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Covert Affairs Review: Bringing The A-Game

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After tonight, James Bond's got nothing on Annie Walker.

In what may just be the best episode of the series to date, "Bang and Blame" brought everything to the table and then some. A true undercover mission! Intrigue! Romance! Action! Humor! Jai with a pulse! Shirtless Auggie! GUNS!

Back on The Farm

Unlike last week's rather weak intro leading into the opening credits, Annie's meeting with Joan and Auggie outside the hospital to which they had somehow tracked her was the perfect prelude to the excitement that would come later. Once Annie uttered the words "I'm in" and the theme song started, I was right there on the edge of my seat alongside her.

For the first time since the series began, Annie Walker felt like a real spy.

The best thing about her mission this time out - a real mission, not some overseas babysitting expedition - was that the stakes involved were personal. Failure to use her instincts and carefully honed skills with perfect precision would have resulted in Annie being burned, her future at the CIA lost forever. That provided the basis for a story with some teeth.

Even more fitting was that Annie was a cadet not so long ago herself and the idea of someone tearing the rug out from under these young people who were just starting to forge a life for themselves hit a little close to home, which made the mission all the more meaningful to her.

It also gave us a chance to see Annie in a place she once excelled. Since her time with the DPD, she's fared well enough, but there's always still a hint of reservation in her step. At The Farm, though, she was the top gun in her class, and going back there to solve a mystery on her turf showcased a more confident, capable Annie and underscored why she earned her early position alongside Joan and Auggie.

For as much as I've ragged on Annie's lack of firepower, I couldn't have been more pleased when she showed up the other cadets by opting for the map instead of taking her pick from the displayed arsenal. As Gaskin indicated, in true clandestine operations, spies rely more on their soft skills to accomplish the mission, something at which Annie has proven herself more than adept. Physical confrontation, whether by firearms or fisticuffs, she can handle, but she uses it only as a means of last resort.

The resolution to the mystery of the leak probably wasn't as strong as it could have been, what with the feeble explanation of Gaskin's late night trips (babies, really?) and the loose reasoning for Corey's betrayal, but everything else worked so well, quibbling over minor details just doesn't seem right - especially when it delivered an airplane fight between Annie and Corey that carried over into a thrilling parajumping freefall.

It's impossible not to be fascinated by the Annie and Auggie dynamic. These two, if not destined to be together romantically, are developing a symbiotic relationship on some level, learning to need and rely on each other more and more, which I stated last week is something this show has lacked. It's just icing on the cake that this growing central relationship is portrayed so deftly by such charming and polarizing actors as Perabo and Gorham, who have an immeasurable chemistry.

During the cocktail party exercise, Auggie's coded relay of instructions to Annie on how to get to Gaskins office was so slick, it felt like it was ripped straight out of the pages of a spy novel. How Auggie managed to save Annie's cover was also amusing, as it seems someone there on the Affairs set just can't get enough of Chris Gorham without a shirt. No doubt his many female fans are likewise appreciative.

Jai even had a moment of welcome gravity, albeit brief, where he seemed to be leveling some type of subtle threat against Arthur through Joan. It's beginning to feel like the apple doesn't fall as far from the tree as one might have hoped where Jai is concerned. It will be interesting to see where Jai's story takes him once it begins to kick into full gear.

Getting back to Arthur's political woes, which as of yet hasn't yielded too much new information, seems to have put him in the doghouse. Taking the same advice from the the ex-wife that you already rejected from the current Mrs. Campbell doesn't exactly seem like a move the head of a prime division of the Central Intelligence Agency should make. It might not get Arthur killed, but it sure may land him back on the couch for a while.

It seems Annie has a new potential love interest in Dr. Weiss, and I already like him more than Ben. He has a great sense of humor, he's good with kids and he's a big fan of having dessert with dinner. The one down side? The doctor's without borders thing means he, too, might conceivably dash away in the middle of the night to some unknown destination to tackle some international emergency. Annie might be best served finding herself someone who prefers sticking a little closer to home.

At least for this week, it appears my concerns that Covert Affairs was heading into a sophomore slump have been allayed. I thoroughly enjoyed Annie's trip back to The Farm, and hope that this is the level of quality we can expect throughout the rest of the season.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (50 Votes)

Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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Fortyseven

I agree with the review. It was nice to see Annie graduate. Gaskin was acted well. Gideon was funny.

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I think this was a great episode. The story held together for me, especially the explanation of why Gaskin was doing what he was going. Made perfect sense to me. I also liked her grabbing the map and getting out of the building in stealth mode. She's willing to "kick a little" when she has to, and sometimes I think she needs to follow through more (the guy that shot Ben was the guy she fought with in the last episode - if ever there was a lesson in making sure the assailant was out of commission it was there, but missed apparently by Annie - it should have caused her to do some introspection at least). The civillian doctor boyfriend (?), who is part of doctors with out borders, could, at least hypothetically, run into Annie when she is on a mission in a country where a disaster has just occurred or occurrs during a mission. That just might make for a real nail biting episode with a lot fo issues for Annie. It could, in fact, make a two episode story, with a credible ending that left them going their seperate ways an episode or two later. I often think of ways Annie could have issues at home (her sister's house) that lead to character development. If for example, there was a home invasion, and Annie saves the family using her improvisational and physical skills. Or she comes home showing the bruises that would accompany being in some of the altercations she's been in. She really needs to bruise and bleed like a normal person. I'd really like to see her secret revealed to her sister, if it ever is, in a way that builds Annie up in her older sister's eyes, and brings them closer. The relationship between Annie and her sister is a feature of the show that could be showcased a bit more - besides, Anne Dudek is such a good acress, she deserves more screen time if it can be made to fit the story (which I admit isn't easy). There is also a whole new world to explore in Annie's family and upbringing. Was her dad a Marine sniper? What did he do in the Military? Their mom? Apparently the older sister is almost a mother figure to Annie, so maybe the parents aren't alive any more? Is there a story there? Fitch

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thanks,maka. cleared up some confusion. and michael,agree that scott is definitely sketchy. drive 1 1/2 hours down to williamburg to see annie. way too fast.

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I agree with KCG Also anyone eles find the Doctor a little odd like he not who he say he is

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RE: The doc The doc may be Doctors Without Borders, but Annie's CIA. Which means that she may, on occasion, be forced to dash away in the middle of the night to address some kind of international emergency. Only her default cover involves art, which explains much less for those not read in like the doc. And here's the thing about the Embassy tactical course. While avoiding contact is a good idea, if there are baddies already inside the embassy, every employee on that roster is already on the local government's s**t list. Which means your cover, as an official officer, is already blown. Although walking down the middle of a hallway firing an assault rifle on full auto is a great way to get shot, you'd think.

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unlike the reviewer,we have enjoyed all three episodes. learned something new every week. the instructor,roy gaskin was a former undercover field operative who put his personal life on hold. now he & his wife are desperately trying to play catch up. parallel lives: annie is a security threat to ben. probably he's in deep cover(?infiltrated that arms dealer's organization mentioned last season). to see her would blow his mission. makes sense. he's sacrificing everything for the job,as roy did. not what annie's realizing she wants. thank-you matt & chris

Covert Affairs Season 2 Episode 3 Quotes

How did you know I was here? Are you tracking my cell phone signal? You know what, I don't want to know. It'll just lead to more questions.

Annie

Dr. Weiss: I'm Dr. Weiss, head-bumping specialist.
Annie: I'm Annie Walker. Derelict babysitter.

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