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1-8: "Mutually Assured Destruction" 2013.03.20


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#181

Hal25

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Posted Apr 3, 2013 @ 3:59 PM

Granny is getting her claws into Elizabeth by being both "sister" and something of a "mother". I hope Elizabeth wakes up to her manipulations soon.


For someone so strong-willed, I’m a little surprised Elizabeth doesn’t push back more against Grannie, similar to how she does with Philip. She and Grannie may share the same level of allegiance to the Motherland, but that doesn’t necessarily make them allies.

She comes across to me more like older sister or mentor than mother. I definitely felt a fatherly vibe when Elizabeth met with Zhukov, like he’d been her supervisor when she was still young and impressionable and she’d formed a pseudo-attachment to him in that way given the absence of her own father. She doesn’t seem to react to Grannie with the same… I dunno, softness?

Loved the hilarious sex scenes with Martha although I also want Martha to disappear. Too much to hope that Chris is a serial killer?


Martha is a piece of work. I remind myself that eventually she’s either going to get sick of “Clark” and dump him (unlikely), or want their “relationship” to keep progressing and then he’ll be forced to end it. Interestingly I read some of the real KGB agents in West Germany (I think) went so far as to marry the secretaries of high-powered men in order to gain more access and keep the information flowing. Let’s hope the show doesn’t go there though.
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#182

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Posted Apr 3, 2013 @ 5:05 PM

For me, that necklace Philip gave to Martha is a big clue that their partnership wasn't always stuck in a static deep freeze. That necklace meant something to both of them. Not just Philip. Maybe it commemorated the birth of one of their children? That's why you could feel the aggression and wince when she sacrificed it as an anger-play.


Exactly. That necklace means something to both of them. Phillip's irritation when he yanked it off Martha's neck and threw it away showed how much it bothered him that she was wearing it, and HE had given it to her.


And it's especially sad about Irina too, that she either lied to him back then or lied to him now. The only he can be sure of is that she too is a liar who he can't trust. He doesn't connect with the KGB any more. Elizabeth is it. Of course he'd never tell the truth and risk losing that.


Ever since Phillip said, "Nothing happened" I've felt so sad for him! On the surface it was a straight-out lie. He had sex with Irina. However, there was so much more to it than that. A lot happened, and yet nothing happened. So much happened that he needed to tell Elizabeth, to share with someone who could understand: His feelings about seeing Irina again, her story that they had a child, his suspicions (and maybe ultimately conviction) that the child never existed, his questioning if his relationship with Irina was ever "real" or if only his feelings were. "Nothing" happened, as in he realized he no longer had feelings for Irina so their sex actually meant nothing to him, did not awaken his passion for her, and was no threat to his love for Elizabeth. So he's stuck with lying when he wants to be honest. So sad!
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#183

thatguy01

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Posted Apr 3, 2013 @ 5:17 PM

She doesn’t seem to react to Grannie with the same… I dunno, softness?


Apparently, Granny has been dropped on them to stir shit up. She's taken steps to upset what was probably a relatively comfortable routine.

AFAIK, Zhukov wasn't their main contact. That was "Gabriel."

So he's stuck with lying when he wants to be honest. So sad!


I remember having a similar conversation with a good female friend when I was in college. She brought up the possibility of a romantic relationship. I told her about this other female friend I was really interested in. That was our last conversation.
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#184

Hal25

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Posted Apr 3, 2013 @ 6:35 PM

For me, that necklace Philip gave to Martha is a big clue that their partnership wasn't always stuck in a static deep freeze. That necklace meant something to both of them. Not just Philip. Maybe it commemorated the birth of one of their children? That's why you could feel the aggression and wince when she sacrificed it as an anger-play.


I wondered if the necklace had been a gift at some point between the pilot and that episode. I also felt that their reactions gave away that it had special meaning to both of them. While I'm sure it might've had meaning for Philip if it'd been gifted before, I'm less certain about Elizabeth. I could almost imagine maybe as a special gift during those weeks when things were happy, or maybe for Valentine's Day, since that was about the right time period.

I also was curious if the statement he made to Martha when he had to regift it to her might've been the same thing he intended for Elizabeth. He looked pained as he said it.

