and Phillip are talking to, they can never really separate their personal lives from their work. Paige needs the truth, but teenager that she is, she expects it to be simple and tidy. Naturally, the truth is complicated. Subterfuge becomes the name of the game, allowing the Jennings the cover they need in order to continue doing their jobs. All this leads to another betrayal for Paige. Who can blame her when she says to her mother, “How can I believe anything you say?”
For much of the first half of the third season, Page remains at the center of a debate between her parents. Philip wants to protect Paige from learning too much, while Elizabeth wants to make her part of their “real” lives. With Frank Langella as Gabriel, their new handler, manipulating from the sidelines, I was never completely convinced that these were really the decisions of the parents.
The Americans dealt with several other storylines along the way. Philip and Elizabeth were really forced to confront what they do for a living in more ways than one. Despite their best efforts to avoid it, Elizabeth had to sleep with someone for the job. It was no easier for Philip, as he had to “honey trap” a a 15-year old girl (Julia Garner). I think most would agree, that’s a horrible situation any way you look at it. As disturbing as all of that is, there’s no denying that The Americans makes for gripping television, no matter the episode.
If you’re not familiar with the series, I urge you to go out and buy the first three seasons, do a major marathon, and then catch up on season four which just started airing a couple of weeks ago. While it’s true that The Americans can be a little heavy on the subplots here and there, great writing and tremendous performances from Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and the rest of the cast make that nothing more than a minor nuisance.
Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, this DVD looks as good as you can expect from standard definition.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track serves the series well, providing clean audio throughout, and a surprising amount of bass when called upon.
English, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Deleted Scenes
- Featurette: The Cold War for Paige.