Covert Affairs: Fool in the Rain

At the annual assembly of the World Trade Organization in Toronto, an amiable Persian man named Yahya (Mousa Kraish, who, by the way, has a totally adorable personal website, which makes me suspect he might be chock-full of personality) slips away from the rest of the Iranian delegation and pops into a taxi, instructing the driver to take him as close to the United States as his limited funds will allow. Next stop: the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

To distract herself from thoughts of Ben, Annie stays late at the office, steeped in unnecessary busywork. Joan convinces her to take a few days off to clear her head. Back at home, Hurricane Danielle bursts in on Annie while she’s taking a relaxing soak in a sudsy bath to rant incoherently about how Michael’s brand-new job is conflicting with their planned anniversary getaway. Note to Annie: Find another place to live, stat. Danielle goes on at some length about Michael’s utter selfishness, while the brief spurt of bonhomie I felt last week when she was gushing about Jai’s fabulous bone structure evaporates into acrid vapors. At least it’s now clear we’re supposed to find Danielle ridiculous and childish, but that doesn’t make her character especially less exasperating.

Determined not to waste the hotel reservation, Danielle drags Annie along with her to -- wait for it -- Niagara Falls.

Yahya contacts the CIA, wanting to defect to the United States in exchange for giving them intelligence about the Iranian government’s sanction-violating arms deals. Since Annie is already on the scene, Joan and Arthur ask her to meet with Yahya to assess the quality of his information. Annie, who is pretty good-natured about having her work life collide with her vacation in this manner, slips away from Danielle and meets secretly with Yahya. They chat in Farsi. Yahya is cute and likeable, and this is an agreeable enough episode, but I’m not going to expend much energy recounting these scenes in loving detail, because there’s nothing fresh or significant about any of this. We’ve seen this defection plotline many times before (general rule of thumb: if your plot idea has ever been the basis of a 21 Jump Street episode, it’s time to look for less-trampled ground), and Covert Affairs doesn’t make much of an attempt to put a fresh spin on it.

Annie explains away Yahya’s presence to Danielle by claiming he’s helping the Smithsonian recover some art looted from museums in Tehran. While Danielle and Yahya go off sightseeing together, Annie purchases a fax machine, hooks it up in her hotel suite, and faxes pages and pages of Yahya’s top-secret information to Langley. A fax machine? Really? Since we’ve already seen that Annie carries a souped-up, mega-encrypted phone, it seems like it would have been far faster and simpler and safer for her to photograph the documents and email them to Joan.

Yahya and Danielle hang out and bond and play skeeball and have a marvelous time together. Yahya confides in Danielle: He wants to go to the United States to find his childhood love, Roudibah, who currently lives in New Jersey.

Joan gives Annie the bad news: Yahya’s information, which involves a simple bootlegging scheme instead of the promised weapons deal, isn’t important enough to earn him asylum. The CIA thinks he might be more valuable serving as an asset back in Tehran. Upset, Yahya claims he’ll get to the United States on his own and flees from Annie.

Meanwhile, Auggie continues his unscrupulous affair with journalist Liza Hearn. Liza, who openly disapproves of Auggie’s CIA work, begins pressing him for information about a London-based shipping company called the Albion Group, which, we know from “Into the Light,” is something Henry Wilcox was/is mixed up with. Arthur calls Auggie into his office and confronts him with incriminating photos of him with Liza. Arthur is monstrously unhappy about this explicit evidence of Auggie’s treachery, and great merciful Zeus, Auggie, did you honestly expect this to turn out any other way? He had to know the CIA would be keeping close tabs on Liza. This whole business is not Auggie’s finest hour.

Auggie insists he’s been using Liza as part of his (incredibly reckless and idiotic and self-serving) non-CIA-sanctioned mission to find the source of the leaked information, though the only useful tidbit he’s unearthed thus far has been Liza’s mention of the Albion Group. Arthur orders Auggie to feed Liza misinformation about Albion, in the hopes of ferreting out the leak that way. Auggie meets with Liza and dutifully feeds her Arthur’s bogus story. To her credit, it doesn’t take Liza long to figure out that Auggie is just yanking her along.

