Entertainment Magazine

Review #3682: Covert Affairs 3.9: “Suffragette City”

Posted on the 13 September 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: John Keegan

Written by Tamara Becher
Directed by Félix Alcalá

I’ve long said that the only way this season could make sense is if Annie’s experiences and choices were being driven by superiors for a larger purpose. My suspicion was that it had more to do with Arthur and Lena working together to investigate Jai’s death, putting Annie into something of a double-blind deep cover role. This episode makes it clear that it’s not quite that complicated, which helps maintain the integrity of some characters, while undermining others.

Review #3682: Covert Affairs 3.9: “Suffragette City”

As far as I’m concerned, Annie’s poor choices this season are more or less exonerated by the reveal that Lena was the mole inside the Agency. Annie was effectively selected because of her lack of experience and Lena’s ability to mold her into the patsy that she needed; she can be competent without being superhumanly immune to bad influence. And while I’m still not sold on the notion that Jai’s death was this major event for everyone, given his spotty presence in the first two seasons, I can accept that the writers have long established that it was so.

Of course, the downside is that Lena is a bit obvious as a villain; after all, she’s played by the same actress that was the infamous mole Nina on “24”. (Memorable enough that I regularly misname this character Nina!) It was precisely my hope that she would be playing a more nuanced character, a department head with good intentions but questionable practices, that made this so disappointing.

Worse, she’s a terrible villain. I mentioned in the review for the previous episode that her true intentions weren’t clear, because a good CIA-trained operative knows the value of a well-placed headshot. Why leave the possibly of Annie’s survival? More than that, how foolish could she be to wear her perfume when conducting assassinations? Scents linger, as we all know. And she had to know Auggie would be crawling all over the investigation, and he has more experience than most in recognizing scents.

But the real issue is that Arthur’s character arc this season was dependent on the idea that he was masterminding this clandestine operation to get to the heart of the organization that Jai was investigating (and presumably killed him), and that’s looking highly unlikely after this episode. It renders the character even more of a waste than he had been previously. I enjoy Peter Gallagher on this show, and he brings what he can to the performance, but this is a character that has been hobbled time and again.

If it wasn’t for the incredible chemistry between Annie and Auggie, and how it informs Auggie’s actions in this episode, the whole series might be on the verge of collapse. But Auggie’s crusade to clear Annie and find the real mole made perfect sense, given their rapport. With Simon gone and Auggie realizing his commitment to Annie more than ever, I see the two of them leading the charge against Lena. And if anything is going to overcome the stumbling with Arthur and Lena’s characterizations at this point, it’s going to be those two!

Writing: 1/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Final Score: 7/10

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