The producers of ‘Covert Affairs’ have apparently stumbled onto an important formula to guarantee viewer satisfaction: When lacking the budget for proper action scenes or even vaguely exotic locations, start the episode with a gratuitous sexy dress-up montage that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the plot. It’s cheap, easy, and star Piper Perabo doesn’t seem to mind. It’s a recipe for success!
In last week’s episode ‘Around the Sun’, Annie is assigned to investigate a NASA scientist (Mark Moses from ‘Desperate Housewives’) who’s suspected of leaking information about government surveillance satellites to Columbian rebels. Annie has trouble believing this when she meets him, because he seems like such a nice guy and a great single dad to his teenage son. Of course, this leads to valuable lessons about how everyone has weaknesses that can be exploited. In this case, it turns out that the Columbians had gotten to the son first and tricked him into compromising his father.
At Langley, Auggie has accepted the promotion to become the new head of the Office of Congressional Affairs, which will make him one of the few public faces of the CIA. As a result, Annie has to work with a new tech-ops specialist, an emotionless robo-nerd named Reva (Jaimie Alexander from ‘Kyle XY’) who doesn’t interact well with other human beings. Reva makes the mistake of questioning an order that Joan gives her, which leads to a very harsh dressing-down in front of everyone. Annie later finds Reva crying, and realizes that she really does have feelings and just needs a friend.
Things don’t go so well for Auggie in his new job at first. His head is so stuck in the covert mindset that he has trouble adapting to the overt role. For his first assignment, he writes a press release that Arthur finds hugely disappointing. He eventually figures it out and writes a more suitable release, but decides that he’s just not cut out for the job and asks for a demotion back to his old position before making any public appearances.
I figured that this is where the Auggie storyline would lead, but I’m disappointed at how quickly it happened. I would have liked to see this drawn out for a few episodes at least. As Auggie returns, the implication is that Reva will be sent back to her old job as well. However, she appears in the scenes for the next episode, so the show must be trying to introduce her as a regular.
The third major storyline finds Arthur and Joan frustrated with their expensive lawyer, who appears to be billing them for a lot of hours while he really heads out to the Hamptons to play tennis. Just as they’re about to fire him, they realize that he was using the time to schmooze with an important Senator who manages to call off the investigation into Arthur. I guess that’s the end of his scandal troubles. Again, I feel like this storyline was wrapped up too quickly and conveniently. I also think that Arthur would be politically savvy enough to understand what his lawyer was doing.
As mentioned, the episode has basically no action whatsoever. Annie has to distract the NASA guy for a few minutes by flirting with him while Jai snoops around his apartment planting bugs. Then, in a last-minute twist that doesn’t serve much purpose other than to pad the episode a few extra minutes, the Columbians kidnap the scientist’s son. Annie has to rescue him, but manages to do this with a bare minimum of running around or shooting.
Despite my tone above, ‘Around the Sun’ actually isn’t a bad episode. As a filler ep, it’s fairly decent, really. But it is a filler ep, and doesn’t do much to disguise that fact.