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The Americans - A Roy Rogers in Franconia - Review: “Impact" + POLL

Clueing Paige in on the fact that her parents were spies for the Soviet Union was always going to, eventually, result in her witnessing the true nature of the work, as documented at the end of last week’s instalment. What’s fascinating about the way that The Americans handled the aftermath of that reveal is that Paige very quickly overcame her initial misgivings over what her mother did and, by the end, treated learning vague details of William’s operation as casually as she might when learning what will be served for dinner. This season has been about Paige as much as it has anything else, if not more, and her arc, which will be pivotal in the 23 episodes remaining after next week’s finale, has undergone such fantastic development so far this year.

Since the start of the season - and, I suppose, back into the tail end of last season when she found out the truth - Paige has gone from innocent teenager to actually being involved with her parents’ operations, though not by choice. Since betraying their trust and spilling all to Pastor Tim, she’s been forced to work the pastor and his wife, getting close to them in order to ensure that they don’t suddenly decide to go to the authorities. Along the way, Elizabeth has been dropping little tips on how best to embrace the art of spycraft, and it’s turned Paige into a far greater spy than she - or I - could have imagined.

By the end of “A Roy Rogers in Franconia,” it was clear that this was a different Paige, one who, once she familiarises herself with the idea that this is a violent job, could become a fantastic asset to the Jennings couple. That was rarely more evident than in two notable scenes: The first as she questioned her mother about “the whole truth,” prompting Elizabeth to reveal information about her past; the second at the hour’s climax as, after having a brief kissing session with Matthew, Paige tries to report back on him, wondering whether or not her friendship with him causes problems for the larger operation. With the former, it’s not an outright attempt at using spycraft, rather an extension of her desire to know everything that put her in this situation in last season’s “Stingers,” but her thirst for information and ability to receive it (*) does indicate that if or when she is put into action, she’ll be more than useful at getting whatever is needed, once she’s fully conditioned to the world of spies.

(*) Of course, getting information from her parents, who, since revealing their true identities to Paige, are mostly happy to tell her more and more, isn’t the same as working a mark who may not be as open.

In terms of that final scene, it’s impressive how much Paige is thinking like a spy at this point, concerned that her every move may affect her parents’ operation in some way. It’s likely that this is simply a result of her inability to keep secrets, and the position she placed herself in by telling Tim means that she is forced to tiptoe around anything and everything she does given how precarious the situation is. Regardless, however, it shows how invested Paige has become in this world, yet at the same time, how little she truly knows about what she’s trying to do; being concerned with how being friends, as a 16-year-old (that point is pretty crucial to remember in all this, since she’s not the adult spy that either of her parents are. Hell, they’ve been in the business longer than she’s been alive), with the neighbour from across the street would affect things indicates a real uncertainty about anything to do with her parents’ job.

One thing remained constant throughout, and that was Holly Taylor, who was truly fantastic this week. Given how incredibly average a track record children on television shows have had (looking at you, Dana Brody), that Paige works at all is a testament both to Taylor’s performance and the writers on the show. But there’s gravitas to Taylor’s work, her acting in each scene clearly carefully considered, and it’s easy to feel a connection with Paige as she struggles to comprehend everything that’s happening. Giving a much meatier storyline to an actor of such a young age (Taylor turned 18 in October) was a risky move, but one that has paid off enormously.

Another great episode of the best show on television right now. Only one more episode to go this season before the final 23.

Some more thoughts:
Away from Paige, things were getting hot under the collar again as the FBI took a few steps closer to blowing the KGB’s operation wide open after Aderholt discovered the bug in the Mail Robot and later found William’s cover name. At this point, I do wonder whether Aderholt is actually the better FBI agent and Stan’s just phoning it in, mostly. Either way, the entire Jennings-William operation is in a whole lot of jeopardy right now. Despite all the effort Philip and Elizabeth went to so that they could install this bug in the Mail Robot, it is likely to come back and bite them, hard, and the fallout from that will be fantastic to watch.

While Aderholt discovered the bug, Stan was out getting information from Oleg. The kicker? He didn’t even ask for it. That Oleg would even reach out to Stan, let alone give him information valuable to his country, suggests that he is not in a good place psychologically (though I suppose you could argue that he’s experienced a clear mind for the first time, seeing that the way the Soviets are handling things is problematic). I’m also very surprised that they’re going down this route with him; I always imagined that it’d be the other way around, given all the bad things to happen to Stan, but given his brother’s passing and his mother’s poor state (along with Nina’s death), this makes a lot of sense. Some as ever great work from Costa Ronin.

Meanwhile, Tatiana was offered the position of Rezident in Nairobi, and she offered Oleg the chance to be her deputy.

William suffered from a crisis of conscience as he initially refused to give the lassa virus to the Centre. It’s an interesting point he raises: Obviously, from a Soviet point of view, letting the Americans keep it is a very big problem but taking it to potentially use themselves is a risk, and his moral dilemma over the potential for being responsible for thousands of gruesome deaths (I didn’t note down what the virus did, only that William’s description was “f-cked up”) is pretty reasonable. However, the enticement of returning home a hero once he’s completed this mission is enough to push him into following through.

40something year old father Philip in 1983 is terrible at video games. No surprises there, then.

I’d have legitimately watched an entire hour’s worth of Philip, Elizabeth and Paige talking in the latter’s bedroom, dealing with the aftermath of what Paige saw. That scene immediately after the opening titles was superb.

The music that played as Aderholt discovered the bug was excellent. Nathan Barr always captures the upbeat 1980s style score. Also, the dialogue that followed was great fun:
"They ought to tear this goddamn building down."
"And fire everyone who works in it, including us."

Plus, some great irony as Aderholt jokingly suggests that they could shoot whoever they arrest from the embassy, and Brandon J. Dirden’s delivery has left me thinking that he could end up replacing Richard Thomas with regards to comedic delivery.

Paige and Matthew’s kiss was a long time coming. Also, Matt dated a girl named Celery? Really?

What did everyone think of “A Roy Rogers in Franconia”? Leave your thoughts in the comments and be sure to vote in our poll below.

About the Author - Bradley Adams
17 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, co-host on the SpoilerTV Podcast. Created and is in charge of the yearly Favourite Episode Competition and currently runs the Favourite Series Competition. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, while some of his all-time favourite shows include 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Banshee, Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul and many more. He also runs an Arrow fans site, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email
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