‘Covert Affairs’ 1.06 Recap: “You’re Oddly Mesmerizing”

If I haven’t always seemed enthusiastic about ‘Covert Affairs’ in previous recaps, I suppose I should clarify that I do actually, you know, like the show for the most part. I must, or else I wouldn’t still be watching it, right? You don’t see me continue to recap ‘Scoundrels‘, if that’s even still on. It became clear after a few episodes of that one that it wasn’t holding my interest. If ‘Covert Affairs’ hasn’t quite lived up to its potential, at least I still feel that it has potential. Last week’s episode, ‘Houses of the Holy’, confirms that belief, and is one of the better entries since the pilot.

The plot of the week: After several highly-classified Special Forces missions go bad, the DPD determines that there must be a mole in the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is a very serious accusation, and must be kept under wraps for as long as possible. Annie and a pair of other newbies are sent undercover on Capitol Hill – the belief being that fresh faces will blend in most easily with all the interns and young staffers.

Annie is assigned to investigate the Committee Chair (D.W. Moffett from ‘Friday Night Lights’), who is the least likely suspect. Using her cover as a Smithsonian employee, she cooks up a scheme about having to replace the art in his office, which is on loan from the museum. This gives her a lot of face time with the Senator’s wife (Lauren Holly from ‘Picket Fences’, almost unrecognizable underneath all the plastic surgery she’s had done over the years) and his bright-eyed chief of staff named Ashley (Anna Camp, the Church of the Sun bimbo from Season 2 of ‘True Blood‘).

It’s clear within about 10 seconds that the Senator is banging Ashley. It takes Annie a little longer than that to figure it out, but we’ll give her some credit for not being as completely dense and incompetent as usual.

Meanwhile, Auggie is assigned to provide intel to some of his old Special Forces buddies for a top secret mission called Operation Goliath. Will these two storylines intersect, I wonder? Hmmm…

(Incidentally, I have a really hard time buying Christopher Gorham as having ever been a Special Forces badass. But I’m willing to look past it.)

Also, the business with the Senator cheating on his wife hits home for Annie when she catches her brother-in-law acting suspiciously around her sister and later leaving a mid-town hotel in the middle of the day when he’s supposed to be at work.

So, where does this all lead? The Senator’s wife is the mole. Fed up with her husband’s philandering, she’s been feeding little pieces of information (that she doesn’t really understand) to her friend, the wife of the Indonesian ambassador, hoping to ruin his career. She planned to pin the whole thing on Ashley. Annie figures it out and brings the wife in to the CIA to flip her, so that she can lead them back to the bad guys using the info. But it’s too late for that. They’ve already figured out that the game is up, and sent someone to tie up loose ends by killing Ashley. Unless Annie can save her first, of course.

As shouldn’t be too hard to predict, Operation Goliath is compromised. Only Auggie’s quick-thinking resourcefulness can warn his old buddies after they’ve gone into Radio Silence.

Annie also confronts her brother-in-law, and discovers that he wasn’t having an affair. He lost his job and has been too afraid to tell his wife. He was at the hotel for a job fair. Annie convinces him to come clean to her sister.

‘Houses of the Holy’ may be a little light on action. It only has one notable fight scene, set at a rowing house. (Ashley rows in her spare time.) Nevertheless, it’s a pretty well-plotted episode. All the story threads tie together nicely. It has a strong balance of Annie’s personal and professional lives. Most of all, Annie is actually a good agent in this one. She cracks the case all on her own, without anyone needing to tell her how to do everything, or do it for her, as usually happens.

I hope that future episodes can continue to build in this direction. USA recently announced that the series has already been picked up for a second season. If it’s going to last, we’ll need to believe that Annie can actually make a plausible spy. That hasn’t always been the case this season.

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