‘Covert Affairs’ 3.01 Recap: “First Day on a New Job”

Is it really possible that the USA Network’s dopey spy drama ‘Covert Affairs’ is now in its third season? I guess I’m not the only one out there still watching. I’m not sure what keeps me attached to this series, but it’s frivolous enough entertainment for the summer months. USA’s attempt to extend it into the fall last year was a big miscalculation, and I hope the network has learned from that mistake.

For those of you paying attention to such things, all of the show’s episode titles in Season 1 were named after Led Zeppelin songs, and all of those in Season 2 were R.E.M. songs. The Season 3 premiere ‘Hang on to Yourself’ tells me that we’ve moved on to Bowie. As is often the case, the title has nothing to do with anything in the episode.

The premiere attempts to shake things up a bit. Over the past few months, the network had been teasing audiences with hints that a regular character would be killed off this year. Annie’s annoying and useless sister Danielle seemed like the most obvious candidate. But no, that was apparently a misdirect. Near the start of the episode, Jai asks Annie to meet him for a secret conversation about shady dealings going on in the CIA. As he walks out to his car, Annie has to run back inside the restaurant to grab her umbrella. You know what that means. Yup, it’s car bomb time. Bye bye, Jai.

This is kind of odd timing to write Jai out. The character had finally started to come into his own at the end of Season 2, where he masterminded a ploy that put his scheming father in prison and made himself look like a big hero to the Agency. Technically, we don’t actually see Jai get in the car, so I suppose that he may have faked his death. In fact, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that he drove his car to the restaurant without a problem, but it blew up when he left a few minutes later.

As last we saw Auggie, he was heading off to Africa to find his girlfriend, who’d joined the Peace Corps. He’s back now, and that plot line is barely even mentioned. Auggie is asked to take over Jai’s position while secretly investigating everyone in Jai’s department to find out if they were involved in the murder. This puts him in a difficult position, not least of which because Jai was extremely secretive and refused to keep documented records about anything he’d been working on.

Seemingly as fallout for being with Jai when he died (and thus being a suspect), Annie is reassigned out of the DPD and into a new division. She naturally assumes that this is a punishment, but soon finds that she’s actually been promoted into the big leagues where spies do actual spying and are expected to be good at it. There’s just one problem: Her new boss, Lena, is Nina Myers from ’24’ (Sarah Clarke). That can’t be good. Don’t trust her, Annie!

Lena seems to be a cool boss. Too cool. She (perhaps foolishly) trusts Annie to choose her own missions and follow through with them in a competent manner. Clearly, Lena didn’t bother to read Annie’s file.

For her first new assignment, Annie ships out to Marrakech to investigate a rogue MI6 agent (Richard Coyle from ‘Coupling’) pretending to be a British venture capitalist. In the end, in order to preserve her cover, Annie has to seduce and sleep with the target. Oh, you naughty girl!

The premiere episode is pretty good, as far as ‘Covert Affairs’ goes. It sets up some decent plot lines for the season to follow. The Marrakech storyline features nice location work, including a suspenseful chase scene through a bazaar, and a fairly impressive VFX sequence involving a sandstorm. I guess I’m back on board with the show, though I do wish that somebody would kill off Danielle already.

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