By John Keegan
This season of "Covert Affairs" started with a shift in perspective and approach that provided some hope that the producers and writers had seen the weaknesses within the show and were dedicated to making substantial, necessary changes. And there were plenty of hints within the first three episodes that this was a long-term strategy. So why does it feel like this episode is one big excuse to hit the reset button?
It all comes down to the notion that Simon switches up his game plan, tossing Annie's intention of seducing him right out the window. The writers leave Simon's motivations a bit vague; what is important is that all of Annie's work is threatened by lack of inter-agency cooperation. It was unclear to me whether or not Simon had figured out Annie's true identity. Had he simply fallen for the version of Annie that she was selling as a cover, or was he playing her as much as she was playing him?
While the open-ended case with Simon gives hope that there is more to come, the short-term effect is a mind-numbing reset to the old status quo. Lena bumps Annie out of her division and back into Joan's purview. There's some attempt to make this less about Annie's competency and more about Lena's clinical approach to missions, but this threatens Annie's character progression in any number of ways. (And the return of the character that the writers always use to regress Annie in the next episode is groan-inducing, to say the least!)
On a more positive note, Annie's situation with Simon (and the impending departure of Danielle) leave Auggie to deal with Parker's rejection on his own. I've always seen Parker as a bit of a plot device, someone designed to keep Annie and Auggie from getting together until the time was right. Parker's departure leaves Auggie in a tailspin, and Annie's absence means that Auggie doesn't have a safe place to land.
In a way, it's a bit of a role reversal now: Auggie was the one in the relationship, leaving Annie to turn to Simon emotionally as a result. But now Annie is the one placing personal interest (and perhaps, a desire to prove herself to Lena) over her better judgment, and I suspect that helping Annie find a way out of her mess will serve to bring Auggie out of his despair.
Right now, I'm left with a lot of uncertainty as to the direction this season might be taking. A lot rides on the next few episodes. If the writers return to the earlier depiction of Annie as an agent struggling with the basics, it could kill the show entirely. If this is meant as a short-term bump in the road, it could be one way to show how resilient Annie has become. There's little choice now but to wait and see how it pans out.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision.