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State of Affairs - Deadcheck - Review + Season Reflection: "A Learning Experience"

The thirteenth and final episode of freshman NBC drama State of Affairs screened last night, and while it had a sizable cliffhanger, the chances of NBC offering a second season to the series is slim to put it lightly.

Nevertheless, the season (series?) finale was a reasonably good episode in general. Titled "Deadcheck" it had story by Dario Scardapane & Samantha Stratton, with teleplay by Joe Carnahan & Michael Perri. Joe Carnahan also directed the episode.

With all the dirty laundry laid bare in last week's penultimate hour, I found last night's hour contained very little that actually surprised me. Perhaps most importantly, we knew it was Victor Gantry's Krieg Group (TKG) who had formed Ar Rissalah and was seeking to use it as leverage to gain hitman style contracts from the US government. A good part of the episode was spent playing this out, with Gantry and President Payton locking horns in the Oval Office over the issue. We knew Kurt had no intention of betraying the CIA despite working under Gantry, and we saw that come to fruition also.

While all that was taking place on home soil, Charlie winged her way to Baraki, Afghanistan, on a quest to end Omar Fatah's reign of terror. While I personally wouldn't have worn a white shirt into a gunfight for fear of getting spotted as well as getting it dirty, Charlie did anyway, and fortunately she got (very, very) lucky and was able to clean out Fatah's troops with the help of a mysterious marksman, and after a war of words, decked Fatah once and for all. I must say I was very pleased he got what he deserved.

However before all this, Charlie bizarrely resigned from her CIA position, and confessed to President Payton what she was up to. Payton basically said yes to the whole thing and gave Charlie her own private number. What's more, the CIA team were with her all the way, providing intel to Charlie while she was in the field. So why she resigned is beyond me. Payton's chief of staff also pulled the pin, but his reasons were far better outlined and justified. The same could be said for Payton's husband, Marshall, wanting his wife to give up the White House.

Perhaps the one big unknown the hour produced was the remaining Ar Rissalah bombings, but even this was rather underdone. One of the bombs took out a mall, another nabbed a ute, but all but one of the others were deactivated without any harm done. Charlie must have a degree in astronomy because it was her that connected the dots - literally - to determine the locations of the bombs were correlated to the stars that make up the Pegasus constellation.

Let's be honest - the story was pretty ordinary. It may have done the job for a standard episode during the season, but it was well short of the standard needed in a season finale. Joe Carnahan's directing was also a drop from last week's excellent work by Ben Bray. The one shining light where Carnahan did do a good job was in the dream sequences when Charlie was thinking about Nick.

That brings me to the two cliffhangers the season finale leaves fans with. The first is the identity of the mystery marksman. I believe one could safely assume said marksman was the man driving the truck down to greet Charlie after she finished off Fatah. Could it be that Nick is still alive, or could it be Aaron Payton? The second cliffhanger is that unmistakable sound of an incoming missile, and Charlie appears to have her eyes locked onto it. I don't have to explain what is probably going to happen next.

I have to admit those cliffhangers are pretty solid, but it's a shame we'll probably never see the outcome. It sums up the season for the most part - there were several moments of brilliance and a few very good episodes, combined with likable characters and a high standard of acting, but the storyline was tough to follow, and some of the storyline forks that occurred during the season simply weren't executed well enough. After a good episode focused on one fork, the next episode would leave said fork hanging and focus on something else.

Though the characters were good for the most part, and the office vibe I've discussed numerous times was a real positive, I found myself thinking during the last few days how much the character of Charleston Tucker has deviated away from what we were promised in the series premiere. We saw a woman who was damaged, slept around, drank to excess, and was still very much in love with her dead fiancée. When Nick Vera was more heavily introduced after the first three or four episodes, the character changed completely, and the vast majority of the romantic stuff was between Charlie and Nick. It's as if Aaron Payton was forgotten altogether, and the damaged woman who we were introduced to was suddenly reformed, with no more therapy sessions in this year's run of episodes. With where the storyline has ended up now after 13 episodes, I think the "original" Charleston Tucker would have provided much more interesting and compelling viewing, because damaged characters are far easier to explore and unravel compared to one which carries no such demons.

Hopefully creator Alexi Hawley, the writers, directors and producers, will take a few lessons away from their work with State of Affairs, and come up with something more original, easier to understand, and more compelling and interesting. It'll have been a good learning experience for all involved.

Thanks for reading my State of Affairs season finale review, and my other reviews throughout the season. The next NBC drama I'm very keenly awaiting is Odyssey, which is starting to see some promotion as the series premiere edges closer. Keep an eye out for Daniel van der Veer's series premiere advance preview and his ongoing reviews throughout its season. Odyssey has a lot going for it - its pilot was fantastic, and perhaps more importantly, it's just the kind of show I enjoy. I''ll leave it to Daniel to fill you in on the rest.

Odyssey premieres Sunday, April 5, 10|9c, on NBC.

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand, and works in the IT industry. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, The Blacklist, The 100, How To Get Away With Murder, Elementary and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.
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