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With the first season of Covert Affairs drawing to a close, the two episode Finale should have caped off the loose ends, or at least given direction to where they were going. While it is hard to look at these episodes as anything more than a near miss, just like the whole season, you can see what they are trying to do. Even though it was billed as the two hour finale it really wasn’t. We got two almost completely unrelated episodes, except for a few holdover plotlines and there is no indication of how much time has elapsed between the two hours.
The first episode, I Can’t Quit You Baby takes Annie to England for her first completely 'in the dark' mission. She has to gain the trust of an aid at the consulates office in hopes of getting information about a smuggling operation. The cast builds it up to be her biggest mission yet, but we had just seen her in Zurich completely off the radar and we saw her chase down an ex-CIA looking for vengeance. Tricking some poor woman into bringing her into something far too big for her just didn’t seem all that dangerous, in comparison. The scenes with Annie playing an espionage role are well done and at this point we believe that she is a spy. This is a pretty big feat, that the show should be commended for. Remember back to the beginning when she was too wide eyed and didn’t really sell herself as a spy, now think about how we now see Annie. She gets stuff done regardless of the odds; she is a female Jack Bauer.
The main story is pretty uninteresting. We have seen this story before countless times, but the saving grace is the way Annie thinks herself through it. Every situation is foreign but her skills, for example her ability to speak six languages, even the playing field and all are genuinely engaging. The side-stories start to become more interesting with Jai’s father, played by Gregory Itzin perfectly, who comes back to the CIA to advise Arthur and try to weasel his way back into his previous position. In the second part of the finale there is payoff for his storyline, which also wraps up another far more convoluted side-story. Annie’s sister needs a favor from Annie that eventually finds Auggie entertaining a class full of kids at the Smithsonian (Auggie comes to the rescue again). Auggie makes a good impression on Annie’s sister and along with a very quick piece of dialogue in the second episode, adds fuel to the Annie-Auggie non relationship. Before I go on, I have to say that the possible relationship is being handled pretty well. I originally feared the ‘will then or wont they’ stuff but the show is taking it slow and has not made either of the character annoying or incapable of holding a scene on their own. I may not be sold on the relationship, but at least it hasn’t detracted anything from the show…..yet
The second episode When The Levee Breaks is structured more as a true finale, taking the Ben Mercer storyline and putting it at the forefront. In the past few weeks Mercer has gone from a phantom to both Annie and the CIA, to the mechanism of Annie’s character development and the slow delving out of plot.
At this point I am a bit tired of Ben Mercer. In the beginning we knew he was important and then we learned that something happen. I still don’t know what this something was. He says that meeting Annie changed his mind about things. What things and how? They were only together for a few weeks. Now I do not mean to be a cold hearted cynic but the guy worked for the CIA in black ops and little Annie changed his mind by hanging out on a beach?
The episode starts with a teacher in Hong Kong being captured and Mercer turning himself into the CIA. He needs their help to free the teacher. They had worked together years ago in Sri Lanka…..at the same time that he and Annie met. The CIA agrees to help him because it will help stop the potential chemical weapon the professor was supposed to work on. Mercer says that the only one he trusts is Annie and requests that she accompany him on the mission. Annie takes a moment then agrees.
In Sri Lanka we get surprisingly little information about the events that lead the two being together. It seemed like the perfect time to outline exactly what happen 2 years ago but Annie never asked. Jai is obviously uncomfortable with Annie going with Mercer, both because he has something for her and also because he doesn’t trust Mercer. The revelation we got not too long ago about Annie remembering that Jai was there seems to have fallen the wayside. Jai acknowledges it but if I am not mistaken Annie doesn’t and nor does her demeanor around Jai change.
Ultimately Mercer, Jai, and Annie are forced to work together to save the teacher. The last couple of minutes are pretty intense. This one scene has more fighting then the entire rest of the season. The season ends on a cliffhanger that unfortunately, really doesn’t interest me. Don’t get me wrong I want to watch more of the show but the plot thread left dangling is so-so.
The episodes were good but not great. They were entertaining but really did very little to progress the show. Next season has some growing up to do.