Danielle fills Annie in on Yahya’s plans to meet Roudibah. In fact, Danielle has already tracked Roudibah down; Roudibah has agreed to come up to Niagara and meet Yahya by the falls. Ah, Danielle: Infuriating, but occasionally helpful in moving the plot along.

Annie stakes out the meeting spot while flashing back yet again to her affair with Ben on that beach in Sri Lanka: It’s the last day of Annie’s visit, but Ben convinces her to extend her ticket so she can spend more time with him. Ever mysterious, Ben then slips off by himself; Annie spots him on the beach in the rain, arguing with a mysterious figure. The figure has his back to Annie, but he almost looks like Jai, except he’s wearing an awful baseball cap. Impeccably-dressed fashion-plate Jai is surely not the type of man who goes around wearing silly hats. In the morning, Ben has vanished, leaving only the enigmatic note on Annie’s pillow, and is it wrong that my very first thought was to hope the airline wouldn’t hit her up with huge fees for changing her return ticket yet again?

Annie spots a mysterious woman approaching Yahya. On the phone from Langley, Jai tells Annie the woman isn’t Roudibah -- the CIA already contacted her, and she told them she decided against meeting Yahya. The woman pulls a gun on Yahya and, with the help of an armed henchman, marches him away from the crowd.

Annie trails Yahya and his captors into the tunnels leading to the observation decks. The woman attacks her. A not-bad scuffle ensues. When the henchman tries to shoot Annie, Yahya fends him off. They both topple over the edge of the observation deck; the man tumbles to his presumed death, but Yahya clings to the edge of the platform for dear life. Annie overpowers her attacker and hauls Yahya to safety.

Annie announces that NROC -- the National Resettlement Operations Center -- has decided to help Yahya defect to the United States after all. When she returns to the hotel suite, she finds Danielle shacking up with surprise visitor Michael. Feeling like a third wheel, Annie heads back to DC.

Annie, Auggie and Jai go out and swill some more conspicuously-displayed bottles of Bud Light together. In what is perhaps a (futile) attempt to temper his astonishing beauty, Jai is wearing, yep, a stupid baseball cap. Oh, Jai. I’m so very disappointed in you. Annie looks at him and realizes he was the man with whom Ben was arguing on the beach in Sri Lanka.

Okay! Mostly a filler episode, and, as I’ve said before, in such a short season, there shouldn’t be any room for unnecessary padding, but it was mostly enjoyable. Plus, more progress was made on the leak storyline, with a tantalizing implication that it somehow involves Henry Wilcox. Most vitally, the episode finally established some kind of concrete connection between Jai and Ben, which has great potential for future fireworks. The two-hour finale airs next week.

Comments

starrdust411 said…
I can't believe we're already closing in on the end of this season (and the summer tv season in general).

Did anybody else catch Danielle's line about how Annie should try to hook up with a bellhop while at the hotel? What! What about Jai? What about Mr. Bone-Structure!? You're not going to find a better looking guy wandering around a Canadian hotel! (Unless Danielle secretly wants Jai for herself)

I always find it weird when filler type episodes throw in major plot points towards the end and this one really hurled the Jai/Ben connection at us. Not that I'm complaining overall. I like that CA is going to continue to make Ben not as perfect as Annie pretty much painted him as being in the beginning.
Alicia said…
Not to mention that group is based in London, and that's where Jai's been the last five years! I'm really curious about how much (if at all) Jai is working with his father on shady business, or if he's betraying his father for Arthur, or Arthur isn't actually all that unshady himself, or ... yeah, the finale better deliver, especially after giving us (albeit enjoyable) filler. :) All in all I have hopes for this being a satisfying season in the end.
Morgan Richter said…
Did anybody else catch Danielle's line about how Annie should try to hook up with a bellhop while at the hotel? What! What about Jai?

Yeah -- I was surprised the episode didn't seize that opportunity to clue viewers in on how seriously (or not seriously) Annie feels about Jai by having Danielle bring him up. Instead, it seems like last week's date never happened, which, considering the big reveal about Ben and Jai, seemed weird -- I would've expected the writers to want viewers to have the possible Jai-Annie romance fresh in their heads.