"Nothing" happened, as in he realized he no longer had feelings for Irina so their sex actually meant nothing to him, did not awaken his passion for her, and was no threat to his love for Elizabeth. So he's stuck with lying when he wants to be honest. So sad!


Yes, I could imagine him justifying it to himself exactly that way. And even though it ultimately was a lie (not debating that), there is truth to this too, and the more important question of whether or not he was still in love with Irina.
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#185

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Posted Apr 4, 2013 @ 10:32 AM

Martha is a piece of work. I remind myself that eventually she’s either going to get sick of “Clark” and dump him (unlikely), or want their “relationship” to keep progressing and then he’ll be forced to end it. Interestingly I read some of the real KGB agents in West Germany (I think) went so far as to marry the secretaries of high-powered men in order to gain more access and keep the information flowing. Let’s hope the show doesn’t go there though.


I can't agree more. If the relationship with Clarke doesn't go anywhere it could put her into a spin. I think what we saw in the next epi shows this relationship won't end well. This has reprecussions for all characters including Gaad not realizing he had a mole or spy in his own office. Martha will also face reprecussions for her relationship with 'Clarke' once his description is made public.
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#186

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Posted Apr 9, 2013 @ 11:46 PM

That was one of the better recaps. Neat seeing Martha talk (and credit to the actress for another convincing accent--like Matthew Rhys, I never would've guessed she wasn't really American.) I also enjoyed Keri Russell talking about where Elizabeth is at this point--it's always interesting to look back after a week of discussion and theories and see which of our guesses hit close to the mark.

I enjoyed it, too, but even Keri Russell can be wrong--as she was when she described the assassin as "going rogue." He wasn't going rogue--he was carrying out the mission he was given. (But maybe she understood that and was using shorthand.)
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#187

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 1:01 PM

While it was compelling drama, I did find this episode somewhat far fetched. Would the KGB really be so amateurish as to hire an assassin they knew nothing about, had no abort code and had no way of contacting? It did strike me as being a bit Chief Wiggum ("Suspect is driving a...car of some kind. Suspect is hatless, repeat, hatless...") that all they could say was that the assassin was a white male. Well, gee, that only leaves 100 million possible suspects!

 

Did like to see that Philip and Elizabeth do work well together. They got a couple of great teamwork moments - firstly when Philip took down the gunrunner's kid (now that's keeping it in the family!) and then when Elizabeth appeared at the window to get the bomber. And did the bomber "Red Mist"? That's a remarkably quiet bomb for such a powerful explosion.

 

 

Sister Magpie One other note in the ep--Did anyone ask "do you have protection?"

 

 

Well AIDS may not have been in the public consciousness but syphilis (and other STDs) did exist. Besides, I can see Philip generally better about "protection" because it would probably be a bad idea for him to be chased by ex-contacts for child support. A snooping private eye could be just as dangerous to Philizabeth as their FBI neighbour.

 

 

Shura Nina is so a double agent now even if she wasn't before.

 

 

ITA. Nina had previously been (understandably) terrified of being found out and wanting to know when she'd be extracted. Suddenly, she was all smiles. Now granted, she'd be relieved following her interview with the Rezident that she wasn't on a one way trip to Siberia, but it did seem somewhat unbelievable that she'd be so happy.

 

 

Haleth I'd like to see Philip and Stan get an apartment together while they try to repair their marriages. Hilarity ensues.

 

 

"Oh, we're out of milk - I'll just nip down to the shops."

[Hours later]

"Why did it take you two hours? And why do you have blood on your hands?"

"I ran over a cat"

"I guess that explains it!"

...It just writes itself!


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#188

Sister Magpie

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 1:26 PM

 

Well AIDS may not have been in the public consciousness but syphilis (and other STDs) did exist. Besides, I can see Philip generally better about "protection" because it would probably be a bad idea for him to be chased by ex-contacts for child support.

 

 

But would he call it "protection?" That expression seems completely tied to AIDS to me. I don't think anybody in 1981 would have used it to mean a condom. I think there's even a joke in Austin Powers where someone asks him if he has protection and he pulls out a gun.

 

 

 

"Oh, we're out of milk - I'll just nip down to the shops."

[Hours later]

"Why did it take you two hours? And why do you have blood on your hands?"

"I ran over a cat"

"I guess that explains it!"

