TV Review: The Americans: 4.12 “A Roy Rogers In Franconia”

The Americans
Season 4, Episode 12 – “A Roy Rogers in Franconia”
Directed by Chris Long
Written by Joe Fields & Joe Weisberg
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Lev Gorn, Susan Misner, Costa Ronin, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Richard Thomas, Dylan Baker, Alison Wright, Noah Emmerich, and Frank Langella
Air date: Wednesday, May 25th, 2016, 10pm

If pop culture and historical accounts (the ones that we know of at least) have taught us anything, it’s that the art of spying is tedious at best and hazardous at worst.

The Americans has shown us both sides of this equation, but “A Roy Rogers in Franconia“ delves deep into the dangers of spycraft as William (Dylan Baker) is tasked with obtaining another biological sample, and a tip from Oleg (Costa Ronin) gives Stan (Noah Emmerich) and the FBI just enough information it needs to get the closest they’ve ever been to catching Elizabeth and Philip (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys).

“I reminded him who he is and gave him what he wanted.” – Gabriel

Gabriel’s quote continued to rattle around in my head long after “A Roy Rogers in Franconia” aired, mostly because it’s an episode that gives so many of our characters (and subsequently the audience) a lot of what they’ve been waiting for, while also commenting on just how dangerous it can be to get what you want.

Danger has always been part of the job description for Philip and Elizabeth, but this season has taken to exploring what exactly that means for those who orbit the two. In the immediate aftermath of Elizabeth and Paige’s violent altercation at the end of last week’s episode serving as a springboard for Paige to truly demand answers of her parents. But “A Roy Rogers in Franconia” goes beyond that, providing Paige (and the viewers) with a lovely moment about the city where Elizabeth grew up. My thoughts naturally drifted to the conversation that Philip and Kimmy had a few weeks ago about secrets. Despite the weighty burden that Paige is currently shouldering, there’s no question that Paige and her parents have gotten closer – even if the circumstances that led us to this moment have been . . . less than ideal for both characters, it’s been worth it to see the bond between mother and daughter grow.

But that might not be enough, as Philip and Elizabeth are shockingly unaware of what’s lingering from their neighbor across the street. Spurned by last week’s reveal that the FBI knows there was a death at the factory where the mail robot is serviced, Aderholt does some digging around and ends up discovering the taping device inside the mail robot. This discovery alone is enough for the agency to track down the gofer who’s been switching out the tape. That is, until Oleg gets spooked about the dangers of what the Russians have been doing and hand delivers Stan one of the juiciest morsels the show has ever served: there’s someone that’s been passing sample of biological agents to the Russians. It’s this moment where the show really kicks into high gear, cutting between William (who’s spent the episode tussling over whether or not he’s actually going to obtain the next sample) and the FBI who are hot on William’s trail. This is the moment so many fans of the show have been waiting for and we were ostensibly given it twice in one episode! The tape was one hell of a punch, but the FBI working (and Stan’s willingness to be patient, as Matthew mentions) to figure out who William was – cut with Philip getting a call to go and meet him was a payoff, worth every single penny. For once, the FBI is one step ahead and seeing that role-reversal is compelling, exciting television.

“A Roy Rogers in Franconia” functions as clockwork penultimate episode, maneuvering our characters into place and table setting for the finale, all while doing it in such a manner that it feels seamless.

Quick Thoughts:

There was a certain point in that last act of the episode that I just stopped taking notes to watch everything unfold. Not that I was complaining.

I have got to stop watching the next episode previews: twice this season those promos have undercut the tension of the current episode’s ending.

Paige’s kiss with Matthew feels not only feels like a long time coming, but also a bittersweet. Is it because she’s working him? Or because she actually feels that way? I’m not even sure if Paige knows at this point.

Loved the ominous shot of Oleg working away with the mural looming in the background.

That phone conversation between Oleg and his mother completely wrecked me. There’s a lot of truth in that call, especially if you’ve lost an immediate family member.

“Think you can eliminate the accountants.”

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