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Amazon’s unheralded spy dramedy returns for a second season.

Patriot Amazon
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

Chances are you’ve never heard of the Amazon series Patriot — much less realized that it’s currently in season two. It’s the epitome of under-the-radar, after going dormant for 18 months between seasons one and two and seemingly avoiding the limelight, despite boasting actors like Terry O’Quinn and Kurtwood Smith in its supporting cast.

But the incredibly dry, mordantly witty series deserves a look, if only for the way it depicts an American empire in an endless decline it can’t reverse.

Inspired more by the films of the Coen brothers than by other spy TV shows, Patriot tells the story of one man who has to take a pointless corporate job to provide cover for his spy missions and of the ways both his professions send him into a moral death spiral. It takes a few episodes to get into Patriot’s vibe, but once you do, it’ll settle to the bottom of your soul like silt.

“There’s much to appreciate in [creator and showrunner Steven] Conrad’s mastery of building tension toward ludicrous outcomes in some case, or punctuating stretches of relative calm with explosions of chaos and violence.” Melanie McFarland, Salon

Metacritic score: 80 out of 100

Where to watch: Patriot is streaming on Amazon Video.

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