Covert Affairs "Man in the Middle" Review: The Pot and the Kettle

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Covert Affairs S03E13: “Man in the Middle”

Oh, Annie! Season 3 of Covert Affairs has been rife with badassery and occasional bouts of brilliance and competence from our up-and-coming ladyspy, but Annie’s return from her Russian prison vacay has been marked with a lot of what I’d come to expect from the Annie Walker of previous seasons—stunning naivety, irritating self-righteousness, and the infuriating ability to get away with pretty much anything.

Okay, so Annie avoided interrogation at Bluebonnet Farm last week because she was apparently the only agent in the CIA capable of working with Eyal. Fine. But what was she still doing at Langley this week? Oh, she didn’t want to go back to the Farm? WELL TOO BAD. I wasn’t aware that she had a say in it. I was simply amazed by the fact that Annie refused to go and no one made her. How hard could it be? Lock her out of the building. Kidnap her. Withhold pay. Dangle a pink slip in front of her. Give her boring sucky jobs until she relents. Whatever. The whole point of Annie being sent to Bluebonnet was to determine whether she'd compromised national security and whether she was fit to continue serving in her position. I can’t imagine those things being simply swept under the rug because wah wah, Annie doesn’t want to. No one in their right mind would let Annie make those kinds of calls about herself, let alone supposedly seasoned superiors like Joan and Arthur.

Granted, Annie’s unwillingness to realistically deal with her experiences and her co-workers’ reluctance to call her on it may have been the set-up needed to poise Annie for professional ruin when she happily skipped off with some unverified intel from Eyal and helped order a drone strike on a supposed terrorist meeting spot. The thing is, Annie has made some serious progress as a capable spy character as of late and the mistakes she made in “Man in the Middle” were just so... Season 1. It’s like someone got the order of the scripts backwards and what we’re watching now should have been aired prior to all of the Simon and Lena drama. Furthermore, I’m having a tremendously difficult time suspending my disbelief to the point where I can accept that, in the real world—or even the TV version of the real world—Annie would have been allowed to make such incredibly important calls in her aggressively uncooperative, volatile, and POSSIBLY COMPROMISED state. On what planet is the relatively inexperienced operative with a long history of emotional decision-making and a folder full of sketchy intel from an agency that the CIA has a tenuous relationship with at best allowed to hang out in the freaking drone room? And not only hang out in the freaking drone room, but influence decision-making in the freaking drone room?

How did Annie end up in the drone room in the first place? Eyal left her a folder full of intel about a suspected terrorist and/or terrorist sympathizer who happened to be dating a chick named Megan who worked in the state department. Annie wanted to use Megan to get to her possible-terrorist-boyfriend, Khalid. Joan rejected her plan because the intel was sloppy and incomplete and came from Mossad, who really had no reason to just GIVE the CIA random helpful files about potential terrorists. Sounds like solid logic to me.

Miffed, Annie went to Arthur, who was willing to move on the intelligence if Annie pinky swore that it was solid and understood that it would probably kill her career to be wrong about it. Annie went off to bond with/stalk/annoy Megan, whose willful blindness when it came to her jet-setting loverboy rivalled Annie’s when it came to pretty much any attractive male she’s ever worked with. Megan agreed to help because she loves America. Annie and her fellow clowns at the CIA believed that they'd confirmed Khalid’s super villain status and ordered a drone strike on his terrorist club house. He escaped, figured out that Megan betrayed him, and sicced his henchman on her. Annie swept in for the rescue and chastised Megan for her questionable taste in men when Megan whined about how annoying it is to get shot at. Pot. Kettle. Shut up, Annie.

When all was said and done, it turned out that the terrorist who was supposed to be in the rubble of the bombed meeting site probably wasn’t there at all and Annie discovered that the files Eyal left for her contained misleading doctored images. Will SOMEONE please drag her to the freaking Farm now? Anyone? Bueller?


SPY NOTES


1. Arthur decided to stay in a hotel because Joan was being secretive about her support group meetings and the fact that ex-lover Seth played a key part in her attending said meetings—which of course led Arthur to assume she was cheating on him. Again. For goodness sakes, these people are supposed to be among the world’s greatest SPIES.

2. The OTP that will never be: Annie Walker and Responsibility. Loved the blow-up at Joan about how Joan left her to rot when she was arrested in Russia. It really highlighted the worst that Annie can be. Hey Annie, remember that time Joan warned you not to go to Russia, but you insisted, and then she was like “OKAY FINE” but warned you that if you got caught you’d be on your own and you were like “I UNDERSTAND” and then you got caught? Annie is all about the grand gestures but constantly lacks the maturity to deal with the consequences of her decisions. How did this woman manage to become a spy? This isn’t a new question for me. It was front and center during my viewings of Season 1 and Season 2. I thought we’d put all of that behind us this season, but I guess I was wrong.

3. Parker popped in to get Auggie to do her a favor in a blatant attempt to... I’m not even entirely sure what she was trying to accomplish, but Auggie told her to never talk to him again so that’s nice. Everybody gets along so WELL on this show.

4. Christopher Gorham directed this episode and I saw nothing wrong with his work. In fact, the scene between Annie and Megan at the bar, with the camera focusing on them between the liquor bottles, was kind of cool. But what is it with shows giving their actor-directors the WORST scripts to work with?

5. Does anyone REALLY think Eyal gave Annie the files, or are they both being played?

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