SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the Covert Affairs season finale, stop reading now. We debriefed Christopher Gorham on the crucial episode for Auggie and Annie ‘shippers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Our first question about the finale, sir, is why was Auggie shirtless for that eye exam?
CHRISTOPHER GORHAM: [Laughs] You know, that was my question, too. When I first read the script, that was my first call to the boys, [creators Matt Corman and Chris Ord]. I was like, “Um, so this is an eye doctor, right?” And their answer was, “Well, it’s like a full physical exam that goes into this thing, apparently.”
So there’s more to the exam off-screen that we didn’t see.
Exactly, this is the conclusion of a thorough medical exam.
What does that final scene — Auggie gives Annie his car and tells her he’s heading to Eritrea to see Parker, right as Annie realizes she feels something for Auggie — mean for Annie and Auggie?
The amazing thing about what happens in that last scene, for me, is that you have, for the first time, one of these two characters, Annie and Auggie, opening the door to them getting together and maybe starting something. It’s really the first time either of them has taken a step in that direction. And because it’s Annie doing it, and Auggie can’t see her face and his head is somewhere else, he misses it. He completely misses it, and it’s like two ships passing in the night. I just loved how we use the reality of who he is to allow these two characters to have that moment, and allow Annie to be so completely vulnerable in front of him, and yet, the risk is somewhat taken away because he doesn’t catch it. And so while it’s kind of changed everything for her, it hasn’t changed anything for Auggie, because he doesn’t know that it happened. [Laughs] So going into season 3, it changes everything and nothing. It allows us to continue to let this relationship simmer, and it’s gonna change how that happens. As you know, if you’ve ever revealed yourself to someone who you care about, or if you’ve ever misunderstood a situation… I think Annie misunderstands where his head is when he gives her his car. She takes it as something different because she doesn’t know he’s been to the doctor, she doesn’t know that he’s really talking about his eyesight. In her head, she really wants to talk to him, and she’s feeling very much that she wants to be close to him. And in that moment, there is the opportunity for that to turn into something romantic, but it’s just missed.
Was there a moment in that scene that was particularly important to you?
The one moment that Piper [Perabo] and I were really specific about is the moment where Annie reached down and grabs Auggie’s hand. In fact, it was so subtle that it almost didn’t make it onto film because the camera department and the director didn’t notice we were doing it in rehearsal. [Laughs] As we got toward the last shot, I thought to myself, I haven’t seen the camera go down for that hand thing. I said to Piper, “Have you noticed?” She said, “No.” So we went to the director and said, “Have you been seeing this?” Everyone was like, “Ohmygod.” So we had to do another take so they could actually film it. It’s such an important moment because it’s that physical connection that Piper and I are always so careful about, like when these characters touch each other, other than doing the sighted leader things. We’re very specific about when we do it. It’s a bold move for her to do that. And again, he misunderstands. The whole audience is gonna be looking at her face and thinking, Ohmygod, how can he not see that?! But he can’t.
That’s what’s great. If other shows did that scene, it would be a cheat. But here, it’s totally realistic. He is blind. He really cannot see her face.
It’s totally legit. And like, he can hear something. There’s a weird silence, and then she stands up, and he’s not really sure why she’s doing that. But again, because he can’t see her, he misses it. I’m just so excited for next season to see the follow-through on that, and to see then how that affects their relationship. It can’t help but affect Annie some way. Then Auggie’s gonna be wondering what’s going on. It’s just great — the fact that in that moment is the moment when she finds out how serious he is about this girl. She had no idea he was in a relationship this whole time. The last time that she heard anything about a girl was that one moment when she was in Berlin or wherever and she knew that he was out on a date. But he goes on dates all the time. She had no clue that he was in a relationship or had feelings for anybody. And for him to drop that on her then, it’s just awesome. And then also, Auggie’s always so in-tune to her. This is the first time when he’s got it wrong, when he says, “I can literally hear you smiling” and she’s not smiling. That’s the first time they’ve been on different pages, so it’s huge. I love it.
Have you talked to producers about how it will play out next season?
