‘Covert Affairs’ 4.01 Recap: “So, That Happened”

If ‘Suits‘ is, rather indisputably, the USA Network’s best original series, then ‘Covert Affairs’ is… well, it’s not. That’s not to say that it’s the worst, but I certainly can’t justify it as better than a guilty pleasure. Even so, I can’t be the only one still watching. The show started its fourth season last week. As you might expect, it’s still plugging along, much the same as before.

I’ve never bought into the love affair storyline between Annie and Auggie. The two characters had more of a sibling-like relationship in the first couple of seasons. Nonetheless, the writers decided to foist an unrequited love angle onto the two of them last season, which was finally consummated in the finale. I guess if Booth and Bones can make it work, why not try it here too? This feels unnecessary to me, but what can you do?

The Season 4 premiere is called ‘Vamos’, thus kicking off the new theme of using Pixies songs for episode titles. (Each season of the show borrows track listings from a new band.) Annie and Auggie are officially a couple. Oh boy, are they ever. The episode spends a lot of time with them hopping into and out of bed.

As they contemplate disclosing their relationship to the CIA, the devious Henry Wilcox (Gregory Itzin) gives Annie evidence implicating her boss Arthur Campbell (Peter Gallagher) in a potential scandal that involves funneling money to a Colombian terrorist called “The Puma.” Auggie may also be involved. Of course, Annie is immediately suspicious of Wilcox’s motives and information. Auggie advises her to leave it alone, but Annie jets off to Colombia anyway to follow the money trail, in hopes of clearing both Arthur and Auggie’s names. Auggie follows soon after to assist and look after her (because, after all, Annie is generally an incompetent spy). It never once occurs to Annie that Auggie, who’s been named in connection with this scandal, might have reason to see that she doesn’t dig too far into it. Again, this just goes back to her incompetence.

Not long after arriving in Medellin, Auggie gets shot in the shoulder and the two of them are kidnapped by the Puma guy, who assumes that they’ve been sent by Arthur and shoos them along home with a message that he wants Arthur to stay out of his business. And that’s basically the extent of their trip. It’s kind of hilarious how little they accomplish on this mission. In fact, Annie only learns one vital piece of information – that the Puma is Arthur’s illegitimate son (hence the financial support) – which Auggie knew all along and tells her on the plane home. There was no point to them leaving the U.S. at all.

Back in Washington, Arthur has gotten wind that this story is about to break. In order to get out in front of it, he holds a conference at CIA Headquarters where he announces his resignation, claiming that he’s had an extramarital affair. Annie whispers to Auggie that, “This changes everything.” Does it, though? Really?

In another allegedly big revelation, Arthur’s wife Joan is surprised to learn that she’s pregnant. We in the audience, who can quite visibly see that actress Kari Matchett was about six months or so along at the time of filming and tried to hide it with loose clothing, are much less surprised.

This is a pretty uneventful season premiere, though the episode appears to have actually shot on location in Colombia. You can tell by the marked drop in the quality of the digital photography, which looks much duller and smearier in outdoor scenes there than it does in indoor scenes (undoubtedly shot on soundstages in Los Angeles or Canada) or the scenes that take place in Washington. I guess the production didn’t have access to any decent cameras in that location.

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