First, I have to praise the show in general. In addition, to producing tense and exciting entertainment, it made the following difficult choices:
- It did not present the USSR as not so bad, or even as bad, but the US is just as bad, as would have been the fashion at the time. The threat was presented as real. The Soviet agents may have been likable characters, but their cause was never presented as just, or as one of a number of equally bad choices. Yes, the FBI did some shady things, but the entire premise of the Jennings's mission was evil, and the consequences were presented in a straightforward way.
- When the public (or prestige-drama watching public) mood shifted to a more anti-Russia place, the show did not fall into the trap of making itself "essential" or "timely" by adjusting the show to more closely mirror current events. Not every cultural artifact has to be a reminder that Trump Is Bad.
- It presented the father as the parent more emotionally connected to his children, and not blinded by ideology. Yes, Elizabeth was more "badass," particularly in the final seasons, but that didn't serve her or her family well until it was directed correctly. The stereotype is that men would be the ones blindly committed to ideology, and that women would be the ones considering what impact this is having on children. It was nice to see a show presenting that this is not always the case.
I also acknowledge that the showrunners had a very difficult task is presenting and resolving tension in a story we already knew the ending of, one way or another.
I think my main problem comes from the treatment of the character Stan Beeman.
Yes, it takes a certain amount of obliviousness to live across the street from undercover Soviet spies for five years before starting to suspect them. And his involvement with Nina was certainly a misstep. But he was never presented as a fool. He had attained a position at what must have been an elite team in the FBI, and had been presented as a valued and trusted member, brought in to consult even after moving to a different detail.
But when he finally concludes that his neighbors are all spies responsible for a trail of deaths, he confronts them alone in a parking garage??? From what we've seen of Elizabeth, I'm pretty sure she alone could have disarmed him by herself in no time. Letting them go was probably the best possible outcome of that encounter for Stan. (And if he didn't represent the Jenningses only possible connection with Henry, he would almost certainly be dead).
And then the show sentences him to a lifetime of uncertainty over whether his wife is also an undercover agent. It just seems that he's as smart or dumb as the plot requires. Which I find a bit disappointing.
In any case, that's just my opinion. Others seemed to like it.