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The Americans

Sat Jun 29, 9.45-10.30pm, ITV

Series one, episode five
Everyone in ‘The Americans’ is working everyone else. Philip and Elizabeth. FBI mole Nina and her boss. Stan and his wife. New Soviet handler Claudia and her charges. And it’s mostly about sex – with the exception of the latter, thankfully. But tonight, cracks appear in the edifice as a KGB sympathiser in the Star Wars satellite programme wavers in isolation and despair.

This transitional episode spends a good amount of time establishing and undermining relationships or setting up rapidly resolved dilemmas – with some kind of ‘Mission Impossible’ shit in a garage for good measure. It inevitably lacks a little of the tension of ‘Homeland’ – the political endgame is predetermined, even as the personal circumstances shift – but ‘The Americans’ is still a terrific spy yarn and an intriguing examination of family dynamics. Although it’s getting to the point where we really need to see a bit of Cold War brutality from the West, before this show’s much vaunted ‘both sides of the story’ angle starts to look distinctly phoney.