Another week of COVERT AFFAIRS, another babysitting episode with yet another crybaby asset who wants nothing to do with Annie or the CIA. It’s a wonder the agency considers these people assets. Well, in this case, Italian reporter Carlo held some value as trade bait, so it didn’t really matter if he had any specific knowledge that would have to be extracted from his unwilling head. But would it kill the writers to have somebody want to cooperate?
The twist on the formula this week was that Annie’s mission on foreign soil was kept off formal government channels, so she was not “officially” on a mission for the CIA – meaning she had no protection if she were involved in any altercation and captured. You can see where this story is going, can’t you? Of course you can…
Annie (Piper Perabo) was assigned to shepherd a prisoner exchange involving Italian journalist Carlo (Ignacio Serricchio, ex-Diego, GENERAL HOSPITAL) that would take place in Argentina. An Italian official insisted the exchange take place off the books, so Annie was on her own. When an Eastern European hit man broke up the exchange, Annie and Carlo were left to their own devices – which included being handcuffed together most of the time. Hunted by Argentine authorities and the hitter, Annie got to know the package – a crusading reporter who uncovered a scandal linking oil exploration to the very Italian official who wanted the exchange kept hush-hush! Joan (Kari Matchett) butted heads with Argentine minister Jorge (Benito Martinez), who doggedly insisted on pursuing Annie because she had no official sanction. Meanwhile, back at Langley, Arthur (Peter Gallagher) offered Auggie (Christopher Gorham) a promotion to congressional liaison that would preclude him from ever venturing into the field again.
Serricchio gave Carlo all the bluster of a stereotypical ladies’ man; however, he eventually fell under the spell of Annie Walker – as every COVERT AFFAIRS script rigidly demands. As I’ve admitted before, I am not immune to Perabo’s charms, but having the roguish Carlo fall for her stretched credibility more than a little. I suppose one could argue that they were under extreme circumstances and, as the movie Speed taught us, extreme circumstances can bring unlikely pairs together.
As shocked as Carlo was that Annie didn’t have a gun, I was even more amazed. Wasn’t this issue addressed last week, when Annie completed her firearms training at the Farm? Why isn’t she packing this week? The episodes have been shown in production order so far this season, so this seems like an error by the script editor.
Auggie’s situation was interesting on two levels. The other, much more interesting, made veiled references to Arthur using Auggie as a PR gambit: “Look at Arthur; he’s so enlightened that he’s promoting the poor blind agent!” Gorham was crafty in having Auggie acknowledge that he could be used, but hinting that Auggie was interested in the prestigious promotion. I’m pretty sure Auggie will turn down the job – which doubtless will irk Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) even more. And that’s all Jai ever gets to do: fume at people and stroll away impotently while looking uncomfortable in his tailored suit…
Martinez – so wonderful as the politically ambitious Aceveda on THE SHIELD – made for an interesting Jorge; the baggage that Martinez brought to the role made me instantly suspicious of Jorge’s motives, and his veiled threats about what will happen the next time he runs into Joan show some menace. Let’s hope the writers don’t leave that thread dangling forever.
And despite being essentially a chase story, this episode was surprisingly limp and slow-moving. I think the reason is that the story beats were all so very predictable. Joan hit the nail on the head when she brushed off Annie’s epiphany that the package was not what they suspected: Joan pointed out they are. The audience was able to stay at least three steps ahead of this simplistic story, from anticipating that Annie would catch Carlo trying to slip out the restroom window, to anticipating Jorge personally riding to Annie’s rescue. (Seriously, don’t all government bureaucrats itch to get out of the office and shoot hit men?) I’m beginning to think someone needs to ride to COVERT AFFAIRS’ rescue and shake up this already formulaic series.