'The Americans' series premiere recap: Oh, Felicity, you're not in college anymore
Since the first time we heard J.J. Abrams describe the way he came up with the idea for "Alias" -- he imagined what Felicity, the titular character in that other female-centric TV series he'd created, would be like as a spy -- it's been impossible to shake the hope that that idea, specifically, would come to fruition, with "Felicity" star Keri Russell kicking some serious bad-guy booty.
And now, thanks to FX, the network with the most reliable habit of introducing the next show we'll get hooked on, it has. Because in the series premiere of "The Americans," Keri Russell, as undercover KGB agent Elizabeth Jennings, does seriously, and literally, kick a bad guy's, well, head.
But we're jumping ahead.
Elizabeth and her husband, Phillip, are Russian spies who have been posing as an American couple -- theirs was a marriage arranged by the KGB -- for 15 years. When we meet them, they have two children, a house in the 'burbs and a whole slew of deadly skills and weapons stashed around their house.
It's also the height of the Cold War, as Ronald Reagan has just been elected, and he's most definitely got his dander up about their kind: undercover Russian agents who are integrating themselves into American society.
The premiere opens with Elizabeth flirting with a bragging U.S. government official at a bar. With Quarterflash's "Harden My Heart" as the soundtrack, she entices him back to his room, where she, ahem, gets down to the business of getting him to 'fess up some information she wants.
Info procured, in the next scene she's running out to her car, where she meets up with two men who, after an impressive display of hand-to-hand and hand-to-knife combat skills, kidnap another man and throw him into Elizabeth's car.
The two guys: KGB spies. The one with the combat skills: Phillip Jennings. And the man they've stuffed into the Oldsmobile: a KGB spy who's defected, and who the Jenningses and their pal are trying to keep away from the U.S. government.
And yes, Elizabeth is a married woman, and yes, as a KGB operative, she often has to engage in the extracurricular dance with no pants (and other activities in which pants are most definitely optional). This is not the casual behavior she pretends it is; as we're going to soon learn, her heart has been hardened by a shocking event in her past, one that's about to come full circle.
Keri Russell on playing Elizabeth Jennings:
But again, we're jumping ahead.
With Captain Traitor in the car, but their KGB cohort injured in the grab and in need of hospital care, Elizabeth and Phillip miss the handoff and have to hide the cap'n in the trunk.
The next day, while their clueless children eat breakfast and prepare to head out for the day, a mom jeans-wearing Elizabeth plots with Phillip to drop a secret message to their superiors that they have the cap'n in their possession. Though he's trussed up in the Olds, Elizabeth adds that she's going to stay home for the day to make sure he remains secure.
With her family out of the house, she heads into the garage, and, hands about to open the trunk, flashes back to 1960 Russia and a combat-training session.