...It just writes itself!

 

 

LOL! At the very least they need to have an episode where they spend a weekend together or something. I love how so many of their interactions start with Philip hiding behind a door with a gun. That would go in the opening credits.


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#189

Hal25

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 1:48 PM

Besides, I can see Philip generally better about "protection" because it would probably be a bad idea for him to be chased by ex-contacts for child support. A snooping private eye could be just as dangerous to Philizabeth as their FBI neighbour.

 

Yeah, I had thought about that too. Elizabeth, I think, would just stay on the pill, since she would likely encounter male targets unwilling to use a condom. She would seek that control just as part of her personality. Philip, I would think would always use protection, if not have gotten sterilized after they were done having kids. Leaving a trail of illegitimate children and women with a reason to hunt for you seems like sloppy spy work, not to mention it would probably dry up using that source in the future. From some of what we've seen with sources like Annaliese, it seems they keep the honeytraps with him going long-term. "Scott" the Swedish spy would be a great cover, since he could just pop by intermittently when he needed to get information, but never have to make any sort of commitment or be available to her. That could keep going for years, easily, and be a good source of information.

 

This in addition to the fact that it clearly bothered Philip greatly to think he'd (maybe, maybe not) had a son with Irina he'd had no involvement with or knowledge of. I can't imagine he'd be comfortable with the idea of abandoning a string of children with various sources.


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#190

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 3:34 PM

But would he call it "protection?" That expression seems completely tied to AIDS to me. I don't think anybody in 1981 would have used it to mean a condom.

 

Until the Griswold decision in 1965, US states could prohibit distribution of contraceptives per se.  Condoms had been, and continued to be, sold on the basis of preventing transmission of diseases.  In particular, the US military distributed condoms to male military members ;-) and promoted their use among enlisted men on the basis of military preparedness.  



Philip's personal experience wasn't in the US military, but the USSR distributed condoms to its military for disease prevention, though the USSR's laws on contraception and abortion changed over the years.


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#191

Sister Magpie

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 4:04 PM

 

Until the Griswold decision in 1965, US states could prohibit distribution of contraceptives per se.  Condoms had been, and continued to be, sold on the basis of preventing transmission of diseases.  In particular, the US military distributed condoms to male military members ;-) and promoted their use among enlisted men on the basis of military preparedness.  

 

 

 

I'm not talking about whether a man or woman in 1981 would think of condoms as preventing venereal disease. I'm saying that "do you have protection?" as a phrase used to mean "Do you have a condom to put on before we have sex?" does not seem like it was an expression you'd hear in 1981. I'm not doubting that Martha would ask Clark if he had a condom, especially if she wasn't--but even if she was--on the pill. I'm saying I think she would ask him if he had a rubber or something rather than use the expression "Do you have protection?" Just as I don't think, had the two of them had sex without using a condom, she would have described them as having had "unprotected sex."

 

Are there any movies or books from 1981 or earlier where the phrase shows up used that way? In the two movies from the 70s I can think of off the top of my head that include this sort of question, one has the girl say "You got something?" and the other has the guy say "You fixed?" (He means is she on the pill etc. so they don't even suggest him having a condom.) 


Edited by Sister Magpie, Jul 21, 2013 @ 4:05 PM.

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#192

John Potts

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 4:32 PM

Actually, what impressed me about Philip was that he managed to (apparently) get a condom on and mere seconds later was going at it with Martha. But although I don't have a very clear memory of 1981 (and being 9 at the time), I have my doubts that asking "Do you have protection?" would equate to "Do you have a condom?"

 

Oh and I forgot to mention - Claudia, what a bitch.  I'm convinced that she only told Elizabeth about Philip's extra curricular activities to break them up and punish them for her beating two episodes ago.


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#193

Hal25

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 5:08 PM

Oh and I forgot to mention - Claudia, what a bitch.  I'm convinced that she only told Elizabeth about Philip's extra curricular activities to break them up and punish them for her beating two episodes ago.

 

Yup. She's quite the puppet-master to serve her own purposes. I kind of always assumed she'd also set Philip up with Irina to make the ONS happen in the first place. Irina was probably chosen because of her ability to speak Polish, but it's too "convenient" that after twenty years of not seeing each other even once, he was the agent chosen to work with her. Surely the KGB has people based in New York, and all the other major cities along the eastern seaboard too.

