‘Allegiance’ characters shine despite cliché plotline

Kayla Aldridge

“Allegiance,” a spin on the former show “The Americans,” opens as a former Soviet Union operative is fed alive to a power plant and a former KGB spy speeds through the streets to turn herself in. Needless to say, “Allegiance” is thrilling and covertive.

Though the plotline is a bit cliché––the USSR government is the villain and the United States the “good guy”–– “Allegiance” just managed to steer past being a complete replica of FX’s “The Americans,”- a similar show about a Russian spy family living in America disguised as normal citizens. Despite the lack of originality, the plot was still captivating and the gaps left in character development keep the audience guessing and intrigued.

Alex O'Connor, played by Scott Cohen, finds himself in conflict when he is recruited for the KGB while working for the CIA uncovering Russian terrorists
Alex O’Connor, played by Scott Cohen, finds himself in conflict when he is recruited for the KGB while working for the CIA uncovering Russian terrorists

From the get-go, the overarching storyline is understandable and easy to grasp. The show features a family of former KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti) workers, the main security agency for the Soviet Union. Throughout the show, we are introduced to parents Katya, played by Hope Davis, Mark O’Connor, played by Scott Cohen; and their children Alex, played by Gavin Stenhouse, and Natalie O’Connor, played by Margarita Levieva.

After years of solitude from the KGB, a Russian spy, Kremlin, comes to ask Alex O’Connor to join the Russian force. Alex, unaware of his family’s family’s ties to the KGB, currently works as an analyst for the CIA uncovering Russian terrorist acts.

Alex’s character seems to be a play on Sherlock Holmes’ character—socially awkward yet extraordinarily brilliant. Whether or not he will be forced to join the Russian force has the audience on their toes.

Natalie O’Connor is a fairly realistic portrayal of a young teenage girl. The first scene introducing her to us shows her struggling with her math homework. When offered help from her mother, she replies, “Girls aren’t even supposed to be good at math.” She and her mom don’t get along extremely well—surely many teenage girls could relate to this. Her character is somewhat likable due to the humor she brings to a very solemn and secretive family.

Though we don’t know the details of Mark’s past, it is made clear that Katya was a former member of the KGB. Katya, at the expense of turning her son over to the Russian force, threatens to turn herself in. Her husband prevents her from doing so, but even still, we are presented with the fortitude of Alex being turned in. The drama of Alex’s situation brings life and excitement to this show- not that it was lacking it to begin with, but it definitely adds to it.

It’s obvious, after watching the show for fifteen minutes, that Alex is the main character in this show. His smart-ass attitude as well as his sharpness and intelligence is really what makes up his character, as a whole. He is likable, but is quite obviously lacking some of social skills that are more prevalent in the rest of his family.

The music chosen to play during suspenseful bits of the show was well suited, and wasn’t too distracting from the scene it was accompanying. As far as filmography, it was anything you’d expect a suspenseful show to be like- with wide angle shots as well as close -up ones.

As far as acting, all of the characters’ acting was superb. Often times, you might find yourself questioning the believability of the acting, but as far as “Allegiance” went, the actors were superb in selling their images. Given each character was so individually unique, the actors had a lot of work to do in telling their story through their motions and their attitudes. Overall, they did a good job.

Whether this show will carry on past season one depends on the development of the plot, and whether it’s anything deeper than the average spy show. Regardless of the low hopes cast for the continuation of this show by various tv rating websites, I think it might just pull through. Afterall, who doesn’t love a good spy show? I would definitely recommend “Allegiance” to anyone looking for an action show with a hint of drama.