Wow. Covert Affairs has really taken a dive into the dark side, hasn’t it? Armed with everything that we've witnessed over the course of this season, the title “Let’s Dance” a certain menacing quality to it, which this episode wholeheartedly deserved. Back on her feet after Lena Smith’s assassination attempt, Annie Walker was out for blood. No more Miss Nice Annie.
Somewhat predictably, Lena fled to Russia after Auggie blew the whistle on her double agent status. Why Russia? Because it’s always Russia, even though the Cold War ended when I was in elementary school. While Lena lived it up in posh exile, back in the States Annie pushed herself too hard and Auggie called her on it. Not to be hindered by a mere chest wound, Annie basically told Arthur and Joan that she was packing her bags for Russia, with or without their approval. (It’s just a flesh wound!)
Joan approved the trip for the sake of giving Annie an edge that she wouldn’t have had if she hopped on a plane and went completely rogue—cash, contacts, and a viable alias. She had her misgivings, though, and demanded that the trip be for intel only. If Annie could get a photograph of Lena on Russian soil, then the United States would have ample evidence to demand her return. Annie was given strict orders not to kill Lena.
In Russia, Annie made contact with a piano teacher named Dmitri who used to be a spy himself; specifically, a spy with a thing for Lena. Paving the way for Simon to ditch his career for a girl over a decade later, Dmitri was a bit of a trailblazer in that field and Lena promptly betrayed him to advance her own career. He resigned himself to a “small life” and rejected Annie’s efforts to glean information from him for about half the episode, then finally gave in because she was plucky and just wouldn’t go away.
Dmitri was helpful for a stretch. He hooked Annie up with some information about Lena’s weekly routine—apparently she only got to see sunlight on Tuesdays and Thursdays—and helped her arrange an ambush. When the ambush went wrong and Lena turned out not to be in the car that Dmitri claimed she would be in, Annie quickly smelled a betrayal and Annie was SICK of betrayal.
Poor Dmitri. He just wanted Lena to love him. He melted like butter when she showed up at his music store with Victoria Beckham’s haircut from four years ago and shoved her tongue down his throat. All of that bonding with Annie over broken hearts and betrayal went out the window and while he liked Annie enough, and felt bad enough about her plight to prevent her from getting killed, he told Lena everything and botched the photo-op. He’s lucky Annie didn’t splatter his insides all over his outsides; frankly, I was expecting it. Despite her claims to the contrary, Annie was very much operating almost entirely on emotion. The last of her self-control was probably used on pointing a camera at Lena’s empty car instead of a gun and when it appeared that her sole opportunity to get Lena “the right way” was compromised, the mission quickly began to unravel, and even with Auggie in her ear suggesting that she get back to the U.S., SOMEONE was going to pay.
Do we think this new, jaded Annie Walker is here to stay? Annie spared Dmitri, but Lena wasn’t so fortunate—and to be fair, she was in the midst of pulling a gun on Annie anyway. But before Annie capped her, Lena managed to get her super villain monologue out and explain herself. What she said probably has more implications for Annie than for Lena, particularly concerning Old Annie vs. New Annie.
Lena had worked as a double agent for 13 years. She had Jai murdered to shove Annie into the spotlight at the CIA and she picked Annie up as a protege on purpose. She deliberately paired Annie with Simon because Annie’s history of falling for the driven, bad-boy types, and her ongoing new-girl drive to prove herself to her superiors made a romance inevitable. Lena figured that it would be Annie falling for Simon, but Simon falling for Annie was totally workable in Lena’s master plan, too. Lena had no vendetta against Simon OR Annie. They were just the right parts at the right time in her big machine. Annie was the perfect victim because of the kind of person and the kind of operative she was. Ouch.
But Annie clearly changed due to her experience with Lena and when the duo came face to face, Annie actually had the upper hand. Lena made the mistake of assuming that she was still dealing with Old Annie, and played on Old Annie’s need for approval and acceptance by showering her with compliments and offering her a place in her new empire. Annie pointed out that Lena's empire actually kind of sucked, that Lena was practically a prisoner to her own power. Certainly, she could manipulate people and play them like the world was a giant chess board, but she couldn’t even leave her house without an armed guard.
Annie’s needs have appeared to change, but what she gives in return is very much the same. Annie balked at the idea of betraying her agency for personal gain. Annie has never thrived in isolation, which was made very apparent this past season. Mending fences with Auggie, Joan, and Danielle has become a cornerstone of Annie’s restored identity. While she no longer yearns for their constant affirmation, she still cares for them and she’s still loyal. She still knows what her job is. She still follows her instincts. Because she wasn't blinded by her search for approval, New Annie saw right through Lena’s promises as the distractions they were and totally nailed Lena before she got a single shot in.
Now what? Lena told Annie that the CIA would throw Annie under the bus if she killed Lena. Do you think that will be the case? With the mystery of Jai’s murder solved and Lena brought to justice, where do you think the rest of the season will go when Covert Affairs returns in three weeks?
– Annie and Auggie formally reconnected and Auggie claimed to have something important to tell Annie face to face. Despite being a big Auggie/Annie fan, now that canon is kind of sort of “going there” it feels weird. Is it just me? Is it weird? Is it awesome?
– Joan turned in her letter of resignation when news of Annie’s Moscow mission started to make waves. Do you think Arthur will accept it? Do we care? I kind of care. Joan has finally had something to do during the past few episodes besides complain and look sullen. I like it.