The Americans
Pilot

Episode Report Card
admin: B- | 11 USERS: A-
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Pilot
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

First things first: to set the mood, throw on some "Tusk." Trust me -- it's a whole thing in this episode.

So we set our scene in Washington D.C. circa 1981, just as the Reagan era is dawning. We're in one of those D.C. bars you see so often on TV and movies, where political power-brokers (and, more often, wannabe power-brokers) take their hookers and try to seem more important than they are. One such hooker -- in an obvious blonde wig from the Vivian Ward collection -- is our pal Keri Russell. You'd think she'd be disqualified from any and all covert operations on account of that birthmark on her lip making her instantly recognizable. Also, Felicity with an awful blonde haircut was going to be that show's headline-grabber if it ever made a fifth season. So anyway, let's all be adult about this and not pretend like we don't already know that this show is about Soviet spies living in America and that Keri is one of those spies. She's obviously sexing up this mid-level Pentagon staffer (or whatever) to get information and his horny ass is obviously not smart enough not to fall for it. When are governments going to learn to start entrusting their state secrets only to eunuchs and castrati? It's the only way.

So Congressman Horndog or whoever turns out to work for the Justice Department, and Hooker Felicity actually fingers his ID badge because she finds that level of access just so sexy. "Harden My Heart" by Quarterflash is playing in the bar, because I guess this is one of those shows that's gonna be on the nose about music cues. Cut to the hotel room, where Congressman Horndog has Hooker Felicity's shirt off and yet he still can't stop talking about just how important his job is. I halfway believe she commences the BJ just to shut him up, which thankfully it does. Cue the steady drumbeat of "Tusk" and Keri striding out into the night, back to her car. She removes her wig in the car while still in full view of the hotel across the street, which I'm not sure is good ops, but if I get hung up on that kind of stuff on a show like this, we'll be here all day.

THREE DAYS LATER: our old pal Kevin Walker, a.k.a. Matthew Rhys (a.k.a. Philip on this show, if you want to be a grown-up about it) is standing near a fence in the dead of night, accompanied by a cute young comrade. They're talking nonspecifically about some guy, presumably the guy they're staking out, how he's got a reputation for being a ruthless killer. Cuteski is buying into the legend entirely, while Philip attempts to undercut the stories of this guy killing 17 Japanese judo fighters in a single bound. At the same time, Keri (who is Elizabeth on this show, so let's get used to it) is inside the building across the street, bribing one of the residents so she can look out his front window for a bit. Outside, Philip and Cuteski are discussing Phil's NHL fandom (the Caps suck, Phil… sorry) when they see Elizabeth give the signal that she's in. At street level, a man walks by with a briefcase. Presumably this is the badass the boys have been discussing. Elizabeth signals them again to tell them the guy is about to round the corner to them. Just before he gets there, Badass stops and looks up at the window that Elizabeth was in and gets suspicious. Suddenly, he sprints in the opposite direction and Philip and Cuteski give chase. TUSK! I mean, CHASE! Philip yells "IMMIGRATION! We just want to talk!" while Badass yells for help, since any and all intervention at this point helps him. Philip shouts to Cuteski not to get too close, but when Badass rounds a corner, Cuteski pursues and gets a knife to the gut for his trouble. Philip, in a telling detail, hurdles Cuteski's slumped body without even breaking stride and continues pursuit down an alley, up a fire escape, along a fence, down another alley. Badass finally decides this is pointless and turns to face Philip. Time for the hand-to-hand! Of course, Badass's hand has a blade wedged between two fingers, so that's a bit of an advantage. Philip turns out to be quite the skilled fighter, though, avoiding the blade and hip-tossing Badass into a brick wall. Undeterred, Badass lunges again and gets flipped once again for his trouble. "I know you're not supposed to kill me," Badass growls. Philip -- in perfect English, I should say, with not a trace of Russian anywhere -- informs Badass that he's unpopular enough that Phil could deliver him in a hundred pieces and get a separate medal for each one.

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The Americans

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