Airtime: Wednesdays at 10PM on FX
Episode: Season 4, Episode 12 (S04E12)
Tweetable Takeaway: Oleg and William mutiny against the motherland on #TheAmericans
THE AMERICANS speeds up the FBI plot when they investigate the harmless meeting that went down at “A Roy Rogers in Franconia.” Every week I say something about the screenwriting ninjas that conjure this show. In seven pages or less, they took the FBI plot through interviewing the son of the mail-robot factory’s deceased mother, disassembly of the mail-robot, discovery of the bug, mission discussion and approval, surveillance of the mail robot, capture of the suspect, discussion of the suspect’s interrogation and more surveillance approval, a tip from Oleg, combing through contracted medical company personnel records and pinning down William as a suspect.
The writers knew all that information might be important information to the story, but not necessarily in service to the dilemma/conflict plots that drive the show. It’s another lesson in storytelling from the masters. There are a few other lessons and themes presented.
Paige suffers some sort of weird post-traumatic distress over seeing her mother, most likely, kill a guy who attacked them with a knife in the parking lot outside the food shelter. Paige asks her mother if she really had to kill him. Elizabeth has no hesitation answering, “yes.” This takes place in the 80’s when the adults still ran the country and kept us safe from all the dangers that plague us on a daily basis now. There’s no need for a celeb fueled Twitter debate over a mother’s reaction when a pair of men attack with a knife. He did deserve, by almost every philosophy on the planet, to die with his own knife jammed into his neck. Paige shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about it. By the time she has a Paige of her own, her weak ass, non-decisive, responsibility dodging regime will be running the country. The childish debates over how fair or unfair the world is seem to get more childish with adulthood. That said, Paige isn’t the only one suffering.
Oleg is also cracking under the pressures of adult world and he makes a very heroic decision to deal with it. Identifying the hero of a story is pretty simple. Two people have the same decision to make; the non-hero’s decision is based on self-interest while the hero’s decision is selfless, for the sake of others. Many people are making decisions about what they should or shouldn’t do with the new weaponized virus, but Oleg really puts himself out there. He and reaches out to Stan before Stan really knows he has a problem for the safety of everyone on the planet. He believes his people have good intentions but doesn’t trust their equipment with handling the virus. He isn’t quite Admiral Ramius but it isn’t far from the Red October scenario.
Oleg’s tip leads Stan and his team of agents to William, we’ll see how this intelligence plays out next week. William is another character that’s been questioning his role in the world of weaponized viruses. This week he tells Philip he’s out, he isn’t going to deliver anymore. The danger is one thing, but he also believes is will be less dangerous in the hands of his comrades. Philip tells Gabriel and they all get together to talk it out. Gabriel understands Philip’s position but also makes him a counter offer; he says if William completes this one last job he’ll send him home a hero. William never considered going home a hero and it may not net the result Gabriel intends.
I’m looking forward to next week to see how the story plays out but it’s also the finale and I always miss the show when it’s gone. They have earned their break and earned their awards. At least, they receive a break.
Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
Eric Rodriguez | Contributor