Covert Affairs, Season Two (2011)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

If you are curious what to compare this to, think of it as a “soft” version of the now gone ABC show Alias. Having now seen the latter, I can honestly make that leap and not just make educated assumptions; the similarities are not far-fetched. This network has standards and those consist of always producing shows that are whimsical and overall, cheerful. There can be realistic conflict but there does have to be a happy medium. With that being the case, we get to say: Hello, happy. Goodbye, suspense.  

Unfortunately for Annie Walker (Piper Perabo), the reason she joined the CIA – and unbeknownst to her, the only reason she was recruited – is back. CIA novice-in-training, Annie first joined the agency not out of a stoic duty to American patriotism but a guy. Come to find out, Ben was not just any guy Annie met serendipitously, he is Ben Mercer (Eion Bailey), an agent who is presumed to have gone rogue. Seizing their opportunity, the agency recruits Annie hoping she will lead them to Ben. In the aftermath of their joint mission in Sri Lanka along with the assistance of the ambitious fellow field agent Jai Wilcox (Sedhil Ramamurthy), Annie remains with Ben at the Guam Naval hospital during his recovery – up until the point that he vanishes.  

Back home, Annie is reunited with her sister (Anne Dudek) who believes she is nothing more exciting than a Smithsonian employee. Without the resources to find out where Ben is, Annie has to assume that her boss Joan (Kari Matchett) knows where he is, and that means Langley knows where he is so instead of trying to ply more answers out of her by-the-books boss, she focuses on doing the job she is set to – making contact with a Russian informant. With the assistance of her handler and friend, Auggie (Christopher Gorham), Annie is read in with what she’ll need to check in with the asset who missed her last two check-ins – the question is: why?  

Before this show, I think the three-letter government agency that usually came to mind when in the mind-set of what makes good suspense was the FBI. This light, breezy show can hold its own in dishing out a bombshell or two, and is really an intelligent serial. It isn’t your typical spy caper that blows things sky high or uses guns to dodge pursuers instead Annie uses her smarts to escape capture – and is even encouraged in her training program to rely on intellect not brawn. If that is true or fiction, I do not know but whatever, the show grew leaps and bounds from its freshman season. It knew how to better use its characters and to play to their strengths. 
The writer’s of this show like to take us back into the past and re-introduce characters whom Annie met while on missions. Some may find this distracting because you get the feeling that you are supposed to know the character but cannot remember them. In my viewing, I felt like the story-telling and filming did a nice job in reminding us if we needed it but the episodes also stood alone so that it wasn’t imperative to remember in order to find enjoyment in the installment. Most of these characters are men who seem to fall over Annie – each of them have designs on her for some purpose, one that is (usually) only for their own benefit. If there is one subplot I am a tad irritated at, it would be her wishy-washy emotions. She seems (finally) be coming to terms about that Ben isn’t going to be a sure bet, then writers throw multiple romantic possibilities into the mix, and instead of settling on one – giving it the courtesy of being able to blossom in its own time, all of the relationships are danced around, not drawn out to be anything “special.” A lot of fans want to see Annie and Auggie wind up together, and usually I’d be rooting for that also (they are cute together) but for once, I actually don’t mind that this subplot isn’t falling into the clichéd trap of best-friends-falling-for-each-other. Fans of these would-be lovers will enjoy the ending – whereas I found it sort of “out there,” a realization that there was no legitimate place of origin.    

Covert Affairs comes across as a breezy piece of escapism set in an espionage world of spies gathering intelligence but it has grown in its years of television. There is something about the premise of the girl-next-door turning spy that is fun. Piper pulls that off with all the finesse that she needs to be both characters. I must admit that I don’t always love looks stylists try on her as she is more attractive than some of the ensembles make her seem. When all is said and done, her character is what keeps us returning to find out what is next for the globe-trotting super spy, Annie Walker. Some of the characters fall this season, some of the characters I found myself second-guessing and others I empathized with on a new level. Fortunately, the finale isn't a cliff-hanger in the traditional sense but as previously alluded to, I have issues with its ending. Considering that, there is nothing overt about this gem of a series – everything is a mystery.  

(Rated TV14 for occasional violence [Annie doesn’t carry a gun]; weapons are drawn and fired on people – some barely escape with their life. Women wear inappropriate clothing, including Annie in her form-fitting business attire. Profanity is infrequent but there may be a few instances of it. A man engages in a fling with a stewardess while on an extended trip and then with a former Special Forces friend’s sister; there are some sensual scenes in this context with characters in states of undress.)


  1. I LOVE this show. Looking forward to Season 3!

  2. I've always been curious about this show. Thanks for your reviews!

  3. Ruth - I know, me too! (In a year from now, that is...) The new poster ALONE has me excited!

    Is that bad? LOL! ;-)

    Rosie - it is really quite entertaining. Some viewers don't think it is all that intelligent to be a truly good espionage thriller but I think it has a lot of strengths. Hope you enjoy if you see it.

    Thank you for reading! I appreciate it.

  4. I remember being really surprised somewhat with the finale (not that I minded where Annie's mind was going.....) but like you said it did come out of nowhere!

    Looking forward to Season 3. USA really hasn't let me done during the times when I need SOMETHING to watch =D

  5. I liked the fact that writer's hadn't gone that way, Ella because it was such a cliche; every show seems to put the best friends together and I was just enjoying their friendship. :-) I really wish they hadn't had that will-she-or-won't-she end because it didn't feel well developed - nothing was really leading up to that. On the other hand, I loved that it wasn't the usual cliff-hanger.

    S3 cannot come soon enough to dvd. ;-)


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