In Which They Consider Themselves The Awkward Stepchildren Of The Nuclear Age

Pleasures of the Open Air

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Americans
creator Joe Weisberg

Next to a nude man in a queen-sized bed, Elizabeth Jennings slightly uncovers herself so that her asshole can experience the routine pleasures of the open air. It is always pleasant to wake up next to someone before they do. Their lives are in your hands, or at least remain perilously close to your hands, for those fleeting moments.

When I was a kid I had a friend who never liked to leave his bed. He did all his homework there. Sometimes he convinced me to sit on it and play the game of Life; other times I requested we do so on a table like human beings. If there is no safe place, then a place must be made safe. I have developed plans to place this sentiment on a bumper sticker and merchandise it on several platforms.

Nothing really changed on the family’s vacation except Paige is now working people like a pro and Elizabeth feels moral compunction over some simple blackmail. It was honestly his fault for going up to her apartment in the first place and drinking wine. Then, he demurred at the slightest touch of her hand to his leg – bullshit. He knew why he was up there, he just wanted to seem somewhat reluctant to make them both feel better.

Pastor Fucking Tim can’t leave well enough alone. When someone goes out of their way to secure you a great deal on international travel, you do not tell him that his daughter is sad. Tim will likely never come back from this African country, panicking his wife. Then he will show up suddenly with an African bride. Tim’s ill-advised trip to Africa reminded me of how little an impact racism or sexism plays in the Cold War.

Despite the fact that Oleg seems to sleep with every single one of his gendered colleagues, nothing is made of this and the elegant, hardscrabble Tatiana seems to be using him for intel. It is still kind of messed up that they are so willing to be with this whimpering sod of a KGB officer. When Oleg finds out, defects to the United States and begins to feed her false intel, this will make Tatiana even more ridiculous. Unless this has already occurred?

Sleeping with other people, or pretending to, is the main intelligence-gathering function for women in the KGB. Just once I would love to see Elizabeth get what she needs by friendzoning some poor security guard. Presumably things are the same on the American side – we will never know since the closest thing to a woman operative is Agent Gaad’s wife, who has taken him to Thailand for debriefing. For some, The Day After came and went a long time ago.

Paige’s slow descent in agentdom is going better than ever, but it would be fun to see Hans get more screentime on the show as a boy she casually meets at church and brings home to her parents. They could sit on the edge of her bed and listen to records. I doubt she is wanting to talk much about God, but she could tell him all about her parents, and how all their friends are as straight and white as the day is long.

While Elizabeth was babysitting three Korean-American children, she taught them all the ways of her people. Pizza, racquetball and Chevrolets. It is impossible not to become addicted on some level to what is on offer, precisely because of the availability. We get good at everything we do repeatedly, finding all the shortcuts. If Elizabeth were to disappear to another part of the country, leaving all this behind, we sense she could do it without a second thought. Masks become habits.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

“Brand New Feeling” – Matt Costa (mp3)

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