So Young and Foolish
by ALEX CARNEVALE
creator Joe Weisberg
You should always be careful what you tell anybody, but this goes double for a woman. There is a Clark Westerfeld living in Atlanta. He takes a flight from Atlanta, or sometimes he drives overnight if he really has to see his girlfriend. When he gets there, the two are both so overwhelmed with desire that he says, I love you Martha, I want to be with you forever Martha. He plays that Tom Waits song on the cassette deck and then he tells her who he works for. The United Nations.
That would have been a much finer move. Tom Waits’ song “Martha” is about calling up someone you used to love and reminiscing about the past. It is an arrogant jam, because the misogynistic caller presumes that this woman remembers him in an identical fashion. He goes on to describe how completely old she is, and suggests subtly that she was probably wasting her time not being with him.
It is in the grand tradition of romanticizing a romance that seems better or more essential to self-preservation in retrospect. We want to believe that such people are key parts of our lives, simply because they were present for certain events or feelings. Clark’s relationship with Martha has come to its end, and she has found that out in the most facile possible way. She should feel lucky that she never has to see the same places — her apartment, her job — as she did when Clark Westerfeld was in her life. It would only make the parting more difficult.
When Clark demanded that his hairless albino handler mind Martha while he was away having cute convos with traitorous chemists, he made an assumption based on the Martha he knew, not the one existing now. A woman needs to be gently reassured. (A man also needs to be gently reassured.) But I don’t believe the idea that Clark would suddenly stop lying once it was clear Martha needed his lies the most, needed new lies which suited her life as a single woman on the run.
Elizabeth showing up to cockblock Clark never seemed like the greatest move. She is not really that appealing in her get up as Clark’s sister, although she is a lot more attractive than whatever facial disfigurement is being accentuated on Agent Gad’s visage.
Elizabeth’s disappointment that Clark showed himself to Martha without his disguise was hilarious, considering his blonde highlights mask his true self about as well as her glasses. Weisberg and his writing team of sociopaths already disposed of one treasonous woman, and I don’t believe they intend to make it two. Martha’s fate isn’t in Moscow, either.
I believe she would have been an ideal double agent, a storyline The Americans has almost never explored. Plus we could have teased Clark possibly turning on his own country, in favor of the greatest nation since ancient Mesopotamia.
Clark misunderstood completely the woman he married. As a native Russian, he can never fully fathom what is in the heart of a warm-blooded American woman. When her gun is taken away from her, or anyone, they start to feel a lot less safe. When her pills are taken away or even slightly reshuffled in her purse, she begins to pull her hair out at intervals.
The lyrics to Martha, which Tom Waits wrote in order to stick to a woman who had dumped him for a man with a paying job, are incredibly passive-aggressive:
How’s your husband? and how’s the kids? you know that I got married too?
Lucky that you found someone to make you feel secure.
It is like, wow, Tom, this woman must feel really lucky that she has someone in her life that doesn’t make her feel as shitty as you are doing in this song at this time. Moreover, the idea that you are also married is bullshit. And even if you did get married, things did not work out. The misanthropy in these lyrics is enough to make you call out for Clark in the night, and have unprotected sex with him after his arrival.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.
“The Glow” – Big Data ft. Kimbra (mp3)
“Snowed In” – Big Data ft. Rivers Cuomo (mp3)