Allegiance “Surreptitious Entry” Review (Season 1 Episode 3)

As if Allegiance wasn’t already off to a bad enough start, this episode made it clear that not this isn’t even trying to be the show that the advertisements promised. Instead of a serialized story dealing with a conflict between loyalty to government and to family, “Surreptitious Entry” proved that this is show focused on a procedural spy games, and painfully formulaic ones at that.

So far, every episode has followed a similar pattern. The Americans, along with Alex, have some sort of mission to run against the Russians. The Russians, with their numerous bugs planted in Alex’s life, force his parents and/or sister to run a counter-mission to get in the Americans way. And, while in the middle of this mission, Katya and Mark attempt to free their family from the spy life, only to be stopped by their apologetic but ruthless handler Victor.

And yes, the previews for next week suggest things might get shaken up, but it’s not like trailers have never been made to mislead before. And even if Alex learns the truth about his family, that’s not the central problem with the show. The issue is that so far, Allegiance has been so concerned with the US/Russia conflict and each individual mission that it’s failed to develop its characters in any meaningful way. All of the conversations are built around the mission at hand, or escaping the Russians, or something that relates to the “bigger” plot. We still don’t have a good idea of why Katya and Mark are together, or what the relationship between Victor and Natalie is all about.

Everything about this show feels like a waste. I hate to keep coming back to The Americans, but this show really could tell a story that that show can’t, not unless it runs for a ridiculously long time. Instead, we’re getting a very generic spy show with delusions of depth and intrigue. Maybe, just maybe, the great Giancarlo Esposito’s arrival next week will help. I’m not holding my breath, though.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!