 

Actually, what impressed me about Philip was that he managed to (apparently) get a condom on and mere seconds later was going at it with Martha.

 

What can we say... he's a pro.


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#194

bluedevilblue

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 8:34 PM

Oh and I forgot to mention - Claudia, what a bitch.  I'm convinced that she only told Elizabeth about Philip's extra curricular activities to break them up and punish them for her beating two episodes ago.

 

I think that may have just been a side benefit.  I would think that she'd also not to want them to get too cozy as their handler.  She's made it clear that she doesn't entirely believe in Phillip's commitment to the motherland (nor should she), but I don't think she doubts Elizabeth's (at least not any more than she does anyone else's).  As a result, I'd think you wouldn't want Elizabeth getting too close to Phillip - it could test her allegiance in ways that the KGB would rather not.  Right now, Elizabeth is there to keep Phillip in line, but what happens if he's really her husband?  Does she keep him in line or does he cause her to stray?  Also, I would think there's just too much danger in their American lives becoming "real" - the calculus regarding the dangers change.  That's already true to some degree because of the kids, but a real marriage just adds to it.

 

Having said that, this overall plan is just f'ing stupid on the part of the KGB.  Who would take such an assignment?  Broken people, that's who.  Then you not only pair them up, but get them to have kids?  So you've got two broken people stranded together, isolated, and then bound together through their children, a bind that exists for them nowhere else.  I'm surprised they get any loyalty at all.


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#195

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 9:09 PM

20 year olds make decisions without really knowing the consequences.  Nadezhda was super patriotic and a compulsive achiever; Mischa was sort of adventurous and got fixed up with a pretty girl in the bargain.  The assignment included nice sounding titles in an important government agency.  


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#196

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 9:35 PM

 

20 year olds make decisions without really knowing the consequences.  Nadezhda was super patriotic and a compulsive achiever; Mischa was sort of adventurous and got fixed up with a pretty girl in the bargain.  The assignment included nice sounding titles in an important government agency.  

 

 

 

Yeah, it seems like this is a pretty prestigious assignment. I don't think the people would have to be broken. I don't know about Philip but Nadezhda just wanted to serve her country from an early age. To some extent everyone who's a spy is ready to spend their lives lying.


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#197

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Posted Jul 21, 2013 @ 9:44 PM

20 year olds make decisions without really knowing the consequences.  Nadezhda was super patriotic and a compulsive achiever; Mischa was sort of adventurous and got fixed up with a pretty girl in the bargain.  The assignment included nice sounding titles in an important government agency.

 

Absolutely, 20-year-olds don't think things through in quite the same way. I agree on Elizabeth. Philip, not as convinced about his motivations, although I do agree he is adventurous and probably didn't think the deal was half bad if he got a cute wife and a cushy life in America. He blooms where planted.

 

But I do think there may be something deeper there with him. After all, he had a pretty girl there for him back home too. Even from the flashbacks early on it's clear he wasn't a zealot like Elizabeth. I could kind of see him being broken in some way, or having gotten into it to escape bad circumstances. Elizabeth's patriotism explains why she would take such an assignment--leaving behind a mother she loves and never seeing her country again. But if Philip doesn't have that (patriotism) driving him, there has to be something deeper, IMHO, or else maybe he didn't have anything to leave behind so it wouldn't be a consideration.


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#198

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Posted Jul 22, 2013 @ 9:26 AM

I was thinking of the recruiting scene in Men In Black.

 

 

James Edwards: Maybe you already answered this, but, why exactly are we here?

Zed: [noticing a recruit raising his hand] Son?

Second Lieutenent Jake Jenson: Second Lieutenant, Jake Jenson. West Point. Graduate with honors. We're here because you are looking for the best of the best of the best, sir!

[throws Edwards a contemptible glance]

[Edwards laughs]

Zed: What's so funny, Edwards?

James Edwards: Your boy Captain America over here! "Best of the best of the best, sir!" "With honors." Yeah, he's just really excited and he has no clue why we're here.

