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Image Credit: Tom Hauck/Getty Images; Tom Walck/PR PhotosThere was a lot of questionable integrity in this week’s episode of Covert Affairs. Were Arthur’s henchmen trustworthy? Was Auggie leaking intel? Did Annie’s partner murder the jewelry shop owner? It was hard to know what to believe, but one thing was absolutely certain: this week’s episode, “No Quarter,” was leaps and bounds ahead of last week’s lackluster edition. We had a better case (you might call it explosive?), solid character development, lingering mysteries, and even the return of Music Girl! With a bumped-up dose of danger and deception, it felt more like a spy series should feel. But let’s get started with the recap — in the words of Arthur, allow me to “read you in.”
Starting with a BANG
This time around, Annie (under the code name Helvetica!) was on assignment in the grayish land of Zurich, Switzerland, which somehow felt immediately appropriate — I think Bond and Bourne have conditioned me to equate Europe with secret agents. Anyway, her job was simple: trade titanium brief cases with an Israeli Mossad agent in the airport and hop back on a plane home. Unfortunately, when it came time to make the switch, two men wearing orange wristbands and carrying titanium brief cases arrived. Annie barely had time to register what was going on when a flash bomb suddenly exploded. The camera started shaking, people started screaming, and Annie stumbled around in shock before fighting off a blond baddie amidst the chaos. Clearly, he had known about her mission and was assigned to derail it. Annie got away, while we got to watch the opening credits, and for the first time, I noticed that I really liked the intro song by Apple Trees & Tangerines. Good work, Music Girl!
Realizing that she had been compromised and was now a target for the authorities (Note: the emo black hoodie wasn’t helping you blend in), Annie followed standard protocol and dropped off her case in a relatively secure location before heading for her safe house. Annie had to speak with an undercover jewelry store owner (Anyone else get Lost-ish vibes from her? After Ms. Faraday, I don’t think I can ever trust a woman in a jewelry store…), who transported her to a secure apartment. Upon arriving, Annie was attacked by the dark-haired, brief-case-carrying man she had seen in the airport. Though he was strangling her with razor wire (which miraculously didn’t hurt her neck at all–hey, she should fight vampires!), she managed to gasp, “You’re my contact.” and spared herself.
At this point, Annie’s inexperience as an agent became glaringly obvious. Her insistence on protocol and increasing frustration with well-trained Eyal (Oded Fehr) made her look like a flustered amateur, and he called her out on it. “I’ve done field work before!” she claimed. “How much?” Eyal asked. “Plenty!” Annie bluffed. I found the scenes with these two a little bit off-putting. During Covert Affairs‘ pilot, Annie Walker was collected, confident, physically threatening, and, above all else, smart. Between snooping around the apartment for the brief case, calling Auggie for help, and acting generally clueless, our heroine seemed like she had had no special training at all. I know this is a show about Annie learning how to be a secret agent on the job, but I look forward to the day when she is a competent badass on her own.
The two agents continued to bicker over dinner. Annie guzzled a glass of wine, while an increasingly flirtatious Eyal stitched up/flossed with her shoulder, but they couldn’t sit still for long. Whoever had found them in the airport had reached their hotel, and our agents had to go on the run. Using some conveniently present bondage rope that had been stowed in the closet, Annie rappelled down the elevator shaft, and headed to jewelry lady, who was dead. When Eyal showed up, Annie immediately cuffed him to the counter, her desperation showing. When he had broken her phone, she had lost trust in her apparent partner. She was truly alone out on the field, and with Auggie not even present on the other line, she didn’t know what to do. Eventually, she let Eyal go, and they picked up her stashed brief case from a wedding reception. While driving to the airport, an SUV of bad guys T-boned their car, but Eyal took out the men (who spewed strange little puffs of blood when shot) easily. Annie and Eyal avoided being arrested, traded brief cases, and traveled home.
And home was where so much happened this week! The CIA leak referenced in the first episode was getting worse, as renegade news correspondent Liza Hearn seemed to be CC’d on every piece of information going through the agency. I don’t quite understand her reasoning for wanting more transparency in the CIA, but I will always welcome a good bitchy character. Arthur instituted a department-wide investigation to find the source of the leak, hooking up each of his employees to polygraph tests, and even considering his wife, Joan, a suspect. Let’s go ahead and establish some preliminary polygraph results for the characters in this episode:
Auggie — Truthful
Auggie sort of stole the show last night, right? I’m not just saying that because he demonstrated how to use that crazy braille Lite-Brite keyboard — Chris Gorham played angsty ex-field operative very well. While Annie was out on the field alone, he was forced to take a lie detector test by Arthur’s power-hungry henchman, and he wasn’t happy about it. Auggie resented that he was being questioned at all, and lingering resentments about his disability and his management rose to the surface. He definitively claimed he was not the source of the leak, but his anger at being accused/abandoning Annie led him to get up from the session.
Arthur — Indeterminate
We saw lighter and darker sides of Arthur Campbell this week. The episode began with some major flirtation/foreplay between him and Joan (they DO love each other!), but when the Zurich situation and the CIA leak reached a fever pitch, his demeanor changed. Cutting Joan out of the investigation was shady, as were the douchey men he had implement it. Still, his actions in the office paled in comparison to the words he spoke to Liza Hearn in the park. “I can play rip the band-aid off, too. Trust me when I say this: my version hurts more.” Um, did he just threaten to have her whacked?
Joan — Truthful
The suddenly more-submissive housewife was finally endearing this week, if only because she displayed some actual hope in her marriage–the couple even wore matching V-neck sweaters to the office! Calling out Arthur’s “Brutuses” was wonderful, as was her line: “There is exactly one person in this place who you can truly trust, and you are doing your best to alienate her.” You know what? I like Joan!
Liza — Truthful, but evil
You’re on my hit list. And Arthur’s. Watch out.
Eyal — LIAR!
Maybe I enjoy reading into serial elements of this show too much, but I think we’re going to see Eyal again, and I don’t think he’ll turn out to be a good guy. That Powder Puff Girl on his brief case? Totally a tracking device–I’m calling it. He’s got it out for Annie, and I think all his flirting was part of a larger scheme. Anyone else with me?
Jai — ?
Where are you these days?
Lingering questions/Notes of interest:
++ Who is leaking CIA intel? Should we suspect Auggie at all?
++ Is Eyal a double agent? Will we see him again?
++ Romance is brewing between Auggie and Annie–she coyly told him that he was like a Saint Bernard: “They’re cute and dependable and when you’re feeling low, they bring you booze”
++ But why is there a St. Bernard stuffed-animal shop in the Zurich airport?
++ Where is Ben?! I still want to know!
++ Joan and Arthur’s marriage took a big step forward this episode–especially their final scene in bed. Keep writing scenes like that, writers. Do you like the couple?
++ Music Girl, loved the Interpol song at the end of the episode. Bring on more music, USA.
What did you think of “No Quarter?” Share your thoughts and theories in the comments!