Something funny happened a couple episodes ago on “Covert Affairs”. The writers wrapped up a silly little subplot with Arthur and Joan, and started focusing on Annie’s side of the equation almost exclusively. And lo and behold, with a couple shifts in the typical format, the show has improved. It doesn’t hurt that the writers have stopped treating Annie like she’s a complete novice.
Having Riva around to play the savant with little to no field experience may have helped in that regard. Annie doesn’t have to be the one making the mistakes; she’s now the one with the vital perspective needed to keep them alive long enough for Jai and the rest of the cavalry to arrive. The fact that they are being hunted down by the Belarus secret police (who don’t seem all that secret, when you think about it) adds particular urgency.
Joan does have a subplot, but since it is all about getting some support to rescue Annie and Riva, it’s not intrusive and actually pertains to the story. Even the subplot with Annie’s sister is indirectly connected to Annie’s current circumstance. It’s rare for an episode of this series to be this cohesive, so it was a great change of pace and well worth the wait. Sure, Annie is off on her own with a guest star, running around an ostensibly foreign country, but the rest of the cast is engaged in her situation, so it doesn’t feel as isolating as it did in various earlier episodes of the season.
As I mentioned, my enjoyment of the episode tracks proportionally to Annie’s competency, so it is a fair assumption that I liked her a great deal this time around. She only made a few judgment errors, but mostly for the sake of storytelling (like openly discussing CIA matters with Riva). Basically, she wasn’t any more error-prone than any other agent, so there was little room for complaint.
And there was the bonus of having Jai in the field doing something, instead of standing around looking cryptic. I like that his humorous moments came from situations out of his control, not foolish decisions. Maybe it’s just the fact that I found his character to be extraneous up to this point, and I’m just glad to see the actor (whose name I won’t try to spell at this point) get something to do.
It may be mildly premature to say so, but the second season may have finally hit its stride. The last few episodes have been pretty good. It’s far from my favorite show on the air right now, but it’s getting to the point where it’s holding its own.
Final Rating: 8/10