 


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#199

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Posted Jul 22, 2013 @ 10:56 AM

I dunno. It may be "prestigious"', but it also means being willing to literally erase who you have been your entire life. That it's likely you may never see your family, friends, home again. That you're willing to trade real relationships for, essentially, fake ones. I think most people who sign up to do that would be, at the very least immature, and most likely broken in some way. People who fill their lives with ideology do so, in my experience, because they have nothing else. Which is not to say that healthy people can't have strong beliefs or sacrifice for those beliefs, but the kind of sacrifice Directorate S asks for, I think, is one few people would be willing to make. Similarly, people who have nothing but ideology, are missing something important, in my experience. Frankly, in some ways, it's easier to just die than to do what is asked of Phillip and Elizabeth. And, yes, I think in key ways Phillip and Elizabeth have been shown to have been not only young, but broken when they came to the US.
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#200

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Posted Jul 22, 2013 @ 11:15 AM

And, yes, I think in key ways Phillip and Elizabeth have been shown to have been not only young, but broken when they came to the US. 

 

Maybe, but probably not so broken that there aren't people in the general population just as bad off. With Philip, I agree with Hal25, we just don't know, but he could very easily have some reason to be excited by the idea of shedding his entire identity for a different one. Elizabeth, if she was broken, was possibly that way from a very young age when she started molding herself into the perfect Soviet. It's not clear if she became so passionate about her ideology because of some trauma in her life or if that just excited her more than people as a teenager. Philip seemed pretty normal in his flashbacks. 

 

I believe that real life people have said that sleeper assignments were often a perk given to people with friends in high places because living outside the Soviet Union was pretty cushy. I imagine those people were still able to keep some contact with their past, though.

 

Yet despite this odd part of their personality, they're good parents that have provided a home life that's happier and more stable than other people who would never take an assignment like this, so it's hard to tell how bad it. 


Edited by Sister Magpie, Jul 22, 2013 @ 12:02 PM.

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#201

Hal25

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Posted Jul 22, 2013 @ 11:38 AM

I dunno. It may be "prestigious"', but it also means being willing to literally erase who you have been your entire life. That it's likely you may never see your family, friends, home again. That you're willing to trade real relationships for, essentially, fake ones. I think most people who sign up to do that would be, at the very least immature, and most likely broken in some way.

 

Like, one theory SisterMagpie and I have tossed about is that Philip might've either grown up as an orphan, or lost his family at some point along the way. That could've put him into a position where he wouldn't have had much of anything to give up/leave behind. In that scenario, if he was a young man of 18, no connections or support system, and suddenly discovered he was pretty good at the whole spy thing, I could see why the prospect of America would seem like an opportunity, as well as something he could genuinely be good at. He adapts wherever he is and is very pragmatic, so I could see him weighing his options and thinking the sleeper thing (something he's naturally a whiz at in a cushy assignment country) would be a much better choice than some factory job and being constantly hungry back in the USSR. Especially at 18 when maybe he wasn't necessarily at a stage of asking existential questions about living a lie, having children as cover, etc. Of course, this is all speculation. We know so little about Philip that lots of theories could fit.

 

People who fill their lives with ideology do so, in my experience, because they have nothing else.

 

Elizabeth, I feel is broken emotionally in a way, but that in my mind stems more from the rape and the aftermath of having all her ability to choose taken from her by the KGB (like being forced to marry Philip, etc.) Like, I didn't get the sense in flashbacks that she was broken as a child, or that some big change occurred at some point, though I guess it could have and maybe we find that out later. She has a warm, loving relationship with her mother. She cared for and was cared by Zhukov in a father/daughter sort of way. Most of her emotional problems seem to be tied to forming a real relationship where people can poke and prod at her. Like having a real romantic relationship as opposed to a fake-mission one, or a never-complete affair one, and pulling the pieces of herself together into something that feels like "the truth" to her. Like she has a hard time being a mother because she has to lie to Henry and Paige about everything, but has no problem being a daughter. So that's what gives me the sense that maybe she was pretty headstrong and a little communist in training as a younger girl, but that the rape messed other things up and she kind of coped with it by pushing feelings aside and throwing herself even harder towards the cause. Just a theory.

 

The sense I got was that her father having died before she knew him instilled a strong sense of patriotism in her. Her mother working for the local party committee did the same. They had very little, which taught her to work hard and value what she had. This seems like the perfect scenario to create a very ideological young woman, who would seek to follow in her parents' footsteps.