I'm really curious about how much (if at all) Jai is working with his father on shady business, or if he's betraying his father for Arthur, or Arthur isn't actually all that unshady himself, or ...

Me too! As I've mentioned before, just because Henry tells Arthur that "Jai doesn't tell me what he eats for breakfast" or whatever that line was, it doesn't mean it's true. Jai could very well be in cahoots with his father, despite their outwardly strained relationship. I really don't know which way it's going to fall.

If I had to guess -- and I'm frequently wildly off base with my guesses -- I would say that Jai is, first and foremost, the consummate Company man (in sharp contrast to Annie and Auggie, both of whom keep following their emotions instead of their assignments, like Auggie with Natasha and Annie with Ben. I get the impression that Jai never follows his emotions on an assignment). Since Henry has no official power within the CIA anymore, I'd say Jai is entirely loyal to Arthur (and to Joan, as long as it doesn't conflict with his orders from Arthur).
Patrick said…
Dear Morgan,

I was hoping you could give me some relationship advice. Two years ago I met someone great, but it didn’t work out. Whenever I think back on it I always remember the great time we had together, and I can’t understand what went wrong. This makes me upset. Recently however I’ve begun thinking of other times we spent together– for example, the time we went to a beach where no one could find us, but a man was there, which was a bit odd, though I never said anything at the time. The love of my life and this man had a big argument on the beach, and looking back on it I probably should have asked the love of my life what it was about. Silly me! The next day the love of my life disappeared, but funnily enough I never connected the two events until now.

Weird. Weirder still the man who was arguing with the love of my life on the beach turns out to be someone I am now working with. I never noticed the similiarity before, mainly because this is a memory I had never thought of before now.

What does it mean? For my job I sometimes spend long hours looking for patterns in random events and I feel a bit foolish that I didn’t spot this fairly obvious pattern in the biggest event of my life.

Don’t worry about me though, I am fine. If I think really hard I will probably be able to remember some other time we were together when a big clue was revealed and then I will understand everything.

Yours,

Patrick.
Morgan Richter said…
Dear Patrick,

Your comment made me LOL.

Yours truly,

Morgan
Patrick said…
From the Albion fake leak we've discovered that the mole is one of seventeen possible candidates. We haven't met any of these people, unless Henry Wilcox is one (and I would guess that he is). Therefore the smart money would be on Henry Wilcox being the mole, especially as it looks like that storyline will be resolved this season. It's too late to introduce someone we haven't met yet and make them the mole.

I wouldn't put it past Jai to be having a relationship with Liza as well, but the traitor is Henry.
Patrick said…
The more we see of Ben - and the more he speaks - the less impressive he appears. Oh Annie, you really did pick the wrong guy.
Morgan Richter said…
It's too late to introduce someone we haven't met yet and make them the mole.

Au contraire, Patrick! If I learned anything from slogging through that dismal season of FlashForward, it's that new characters can be introduced and revealed as a dramatically-pivotal mole within the course of a single episode! Remember... oh, what was her name? Marcie?

...I mean, if you want the reveal to actually, like, be dramatically effective and stuff, then yes, sure, it should probably be a character we've met before. So it reduces the chances of the mole turning out to be one of those sixteen characters we've never heard about, yes.

Oh Annie, you really did pick the wrong guy.

Yes. The allure of Ben is pretty much lost on me. Perhaps he has an excellent singing voice?
Patrick said…
Funny you should mention that. The flashbacks actually reminded me of some of the worst moments of Flashforward. Rememeber how Janis was revealed to be a traitor, and then a few episodes later we learned that she was good all along? Suddenly clunking a whole new section into what had previously been shown to be an idyllic frolic in Sri Lanka seemed dishonest.

But I guess I've already made my views on that clear.

