Okay! That was approximately eighty times better than last week’s episode!
Annie goes on a mission in Paris to meet a young woman named Salma, who works at the Syrian Embassy, in the hopes of cultivating her as a CIA asset. Paris! Annie’s scenes were actually shot in Paris, which was a good call -- for once, this show actually looks like a real, grownup spy series, instead of a pretty good pretender. After much dithering around, Annie manages to orchestrate an encounter with Salma: She secretly exchanges Salma’s ridiculously expensive handbag with her own exact duplicate. When Salma contacts her to arrange a trade, she coerces her into sharing a bottle of wine, engaging in some giddy girl-talk, and accompanying her to a fancy-dress event later that same night. When Annie gets herself in gear, she works fast.
At the event, Annie and Salma run into Eyal Lavin, the dashing and roguish Mossad agent whom Annie had tangled with last season. Oded Fehr! Very pleased to see you here again, sir. Please show up on as many episodes as humanly possible -- heck, if Covert Affairs wanted to make Eyal a regular character, I’d have no complaints -- because you brighten up this show whenever you’re around.
As Mossad also has a keen interest in cultivating Salma (her job puts her in close contact with a Syrian figure of great interest to many governments), Eyal has been romancing her under false pretenses. This ruffles Annie’s feathers, as Eyal is essentially beating her at her own game.
Salma, who turns out to be no fool, almost immediately picks up on Annie’s and Eyal’s respective ruses. She coolly outlines the deal: She’ll become an asset to the highest bidder.
Back at Langley, Joan gets called into jury duty, which she does not handle with grace and dignity. During her absence, she leaves Auggie in charge of the DPD, in a move expressly designed to annoy Jai. No worries. Jai is extra-sexy when he’s annoyed.
A bidding war erupts between the CIA and Mossad for Salma’s loyalties. Auggie, through Joan, authorizes Annie to offer Salma fifty thousand Euros. Salma accepts the deal and agrees to meet with Annie at a café to complete the transaction. Salma stands her up; Annie and Eyal later find her dead in her apartment. When her murderer tries to flee the scene, Eyal chases him across rooftops (Covert Affairs has had some pretty good foot chase scenes, this one among them. Certainly better than their car chases, which tend to bring episodes crashing to a halt). Salma’s killer falls to his death from a high rooftop to avoid capture by Eyal.
While Annie was in possession of Salma’s expensive handbag, she’d taken notice of a Post-It Note listing a train route number and arrival time. Even though her mission ended with Salma’s death, she stakes out the train station in the hopes of spotting Salma’s mysterious Syrian contact. Thanks to a surprise bit of assistance from Eyal, Annie manages to snap a valuable photograph of the man. However, when she goes for celebratory drinks with Eyal afterwards, Eyal swipes her camera’s memory card and takes off.
Dashing and roguish spies. They’ll lead you into trouble every time, Annie. It’s what they do.
Annie chases after Eyal. She spots him being bundled into a van, presumably by the Syrians. She follows them to a cabin in the woods, torches the van, creates a big messy disturbance, and, after a series of hijinks and foibles and crackling romantic sparks, manages to get both herself and Eyal to safety.
Covert Affairs? Forget Ben. Eyal is where it’s at. Trust me on this.
Annie returns to Langley, her mission a success, except for the part where her would-be asset got totally murdered. Acting on Eyal’s advice, she comes partially clean with Danielle, who thinks she was on an innocent trip to Topeka for the Smithsonian. She doesn’t go as far as to tell her sister she’s a CIA operative, but she does explain that she was actually in Paris, so… baby steps.
Excellent episode. For once, the main plot, while a little lightweight, didn’t seem like an afterthought. Annie and Eyal are fun together, and Joan and Auggie and Jai were delightful. No progress was made on any of the long-running plots -- the Ben situation, the mole, the negative campaign against Arthur -- but the episode itself was brisk and breezy enough to stand up on its own. Let’s hope they keep this up.