After seeing Elizabeth (Keri Russell) kill someone earlier in the evening, Paige (Holly Taylor) confronts her mother with a series of questions to open episode 12 of FX’s The Americans season four. “How do you know how to do that?” “How were you so calm?” and “Have you done that before?” she asks. Elizabeth responds that she was trained to defend herself, that it happened so fast, and she wanted to protect Paige. She hesitated before telling Paige that she had killed before to protect herself, but the reason her mother remained calm lies in Elizabeth’s answer that she didn’t know how many times she’s killed. That answer alone should be alarming to Paige. The bewildered expression on Henry’s face when the rest of his family go upstairs suggests that Henry (Keidrich Sellati) may learn the family secret sooner rather than later if he isn’t already suspicious.
When her mother comes to her room the next morning, it is clear that Paige is still deeply troubled. She spent a sleepless night and has more questions. Paige wants to know why her parents told her that their work wasn’t dangerous when Elizabeth admits that sometimes there is danger. “Did you know it would be dangerous?” Paige wonders. Foreshadowing a later exchange, she won’t let her mother evade the question or avoid the whole truth. Elizabeth’s response provides insight into her motivation when she explains that Russians were able to face the devastation, lack of food, and the cold during and after World War II by joining together and fighting back. “I wanted to be like that, to fight back; danger didn’t matter.”
In the best scene of the episode, Elizabeth and Philip (Matthew Rhys) are alone when Elizabeth tells him that Paige was reporting to her, like an operative, about a conversation with Matthew Beeman. Then in a long shot, Elizabeth and Philip are seated apart, staring at each other, but saying nothing. Philip has always hoped to avoid getting Paige involved in espionage and perhaps Elizabeth now feels the same, or is at the very least, ambivalent.
At the rezidentura, Tatiana (Vera Cherny) informs Oleg (Costa Ronin) that she has been offered a position as Rezident in Nairobi because the Centre has been pleased with her work in acquiring bioweapons. She offers Oleg the position of deputy if he comes with her to Nairobi. Later, in a misdirection we see an establishing shot of Russian buildings and think that we’ll catch up with Martha because we had just seen Gabe–with Philip nearby–on the phone reassuring Martha’s mother. Instead of Martha however, it was actually Oleg’s mother in Russia conversing with her son.
Meanwhile at the FBI, Agent Aderholt (Brandon J. Dirden) watches as a technician finds the listening device in the mail robot. They replace the device and subsequent surveillance of the mailroom allows agents to apprehend a woman in the act of retrieving the device. The agents, though doubtful that they will snare a high level operative, make plans to intercept the handler at an exchange of the tape with the titular “Roy Rogers in Franconia.” This plan gets sidelined after Stan (Noah Emmerich) has a meeting with Oleg.
During this meeting, Oleg expresses his concerns about Russians getting their hands on something that is very dangerous because while they have excellent universities, they don’t have the resources to handle things the right way. He knows that America’s military is working on bioweapons and that they subcontract with an outside firm, one that has a Soviet spy working there. Stan immediately tells his superior and they pull back on surveillance of the mail robot listening device exchange so as not to alarm the rezidentura.
Oleg is not alone in his concern about the consequences of Russia getting the deadly Lassa sample. William (Dylan Baker) tells Philip that he can’t go through with the plan to get the Lassa after Philip gives him the code to Level 4. Philip confides to Gabe (Frank Langella) that he also has reservations. Gabe says that we need the steadfast ones, Elizabeth, in Philip’s case. When Gabe tries to persuade William to do this “one last thing” with appeals to his patriotism and the opportunity to go home, William doesn’t look very convinced. Gabe, as it turns out, isn’t either.
Back at the FBI, agents scour employment records of military contractors based on the lead given to Stan. This task would be much easier today with computers but the reams of paper they need to go through is a nice reminder that this is set in the ’80s. They do discover that William is using the name of a deceased child.
After driving her home, Matthew Beeman (Danny Flaherty) shares a first kiss with Paige. Matthew then goes to the Jennings’ house to help Henry connect the computer to the TV. Paige joins in and she asks Matthew if he worries about his dad’s job being dangerous. This conversation takes place under Elizabeth’s watchful eye.
Alone with her parents later, Paige reports that Matthew told her that Stan hasn’t been home in two days. They tell her that she should see Matthew if she likes him, but they don’t want her to do anything because of them. They also warn her to be very careful in whom she confides. When a phone call prompting Philip to leave interrupts their conversation, Paige demands to know who the caller is. Her parents tell her that she doesn’t need to know and she responds that “you killed a man right before my eyes.” Reluctantly, Elizabeth tells her that Philip is getting part of a weapon the Russian army can use if ever attacked. Paige looks satisfied, but this exchange represents a precedent for Paige’s knowledge of operational details.
Just how much is Paige going to become involved as a spy, and what will be Elizabeth’s reaction when she learns that the Young Hee and Don operation may have been for naught? These are just a couple of questions that may be answered in the final episode airing next week.