State of Affairs recap: 'Ghosts'
What a snoozefest. I’m sorry guys, but this week’s episode didn’t chart on any level of intrigue or suspense. At one point, after listening to Charlie yammer on about something, Kurt literally says, “I couldn’t care less.” Kurt is this week’s spirit animal. That’s how I felt during this whole episode. I spent half of it wishing that they would just go ahead and kill off any major character so that they could reboot some part of the storyline. No dice, folks. The show’s ratings are in the gutter, and this week’s offerings aren’t going to help matters.
Our long-abandoned hero Jack Dawkins has been held captive in a Panamanian prison. He refuses to acknowledge his CIA affiliation, instead claiming only to be an aid worker who came to the country to deliver smallpox vaccines. While being questioned, for the umpteenth time we can assume, he’s offered a free pass to walk out if he admits he’s CIA. It’s obviously a trap, as anyone who has ever watched any kind of espionage film (or actually been CIA-trained) can tell you. Jack doesn’t take the bait.
Later that night, he’s hanging in his cell when gunfire starts up. Armed men storm the prison, killing the guards and yelling, “Find the American, he’s worth a lot of money.” There was an awful lot of smoke and slow-mo, but so little suspense. We all know Jack’s going to be okay, right? Like, he’s not even going to get tortured like Nick might/has.
It’s 1:15 a.m. in D.C., and Charlie is having trouble getting out of bed (jet-lag and heartache, likely—seems like the absence of Nick has cured her of her wild-child ways from episode 1). Her debriefing from her trip is this morning. This is how it goes:
“So, you killed a guy who may or may not have been Qatar security.”
“Can you verify that?”
“Nope, sure can’t.”
“Ok! Well, stay out of trouble. Have fun back in the office!”
NEXT: What’s the threat to America gonna be this week?
Meanwhile, alerts are popping up on the 7th floor about Jack’s kidnapping by the People’s Army of Colombia. They want $10 million and the release of one of their own. The sun is up, but this late-breaking info is now top of the book!
While Maureen is on her way to the White House to brief the president, police are swarming the Washington Monument. A red backpack with the Ar Rissalah symbol has been left there. During Mo’s briefing—during which she tells POTUS to turn to a blank page in the book, ouch—Chief of Staff David Patrick gets a call about the bag. President Payton wants an informed opinion on what this means and what kind of actual threat it may pose, the kind she could always count on Charlie to give. Maureen stumbles, trying to walk the line of caution and “the analytics aren’t there yet” talk. She’s not Charlie, poor girl. Even David, who straight-up told his boss to fire Charleston Tucker, can see that.
Charlie pulls Lucas and Kurt into her office. She knows they know about her running Fatah as an asset, but she wants to tell them herself anyway. They give zero f–ks. Go back to work.
Cut to Jack Dawkins being dragged through the dense jungle by his captors. It’s pouring rain, and it’s obvious they’re lost. Jack confuses everyone with his excellent Spanish (who knows the words for “navigation” and “peccary” anyway?) and helpful advice about throwing pigs in the water to distract the piranhas. It was all just CIA trickery though: Jack overpowers the troupe and escapes while sneering, “There are no piranhas in Darien Gap, dumbass.” Yeah! Everyone knows that!
Back to the bazillions of Ar Rissalah pictures popping up everywhere. The new line of investigation is to look for the mistake photos—the ones where the photographer caught their own reflection in a car window or had a hand visible. Running that info through various databases takes time, but as we learned from Kurt’s Operation Cornea Medication call center last week, where there’s a will, there’s a way to find a suspect.
Maureen is pissed that those pages were missing. She attempts to lay into Lucas about it, but she does not exactly have a threatening, commanding tone. Charlie tries to comfort her, but Maureen’s not having it. Ten bucks says she finds a way to get out of her promotion. Way to lean in, Mo. Boo.
Mo also acknowledges that she doesn’t know what to do about finding Jack Dawkins. Good thing Charlie’s there to save the day! Why not track the super-slight radio transmissions? Don’t look for him, listen for him. It totally works. They’re able to find heat-signal near a handmade S.O.S. symbol in the jungle. Send the SEAL Team in!
