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TV Series Review

When we're kids, we often believe that our parents only exist for us. Oh, we know they may have outside jobs and interests and a curious love of broccoli at dinner. But for the most part, we figure they're simply around to take us to soccer practice and check our homework and make us eat broccoli. Then one day we realize that our parents are, like, real people—and come with a past that didn't include us at all. Suddenly we look at them almost like we're seeing them for the first time.

A good thing, right? Well, sure, unless your parents just happen to be Russian secret agents. That can make for some awkward dinner conversation, let me tell you. More broccoli, anyone?

In fairness, Katya O'Connor would like to cut her ties with the Russian government. She served the Motherland long and well in her time with the KGB (now the SVR), but when she fell in love with one of her marks (named Mark, appropriately), she wanted out of the biz. When you're a spy, though, you don't turn in your two weeks' notice and that's that. So Katya and Mark made a deal—a little more service for a chance to finally quit. It wasn't the best of bargains, certainly. Mark was made to betray his native America, and their eldest daughter, Natalie, wound up being a spy, too. But it seemed to work. Katya and Mark have been living pretty normal lives for a while, and they successfully kept their two other kids—aimless high schooler Sarah and the spectacularly gifted Alex—away from Russian interference.

Or, they did until Alex started working for the CIA. Now, with the official family genius being an official U.S. spook, suddenly Moscow has renewed its interest in the O'Connors.

NBC's Allegiance takes the conceit of FX's  The Americans and gives it what almost every broadcast drama needs to be greenlit these days: a freakishly smart, socially stunted protagonist. Alex fleshes out the formula well, spending his mornings looking flustered, his afternoons looking brilliant and his nights looking over power plant schematics (memorizing them instantly, of course). And even though the family-of-spies premise is kind of outlandish, this cloak-and-dagger drama will keep viewers chewing their fingernails without causing near the level of collateral damage The Americans does.

Which is not to mean that Allegiance isn't jarringly, sometimes bloodily violent. It's just maybe a tad bit sneakier about how that kind of stuff gets shown.

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Episode Reviews

Allegiance: 2-5-2015



Readability Age Range



Gavin Stenhouse as Alex O'Connor; Hope Davis as Katya O'Connor; Scott Cohen as Mark O'Connor; Margarita Levieva as Natalie O'Connor; Kenneth Choi as Sam Luttrell; Alexandra Peters as Sarah O'Connor; Floriana Lima as Michelle Prado; Pasha D. Lychnikoff as Vaso Matiashvilli; Roman Roytberg as Roman; Morgan Spector as Victor Dobrynin






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On Video

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Paul Asay

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