Episode Title: "Good Advices"
Writer: Stephen Hootstein
Director: Ken Girotti
Previously on "Covert Affairs":
Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) saved her sometimes lover and fellow spy, Ben Mercer (Eion Bailey) and she got him safely back to the United States. However, Ben was soon secreted away from his military hospital without any trace of his existence left behind. While Annie closed a case on a Tennis pro who she suspected was a potential assassin, her boss Arthur Campbell (Peter Gallagher) offered Ben a new job working directly for the CIA. Ben accepted the position, even though he knew that it would separate himself from Annie once again.
Several days before her birthday, Annie is stunned when Auggie (Christopher Gorham) and the rest of the office throws her an impromptu celebration. But Annie takes it to mean that Auggie is aware that she has an upcoming mission that will keep her away on her actual birthday. Annie's boss, Joan Campbell (Kari Matchett) aka the Queen of the Harpies, calls Annie into her office and briefs her on her next mission. Somehow, Annie interprets Joan's unintelligible squawking to mean that she is to go to Paris to convince a young woman named Salma Devrient (Helena Soubeyrand) into becoming a CIA asset.
Meanwhile, Joan spreads her wings to joyfully sign up for jury duty while leaving Auggie in charge during her absence. For those of you keeping score at home, Daredevil is now in charge of our national defense. In Paris, Annie has a little bit too much fun tailing Salma and learning her routine. She even buys a six thousand dollar handbag identical to Salma's just to make the switch and get an excuse to meet with her in person. Once together, Annie is able to convince Salma to stay and share a bottle of wine with her before inviting her to come to an art event later that evening.
Back in the states, the judge overhears Joan chirping orders to Annie and Auggie through her cell while in the jury box and she chastises her (possibly by taking the newspaper out of her cage for a week). In Paris, Annie is well on her way to earning Salma's confidence until she encounters Mossad agent Eyal Lavin (Oded Fehr), an old ally and rival who has already ingratiated himself to Salma as her potential lover. Annie and Lavin compete over Salma's attention until they grab a limo and leave the event.
Inside the luxury vehicle, Salma reveals that she is aware that Annie is from the CIA and Lavin is from Mossad and that they both want to find out what she knows about a terrorist arms dealer named Kanaan (Ricky Sethi) who has never even been photographed by the spy agencies. Salma wants to auction off her info to the highest bidder and leaves Annie and Lavin behind to contemplate her proposal. Although Annie and Lavin both play dumb, they ultimately both agree to Salma's offer and show up at her hotel room unaware that Salma had been playing them off of each other. However, they also find Salma murdered in her room. Going their separate ways, Annie realizes that Salma may have written down where Kanaan would be later that day.
At the train station, Annie recognizes Kanaan as one of the guests at the art event and Lavin actually shows up and tricks Kanaan into facing Annie's camera. Later, Annie and Lavin celebrate their success, but he takes the opportunity to remove the memory card from her camera… moments before Kanaan kidnaps him. Annie follows the van in a French cab and watches as Lavin is led in for torture. With backup too far away, Annie decides to blow up the van outside and sneak into the compound. She frees Lavin and as they attempt to escape, Kanaan and one of his goons gets the drop on Annie.
However, Lavin repays Annie for his life by killing the goon and shooting Kanaan. At the airport, Annie berates Lavin for stealing her memory card and he admits that he swallowed it for safekeeping. They part ways warmly, and he leaves a message with Annie wishing her a happy birthday.
I wish I could say otherwise, but "Covert Affairs" is a chore to watch.
I resolved to give the series a second chance this summer, but after two episodes I'm almost ready to give up. It's like "Covert Affairs" is the bizarre hybrid of a "chick flick" and a spy series, but with most of the espionage watered down so much that it makes "Undercovers" look like "24.'
Piper Perabo is a redeeming factor for the show, but she's not a strong enough performer to make it work. She actually gets a boost this week thanks to some good chemistry with Oded Fehr's Eyal Lavin. It was interesting to see Lavin and Annie hitting on each other even as he constantly tried to trick or undermine her. I think the series would be a lot more fun if Fehr was a regular, just to see Annie and Lavin constantly attempting one up each other.
However, "Covert Affairs" faces its greatest failing in the form of its supporting cast. I'm not a big fan of Auggie, but he's tolerable in small doses. The character I really can't stand is Joan, who is perhaps the most worthless boss ever on television. So, of course minutes of this episode were wasted following Joan on jury duty. It's bad enough giving a lot of screentime to a character who isn't compelling, but to go that extra mile and make her subplot boring beyond reason? Congratulations, "Covert Affairs," you've just wasted my time!
When it looked like Salma was going to spend the episode outsmarting Annie and Lavin, my interest started to perk up. And that was actually a good move to kill off her character just as we were starting to become invested in her. But the payoff of Annie and Lavin getting the photograph of Kanaan was a little weak. Also, in the final moments of their escape, Annie and Lavin have Kanaan wounded and down… so they leave him lying there without killing or capturing him!
I have hard time believing any self-respecting spy would pass up that opportunity. But then the spies of "Covert Affairs" clearly aren't at the top of their game. If our national security really depended upon Annie, Auggie and the bird woman, then we'd be facing a nuclear apocalypse by now. I could overlook a lot of flaws about this show if it was entertaining… but it's not. There were moments it could have been and even a few signs of potential, but "Covert Affairs" has yet to deliver.
And my patience with this show is running out.
Crave Online Rating: 5.5 out of 10.