After a fairly solid installment with the previous episode, I’m not sure what to think this time around. “Covert Affairs” is decidedly average, even as it entertains, and even though I tune in regularly, it’s hardly at the top of my DVR queue. This episode did nothing to change my mind about that.
One of the biggest problems has always been the inconsistency in the depiction of Annie’s competence level, and that’s true in this episode as well. She has enough skill to be assigned to this mission in Argentina, but she’s still stumbling her way through the basics of field work. I still can’t help point to Sydney Bristow of “Alias”, a character with similar traits, who met the ever-changing state of play with far more confidence (and was all the more compelling for it).
At least this episode had more interaction, however indirectly, with the HQ. Even so, they had to find a way to complicate that side of the equation again, just to force Annie to make more decisions on her own. Which would be fine, except half the fun is the interplay between Annie, Auggie, and the rest of the supporting cast. We’ve not seen nearly enough of that lately.
This is partially due to an ongoing campaign to get us to care about the secondary characters. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Arthur could never show up again, and it wouldn’t hurt the series one bit. No one would miss his subplots. I’m even on the fence with Jai and Joan. Joan is more integral to Annie’s side of the equation, but when was the last time that Jai did something more than act cryptic?
Auggie would be far more of a loss, so this promotion subplot does generate a bit of much-needed tension. Just looking at the fan reaction during and after this episode, it was a huge dramatic twist. Could this be how they intend to shake things up and get other characters involved? If so, I hope it’s not at the expense of the Annie/Auggie interactions, which have been the source of most of the compelling chemistry on the show.
As for Annie’s mission and Carlos, I found it slightly irritating. As usual, the backgrounds look ridiculously fake whenever they try to use green-screen (and I still don’t know why they can’t figure out the decades-old technology), and Carlos just got on my nerves more than anything else. I also thought the situation resolved itself a bit abruptly in the final act.
As much as I would love to give “Covert Affairs” a pass as a “summer series”, it still has fundamental storytelling issues that keep it from being as solid as other USA fare.
Final Rating: 6/10