Reactions I Have Had While Watching The Final Six Episodes of "The Americans," Without Having Seen Any Previous Episodes of "The Americans"

  • The man is weak around young flesh. He is not worthy of The Woman.

  • The girl is soft and craves further softness – she is not worthy of The Woman.

  • The girl does not know what she thinks she is saying yes to! She invites herself into liability – teach her the usefulness of rejection!

  • The dying woman understands The Woman. Good. Her final gift is acceptable. May her death be swift and unremarkable as she slides into quiet.

  • Oh, Max Medina is on this show? That’s so fun!

  • MAX MEDINA IS WEAK AND UNWORTHY OF BOTH THE LIVING WOMAN AND THE DYING ONE

  • (“See how mercy is so often mere self-indulgence?” I said to Grace at this point. “Do you want to watch this show, or are you doing a bit?” she asked. “What do you mean?” I asked. “You’re getting really intense about Keri Russell,” she said, “and we just had to have that whole conversation about Tony Soprano and I think this is kind of the same thing,” she said.

  • I don’t think it’s the same thing, exactly, I said, but let me think about that for a few minutes, because you usually have really good instincts about this sort of the thing

  • The thing with Tony Soprano was I found myself growing increasingly anxious and judgmental whenever a woman in his life failed to successfully pacify him, despite finding his anger monstrous and terrifying

  • What Tony Soprano’s anger activates in me, as a viewer, is the fantasy that I’m finally going to be the most successful woman in the world, and by successful I mean that I will so carefully anticipate, cushion, and placate my frightening male partner’s whims that he will no longer threaten violence

  • This is an impossible fantasy, I know

  • And it’s not Dr. Jennifer Melfi’s fault that I want to avoid unhappy men, and if avoidance is impossible, to placate them

  • whether it’s a fantasy of powerlessness or a fantasy of power I’m never sure, really

  • The thing with Keri Russell’s character is slightly different – it’s the fantasy of losing myself in someone else’s perfect personhood, in a hyper-competent, hyper-controlled woman whose interest in me is strictly to the extent of my usefulness to her

  • I don’t want to placate her, I want to execute her orders perfectly, in order to highlight the incompetence of her less-effective companions, to put a spotlight on their failure to dissolve their sense of self into her

  • What I want from Tony Soprano is to be so unlike him in every way that I can perfectly and permanently anticipate his every decision, and therefore neutralize his effectiveness; to play a young David to his Saul and lull him into peacefulness so that no man is ever mad at me

  • What I want from Keri Russell in “The Americans” is not pride in my accomplishments but a constant, low-level lack of disappointment as I consistently prove myself an efficient tool – to not slow her down, no more and no less – her perfected, effective womanhood masking my stunted, imperfect one

  • The best strategy is avoidance

  • The second-best strategy, where avoidance is possible, is to go undetected

  • The best way to go undetected is not merely to go along to get along, but to go along so perfectly that even you do not realize you have desires separate from the desires of ______

  • Calling Henry is a waste of time! Leave him to his air hockey and his mediocrity and his Henryness

  • PAIGE HAS PROVEN HERSELF UNWORTHY TO THE LAST

  • Always in my fantasies of power I am the greatest second banana, the most lubricated Ed McMahon, the most obliging major-domo, the most accommodating wife and mistress, the most compliant Ariel ever to dance attendance; my success is that of indetection, of thoroughness, of careful attention, of self-mastery, of devotion

  • Paige should have stayed on that train because the best imaginable future for her is to become as much like her mother as possible

  • The same is not true for me but I would recognize the difference in our positions in her place

  • The strength required to become a perfect copy of your mother is the same as the strength required to repudiate your mother if repudiation becomes morally and spiritually necessary

  • Lately I have taken to going on long walks, listening to my mother’s favorite songs, and thinking about how angry I am with my mother

  • When I think about my own parents, my fantasies are not fantasies of compliance or efficiency

  • “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child” is a line I always think of as coming from the Bible, but is actually from King Lear

  • Sometimes I imagine my parents saying this to each other and imagining this makes me angry

  • I wonder if I imagine new things that may not have happened at all in order to make myself angry again when I can feel my old anger wearing out and growing exhausted

  • Tony Soprano is not very much like my father

  • Keri Russell is only in some ways like my mother

  • One thing I appreciate about Tony Soprano is his conspicuous brutality

  • I wonder if my parents think of me primarily as a failed daughter or a failed son

  • One thing I appreciate about Keri Russell is her conspicuous coldness

  • King Lear is based on the stock characters from commedia dell’arte, the theater genre populated with masked “types” that ushered in the advent of actresses in Europe

  • The stock characters of the commedia include foolish old men and devious servants

  • Bad daughters are devious servants

  • “Il Dottore walks with his chest up, knees bent, and with a bouncy movement, taking small steps”

  • All of King Lear’s lines should therefore be delivered from a small trampoline

  • Picture King Lear being played from a small trampoline

  • It’s funny, isn’t it?

  • This is called commedia transmascullina, and “The Americans” is largely based on it