TV Recap: The Americans, ‘Safe House’

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The Americans is either content with staying in neutral or is gearing up for a high-octane season finale.

One has to hope its the latter.

Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/FX
Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/FX

This week’s episode, “Safe House” chronicles the split between the Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell). Yes, you guessed it; more ‘this marriage isn’t working’ drama between the couple that interferes with their KGB-exploits. It’s the same old song and dance we’ve been experience for weeks and this is causing the show to lose its appeal. We’ve seen this relationship go from bad to worse to better to awesome back to worse to better to donesville — way too much relationship tumult for a show that’s still in its infancy.

Luckily, the episode (and most recently the show) found its savior in the form of FBI agent Stan Beeman, played by Noah Emmerich. When his partner, Chris Amador (Maximiliano Hernandez) is taken captive by Phillip after an absurd (in the world of the story, not in execution) brawl between the two over the FBI secretary they’ve both slept with, we see a change in Beeman. The straight-laced, buttoned-up Beeman, who’s been jonesing for a life more ordinary after his stint as a deep cover agent infiltrating white supremacist groups, becomes unhinged. The rulebook is thrown out the window and Beeman is hellbent on finding his partner. And taking out anyone in his way.

Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/FX
Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/FX

Emmerich, who’s been one of the best parts of The Americans, is magical here. His slow burning, seething anger turns into full-fledged blind rage. Watching him quietly yet intensely interrogate a low-level Russian operative was a thing of beauty. Watching him spew venomous bile at the KGB on the pay phone was brilliant. Tonight, Emmerich put on an acting clinic that only someone as soft-spoken yet physically imposing as he could pull off.

The Americans is suffering from stagnation right now. It feels as though this season had one too many episodes in it and the writers had to stretch things out to fill out the entire order from FX. Hopefully, this series will return to its amazing beginnings and ramp up the spy games and run-and-gun action and remind all of us why we tune in every Wednesday night for this Cold War drama.

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