I was deprived of the fifth season of the FX series, The Americans, for a long time until I found it on Amazon Prime. I have now watched the first four episodes of this the story of a Russian married couple living as spies, for the Kremlin, in America. The couple’s teenaged daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), is shaken and confused now that she knows what her parents do for a living, with Mom and Dad doing what they can to hide their occupational violence from the girl.

However dubious, here, some of the conduct and strategies of American and Russian operatives may be, Joe Weisberg‘s show is penetrating and compelling. A theme of the fifth season is the reality that powerful states such as the U.S. must struggle (or war) against failed or pathetic states. Think of Israel and Iran, or Israel and Saddam’s Iraq in 1981.

I like it that Weisberg has supplied The Americans with a fairly large number of characters. The focus is not too narrow. . . Most of these characters, incidentally, know how high the stakes are. Alarmingly high.