Covert Affairs: No Quarter

We open in media res, with Annie toting an industrial metal briefcase through the Zurich airport while kvetching over the phone to Auggie about how flying coach on international flights really sucks. In the process, she manages to somehow compare Auggie to a St. Bernard (he’s cute and dependable -- true enough). She’s in Zurich to do a simple brush pass -- she’s supposed to exchange briefcases, contents unknown, with her mysterious contact, whom she’ll identify by his orange wristband.

There’s a hitch: Two men with wristbands and briefcases approach her. While Annie tries to plan the best course of action, a flash grenade goes off, one of the briefcases explodes, and mass panic ensues. In the confusion, Annie hightails it out of the airport, still lugging around her briefcase,

Meanwhile, Arthur and Joan loll in bed watching the news, where sexy journalist Liza Hearn (Emmanuelle Vaugier) cheerfully divulges Agency secrets while naming Arthur as her source. Enraged, Arthur swears to hunt down the true source of the leak. Good to see Peter Gallagher back in this episode. One of the things Covert Affairs needs to do, posthaste, is lock him down as a regular cast member.

Suspecting the police are trailing her, Annie stashes the briefcase under a floor panel in an unused hotel ballroom, then meets up with Fatma, a.k.a. “the Turk,” who is the CIA’s bridge agent in Zurich. Fatma equips her with a bag of groceries and sets her up in a safe house until she can be smuggled out of the country.

Also in the safe house: Annie’s contact, a charming yet vaguely sinister Mossad agent named Eyal Lavin. Why, look, it’s Oded Fehr! Good to see you, Mr. Fehr. This was apparently the first episode filmed after the pilot, before Sendhil Ramamurthy was added to the cast, so sadly, there is no lovely Jai anywhere to be found this week. However, the presence of Fehr helps cushion the blow.

After a rocky start (he tries to strangle her, she fights him off), Annie and Eyal prepare to shack up together until things die down. Eyal still has his briefcase with him, though he won’t let Annie get her hands on it until she produces her own case to make the official exchange.

(Annie, it should be noted, speaks both German and Hebrew in this episode. Factoring in Russian, Spanish, English, and Sinhalese, she’s up to her six languages already.)

The safe house comes equipped with everything Annie and Eyal could possibly need to kill a few days together: plush bathrobes, wine, and a closet filled with hard-core bondage gear. Eyal casually explains the purpose of the gear to a bemused/astonished Annie. Apparently, sexual blackmail is a widely-used Agency tactic to gain leverage over high-placed individuals, and hey, I just thought of a fantastic future plot idea for Jai.

Eyal, who has scads more experience in this whole “secret agent” business than newbie Annie, whips together a police scanner out of spare parts, stitches up a wound Annie sustained in the chaos at the airport, and fixes a scrumptious dinner, complete with wine, steaks, and romantic sparks. Dinner is interrupted by a swarm of heavily-armed men who descend on the safe house; Annie and Eyal escape by, ah, using the bondage gear to rappel down the elevator shaft. Annie is still wearing her teetering red-soled Louboutin heels during all this; they look snazzy, but I couldn’t help thinking how much easier this sort of thing would be if she’d just switch to sensible flats while on missions.

Meanwhile, back at Langley, Arthur starts a full-scale internal investigation to find the source of the leak and pretty much stages a hostile takeover of the DPD in the process. This irks Joan to no end. As part of the investigation, Auggie undergoes a polygraph test, which gives him a chance to drop a few expository kernels of his backstory: His full name is August, he’s from Illinois, he was blinded in an explosion in Tikrit, he thinks most of his superiors are a bunch of idiots, and he’s not the source of the leak. No surprises in any of that.

Separated from Eyal in the chaos, Annie heads to Fatma’s shop and finds her murdered corpse. When Eyal finally arrives, Annie becomes suspicious of him and handcuffs him to the counter. She calls Auggie to ask for help, but, as he’s currently off being interrogated, his line is answered by one of Arthur’s henchmen. Flustered, Annie hangs up. Eyal manages to sweet-talk her into trusting him and continuing their mission.

Annie and Eyal head to the hotel ballroom to retrieve the briefcase. A gala wedding reception is taking place, and the bride is seated smack-dab over the hidden case. Annie flirts shamelessly with the groom, which provokes the bride into leaving her seat, which gives Eyal a chance to swipe the briefcase.

Both cases now in their possession, Annie and Eyal make a break for it. Armed gunmen surround them; Eyal kills them all. Annie and Eyal are apprehended by the Swiss police… who, thankfully, have been already briefed on the situation by Interpol. Annie and Eyal finally make the exchange of briefcases at the airport, where they part ways.