Really disappointd with the show after this episode. Auggie also seemed to have no strategy to draw out Mrs. Lex Luthor on her source. Until Arthur got involved he was just going to keep sleeping with her and hope for the best. Fair enough, I suppose.
levitatethis said…
I wasn't crazy about this episode. There were a few things I liked (Toronto playing Toronto! Arthur calling out Auggi! Jai officially connected to Ben! Danielle being only slightly less irritating when she's play skeeball with Yahya! Music montage at end focusing on Annie connecting Jai to Ben and, by extension, her!).

Everything else was kind of...I don't know...I wasn't really feeling it overall. With that said, I do feel like pieces are being shifted into place for the finale and then the second season. With that in mind (and since I tend to treat certain summer shows differently with regards to my expectations), I'm willing to forgive and overlook the shortcomings in anticipation for a (hopefully) more solid second season.

Overall, what I took from this episode (besides the fact that the actor who played Yahya amuses me, that Annie is finally having those rose coloured glasses removed, that Sendhil in small doses is not enough but I'll take it) is that I apparently really like the use of Florence and the Machine's "Cosmic Love" over images of Jai/Annie/Ben...For some reason, the end of the episode is what stuck with me.

I'm also adding my voice to the chorus not so impressed with Ben. There really going to need to work on making the character more interesting.
Morgan Richter said…
What irks me is that we've had soooooo many flashbacks to Annie frolicking with Ben in Sri Lanka, and they've all been dull and repetitive (frolic, frolic, frolic, tie knots, frolic)... until now, Episode Nine, where all of a sudden, Annie's all, "Oh, hey, Jai was totally there on the beach, too. I'd forgotten until now." As you say, Patrick, it's dishonest.

Auggie also seemed to have no strategy to draw out Mrs. Lex Luthor on her source.

Yes, that was irritating. If you're going to embark upon a job-jeopardizing mission to weed out a leak, have some plan in place, over and above "sleep with the really sexy journalist." Especially since he explained to Annie a few episodes back that he was sleeping with Liza just to prove to the Agency that he's still good at field work. He sure didn't prove it here. Unless his plan was to get caught by Arthur so Arthur could then give him some necessary misinformation to feed to Liza. If that's the case, well done, Auggie!

I'm also adding my voice to the chorus not so impressed with Ben.

I know Eion Bailey has his fervent admirers, and I'm sure it's a case (much like Anne Dudek as Danielle) of a perfectly good actor not being optimally used by the show, but... yeah. Ben is just... some guy. A full season's worth of flashbacks of him frolicking on the beach with Annie still doesn't explain why she's so terribly hung up on him.
levitatethis said…
I know Eion Bailey has his fervent admirers, and I'm sure it's a case (much like Anne Dudek as Danielle) of a perfectly good actor not being optimally used by the show, but... yeah. Ben is just... some guy.

Eion Bailey is one of those odd actors who I tend to like initially when I see him and then get bored with. The same thing happened when I watched "Band of Brothers". He was part of the first group of characters we meet and I quite liked him...then he went away for a handful of episodes (the character had been hurt in one of the battles and needed medical attention) and when he came back and there was one episode dedicated to his character I realized I didn't really care...I was way too invested in other character and this guy's return just felt distracting.

Such is it with Ben (although I wasn't crazy about Ben from the start). As you note, he's just a guy.

And, yes, it's dishonest to suddenly have Annie remember Jai...remember that there was someone else on the beach. I mean, c'mon!
starrdust411 said…
I suppose the writers thought it wouldn't work if Annie recognized Jai the moment he was introduced but remembering that he was on the beach because of the hat that he decided to wear that day (which, as someone pointed out, seemed to be part of his dart team's uniform) was good enough for them. Although given all the things Annie has picked up on that other agents/characters sometimes miss, it's still a stretch
Morgan Richter said…
I was going to type that I didn't think I'd seen Eion Bailey in anything else, but IMDB shows that he starred in Mindhunters. I remember the movie quite well (Christian Slater! Val Kilmer! Kathryn Morris! And LL Cool J and Jonny Lee Miller have a pretty awesome fight to the death!), but even though IMDB has given Bailey first billing, I do not remember him being in the film at all. It might say something about his memorability, or it might say something about my slipshod memory.

Ben's got crackerjack aim and some pretty decent hand-to-hand combat skills. But other than that, we just haven't seen much that's noteworthy or appealing about him, and that's a problem.

