For the penultimate episode of the season, The Americans puts forward a lot of setup for what could be a really exciting finale. Despite being central character-focused, “A Roy Rogers in Franconia” does little to really expand on Philip and Elizabeth directly. It does, however, take plenty of time to account for Paige, who is still shell shocked by the events from the end of last week’s episode. It actually gets so bad she kisses and possibly contracts cooties from another boy. Jokes aside though, with some in doubt about what they should be doing and others closing in on some big breaks, a lot of the pieces seem to finally be coming into place.
Before we talk about anyone else, let’s talk about the most lovable character on The Americans – Mail Robot. Season three was a standout year for Mail Robot, as it had a whole episode devoted to it (and some incredibly poignant scenes involving Elizabeth and an old woman she was forced to kill, but not after a long conversation between the two that matched some of the finest scenes this show has had to offer). This season has had Mail Robot keeping a rather low profile, but last week stepped things up with Aderholt’s discovery of some fishy timelines. Now we follow up this new thread and Aderholt discovers a bug inside the Mail Robot.
The reaction is great, as Stan tells Aderholt and Special Agent Munchkin that they should just tear the building down and fire everyone, including themselves. Mail Robot is not to blame of course, as it was just doing its job, but this does lead the capture of the person changing out the tapes. Later on, Stan meets with Oleg once again (despite claims that they wouldn’t meet anymore) and learns of the KGB’s interest in biochemical weapons. Stan’s poor choices aside, it does lead him down a path that could bring things to an untimely end, if some are not careful.
This brings us to William, who is now having second thoughts on what he has been assigned to do. Despite all the effort put in to get him level 4 security clearance at the chemical facility, we now learn he is questioning his own motives. It is a risky situation for sure, with dire consequences were things to go poorly, but it is really all about questioning what this fight is for. Dylan Baker was never going to get in on the highly physical action side of this show, but he adds plenty as far as having these philosophical conversations with Philip and eventual Gabriel for this episode.
Good on the show for leaning this way. The Americans has noticeably been lighter on the violent action side of things this season, but that has not stopped tension and intrigue stemming from the personal relationships and how to test each of our characters. Whether or not that means we get an action blow-out next week, I cannot say (I’ve been watching the screeners the week-of so I can play fair too), but it wouldn’t be surprising however things actually go, it’s just the results that will likely impress. Given how there are only so many season-long arcs left, just how involved everyone will be will be interesting as well.
The main concern in that regard is Paige. While it may seem like Pastor Tim and Alice are safe from harm, Paige is now in this awkward position of learning more about what her parents frequently involve themselves in, while also keeping up with her religious studies and flirting with ‘the enemy’. Okay, so Stan’s son Matthew is not ‘the enemy’ per se, but that’s a new and fun wrinkle. Stan obviously represents something that diametrically opposes Philip and Elizabeth. Paige is currently at a crossroads concerning all she knows as an American and what she has actually grown up into. Perhaps this is set up for avenues that will be taken next season, but it does give us more bonding time between the Jennings.
Less bonding time seems to be coming for Oleg and Tatiana. So often I relegate this aspect of the show to the notes at the bottom, but with so little time left, it looks like this part of the story is coming to a close. Tatiana is very good at her clandestine job within the KGB and now she’s being promoted to a position in Nairobi. Oleg has lost many of those he loves at this point, which is what leads him to talking with Stan. Since we see so little of Oleg’s life outside the Rezidentura, I can only wonder what to expect from him after giving Stan clues to what to inspect.
Clearly I am anxious to watch the finale. It may or may not feature action, but it will have to resolve some big things going on with biochemical weapons. This has the potential to put away some characters, but it could also mean getting to see some slick espionage sequences play out in the process. Whatever happens, it has been a tough season for the Jennings, as they have been working hard to get their personal affairs in order. Here’s to see what it gets them in next week’s season finale.
Other Things Behind The Red Curtain: