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Review: ‘The Americans’ Season 4 Episode 12 ‘A Roy Rodgers in Franconia’ Scares Us Cold

The pieces are in place. The dominoes have been set. Next week, they fall.

THE AMERICANS -- "A Roy Rogers in Franconia" Episode 412 (Airs, Wednesday, June 2, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings. CR: Patrick Harbron/FX

Patrick Harbron/FX

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘The Americans’ Season 4 Episode 11 ‘Dinner for Seven’ Serves Up a Mugging

Briefing

Phillip, don’t make that drop! With the FBI hot on William’s tail and Phillip about to meet him to pick up an uber-deadly biological weapon, it’s hard to think about what already happened in “A Roy Rodgers in Franconia” — next week is going to be insane.

But really, there was a lot that went down before the pieces being laid out all season started clicking into place. Paige and Elizabeth had a much-needed heart-to-heart. Oleg and Stan solidified their friendship (One last time? Sure, guys.) Phillip and Gabriel got to know each other a bit better, and Paige kissed a boy!

It all set the stage for next week’s sure-to-be-wild season finale, but “A Roy Rodgers in Franconia” — an episode title we immediately fell in love with as soon as they rolled off of Stan’s tongue — certainly can stand by itself as a thrilling episode of television.

Phillip’s Allegiance: U.S.A.

THE AMERICANS -- "A Roy Rogers in Franconia" Episode 412 (Airs, Wednesday, June 2, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings, Keidrich Sellati as Henry Jennings. CR: Patrick Harbron/FX
You heard it straight from Phillip: He agreed with William and would’ve kept the “whole damn thing” to himself, had he been running the operation. Things have gotten a bit too dangerous for the two men actually willing to question their superiors, even if Phillip is abiding by the law of the land (for now). He’s wanted to run before — and not that long ago — so if anything spooks him during the handoff next week (presuming it goes down), the Jennings could be on the run come Season 5.

Elizabeth’s Allegiance: K.G.B.

Can we take a minute to talk about Elizabeth’s face? Faces, I should say, as Keri Russell’s dialed in take on the emotionally-repressed mother trying to connect with her daughter after a minor crisis. For the most part, Elizabeth did amazing work. Choosing to open up about her childhood and to tell Paige what was going on with the phone call had to be pretty damn difficult for someone who’s used to keeping secrets; secrets she believes (believed?) protected her family.

But then came the faces. First, Elizabeth watching what looked like a soap opera (please, correct me in the comments) was one of the more delightful moments of the year. “I’m just trying to understand,” she said. “It’s not logical. It’s emotional,” Paige responded. And with that, Elizabeth returned to her scrunched-up confusion, focusing so intently on the unintelligible emotional conflict we could see her brain straining. The scene really worked because Elizabeth is far from a robot. Her emotional range may be limited because of her training, but she’s got the full arsenal working overtime within.

But what really sold the moment was later, when Elizabeth looked at Phillip after Paige said, “You just killed a man in front of me. I might as well know everything” — that said so much more than words. Conveying the seriousness of the situation as well as the op to go through with it, Russell delivered a master class in reacting.

Paige’s Allegiance: U.S.A.

THE AMERICANS -- "The Day After" Episode 409 (Airs, Wednesday, May 11, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings. CR: FX

Paige got the final word, but it wasn’t what anyone wanted to hear. “Great,” uttered in that teenager-specific sarcasm, said a lot about what Paige thinks of her parents’ profession. Earlier in the episode, she seemed to be warming up to it (even after the near-mugging last week). But then a new wrinkle was introduced, as her attempts to fully understand her parents exposed more than she was willing to accept. She wants to be a part of something — a family, a religion, a cause — but only if she believe in it. Now, two of those three are having holes poked in them, and what Paige decides to do when the shit hits the fan next week (and it has to, right?) may be just as impactful — and just as unwanted.

Stan: Savant of Square?

Stan gets all A’s this week, as his long-term relationship with Oleg paid off in a massive way. He clearly earned the Russian’s trust with his attempt to end their relationship last week, and whether that was truly out of the goodness of his heart or because of a long-con with something like this as the intended result, Stan’s new boss was right to say he’s “got something big.” Oh, if they only knew… (and, of course, we think Stan made the break sincerely).

Wig Count: 1

Phillip sported a solid black dye job with a matching mustache in Episode 12, but that was it for a week moving at a quick clip. One would hope he has something more elaborate in mind for his next meeting with William, as his get-up may need to deceive his next door neighbor.

Quote of the Week

THE AMERICANS -- "Clark's Place" Episode 405 (Airs, Wednesday, April 13, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Frank Langella as Gabriel. CR: Eric Liebowitz/F
“Did you have to do that?” – Paige
&
“I didn’t change his mind. I reminded him who he is
and gave him what he wants.” – Gabriel

Elizabeth’s earnest response to her daughter’s question — pertaining to whether or not her mother had to kill the mugger — told us as much about her as it did to Paige. Elizabeth believes she has to go to such extremes to protect her family because that’s how she rationalizes most of her life; a life of extremes demands extreme measures. Paige, however, does not understand why the mugger had to die, even if she does know why they couldn’t call the police. She started to come to peace with the former idea after learning how and where Elizabeth was raised, but now that question of, “Did you have to do that?” is coming up yet again. Does she need to spy on their FBI neighbor’s son? Does Phillip have to pick up a biological weapon? Do they have to live this life at all? How that question is answered for Paige has yet to be seen, and an answer may, in fact, never come.

Perhaps she could benefit from a chat with Gabriel. How efficiently he turned William around was impressive, and the interaction showcased a detailed knowledge of what his agents want. Paige may not be an official agent yet, but Gabriel certainly knows a lot about her through her parents. The only catch would be that Paige doesn’t know who she is yet, or what she wants. Gabriel might be able to mold something beneficial to everyone, as an outside perspective, but I’m not sure Phillip would be open to letting his handler handle his daughter — especially if he realizes Gabriel’s technique had already been applied to him. Phillip is still in the game because of Gabriel’s actions this year, and how Frank Langella’s lovable creation factors into the end of this season could be just as important as Paige. Oh, boy. Here we go.

Grade: A-

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