State of Affairs recap: 'Bellerophon'
After a really-pretty-good cliffhanger before New Years, State of Affairs got back to the business of tearing Charlie down a bit more. The case of the week was, well, weak, but it was nice to get some laughs in with the touring road show that was Nick and Charlie. Major plot devices were put to the wayside (the mysterious texts, Aaron, etc.), but it was kind of nice to have a break from those. It’s like when the casts of SATC or Seinfeld went to L.A. for an episode. It was vacation for all of us!
The Ar Rissalah symbol is popping up all over the United States (meaning, all over social media—because you’re nothing if you’re not online!). As followers post the calligraphed horse on national monuments and such, some kid with a camera and a spray can jumps the fence to the White House. He makes it across the lawn, over the hedges, into the Oval Office, and tags a portrait of Lincoln before the secret service manages to rush in and detain him. “You’re all going to die,” the kid tells the guards.
Across the world, Charleston is telling President Payton about her new recollection of the Kabul attack (the one she remembered after last week’s chemical interrogation): Omar Fatah pulled her from the wreckage, Aaron pulled a gun and pointed it at him/her, Fatah pulled Charlie’s gun and shot Aaron. Charlie also admitted that Fatah was her asset, something that she, as an employee of the CIA, is not supposed to voluntarily tell POTUS unless specifically asked. “You brought wolves to our door, Charlie,” Payton tells her. “You created the man who killed Aaron.” Her punishment? To go boots-on-the-ground to make contact with Fatah. “Get the hell off my plane,” Payton says, as if Charlie were a motherf–king snake on her motherf–king Air Force One.
CIA Director Navarro meets up with the guys on the 7th floor to let them know about all the Ar Rissalah graffiti nationwide. 65 social media photos in 24 hours? It’s an epidemic! The FBI and Homeland Security now believe there is an American AR cell, so this is priority No. 1. Kurt mentions they could really use Charlie’s help on this, and Navarro informs them that she’ll be working this “in country,” as a case officer. “Which country?” Dash asks. Navarro brushes them aside. “You have your marching orders.”
Back in his torture box, Nick is suddenly freed. Or, at least, conveniently abandoned. As he removes his cuffs and chains and grabs his pants, he notices a red hotel key laying on the counter. “Sonofabitch,” he mumbles as he walks outside. He’s been held in a giant crate in a shipping yard. “Yemen.”
Back in the States, the FBI is questioning the White House tagger when Lucas rolls in to be included. The kid’s got a history of mental problems and a rap sheet of civil disobedience arrests, including with Anonymous and Occupy (excuse me, no. You can’t convince me that participating in Occupy is a gateway drug for joining a violent jihadist organization. Just, no). The kid had, however, been taking a class called “Violent Non-State Actors in World Politics.” The instructor of that class, professor Ahmad Ahmadi, has been of interest. Now they finally have a pretense to bring him in.
Looks like Charlie’s mysterious country is to be… Yemen. She subtly teases the poor embassy lackey who is tasked with getting her settled—meaning, giving her an Australian passport, a gun, and a red hotel key. Wait… doesn’t that key look suspiciously like the red key Nick picked up in… yup. There he is. Nick shows up in her room. This is clearly not a coincidence.
“Man, I hate Yemen,” Nick deadpans as he opens the mini-fridge to find only bottled water. (Note: Yemen is a dry country. This would clearly be torture enough for Nick—no beatings or blow torches necessary.) Charlie and Nick quickly surmise that their being in the same 5-star hotel room is orchestrated. “I’m a very wanted man here,” Nick tells her. He informs her that his entire interrogation was about her and what he knows about Pegasus. Charlie wants to go to Fatah’s old meeting place to try to make contact, but Nick warns her that they no longer have protection out here. “This is the deep dark, Charlie.” No one will be coming to save them if they get caught.
NEXT: Why does Nick hate Yemen so much? And who will find Moosari first?
Senator Green is on the warpath following the news that Ahmadi has been taken in for questioning. She’s clearly out for President Payton’s head. Maureen, who is now briefing POTUS following Charlie’s dismissal, informs her that everyone is searching for Al Moosari. Since he is a known American, he is believed to be in charge of the American arm of Ar Rissalah. Their best bet? Kurt’s pet project: Finding a lead on Moosari’s cornea transplant/prescriptions. He has an entire call center worth of people pretending to be the World Health Organization and such, asking for clinical records and pharmaceutical deliveries. “You’re robo-dialing the entirety of Egypt?” Maureen scoffs, incredulously. This is crazy, and it’s probably going to work. Also, it’s a nice little insight into the work that the little people do in order to get the big people their intel. That old lady in her cubicle with her headset probably spent 36 hours on the phone to get the tiny scrap of info that will make Kurt look like a genius. Good work, everyone with lower clearance levels! Thank you for your service!
In the desert, Charlie and Nick are driving through the night to get to Sana’a, the town Charlie thinks Fatah will make contact at. She tells Nick that Langley is on the hunt for Moosari, which Nick thinks is a waste. After all of his years tracking down terrorists, he’s clearly jaded about the process. Moosari’s low-level “window dressing,” as Nick calls him. He’s running assets, Charlie counters. Without getting the top guy, Nick shoots back, they’re just playing terrorist whack-a-mole. Sheikh Hakam is the target, and unless they get to him through Fatah, everyone else is a distraction.