No. The writers are hard at work at it right now. We ask them to let us do our job most of the time, so we let them do theirs. [Laughs] They’re so excited about it, and also the fact that Annie killed a guy. That’s the first person that she’s shot. That’s a huge thing for her. Aside from the Annie-Auggie relationship, that’s a big deal. It’s nice, too, because Auggie is the perfect person for her to talk to, because they are very close and he also knows what it’s like to kill somebody and to do that for the first time. There’s no one better for her to go to.
In your mind, has it ever even occurred to Auggie that there could be something romantic between he and Annie?
Honestly, I think when he first met her, he figured, Well, I’m probably gonna sleep with this girl and then move along. I think he’s probably done it before. But there was something different about her, and I think that relationship quickly changed to something else. So no, I don’t think that he’s ever been thinking about a relationship with Annie. I really don’t. I think that’s just not where his head is, especially now when he really feels like he’s in love with Parker and he’s going to Africa. We may be in Africa early in the third season. We’re certainly going to expand our international shooting next year. I may be in Jordan come March. Who knows?
It was nice that it was Danielle who clued Annie into the fact that her voice changes when she talks to Auggie.
We were having long conversations with Matt and Chris about how, or when, or if, Danielle would figure out that Auggie also worked for the CIA: Whether she would figure it out, whether they would read her in. How would you do that? It was really important because Annie would not arbitrarily blow Auggie’s cover. We didn’t feel like there was any reason necessarily for Danielle to suddenly jump to the conclusion that Auggie also worked for the CIA, even though they’d met. She’d only seen him at the Smithsonian, and after all, as far as Danielle’s concerned, he’s the cute blind guy. Like, why would she assume that the blind guy works for the CIA? The way that they figured it out was to take the emotional tactic. She figures it out because she knows her sister and she’s paying attention, and she picks up those emotional cues and the tone of her voice and how it changes when she’s talking to Auggie, and she’s noticed it before and she notices it now. So it was a great, smart way for Danielle to discover the truth about Auggie, which is something that certainly Auggie would not volunteer… But I’m hoping that it opens up the possibility for Auggie to, like, drop by for pancakes. Or maybe come downstairs for pancakes, if you know what I mean. [Laughs]
Switching gears, I assume there was never any serious discussion about Auggie regaining his sight. It’s such a part of the identity of the character, the show would never want to go there.
No. The finale deals with that in a way that is very final. I don’t see it as something that we will or need to address again. We get asked about that a lot. I think people are really nervous that they’re gonna give Auggie’s eyesight back, which I think the audience rightly sees as a cop-out. I mean, everyone except my father-in-law, who like literally [last week] was like, “When are they gonna give you your sight back?” [Laughs] I said, “They’re not.” He was like, “Oh, that’s terrible.” The character Auggie is based on a friend of Chris and Matt’s who wasn’t blinded but he was paralyzed. They talk about how for a long time, he was really dedicated about researching the new medical advances, all the new technology, and looking into every avenue to try to be able to walk again. Matt remembers at some point having a conversation with him where he said, “You know what, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not for me. It’s for the next guy. The research is just not gonna be there for me. It’s great that they’re doing it. I’m gonna support it. But I just can’t keep chasing that carrot because it’s exhausting emotionally and it’s just not gonna happen.” And so they wanted to have that moment with Auggie, and it’s something that I think most people who’ve suffered a loss like he has, something that they have to go through. Now Auggie can completely move forward and not worry about that anymore. And hopefully the audience won’t worry about that either.
I loved the way you played that scene, where you took the time before you picked up the call because it could be the last moment of hope, and then wanted off of the phone immediately because you didn’t want to show the emotion when all hope was gone.
We shot that scene at like 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning. It was the last scene. [Laughs] I’d been waiting around all day. Matt Corman came to me in tears at the end of the take, he’s like, “I don’t know how you do that at 2 a.m. in the morning.” [Laughs] It was important. It’s like in last week’s episode, you got to see these very private moments between Auggie and someone who he loves. In the finale, you got to see these very private moments that he shares with no one. He refuses to share the emotions even with the doctor who’s giving him the news. He just shuts it off ’cause he’s got work to do. There’s no time for that. Really, only the audience gets to see it on his face.
Last question: I’ve been enjoying the tension between Auggie and Jai. We will see more of them clashing next season?
I’m sure we will. I have a great pitch that I’ve been talking to [producers] about for how to progress that whole relationship and the fact that he poached a couple of Auggie’s best guys. So yeah, we will definitely see some more of that.