Covert Affairs Review: "South Bound Suarez"
“All roots. No walls.”
We learned a little something about Annie this week... and she learned a little something about her herself.
Over the last couple of episodes, we learned that Annie joined the CIA for the lifestyle it offered. A life free of intimacy and attachment, where it’s considered normal and expected to put up walls around yourself and not get close to anyone. A life where she can’t get hurt. She mentioned in the pilot that she “let down her guard” with Ben, but I was not clear on why her guard was initially up until this week’s episode.
Annie’s mission was to get close to a young Georgetown college student named Diego whose sister Julia was the mistress of powerful government official back home in Venezuela who is suspected of dirty dealings with some bad folks. As we see Annie playing a game of pickup soccer with Diego, we also see intercut images of an unknown man in Venezuela who is chased down by some thugs who eventually trap him in a car, strangle him and steal a medallion charm necklace he was wearing around his neck.
It wasn't obvious, to me anyway, who the man was at first. Later we find, he was an undercover CIA agent.
Once she feels she has his trust, Annie explains to Diego why she needs his help. She leaves him a card and says she needs an answer ASAP. As Annie leaves, Auggie, in a nice respite from his cave of fluorescence, takes a seat on the bench next to him.
Joan isn't too thrilled that Auggie went out into the field. She needs him safe and sound, and can't afford to have him hurt in the field. He's not field-rated anymore and needs to accept that. Easier said than done there, Joan. But something tells me the renewed interest in field work has more to do with Annie and her "kitten heels" than anything.
Annie gets sent on her first mission abroad to Venezula to be Diego's handler. As she's packing, Danielle comes in and asks about her trip and, upon seeing the shell bracelet Ben gave her sitting out on the bed, to also give Annie the "you've got to let it go" speech in regards to Ben. Annie quickly takes the bracelet and puts it in a box at her bedside. Out of sight, but not quite yet out of mind... or heart.
Annie and Diego get to Venezuela, where, upon arrival, Auggie tells them that their contact (the CIA operative from the opening sequence), to whom Annie was supposed to hand Diego over, has gone missing. This stirs a mild panic back home on how to best handle the situation, given that Annie is still so green. Ultimately the decision was to make it "Annie's show" with a couple of other agents nearby for backup. Was there any real question?
Once in Venezuela, Annie explains to Julia why she is there, but Julia doesn't believe Victor is the horrible man she claims he is, and has no desire to leave her lifelong home where she is so important in helping take care of the community.
It was during this discussion that we learn why Annie was so closed off before Ben. She tells of how constantly moving as a child of the military left her leaving behind those she loved, and she learned to “put walls around the emotions” by placing all the pictures of her friends in a box and burying it in the backyard so she could "let them go." As Annie tells Julia she’s got to let Victor go because there is no future with him, I can’t help but wonder if she’s trying to convince Julia of Victor, or herself of Ben.
Julia tells her “Don’t try to reason with love” to which Annie responds “Don’t get burned by it.” It happened to Annie, and now she’s a woman with unbreakable walls. This explains somewhat why she seems closed off even around her own family.
Finally she is able to eventually convince Julia to help her to, albeit reluctantly, acquire the information on the accounts that they need. She reasons that if Julia doesn't want to help prove him guilty, then help her try to prove his innocence. Of course, the inevitable snag - there's a key fob with a passcode that changes every minute required to access the accounts. And Victor has it on him at all times. Of COURSE he does.
Annie, Diego and Julia make a plan to steal the key fob, however Victor skewers the plan as he tells Annie he would like to accompany her on her business excursion, just the two of them. Annie plays it cool and excuses herself to the ladies room, followed by Julia. She tells Julia to go back to the bank and wait for her there. She'll get the fob and lose Victor and it will all be over soon.
Well - Victor has other plans. As he and Annie depart in a bright red Ferrari (nice!) you can sense his suspicion as he quizzes her further about her newly-minted position at the Smithsonian, and the purpose of her visit. He stops the car, and makes Annie drive extremely fast down a dangerous road, one that only a well-trained operative would be able to navigate. Annie tries to throw him off at first by feigning incompetence with a stick stift, and grinding the gears of the car. That poor car.
But ultimately, her training kicks in and she narrowly avoids hitting a blockade. That's proof enough for Victor who pulls a gun on her and tells her to get out of the car and wait for his comrades to come take her "away". Ah, but not so fast. As Annie goes to unbuckle her seat belt, she quickly unlatches Victor's instead, throws the car into gear and starts a tailspin, all the while punching and hitting Victor, who manages to get a shot in on Annie. She opens the car door and punches him out of the car, leaving him bleeding on the road as she speeds off to the bank.
Julia is surprised to see Annie bleeding, but still clings to the hope that Victor is clean. They quickly go to the "back room" to put the tracer on Victor's account, and bingo - the CIA determines there's dirty money in the account transaction history. Meanwhile Victor's men picked him up and have made it back to the bank.
Annie pulls the fire alarm and manages to get she and Julia out of the building and into an agent's car, while another agent picks up Diego, just before Victor has a chance to intercept.
Back on U.S. soil Julia is still mourning the loss of Victor, but Diego is sure she'll get over it in time. They will be departing the next day to places unknown to start their new life with new identities. As she’s talking to Auggie, who has amusingly re-joined Annie out in the field, he mentions how he thinks Joan envies Annie a little bit... as does he. He says he doesn’t buy the “time to move on” crap and “that every step forward starts with one foot firmly planted in the past.” This makes Annie wonder if Julia has actually started to move on or not.
She and Auggie go review Victor’s accounts again and find that he had been funnelling money to an account for Julia as well and she had accessed it as recently as the day before – while in the U.S. They surmise she has been in contact with Victor and their location has been compromised.
Back at the safehouse, Julia secretly steals an agent’s cell phone and excuses herself. Then we see Victor going through customs at the airport. Annie gets to the safehouse and finds that Julia has gone missing. She, the agent who was watching them and Diego go to where Julia was dropped off by a cab.
Julia meets up with Victor in a park and they get in a car together, where he has a henchman waiting to strangle her. The agent that was with Annie gets out of the car to go find Julia, and Diego gets out of the car, against Annie’s instruction, so she has to run after him. As Victor’s car takes off, Annie tackles Diego to keep him from getting run over, and the unnamed agent shoots a couple of well-aimed rounds to take out both the henchman and Victor. Julia descends into hysterics over Victor’s death. This is definitely a woman with NO walls.
Back home, Annie takes the shell bracelet back out of the box and places it on a picture frame next to her bed. Maybe she’s not quite ready to put those walls completely back up just yet.
I enjoyed this week’s episode a good deal, but would like to see more of Annie working undercover, and hope soon we start learning more about Auggie’s background, as well as more screen time for sister Danielle.