I’ve intentionally stayed away from writing up my thoughts on Covert Affairs in recent weeks after the Auggie episode, but even if I did write each week, it’d feel like I was banging the same, boring drum every time. You know, kind of how the series has done to us over the summer. That said, I figured it was smart to come back to the “two-hour” finale — which was really just two entirely separate episodes packaged together — just to see if anything had really changed or there were some more optimistic prospects for season two. In short: nothing has and no there is not.
Both of these episodes have individual moments there were somewhat memorable, but neither pull it together to create an interesting narrative that really hooked me in. “I Can’t Quit You, Baby” sees Annie go abroad in hopes of catching some major smugglers and as part of her cover, she is called on to be a lush gambler. In those scenes, Piper Perabo really shines. I’m not sure what type of complement it is to say that a lead actresses best moments are when she’s acting out like a moderate alcoholic with a gambling problem, but she handles that almost-out-of-control feeling very well. Aside from that, the episode is mostly flat and full of dry exposition scenes. “I Can’t Quit You” is certainly the most action-light episode of the series I’ve seen.
Meanwhile, the real “finale,” “When the Levee Breaks” stands out for some of the action sequences in the middle part of the episode. I know the production surely didn’t go all the way to Sri Lanka and they probably just had Mexico stand in for those sequences, but the chase through the village and some of the exterior shots were really, really great, especially for a USA series. However, the episode’s climax ruined all of that by setting the fight in a building that was clearly draped in green screen. It’s Warehouse 13-level of green screen, only without the winks and nods. Ew.
And the story in the finale is so muddled and uninteresting that the last ounce of interest I had in the Ben Mercer character is now gone. He shows up and wants back in with the CIA (at least for one job) because the story dictates it so, basically admits he ran off because Annie made him “think about things” and then the story goes from there. At one point there’s a false concern of whether or not he’s a good guy, but because he’s done absolutely nothing to prove that he’s not, it doesn’t really fly with me. And then, he gets shot.
I guess I can appreciate that there isn’t any of USA’s patented (now by me, duh) False Stakes Arc Syndrome where it’s revealed that Ben was working for some bigger syndicate of people who are now REALLY coming after the CIA or some nonsense like that. Instead, the plotting is generic and underwhelming in a way that almost makes me wish that there was some USAFSAS. But no, Covert Affairs is totally okay in taking absolutely no chances with its characters or its narrative.
The one thing I did kind of enjoy about both episodes is the politicking between Jai’s father and the Campbells. I hope Gregory Itzin is around more next season since he plays the scheming bastard so well and am at least somewhat interested in how Joan and Arthur deal with the leak and possible job replacement. It’s not much, but it’s something to look forward to.
But aside from that, I won’t be waiting with bated breath for Covert Affairs to return.