I am not a believer in fate, but there's something awfully disconcerting about the fact that Covert Affairs ended with Annie finally getting her hands on a CIA-sanctioned firearm the same week I'm called upon to fill in for your regular weekly critic, Dan Forcella. In fact, I'm a little giddy about it.
Not giddy enough, however, to overlook a few things I just didn't enjoy about "Horse to Water."
As far as plots go, this wasn't one of the sexier outings the show has had this season. I much prefer the international missions when Annie gets sent abroad, but I suppose we can't have the European romanticism every week. Be that as it may, I was fairly well taken by this story of an imprisoned former CIA analyst (the under-used Bruce Davison) pulling strings on the outside via one of his daughters - until they made it about Annie's relationship with her own sister.
At first, I liked that Annie and Danielle seemed to be mending fences after weeks of strained interaction, even enjoying a laugh or two. Then Annie's struggle with her involvement with the CIA affecting her ability to connect with her own sister suddenly hampered her ability to take on a case which required her to, what? Try and drive a wedge between two sisters, the daughters of the aforementioned analyst.
Are such distinct parallels really necessary? We get it! Annie has sibling issues, and it's eating away at her, but life is rarely - if ever - that coincidental. Perhaps I'm just growing weary of other shows which conveniently make the mission of the week somehow mirror what is going on in the personal lives of its characters (I'm looking through a wormhole at you, Fringe), but it doesn't always have to come full circle like this. Joan's assertion that this is what made Annie the best operative for the job didn't make it less bothersome. I felt like one of those horses and someone had shoved a bit into my mouth, trying to forcibly drag me to the point.
Sibling angst aside, the second Grace added the part about "banana cream pie," I knew it was a code to warn BeBe to run. Maybe I've seen too many spy movies, but a random comment like that appended to a voicemail was a dead giveaway and was actually a bit of a disappointment. I much prefer twists when I don't see them coming.
The little chat between Jai and Auggie at the bar was unnerving, and provided me with even more reason to dislike Jai. He's up to something, and his little move at the end in stealing some of Auggie's best assets was even further evidence of it, although I'm not certain if I really care at this point. I don't believe Sendhil Ramamurthy possesses the ability to successfully pull off what the writers are trying so obviously to make an ambiguous character. I don't revel in being unable to determine his allegiances the way I should. After every scene with him, I just feel like I had a conversation with a particularly shady car salesman. I think that if they'd make him choose a side and play one path or the other (preferably bad!) I would be more invested and likely to embrace the character - as long as he's not trying to hit on Annie again!
What I did love, and what I've gradually come to learn are what really propel this series, are the tiny little moments between some of the core characters which give us insight into their backgrounds and personalities.
I enjoyed getting a glimpse, however small, of Annie and Danielle's life growing up. Something happened, evidently on the part of their father, which caused a familial rift. That explains Danielle's reactions to learning that her own sister had deceived her, despite her good intentions. Danielle and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Annie, have more baggage than I realized, and I'm hoping this is something they are able to explore in more depth in season three.
My favorite scenes were between Joan and Annie, in the office and then later at the pub. While most people are taken with the Annie/Auggie dynamic, Annie's interactions with Joan are rapidly becoming my favorite. Joan is Annie 10 years ago. She's tough, yet tactful. Forceful, yet sympathetic. Joan never coddles Annie, but always knows exactly what it takes to draw out Annie's courage and best qualities. She's quickly becoming a stabilizing influence in Annie's life, which is going to enable Annie to go much farther in her career as long as she continues to pay attention.
And come on, just how superb is Kari Matchett in the role?
Now that you've heard my thoughts, what about you? What was your reaction to the week's mission? Do you like where they're taking Jai's character? Are you as excited as I am that Annie finally got her gun? Let us know in the comments below!
Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.