Just then, they come upon a checkpoint. Charlie has her Australian papers, but Nick has none. He pretends his are in the trunk, and while the guards flip about his giant bottle of whiskey, Charlie jumps out with her passport and creates some extra distraction by playing dumb with the guards. Nick bribes the main guard to let them through, and they hop back in the car and nervously laugh their way through the rest of the drive. “What’s your problem with Yemen?” Charlie asks. Oh, well, you know that war lord who went crazy a couple of years ago because his brother was killed? Yeah. Nick killed him. The next morning, they make it to the restaurant where Charlie thinks Fatah will make contact. He’s not there, but the Yemeni secret police are, and Charlie and Nick narrowly escape back to their car.
Ahmadi, meanwhile, is being questioned about his involvement in Ar Rissalah and other terrorist organizations. Yes, he knows a lot about them, but he says it’s because it’s his line of study. Lucas and the FBI agent are quickly pulled away though—the tagger kid whom they’d arrested just killed himself in his cell. Lucas goes back in to talk to Ahmadi, and quickly begins accusing him of funding and recruiting terrorists. Yes, he has millions of dollars in fundraising, but Ahmadi insists it’s all for his humanitarian work aiding refugees. Things get heated, and before long, Lucas hits Ahmadi across the face. All for naught though—all of Ahmadi’s records check out. He’s been clean the whole time.
The 7th floor has more bad news for Lucas. Those 65 photos they were trying to track down for intel? Well, after Senator Green’s press conference, the Ar Rissalah symbol became an internet meme. “Now every disenfranchised teenager and 4chan troll think it’s funny to flood the internet with copycat photos of the Ar Rissalah flag,” Dash informs Lucas and Maureen. Over 221,000 pictures are up now. Get off our lawn, you young’ns and your memes! You’re messing up government work!
NEXT: Surely someone will figure out how to contact Fatah or find Moosari, right?
There is good news, though! Kurt’s call center finally paid off! They got pictures of a kid on a bike picking up a prescription and taking it to a compound near the Red Sea. Operatives on the ground were able to get a visual on Moosari, and now agents are surrounding the compound.
Charlie and Nick are back on their sweet hotel deck (which is covered in icicle lights?) when Nick brings out a newspaper. Apparently Charlie had ran an encrypted ad in there, a backup plan she had with Fatah. And it worked. The old-school newspaper ad worked! Fatah replied via the classifieds, and now she has a meeting with him in two days. Charlie calls POTUS to beg her to call off the attack—Fatah wants Moosari to be the point person, and if he’s dead, they’ve lost their link. President Payton sees Charlie’s bigger picture, and tells the men on the ground to stand down.
There was one little part of the ad that Nick missed though: the acrostic spelling out “Send Vera.” Excellent. So they don’t want to see Charlie, but Nick is somehow part of their endgame. So, now what? Last night in a fancy hotel, and imminent danger all around? Nick and Charlie get it on. Obviously.
Navarro convenes the briefers to let them know that Charlie was running Fatah as an asset, and that their new “cardinal responsibility is to support Charleston Tucker in her search for Fatah and Sheikh Hakam.” The extent of the team will be Lucas, Maureen, Dash, and Kurt; no one else will know of their task. And, they will be called Bellerophon, named after the guy who captured and rode Pegasus. (Note: Does the CIA have a designated mythology expert on hand for naming assets and assignments? Because this is spot-on, and I also desperately want that to be a real job.)
Charlie has Nick talk to Navarro to explain why he needs to be the one to meet Moosari. Navarro agrees, and Charlie offhandedly comments that it was probably Navarro who sent Nick to Yemen in the first place. Hmm. Interesting theory. Nick arrives at the compound on time and unarmed. Al Moosari greets him, tells him he’s not going to have a home to return to. Nick, per usual, isn’t fazed. Moosari then punches him in the face before having a bag placed over his head.
— Nick’s Australian accent?! Amazing. Charlie sounded like an American attempting to pull off an Australian accent, but really coming off a tad British. But Nick? Give that man some shrimp on the barbie.
— So, if the texts to Charlie (remember, from a few episodes back?) were coming from the 7th floor, and likely her own team, is one of them going to screw her now that she’s in the field and they’re all specifically tasked with finding Fatah and Hakam?
— #1 Rule of Office Politics: Don’t date anyone in your office. Don’t hit on anyone in your office. Don’t threaten to expose someone’s alcohol problem if they don’t stop crushing on your crush, in the office. Don’t show up at a coworker crush’s house late at night after having been threatened by jealous colleague. Basically, everything about this Maureen/Kurt/Lucas situation is textbook Do Not Attempt In Office Environment. Nothing good will come from any of this.
— After all of their banter last week about whether the nickname “Moose” or “Bullwinkle” was going to stick for Moosari, NOT A SINGLE PERSON called him either this entire episode! C’mon, guys! Bullwinkle was funny!