fourth episode, "In Control," switches gears from historical fiction to historical fact, working the attempted Reagan assassination into its plot. This installment stands out due to how its characters react to the shooting. No one seems to know what they should do next, and it's this atmosphere of confusion which makes things compelling.
Strange Love (Or, How I Learned to be Really Worried)
Elizabeth and Philip take some time off spying to rekindle their romance. While they're going literally undercover with each other during a hotel rendezvous, President Reagan takes a bullet. Immediately the FBI scouts for any Soviet connection. This turn of events catches the KGB off guard as well. For a while, the Russians are so mixed up even they don't know if they're responsible. It's all very tense, and very enjoyable.
The Cold War Gets Hot
Orders come in from Moscow: the spies who loved each other should prepare for "Operation Christopher". We never learn exactly what that is. It involves digging up a very large crate of guns and explosives so the plan probably won't win anyone a Nobel Peace Prize anytime soon.
It also involves scoping out the homes of American officials for potential assassinations. Philip and Elizabeth are in the middle of checking out a target when a neighborhood watchman starts questioning their intent. Elizabeth demonstrates exactly what they're doing, shooting the officer in the head.
Some Bad Intelligence
Everything gets especially intriguing when we hear why the Russkies are so on edge. The top brass in Moscow believes Reagan's assassination to be part of a coup. After watching "In Control", it's easy to see why. While Reagan's in the hospital, a top general sits in the White House stating he's in charge. He's also come into possession of America's nuclear launch codes. Personally, I loved hearing what history may have looked like from the other side. It's definitely an episode highlight. Elizabeth is dead set on informing Russia their weather forecast should include mushroom clouds, though Philip convinces her to wait.
World War III gets prevented when they share drinks with their FBI neighbor. Agent Beeman informs them the assassin was acting on his own, trying to impress some movie star. With that, global annihilation is averted.
What surprised me most about The Americans
here is it successfully incorporated historical events without feeling like a Mad Men
rip - off. It would be great if more episodes featured actual events. Despite its romantic opening, we also saw more cracks appear in Philip and Elizabeth's marriage. Do you think their relationship will stand up, or is a nuclear marital meltdown coming? Comment and let us know, and make sure to add The Americans
to your watch list using the free BuddyTV iPhone app
(Image courtesy of FX)