(which, as someone pointed out, seemed to be part of his dart team's uniform)

That's a brilliant catch, and one that flew right past me. Okay, as far-fetched as the whole baseball-hat reveal was, I find the idea that Jai is on a darts team -- with matching hats! -- so adorable that I'm going to forgive it.
Rosey said…
"What irks me is that we've had soooooo many flashbacks to Annie frolicking with Ben in Sri Lanka, and they've all been dull and repetitive (frolic, frolic, frolic, tie knots, frolic)" LOL. :)

I knew there was some Ben/Jai history!! And I knew there was some hatred! Can't wait to see where this new revelation leads.

Sorry I'm late...I just watched it.

Hopefully the flashbacks stop next season.
Patrick said…
Jai loves his dart team so much he even wears the cap on a mission to Sri Lanka!

It was a good twist at the end. I wasn't expecting the man to be Jai at all until the final reveal.

It would be good if Annie had been the mission all along, and Jai was rebuking Ben for getting emotionally involved with her.

It was nice that Jai knew where Ben's romantic hideaway was. Backstory please!
levitatethis said…
It would be good if Annie had been the mission all along, and Jai was rebuking Ben for getting emotionally involved with her.

This is actually where my mind is going with the story and it's what's keeping me interested in the Ben/Annie relationship...in a nutshell, the introduction of Jai into their "love story" has made it more intriguing to me and not for triangle purposes (which I normally can't stand) but because, as was discussed last week, it seems to add more layers to the characters -- if Annie was always the mark, if Ben either fell for her along the way (a tad boring, but I get it) or he convinced her he fell for her when he didn't (makes Ben more interesting), if Jai knew all of this and was calling out Ben on it.
Morgan Richter said…
It was nice that Jai knew where Ben's romantic hideaway was. Backstory please!

Maybe next season we'll get a bunch of flashbacks to Jai's whirlwind romance with Ben in Sri Lanka?

if Annie was always the mark, if Ben either fell for her along the way (a tad boring, but I get it) or he convinced her he fell for her when he didn't (makes Ben more interesting), if Jai knew all of this and was calling out Ben on it.

I would really, really like this to be the outcome. I think it'd really add some nice dimensions to the (booooooooring) Annie-Ben romance, and it'd give Jai a firmer place in the whole backstory.
Alicia said…
By the way, I forgot to say, but I'm glad that some people watching this show think Auggie was doing a stupid, selfish thing. How a certain part of the audience sees his character really confuses and annoys me.
Morgan Richter said…
How a certain part of the audience sees his character really confuses and annoys me.

Yeah, me too. Alicia, I think we've been visiting the same sites. From what I've seen online, it seems like a big chunk of the audience wants to break the show down into Good Characters (Annie and Auggie) versus Bad Characters (Jai and Liza Hearn, definitely, with Joan often falling in this category). This not only completely overlooks the whole point of the show (my oft-repeated mantra: they're all spies, and thus they all do shady things all the time, Annie and Auggie included), but also ignores what we've been explicitly shown. I'm confused how some parts of the fandom will give Auggie a pass for sleeping with Liza to get information out of her, but will then hate on Jai for flirting with Annie as part of his (official, CIA-sanctioned) assignment (I won't even get into fandom's treatment of Liza. Too disheartening).

We don't yet know what drives Jai, and we don't know if the CIA really is acting for the greater good in using Annie to find Ben, but from what we've seen thus far, Auggie's actions are on shakier moral ground than Jai's. After all, we know Auggie is using Liza for personal gain -- he admitted that outright to Annie in "Communication Breakdown." We don't know any such thing about Jai. The show could go in any number of directions -- Jai might turn out to be a true villain, who knows? -- but we haven't seen anything yet that should lead viewers to draw that conclusion. Similarly, we've had hard and fast evidence that Auggie is not entirely a noble force of good. I don't know why viewers ignore that (other than the fact that they like Chris Gorham and want him to be the true hero of the show).

These are complex characters, with complex motivations. Simplifying them down into Good and Bad does them an injustice.

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