The Americans Demands That You Root for Both Sides

(Episode 4.12, “A Roy Rogers in Franconia”)

TV Reviews The Americans
The Americans Demands That You Root for Both Sides

Children can be relentless when they want something.

Whether it’s an extra dessert, or wanting to know the truth about your KGB parents, the tactics are the same. Never. Let. Up. Keep asking, and asking and asking.

Elizabeth and Philip are still under the naïve impression that somehow they can still shield Paige. “You just killed a man in front of me. I might as well know everything,” Paige tells her parents.

The girl has a point. The jig is so up. Paige now realizes that her parents have never been completely honest with her. Her mom killed someone and “didn’t even seem upset after.” So she is asking (and asking, and asking her parents for the full story. The whole episode reminded me of that iconic line from A Few Good Men: “Paige you can’t handle the truth.”

“We’re not lying to you Paige, but you don’t have to know everything,” Philip tells her. But that is something children everywhere, no matter what their circumstances, have a hard time accepting.

Paige and Matthew kiss in this episode. Is this Paige finally acting on the crush she’s had since Season One, or is she trying to work Mathew in order to help her parents? Does Paige even know her true motivation? Philip and Elizabeth tell Paige she doesn’t have to be friends with Matthew for them. But is that really true? Not so long ago. Elizabeth was all about having Paige follow in her footsteps.

Meanwhile, it looks like the long con on Don actually worked and Philip is able to give William the access codes he needs. The only problem is William wants out. He doesn’t trust his country with this virus—which he describes by saying “You basically dissolve inside, then squirt yourself out your anus in liquid form. First it’s whoosh, then it’s a trickle.” That William does have a way with words. He tells Philip to tell Gabriel the truth. He’s done. But Gabriel convinces him to do one last job for his country, and return to the motherland a hero. Anyone who has ever watched any TV shows or movies knows that the “one last job” thing never works out.

Oleg shares the same concerns. His country is filled with brilliant scientists who don’t have the money or the resources to do their job right. He tells Stan that the KGB has a man on the inside of one of the biotech firms. It’s enough information for Stan and Dennis to figure out that William is their guy.

What I continue to find fascinating about The Americans is that I can simultaneously root for both Stan and Elizabeth and Philip. I want them both to succeed, which I know is not possible. The show has put Stan, a good FBI agent, in this position of being close to finding out the truth many times. Since the show recently announced it will conclude at the end of the sixth season, the fourth season finale seems like the perfect time for Stan to start to figure out the Jennings’ true identity.

Tatiana gets a promotion to become the head of the Nairobi rezidentura and invites Oleg to join her as her second in command. But Oleg, still grieving the death of his brother, is disillusioned by his country and his work. He’s become Stan’s informant. I’m worried about him.

And I can’t leave this review without once again talking about the stellar performance Holly Taylor is turning in. When her parents tell her they are trying to get a weapon that their country would use if they were ever attacked, she responds with a pitch perfect “Great.” Even with all the tension of the episode, I still giggled a little bit at Taylor’s fantastic delivery, which expertly melded the typical adolescent eye-rolling with the seriousness of the situation.

This show is just great. Can’t wait until next week’s season finale.

Stray observations:

For someone who has no clue what is going on, Henry is getting a lot of screen time this season.

Paige is waiting to learn how to parallel park before she takes the driver’s test. Learn now Paige. I never did and still can’t parallel park.

The mail robot returns!

You have to love Elizabeth’s reaction to watching General Hospital.

Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal ®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.

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