Good episode. Much better than the last two, possibly better than the pilot. It helped greatly that Eyal was a fun, interesting, complex character and a worthy foil for Annie. It also helped that we saw much more of the workings of the CIA, both back at Langley and in the field in Zurich. The more this show helps recreate an interesting and plausible universe, the more effective it’s going to be in the long run.


Anonymous said…
Factoring in Russian, Spanish, English, and Sinhalese, she’s up to her six languages already.

Does English really count as one of her six languages? I mean, since she's American, wouldn't it already be assumed that she speaks English fluently? I'm just saying, I wouldn't be surprised if French or Japanese or something like that gets thrown into the mix at some point in the future.

It's strange that I'm disappointed by how good this episode was without Sendhil, but from next week's previews, I'm hoping his episode will be action packed.

I think one of the best things about this episode was that there were no scenes with Annie at home. I'm not saying they should scrap Danielle and her family entirely, but the episode flowed much better without us having to stop and look at Danielle be a mom or Annie secretly pine for a normal life. (There were even 0 mentions of the boyfriend, which is also good.)
Anonymous said…
Side note: I'm glad to see that posting with a LJ id is working again :)
Morgan Richter said…
It's been my experience that people include their native tongue when describing how many languages they speak, but who knows -- Annie might not be counting English. Or she might not consider herself fluent in one or more of the languages we've seen her speaking (maybe she just learned enough Sinhalese to get by in Sri Lanka), so it's certainly possible she'll trot out more languages as the series goes on.

Good episode. I appreciated that both the A and B plots were reasonably complex -- a nice change from last week, which had a pretty generic (if pleasant) A plot and no B plot to break things up.

Next week looks pretty great. The world needs more shows where Sendhil jumps from rooftops.

I'm glad to see that posting with a LJ id is working again

Me too! I tested out the Open ID commenting last night. It seemed to be back in proper working order, so I disabled anonymous commenting again this morning. If anyone has difficulty commenting, email me and we'll work it out.
Rosey said…
I really liked this ep! I agree it was better then the last two. My friend and I are debating who the leak is and I think its Joan but who knows. I was a little pissed they were trying to say it was Auggie.
Morgan Richter said…
I'm hoping there turns out to be more to the leak plotline than just "someone is leaking info to the press -- let's find out who," which by itself might not be terribly interesting (if it turns out to be Joan, she'd probably be doing it to spite Arthur, and spite is a very dull motive. Similarly, if it turns out someone is leaking info for money, or to embarrass the CIA, that's also pretty dull).

If, however, the situation is more complex than that -- say, if someone is also leaking info to a foreign power, possibly with Liza Hearn's help -- i.e. if there's an active double agent in their midst -- well, that has much better story potential. So I'm interested to see where they're going to take this.

Most have probably already seen this, but USA has a cool new promo segment on Jai up on their official site, which (I suppose this is vaguely spoilery) makes it seem like there's something shady going on him with him. My wholly uninformed guess: I don't think he's the leak, but much in the way that Arthur is using Jai to spy on Annie, I think Henry Wilcox might be using Jai to keep tabs on Arthur. It's possible Jai and Henry are behind the leak as a way to discredit Arthur -- there was that dialogue between Liza Hearn and Arthur in this episode suggesting friction between the way Henry used to run the Agency and the way Arthur is running it now. Henry Wilcox finally shows up in the next episode, so maybe we'll get a better sense of exactly what he's up to.
Anonymous said…
I agree that this was a very strong episode. In fact this was the first one where, start to finish, it held my interest...even without Sendhil (but hello Oded, as always, nice to see you).

I liked that the pacing didn't seem to slag off between the A and B plot. I'm not sure if it helped that there was less of Annie's home life or if it's that they're still not sure how to use her home life properly yet.
Morgan Richter said…
I'm not sure if it helped that there was less of Annie's home life or if it's that they're still not sure how to use her home life properly yet.

That's where I'm at. I don't want to bag too much on Danielle -- the series is still getting its legs, the characters are still getting fleshed out, and it's entirely possible future episodes will get better at incorporating Danielle and Annie's home life into the grander scheme of things. Thus far, though, there's been a great deal of repetition in all of Annie's scenes with Danielle (Danielle is oblivious to Annie's real career, she makes some condescending/snippy remarks about Annie's lack of roots or a stable relationship, repeat as necessary), and it's already tiresome; it was nice having a break from that in this episode. Everything flowed a lot smoother.

Great guest stars like Oded are going to go a long way in helping this show find its niche. He's perfect spy material: handsome, charismatic, smart, mysterious.

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