The Americans S2x02 "Cardinal"

I cover the second episode of The Americans second season, entitled “Cardinal”, starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.

After watching my first episode of The Americans last week I tuned back in for the second episode and after a disappointing The Tomorrow People episode that I could not get through the first fifteen minutes, I was going in with very high expectations and they did not disappoint. It was another excellent episode. This time around we had Elizabeth realising that this job could put their kids in danger, and on paper, it’s something that sounded stupid (and well, duh – you’d already know that from the start if you were a spy with a family), but The Americans pulled it off so well mainly due to some incredible acting from Keri Russell, as well as a strong and confident script that’s not afraid to take risks. The show still keeps up with that unpredictable edge that we were shown in the first episode of Season 2 and it did not disappoint. However, that’s not the only thing that Elizabeth is dealing with this week, but a newfound paranoia – anybody could be watching them, because after all – if the Jennings can do this, why can’t anybody else?
The other half of the family, Phillip – wasn’t ignored this week either, with him getting plenty to do when his Wife Martha, who he was married to in order to get information, wants to move in order to get a possible job interview. However, Phillip has to keep Martha there in order to retain his source for information. The interactions between the two characters are played off very well and there are some great acting here that continue to reinforce the fact just why The Americans might be one of the best TV shows currently airing – it’s just grippingly awesome one week after the next. To top it all off, Phillip also has to deal with Fred, the contact of the murdered family in the premiere, to make sure he wasn’t responsible for their death, which allowed for some great character interaction on all places and shows that The Americans has a confident voice that can deal with several plot threads without letting one take priority over the other.
Nina’s story also gets an improvement from last week when we get to see her dealing with the report on Stan. It shows that Annett Mahendru is, like Russell and Rhys, incredibly confident and another excellent addition to the show. And on top of this, the plot thread remains just as interesting as the Elizabeth and Phillip sections, and at no point do you wish that you can fast forward it to get to the more interesting parts. The Americans is just that good.
Whilst The Americans may not be the most popular show on television it’s still entertaining and probably one of the best shows that’s aired in 2014 so far, right up there with True Detective which is a great achievement especially when you consider that The Americans is not a HBO show. It’s something that keeps impressing in its second week of the second series and really has me wanting to go back and watch the previous season (Who didn’t love that Raiders of the Lost Ark episode). It’s just too good, and the wait for next week can’t come quickly enough.

VERDICT: 4.5/5
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