Prime Video’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith follows two spies recruited by a secret espionage organization. As they fight to accomplish daily missions, they’ll work harder to survive their new identities as a married couple. The courtship is one of hesitated intrigue as both long to connect but know that level of vulnerability can lead to failure of their mission. Or even worse, to love.
Episode one entitled “First Date” feels that way for both our two strangers and the viewers, as all parties are getting to know these individuals in real time. After an opening scene featuring a different couple, we are introduced to Maya Erskine’s character in an office building preparing for what looks like an interview. Her number is called and she enters a lone room. After submitting her fingernail clippings to what looks like the automatic teller at the BMV, the interview commences. The questions start pretty benign, with things such as her height, ethnicity, education, and job history. It then transitions to Donald Glover’s character answering similar questions. As the interview progresses, the questions become more personal and intrusive. We revisit the interview scenes throughout the episode, as it’s a great method to understand these characters’ motivations and insecurities.
The two strangers meet each other at their new home. The upscale abode is the couple’s refuge for the tenure of their employment. Here they find new passports, IDs, and their marriage certificate complete with wedding rings. The strangers are now John and Jane Smith. After awkward pleasantries, they learn their first mission consists of conducting surveillance to intercept a package. Then, deliver the said package to a disclosed address. Like an episode of Real Housewives, they settle on sleeping arrangements and separate. While John seems to be more socially open toward Jane, Jane remains the utmost professional, diffusing any moments of friendliness.
The next day, they prepare for their stakeout, pursuing their target – an older woman – from three different locations throughout the city. We learn more about the characters as they delicately pry into the other’s history. Again, John is earnest in his attempts to know his new “wife.” After deciphering her defenses, they each share something personal about themselves. John divulges he’s never killed anyone – an obvious lie. Jane begins to recite how as a teen, she nonchalantly shared pancakes with a pedophile. Just as John attempts to get the rest of the story, their target is on the move. After leaving the cafe, they venture to the park, catch a ride on the subway, and follow their subject to a random stage play. The two split up, communicating via earpiece and text; a much easier form of communication for Jane to detail her pedo encounter.
Distracted by the conversation, Jane almost misses their target exiting the theater. She’s now in possession of the package, easing into the busy streets of what looks to be Chinatown. Afraid of losing her, the two split up as John devises a plan; the oldest scheme in the book. As he hands Jane a decoy package, John causes a distraction. This allows Jane to bump into the target. As both drop their packages, Jane grabs the woman’s and she reaches for the decoy. By the time the woman notices the difference, John and Jane vanish into the crowd.
After a dramatic turn, the episode closes with the two reunited at home, both in Jane’s room. John admits he fibbed about never killing anyone and Jane comes clean about the particulars around her pancake meal as a teen. Both confessions reveal neither is as hardened as they had initially portrayed.
The episode, directed by Atlanta’s Hiro Murai, is a solid introduction. After a jolting start, the pacing is moderate. It can seem slow, but it allows enough time for Glover and Erskine to shine, easily balancing the dramatic and comedic tones. The action pieces are solid and feel warranted – the latter half goes from 1 to 100 instantaneously but doesn’t feel cheapened. Ultimately, beneath the bullets and banter, the show is about relationships. Ones we have with others and the one with self. These lonely characters willingly sought an opportunity to rid of their pasts for a future of high reward, and higher risk, at the highest level of intimacy. Only time will tell if their bargain was worth it.