David rushes in to the Oval Office to tell the president that they’ve located Jack. He’s positively giddy as he gloats about how great this rescue will be for her office—it’s a total win that they can shove in the face of Senator Kyle Green, who is still running her smear campaign. The First Gentleman, Marshall, is noticeably uncomfortable. “That man is just about everything I hate about politics wrapped up in a really good suit,” he tells his wife as they get into a debate on the nature of politics as a game. He seems to suddenly be defending Green’s right to make accusations at Payton. Marital rift expanding in three…two…
On the homefront, there’s another backpack now, this one found at the Hoover Dam. This one has sophisticated bomb chemicals in it, the kind that research labs and universities would have. Charlie and co. make an interdepartmental pact to share intel with the FBI and Homeland Security.
NEXT: What has Nick been up to all this time? Tea parties on the compound?
All this time, Nick is being dragged around by Al Moosari. Nick has claimed that his association with Fatah stemmed from his ability to move money, including that made through gems. So you’re a gem expert, Vera? Turns out, yes. Moosari drives him out to the desert and gives him a precious-stones pop quiz. Nick passes, including the trick-question portion where he correctly identifies the 1.2 carats of a red diamond. Moosari trusts him now, so hopefully next week they will DO SOMETHING/ANYTHING.
The mission to rescue Jack is underway. It doesn’t go well. The SEAL Team only comes upon a dozen bodies, the remnants of some skirmish. Jack’s not there, and it’s clear he’s now been taken by actual professionals. But, wait. He’s on a plane headed back to Virginia? Hmmm, interesting. Charlie’s theory? If you want to humiliate the president, you go rescue her hero before she does, and then drop him off in time for dinner. So, who wants to do that? If you answered Senator Green, you’re probably right.
Charlie goes to pick up Jack, who is accompanied on this private plane by a Mr. Victor Gantry. Charlie takes an immediate dislike to him. He says he “happened to be in the area” doing “private security for a copper mine.” Charlie’s all like, “Haha, I would have given that answer when I was a young, dumb agent. Who are you for real?” Victor laughs off all of her questioning. He’s totally with the Krieg Group, that mysterious, well-funded gang that Syd (I miss Syd) and Nick keep warning Charlie about. And that “security company” that was conveniently down there was Controlled Outcomes, the one that Nick used his backchannels to hire to rescue those Nigerian schoolgirls in episode 3. Gantry was former CIA. This is important book intel now.
President Payton calls Marshall to apologize for their little disagreement, and he’s out stalking the streets in a trench and oversized gloves. In what I think was meant to be a big shocker, he pops up at Senator Green’s townhome. She was clearly expecting him, and when he leaves her place, he has a picture. That picture. The one of Charlie, Nick and Fatah together on Midnight City. The one the Krieg Group has.
More possible snakes in POTUS’s garden? David meets a woman for a drink. She’s in Senator Green’s camp. They clearly have a thing going, and while she gives him a heads up that Green knows about the second backpack at the dam (which David didn’t even know about yet), it’s clear that this woman expects a little more than dinner out of their arrangement. So, the question is: If POTUS can’t trust her Chief of Staff or her husband, is Charlie becoming her best ally by default?
After visiting Jack in the hospital, President Payton calls Charlie into the Oval. Maureen was resigned as head briefer, so Charlie now has her old job back. Over whiskey, Charlie fills her in on her new Krieg Group discoveries. POTUS wants to know more. “I appreciate this firm’s abilities to color outside the lines,” she says. Aww yeah. Maybe Payton can get into some shady dealings of her own.
Setting the stage for the next round of Ar Rissalah threats, the 7th floor team found a blue-eyed blonde sorority girl named Stacy Dover through vascular pattern imagery. Cut to her studying Middle Eastern culture in a dorm with a guy who is totally trying to feel her out. She has crazy eyes and a need to make a difference in the world. No, like really. A real difference. Charlie thinks she could be an actual threat, and it looks like next week’s episode will be a hunt for the new faces of terrorism: college kids with an agenda.
— None. This episode was just so, so painfully dull.
— Actually, one thing: Every other episode title has made sense after viewing, but I must have missed the significance of “Ghosts” in this one. Enlighten me, please.