Edited by Hal25, Jul 22, 2013 @ 11:59 AM.

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#202

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Posted Jul 23, 2013 @ 7:44 AM

To be clear, when I said broken, I didn't mean in either an unfixable way or a non-functional way.  Frankly, I think probably 50% of the population is broken.  We do kind of crappy things to our children on a regular basis. 

 

One of the things I think haunts a lot of the characters - and I think the show is good at weaving this in - is WWII, generally, and Stalingrad, in particular.  It does not surprise me that some of the most loyal persons have ties to the Soviet experience in Stalingrad.  I think that's one of the ways the show gets the Russians right.  Those events would be central for people born when these folks were.


Edited by bluedevilblue, Jul 23, 2013 @ 7:46 AM.

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#203

Hal25

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Posted Jul 23, 2013 @ 11:10 AM

To be clear, when I said broken, I didn't mean in either an unfixable way or a non-functional way.  Frankly, I think probably 50% of the population is broken.  We do kind of crappy things to our children on a regular basis.

 

Oh absolutely, I know what you're saying. It's interesting for me to think about how much of what we see with Philip and Elizabeth is based on childhood, how much is based on their time in training, and what has come from their time together in the US. I think one of my favorite aspects of these characters is that they are broken in interesting ways, yet trying to fix it, and constantly evolving. Keeps the show fascinating to watch.


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#204

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Posted Jul 24, 2013 @ 12:07 AM

Are there any movies or books from 1981 or earlier where the phrase shows up used that way?

 

From the Oxford English Dictionary, "protection, n.": measures taken to prevent contraception or (esp. more recently) sexually transmitted infection during sexual activity, spec. by the use of a condom.

[Historical usage]: 1960[:]   L. Rainwater, And Poor get Children iii. 31   "We use protection, just a rubber. I tell you frankly, I'd like a diaphragm but I'm just too embarrassed to go get one."

 

There you go.  Actual documentary evidence that the term "protection" was used to refer to contraception prior to 1981.

 

As for "it is what it is," this is a phrase that was historically endemic to philosophical discussions, particularly phenomenology and existentialism.  The phrase occurs in the writings of Augustine and Plato.  It appears in Satre.  It appears in pre-1980 novels and literature.  Do a Google book search, if you want evidence. Language does get used in venues other than television and movies. 

 

Historical nit-pick all you want, but please, check your facts first.


Edited by AnnAskew, Jul 24, 2013 @ 12:16 AM.

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#205

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Posted Jul 24, 2013 @ 9:04 AM

Historical nit-pick all you want, but please, check your facts first.

 

This is a discussion forum. The questions were raised out of genuine curiosity. Too bad an answer that could've added to more thoughtful discussion on a show we all enjoy was delivered so gracelessly.


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#206

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Posted Jul 24, 2013 @ 10:41 AM

Actual documentary evidence that the term "protection" was used to refer to contraception prior to 1981.

 

 

That wasn't actually my question. It was whether "Do you have protection?" would really have been the standard, colloquial way a woman would ask a guy if she had a condom in 1981, as opposed to later in the 80s and beyond when it's become the standard way to ask it. I didn't mean to imply that I didn't know that "protection" could ever have meant birth control or anti-VD before AIDS. I don't mean to say I'm right and anyone who disagrees is wrong, I just feel like I'm for some reason incapable of communicating exactly what feels wrong to me in using the phrase pre-AIDS awareness.

 

Historical nit-pick all you want, but please, check your facts first.

 

I was asking for facts as a way of checking my facts. I could only, off the top of my head, remember two movies with two Americans having this same conversation. (Examples from Plato and Socrates would be irrelevant since they wouldn't even be in English, much less represent casual speech in America). The woman in the show made in 2013, when the phrase has become standard, just happens to use that phrase where the two people from before that time don't. If you look for that phrase in recent years you'd probably find thousands of examples of it with a quick Google search. Before that, not so much, even though the word with that definition existed.

 

But The Poor Get Children certainly is an example of a regular person using the word to refer to birth control in general in exactly the same way. Thanks.


Edited by Sister Magpie, Jul 24, 2013 @ 10:57 AM.

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