In Which We Plan To Never Leave This Brave Country

Lie Detector

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Americans
creator Joe Weisberg

“We never know for sure if people are telling us the truth,” Elizabeth bleats to her daughter. This new, soft version of Keri Russell’s character is a disappointment on every level. Her superior officer, a stolid, haunchy man named Arkady, orders men in Thailand to try to turn Agent Gaad to the KGB. He runs from them and cuts himself on a large piece of glass. After he bleeds out, his murderers apologize to him. On The Americans, there is already a retreat from something certain into something uncertain, a tendency that marked the entirety of our war with this other nation.

People are absolutely desperate to tell the truth about their lives. This inclination was present in all its forms on last night’s episode of The Megyn File. Host and erstwhile attorney Megyn Kelly spent the entirety of the hour-long episode reviewing her interview with presidential candidate Donald Trump. She asked a panel of experts how they thought she handled the interview, whether he came across as likable in the interview. One panelist gushed, “The interview was great for you, Megyn, and of course great for Trump.” After that segment, she brought on a panel of women to analyze Trump’s taste in fashion and polls that showed Republican women viewing him more favorably.

Megyn’s truth is a slim truth, but I guess it was all she had? It seemed like maybe a lot more was going on in the world than a conversation she had days earlier, but who knows. I mean it’s not like there was any other news.

Our own personal experience perennial triumphs over anything happening in the world at large. To view things through any other lens is an experience only given to the very old, who are already deep in the process of absconding from their bodies. Agent Gaad and his wife were probably the best couple I have ever seen, which meant their obsolescence was doomed from the start. In order to survive any significant change in our lives, we must alter ourselves completely.

RIP Agent Gaad. You will be missed, not by me since you were the among the worst intelligence operatives of your time, but certainly by that large pockmarked fellow who was so loyal to you even when he had no reason to be. Stan Beeman’s parenting skills are about as strong as the containment of his privileged knowledge. It will be fun watching Matthew Beeman start to volunteer at Paige’s youth church in hopes of banging it to her one day. Giving women coffee in your sad, empty house is no way to get laid, Matthew.

It is nice to know that we will be getting follow-up on the Martha story. Say what you want about Martha (and I said plenty, most of which was expressing an untenable emotionality by screaming Claaaaark! at the top of my lungs during pretend orgasms), but she kept things close to the vest. She didn’t ask Clark Westerberg a bunch of unimportant questions all the time.

“We will tell you as much as we can,” Elizabeth explains to Paige when she starts criticizing her parents for making Pastor Tim disappear in Ethiopia. Paige seems to not only accept this state of affairs, but return the sentiment to her handlers as something of a moral principle in its own right.

It’s good for Pastor Tim to know that his trips to Africa aren’t just some careless jaunts. If I hear about one more person who “loves to travel,” I will legitimately throw up. Whenever you actually hear about the tales of such people, their journeys involve surmounting some ancient structure in a third world country and taking pictures of themselves while people starve nearby. “At least he’s feeding people,” Elizabeth concedes when she speaks of Pastor Tim’s important bravery. In that sense, Alice’s reaction was completely inappropriate: when your husband is doing dangerous work, you either fully understand the risks or you would have gone crazy on Day One.

It was really the uncertainty that was killing Alice. Not just of whether her foolish husband was dead or alive — the larger indeterminacy at play. At any point in time there is so much we cannot be aware of. Days pass and all the while Agent Gaad has already bled out in Bangkok. Other men and women go about their lives. A plane sails over the ocean one minute; in mere seconds it has vanished. Either you grow closer to each other, or move further apart. There are mere moments before Elizabeth decides to ruin or not ruin the life of a Korean family in the suburbs of the District of Columbia. A word either way moves mountains. Acceptance of this state of affairs is the only way of living.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

“Hold On” – Richard Ashcroft (mp3)

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