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Covert Affairs - Shady Lane - Review

Covert Affairs is back at last, and Season 5 got off to quite an intriguing start with this premiere.  While Annie returned to the CIA with a request to go back to the way things used to be in the old days, when life was simpler, the truth is that those days are gone.  And from the tension still remaining in her relationship with Auggie, to a big new case that hits close to home and an enigmatic new charmer with his eye on her, trouble and chaos seem to follow Annie no matter what.  Most surprisingly of all, Annie has a major secret that she's keeping from her old CIA friends, one that even the viewers didn't get full insight into just yet.  

A really effective feeling of ongoing, complex affection was immediately established with Annie and Auggie's reunion scene.  One aspect I always find fascinating in their interactions is how they hide certain emotional flourishes from each other through tiny little spy moves.  Even though it should be easier for Annie to do that since he can't see her, we saw Auggie flash a complicated smile and then smooth out his features again after Annie called out to him but before he turned around.  Annie said she wanted Auggie to be her handler again and that she wanted to come back in after faking her death, killing Henry Wilcox, and going missing for four months in the aftermath of those events.  

Is her desire to cut loose all emotional attachments simply an investment in getting her job done, or is life without love just easier?  Annie's gone to dark places and that's a lot to deal with emotionally without having to share it with someone else, too.  Additionally, since she has this medical condition, chances are she'd want to protect Auggie from getting involved with her due to that (and who knows what the reasons or implications of this illness really are?).  Whatever the case, and whether or not Annie and Auggie are destined to get back together, we all know Annie's too much of a marshmallow not to cave into her need for human intimacy again at some point.

This episode set up a lot of chess pieces on the board for what is going to happen this season, and I thought it did so exceptionally well in several respects.  We had Annie come back with all of these "shady" issues and get thrust right into a confounding and shocking mystery where the enemy knows way too much about CIA facilities and intel, with terrifying consequences.  It was good to get the carryover from Khalid still being out there bringing some real consequences, as that was a leftover plot thread. Khalid was clearly being messed with himself in some bizarre scenario he didn't have a chance to explain before being taken out by Auggie's old pal, much to Annie's chagrin.  And then after putting so much work into preventing a bombing by Khalid's associate Borz at the Chicago Board of Trade, the CIA was totally unprepared for the real bombing target: one of their facilities.  It was a bit similar as a season-opening shock to Season 3's scene of Jai getting blown up (and frankly, I'd be surprised if the show can top that excellently game-changing way to kick off a season - Season 3 was my favorite set of episodes so far), but still it was a potent, powerful, scary way to put this new plot in motion.  

I liked pretty much everything this episode did with Calder, including giving him a subplot (what's up with his apparently sketchy lady-friend?  An informant with whom he's gotten close?) that may threaten the security of his new position.  Last season, while he started out as an antagonist to Annie, it was cool to see him grow to be a fairly trusted ally, especially since we know he won't just go along with anything because Annie says so - and that's something she needs.  That Calder could see through Annie's lies on the truth test in this episode, just as Auggie did, also shows how close they've grown as teammates.  And even though he got the promotion he was so ambitious about, as DCS, Calder was respectful towards Joan about the situation that places her ranked below him.  From an annoying bee in the characters' bonnets, Calder has come to be a worthy member of the main ensemble in his own right.

The time has come to talk about the cutest thing in the world that ever happened.
OMG, baby Mack!  So adorable.  I love that Joan and Arthur have found happiness and contentment in their personal life, even though their careers are in rougher territory.  Arthur did receive an offer to join the private security organization run by this season's mysterious new series regular,  McQuade.  Interestingly, Arthur seemed uncertain if the private sector was for him until he saw the news report that was covering for the bombing at the CIA.  This seems to have nudged him to get back in the game anyway he can...though what he plans to do to help through his new opportunity with McQuade is an interesting question.
Speaking of McQuade, so far I like him, and not just because Nic Bishop looks like Benjamin McKenzie's hot older brother.  He's a smooth-talker who clearly has some tricks up his sleeves to accelerate plotlines and keep our other characters on their toes.  Obviously, McQuade instinctively has good taste in highly skilled agents since he wanted Arthur on board so badly and zeroed in on Annie within moments of meeting her (there's a flirtatious vibe there that Annie seems immune to so far, but I think having a little fun wouldn't kill her).  Clearly, like all characters of his ilk, McQuade could well turn out to be evil, but friend or foe, I'm intrigued to see where the show will take his character.

As far as what I'd like to see in Season 5, well...I suppose "bringing Simon Fischer back to life" is off the table.  Ha, so moving on from that, I want answers about Annie's medical problems sooner rather than later, as I'm worried about her.  I like the idea of Annie and Auggie hitting reset on their relationship because even though they are adorable together, I also don't mind them just being friends for a while...I can never really decide if these two are meant to be, and maybe they need a break to see if they end up being drawn together once more.  Obviously, it would be great to have Eyal come back (I'm one of those viewers that always liked him with Annie more than having her with Auggie, and also he's just a terrific, invigorating character to have around). As for my ultimate classy duo Arthur and Joan, they can't help being awesomeness personified no matter what they do, so I always trust them to bring some cool and enjoyable storylines and badass moments along the way.  With a case as high stakes and intense as the one Annie's so quickly been saddled with upon her return, these next few episodes are relatively certain to be compelling - here's hoping the rest of the season follows suit!

What did you think of the season premiere, and what would you like to see happen this season on Covert Affairs?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author - Virginia Mae Fontana
Virginia is happy to be reviewing The Vampire Diaries, Hart of Dixie, Nashville, Beauty and the Beast, Witches of East End, Covert Affairs, and Continuum for Spoiler TV. She is a college English instructor and enjoys obsessing over films and pop music - in addition to tv shows, of course! You can find her blog, SugarRushed, at http://virginiamaeblog.blogspot.com/ and her Twitter handle is @SugarRushedBlog
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