Returning to a series that has enjoyed a strong first season is always a risk: expectations are doubled, and the job of pleasing fans increasing exponentially the further you go on; the further you desensitise them from what you have to say. The Americans, which is primarily a drama about relationships and marriage while the backdrop of war and espionage provides its steely edge, premiered last night on FX with its second season, and re-enters a TV space filled with stern competition. But if the critical response is anything to go by, it’ll soon become one of the most talked about shows of 2014.

Matthew Rhys Keri Russell The AmericansKeri Russell [L] and Matthew Rhys [R] in 'The Americans'

“FX's The Americans does the near-impossible of making viewers cheer for Russian spies in America and at the same time for the American FBI agents who are trying to unmask those Russians living in suburbia. It's an incredibly deft balancing act that's accomplished through strong character development all around,” writes Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Uncle Barky’s Ed Bark is also impressed: “Based on these first five episodes, The Americans shows every sign of maintaining if not exceeding the high bar it set in Season 1. What fate awaits Elizabeth and Philip? And what will become of their children, whether or not they ever learn the truth?” he writes.

Matthew RhysMatthew Rhys in 'The Americans'

“As the new season begins, this series continues to be among the best of the extraordinary number of great TV dramas vying for attention,” says Joanne Ostrow of The Denver Post.

“The series is at its most potent when it reframes the everyday in the context of the Cold War, like Philip comparing notes on home life with a Mossad operative or Elizabeth displaying a flash of vulnerability in front of a government-contracted dupe,” writes Erik Adams of The A.V Club.

Keri RussellKeri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings in 'The Americans'


Finally, Variety’s Brian Lowry suggests: “Series creator Joe Weisberg--who wrote the Thomas Schlamme-directed season premiere along with Joel Fields--and company have done about as well as is possible in keeping the plates spinning while adding new ones to the act. Even so, it’s hard to escape a sense that if this series runs much beyond a second season, it’s less about serving up art than it is about bowing to the needs of old-fashioned capitalism”

Overall, am 89/100 rating on Metacritic sees The Americans take the ‘Universal Acclaim’ pendant and then some. Well worth a watch and a worthy adversary to HBO’s True Detective and Netflix’s House of Cards, it would seem.

Noah Emmerich Stan BeemanNoah Emmerich as Stan Beeman in 'The Americans'