By John Keegan
Now that the tectonic shifts presented in the premiere have been tossed to the audience, it's time for the writers to start exploring what this new status quo actually means. As it turns out, some of the changes are less extreme than originally thought, but it still represents an opportunity for the show to gain a fresh perspective. Despite everything that has happened, of course, it would be foolish to ignore the one constant: the amazing chemistry between Annie and Auggie.
Sending two agents with unresolved sexual tension on a mission that requires playing a married couple is a standard trope in the espionage sub-genre. I'm pretty sure that most writers could generate a stock script with such a scenario in their sleep. The trick is making the situation resonate with the characters and their personal histories. And given Auggie's relationship with Parker, as revealed towards the end of last season, there's more than enough to complicate the anticipated fun.
Auggie wants to prove himself in the field to Joan, given the precarious nature of his new position. Annie also wants to excel in the mission, because she's still trying to prove herself to Lena. Somehow, I had missed the detail that Lena reported to Arthur; that definitely makes things more interesting. Joan and Lena appear to be on the same level, and for all intent purposes, so are Annie and Auggie.
The season finale left no doubt that Annie was falling for Auggie, and the fact that he was planning to go to Africa to be with Parker was a crushing blow. This is worse. While there are moments when Auggie seems completely ignorant of Annie's interest in him, other moments seem to suggest the opposite. It's complicated, and even more so by the suggestion that things are going to be getting dangerous for Parker in the near future.
It sends Annie back to the man that she met in the premiere, which along with the ongoing mysteries surrounding Jai's death, adds a serialized aspect to the first couple episodes that I definitely see as an improvement. None of the plot threads have the air of pointlessness that the Arthur storyline from last season couldn't overcome. I can deal with a slow-building plot arc when it comes to "Covert Affairs".
If there was one weakness to this episode, it was Pilar. I think we were supposed to sympathize with her a bit more, but I found her vaguely annoying. Not to mention that she was presented as somewhat blatant fan service; that scene where she shoved her breasts into Auggie's face, apparently to test his blindness, was particularly groan-worthy. But that's a relatively small nit to pick, when so much else in the episode worked so well.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision.