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'Covert Affairs' recap: Blond ambition

Season 5 | Episode 1 | “Shady Lane” | Aired June 24, 2014

Season 4 of Covert Affairs ended with Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) stepping over the dead body of Henry Wilcox. She picked up her phone, dialed Auggie (Christopher Gorham), and calmly discussed the best strategy to slip past Chinese security agents waiting for her at the dock. One fancy yacht later, and a quick congratulatory call to Joan and Arthur (Kari Matchett and Peter Gallagher) on the birth of their son, and Annie is ready to emerge from her season of darkness. This includes both her CIA status and her hair color.

Of course, everything isn’t butterflies and rainbows now that Henry is gone. Season 5 opens with the obligatory undercover drama shot — someone concealed in a black hoodie. The figure stares into a security camera, removes the hood and shakes out perfectly coiffed blond hair.

Annie is back, people. I have no idea what’s going on, but Annie is back.

She contacts Auggie to meet her at the National Mall to discuss secrets. I would be willing to bet every tree planted in the National Mall has some sort of recording device, but let’s not get bogged down with details of discretion. Annie tells him she’s ready to come back to Langley. She wants him to be her handler again, but this time she will leave all emotional attachments at the door. It’s been four months, and she’s ready.

Four months?

Auggie: “You dropped off the map. Time passed. We’re good.”
Annie: “Really?”
Auggie: “Why? Did you want to make out or something?”

Got it. Annie killed Henry, hopped on yacht and dropped off the grid for four months. The love connection between Auggie and Annie has magically disappeared, because Auggie has used the last 16 weeks to learn how to deal with his frustrations through judo. He’s totally cool with everything going back to the way it was before. Just like that. This makes perfect sense and does not raise any flags. Please note that I used a sarcastic font when typing that sentence.

Auggie brings Annie in and she’s immediately hooked up to a polygraph machine. Calder (Hill Harper) and Auggie watch from another room. It’s clear to both of them that Annie has not “passed” the polygraph test, but she has in fact beaten it. Calder demands that she tell them what she’s holding back, but she is saved by a voice message. CIA duty calls in the form of a bad guy from Annie’s past.

Khalid Ansari is back on U.S. soil and is wreaking havoc in Chicago. Khalid is the guy who lived in the glass house, favored Western women and had a penchant for throwing his daddy’s money around before he killed him. Annie is put on the next plane to the Windy City, where she meets Josh from the Chicago office. She warns him that something big is about to happen, and their best bet is to check the fanciest hotels for a man matching Khalid’s description.

Annie’s hunch is correct. Within minutes, the hotel is surrounded. Annie and Josh storm his room, only to find Khalid holding a hostage, claiming that “if these people can do this to me, what chance do you have?”

What people? Doing what to him?

Annie was wondering the same thing. As she advances on Khalid to get the truth out of him, Josh calls for a sniper across the street to take the shot. Khalid is dead. Annie is furious and Josh is confused. He’s not the only one.

Joan meets with the DCI to see where she stands in the agency. Apparently that is behind Calder. She has been assigned back to the DPD. Neither she nor Calder is happy about the decision. Joan leaves in a huff, and Calder is told he had better straighten up and get his affairs in order.

Well, this is new. The writers’ room mantra must have been to set up the entire season’s various storylines for every major character in the first 20 minutes of episode 1. Is Calder going somewhere to get his affairs in order? Are his affairs discombobulated? Does he never not look good in a suit? These are questions we need answered.

Back in Chicago, Josh’s team broke into Khalid’s safe and found a name: Borz Altan. We learn that he’s a former veteran who now works for McQuaid Security. Annie tracks him down, assumes the alias of a woman from the Veterans Affairs office and pushes her way into his house that he shares with his brother, Mykola, and sister, Oksana. Annie notices a shrine with special-occasion prayer rugs. She calls Josh and Joan to warn them that Borz and his family are mourning a martyr before an attack. Something big is going down today.

Annie waits outside of the house and then follows Borz down a path, a little too close for my taste. He could easily turn around and see her, but before I can yell at her through my television, she grabs her chest and slumps down a wall, unable to breathe. She stabs her thigh with an EpiPen. She dials a number and uses an alias name when her call is answered. She asks the receiver to please tell the doctor that she had another episode.

Was it a panic attack? Does Annie have a heart issue? Is it breaking because Auggie didn’t grab her and kiss her after four months in the South Pacific? We just don’t know.

Covert Affairs: s5, ep 1 Nic BishopBack at the Chicago office, McQuaid Security is now their only lead. Annie manages to arrange a meeting in person. Enter newcomer Nic Bishop as Ryan McQuaid, looking extremely hot in sunglasses.

Although he expected her to “be a little more dead,” he is aware of Annie’s reputation. He shares that Borz did some security work for him in Eastern Europe and expects she’s asking questions because of Khalid’s death.

Don’t look at him that way. He’s been cleared to know this information. Intriguing.

In the one conversation he had with Borz, McQuaid recalls that he loved Mustangs. Annie bids him adieu. He appreciates her directness and gives her his card.

Annie: “What part of this conversation makes you think I would want to work for you?”
McQuaid: “None of it. I’m asking you out to dinner.”

I’m trying to decide if McQuaid is a bad guy. I’m also trying to decide if I care at this point. Once Annie has settled this matter of national security, I suggest she at least take the guy up on his dinner invitation. It’s the least she can do.

NUP_163759_0157Calder is still a mystery to everyone except the woman lying naked in his bed. Is this the “affair” he is supposed to get in order? Is Calder married? Is this woman a spy? A prostitute? He seems to know her pretty well. Plus, he gives her a burner phone so they can communicate back and forth discreetly. Curious.

Meanwhile, Annie is directed to inspect a Mustang in a parking lot near Borz’s house. She pulls out her trusty slim jim that she keeps in her back pocket and pops the lock. She looks under the seats, in the glove compartment, under the hood and finally in the trunk. I’m sure you can guess what was in there.

His name was Eduardo Cruz and he was an employee of the Chicago Board of Trade. We now have a location where the attack will more than likely take place. Joan takes command of the operation and decides that the worst thing to do is create panic. The Chicago trading floor will remain open while Annie and Josh sweep the premises for someone matching the Atlan’s description. It should be as easy as finding a needle in a haystack.

After profiling several Middle Eastern men, Annie spots Mykola on the stairs. She speaks into her sleeve and four dudes slam him up against the wall, looking for any trace of explosives or a detonation device. He comes up clean. He’s hauled to the Chicago office for questioning in a dark black van that screams CIA. Just before they pull into the secret garage, Annie spots Oksana in a car outside the building. Josh instructs her to see what’s going on while he manhandles Mykola.

As Annie creeps toward the car, Oksana makes a call, notifying the person on the other end that “they are in the building.” Inside, Josh notices that Mykola’s shirt is bloody. He rips it open and discovers a fresh scar across Mykola’s abdomen. Cue Borz saying a prayer for his brother and then punching a device. The Chicago office explodes.

Annie is startled by the commotion, but doesn’t take her attention off of Oksana. She warns her to step out of the car, but Oksana moves for a gun in the glove compartment. Annie takes her out with one shot to the head, then turns to see the Chicago facility going up in flames.

Everyone in the office died. Oksana surgically implanted an IED in Mykola. Borz is in the wind. It was a direct attack on the agency, and clearly the person responsible had inside information, access and knowledge of Langley’s playbook.

Just before the explosion, we find McQuaid heavily recruiting Arthur to ditch the Mr. Mom role and come work for him. McQuaid thinks Arthur deserves to be appreciated and well paid. Don’t we all?

After hearing of the Chicago disaster on the news, Arthur is determined to make a difference in the world. He takes McQuaid up on his offer. McQuaid is pleased. Then he asks Arthur if he knows Annie Walker. Is McQuaid trying to get intel for a bad reason? Or is he trying to figure Annie out for a “check yes or no” reason? My gut tells me we’re supposed to think he’s bad, but he’s really good.

Auggie tells Annie that he is relieved she wasn’t in the building when it blew. He is willing to be her handler again, but there has to be absolute trust for things to work as they should. He tells her if there is anything he needs to know about where she has been for the past four months, now is the time to tell him.

She assures him that he knows everything. I assure you that she is lying.

Covert Affairs, rated TV-14, airs Tuesdays at 10/9 C on USA Network.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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