The Americans Series 2-first few episodes
“Revolver is the best album”.
So The Americans is so near perfect a creation as to almost defy review. That happens sometimes. Writing about it seems extraneous. Perhaps it is because i have written extensively here (Series 1) on the Guardian Blog transcripts. There really is no more to say.
Then there is a strange feeling of flatness to Series 2. Possibly there is a question as to the point of another series at all? Would it have been better to leave The Americans complete as a one off in a single series. Untouched by extension and familiarity. Now it is at risk of becoming day to day, plebeian soap opera. A Day in the Life of a Spy.
All of these are possibilities I am just throwing out there as i really don’t know why i find this second series less engaging, interesting and fascinating than the first.
Perhaps The Americans has lost its originality and freshness just by being extended. The dramatic arc has snapped. Or that arc is twanging like a dull elastic band, overstretched.
I will still watch it of course, finding the whole spy shenanigans less interesting than the surreal horror of suburbia and the time period itself. Life is horrific for those not even involved in the spy game. Sandra, for example, the isolated lonely wife of Stan, now off to a life changing self-help style seminar run by a TV guru. Looking fabulous in a deep blue dress. Just to get out of the God damned house really.
Now there is a new and unseen enemy that appears not to be the FBI. Dreadful murder and death, shocking scenes confront our eyes at the same time as Elizabeth and Philip. But its hard to care.
There is something lacking, a spark somehow this time. I think i even miss stony faced scary matriarch handler, Cynthia. She was at least a fully fledged character, fiery and real.
Of course Page’s new friend on the bus i predict is not what she appears to be. Poor Paige. Gone are the days, long gone now, where a child could take a trip on her own, no questions asked. It seemed almost strange, with our drama dreary eyes, so nastily used and accustomed to de facto dreadful doing to young girls, that absolutely nothing happened to Paige. See that’s what young girls are there for mostly in dramas these days.
Perhaps my lack of engagement with The Americans series two is due to all the characters, Stan included now, as being all unsympathetic. I’m tired of Elizabeth’s wigs. Even though she is probably my favourite character.
I found the scene in the factory deeply disturbing yet asynchronous. What on earth was Elizabeth playing at? as in what was the factory hand supposed to think Elizabeth was doing and why? It seemed clunky and odd as a tactic to go around thwacking a crowbar against her leg whilst employing an evil stare. Oh well.
I suppose that is the charm if you like. of The Americans, that pretty much all the characters are dreadful yet still manage to gain our sympathy, or some.
However right now anyway, Series two is all a bit dull. Dull, dull, dull. Flat like a punctured tyre, running on rims.
Update on The Americans
The opium of the people.
So in this episode, entitled “A Little Night Music” or the opium of the people as i am unofficially naming it: The Americans finally picks up pace. My wishes for the return of the faux matronly Claudia happens. Although Claudia is sadly full of sympathy and well meaning psychobabble:
“You are back but you are not back”
Plus rather hilariously but entirely seriously, Elizabeth and Philip react to the threat of religion:
“the opiate of the masses” as Marx put it. Elizabeth presumably having a better working knowledge than the rest of us on the exact quote.
Then we finally get some real dramatic action in the form of a surprise..
This episode was The Americans mostly back on form. Mostly.
“We do better Vodka, they do better tobacco”.
“You’re following orders eh?, just like Eichmann!”