It’s Enough Paige
by ALEX CARNEVALE
creator Joe Weisberg
We no longer have to suffer through Nina’s reincarnation as Mother Teresa as a stranger in a strange land. It nearly drove me crazy to watch people talk about how moving it was. If they ever have Martha chewed up by a wood chipper on The Americans, then I will cry genuine tears. Until then they will be of the crocodile variety.
Then again, it probably affected me on some level, since I have spent the last day and a half placidly responding, “Paige, it’s too much,” to every single question I am asked, including “What kind of toast do you want with that?” and “Who will you be voting for in New York’s Democratic primary?”
It was a little mean when Elizabeth (Keri Russell) started ragging on Ronald Reagan’s rosy cheeks, especially since she has not had color in her face since the days of Felicity. Watching her and Philip having real life sex turned The Americans into a stag film. I kept waiting for a dramatic pan to Paige watching her mother humping her father, but it never came. Philip would probably just have made eye contact with her and said, “Good,” while Paige’s mother informed her daughter that it was too much.
Paige sure knew how to work over Pastor Tim. He stared at her like she was a piece of candy, and after having to spend mere minutes with Pastor Tim’s gossipy malingering wife Alice we all understood why. She talked to him with all the dignity of a guest on Howard Stern. The ringer they brought in to vouch for their heroic actions in El Salvador probably would not have been wasted on Paige either.
Even less believable was our Moscow friend whining about how he lost his brother in a war that he is not permitted to name. I mean, one woman gets executed and it’s enough to throw the entire idea of the Soviet Union in question?
Stan Beeman should have informed him that traitors in America share much the same fate. Well I guess some do, others are honored as respected neighbors and FBI agents have best friend type relationships with their son. When it comes to getting weird amounts of praise about your Trivial Pursuit acumen, nothing – I repeat nothing – beats your neighbor’s ignored teenager.
Stan’s desultory son Matthew scares the shit out of all thinking people. Just looking at his face is enough to make you insecure about the future of America. This is the kind of child Martha probably would have emitted from her secretarial loins, so it is probably a damn good thing that her childbearing years were spent in a hot cuddle with Clarke’s wig. Matthew is probably in solitary confinement somewhere in Indiana as we speak.
The Americans would be a lot more entertaining if Philip’s affection for Martha were a little more believable. I can buy that he is concerned about her welfare, but even the idea that he ignored calls from her for two days while she was having a romantic dinner with a colleague seems to prove that he sees her as just another Paige, albeit a Paige whose body he explores in the many arcane ways the wizened men of the Asian continent prescribed that people could pleasure one another.
It is time to bring the Martha storyline to its inexorable conclusion, since watching Clarke violently take her from behind cannot possibly approach the intimacy we witness between a real couple. Love ideally would ravish the world of The Americans — how does Frank Langella get his rocks off, for example? What about Agent Gad, or the head of the Rezidentura?
One of the great things about The Americans is the depth it gives to these smaller characters, like the Mary Kay saleswoman Elizabeth seems intent on romancing for some reason. The people Russia preys upon seem completely innocent, although we must know in our hearts that they are not. In the end, Philip and Elizabeth are more loyal and virtuous than Pastor Tim, whose criticisms of U.S. foreign policy resemble a deranged Noam Chomsky pamphlet.
But Paige just won’t understand her destiny to become the Jason Bourne of the George Herbert Walker Bush era, which basically seems like the good old days. Also, WTF was that t-shirt she was wearing? Her mother does not understand that all Paige requires is one carrot enticing her to a more appealing life than her status as an absent daughter in the D.C. suburbs. Has she thought about maybe being executed abroad?
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.
“Be Anything” – Brass Bed (mp3)