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

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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I liked the lighting during the scene when Annie was yelling at Joan.
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"Christopher Gorham directed this episode and I saw nothing wrong with his work."



I thought he did real well for a blind guy....
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Annie just irritatingly annoy me for the last episodes!! too self-centered and this one man hero streak she is on doesnt fit her, she doesnt look that tough !!!
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I am more confused then ever now about who gave Annie that Intel, I mean why would Eyal even do that?, Maybe it's all part of his boss Rivka's Master Plan for Annie?

Maybe Eyal did it to throw suspicion off of him?

I don't know but I am super excited for next week to find out!
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-Arthur and Joan very seldom interest me when it comes to their relationship. My eyes glazed over a few times. I do like a more vulnerable Joan though because she can be all stoic and frigid. Her finally saying enough with Annie made me clap with sadistic glee.

- I did find all of that ridiculous. I mean she should have been back at the farm. But as much as I love this show and even though the whole premise revolves around this stuff I can't help but roll my eyes at the redundancy of it all and it's ridculousness. Fact: the CIA snatched Annie out of the academy so that they could use her for her connections to Ben. They spent all their time since then relying on the fact that she sometimes puts her emotions for people ahead of logic. Let's not pretend as though Annie is doing anything out of the ordinary with her allegiance to Eyal. It's insane that they reprimand her for doing and being what they need her to be. Just like it's insane that she went off on them the way that she did. You're working for the CIA, exploitation is how they roll...how she thinks she can get through her career w/o them asking her to do things like betray people she's befriended or attached herself too which is Everyone.Under.The.Sun....is beyond me. I call it a draw. I've always found myself mildly annoyed at just how much say and leeway they give Annie as a rookie.

- Yawn. Parker coming back was just...I mean I'm sure I can put a spin on it about closure and confirmation about buried feelings for her bestie or whatever but...whatevs.

-NO! This is freakin EYAL! Team: Neshema! I'm sorry but if they try to make him into some sort of bad guy there will be hell to pay! I think Mossad is playing them both. No way anyone will ever convince me that Eyal would do anything to betray or jeopardize Annie. Never. I think he believed he was handing her legit intel but his boss lady is playing him like a chess piece because she knows that Eyal genuinely cares about Annie. There are various times when I felt like Annie was getting too emotionally involved when she shouldn't have. When it comes to Eyal I understand it though. Can we just have an outside contractor agency contractor agency made up of Annie, Auggie, and Eyal? Seriously. I'm all for that.
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Oh one other thing I wanted to point out - I was weirded out by how UNfazed Annie seemed by her knock-down-drag-out with Joan at the end of the ep. I mean, not only did Joan basically fire her from the DPD, but she told her that she's completely done with her as a PERSON, right? She basically dumped Annie on every possible level (and most of us don't blame her at this point). Personally, I would be freaking out BIG time after a situation like that. But Annie seemed to treat it like a minor inconvenience ... like "Oh hmm that was kind of a bummer but oh well, lemme close my stuff out here and then maybe I'll eventually be able to get some drinks with Auggie."



And then after all that, I thought it was kinda funny the way she ran into Arthur's office like a kid on Christmas morning with the news that Mossad had played them, rather than spending at least few moments at her desk to realize how royally EFFED that news makes her, and to even consider for a second whether she wants to keep it to herself to cover her ass hahaha. At least she's honest I guess.



I feel like the only logical place this situation and behavior should lead her is into a complete tailspin, but yet she keeps treating it like, "Oh well whatevs." "Whoops I screwed that up, better luck next time. I'll just try the same approach again and see where it gets me! Whoops that didn't work! Lemme try it again." :-P
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Annie is so not dealing she hasn't even addressed the fact that she can't go back to her place. Her superiors would & should acknowledge she isn't ready to be in the thick of things so to speak & for Arthur to just let her go ahead without questioning her ability a little more inensely was stupid. I get it is a tv show but come on seriously a little bit of sense please make her address her mental state.
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1. This feels contrived. How about Joan just saying "I have been going to a support group." and not saying anything more than that? At that point, Arthur knows he doesn't want to know any more but his concerns are satisfied. Have I been single too long? Is communicating with your partner really this hard?



2. Okay, Annie knew she was going to be on her own, and the CIA wouldn't back her up. On the other hand, just codifying your lack of loyalty doesn't make it okay. Annie WASN'T WRONG: she can count on Eyal more than she can count on her own agency.



3. I don't understand why they brought her back. That storyline is over. Is one of the writers her landlord and she needed to make rent?



4. Because when you have a good script you get a known good director so you have something to submit for awards season.



5. I accidentally saw the "next week on" teaser, so now my opinion is tainted. I believe whatever the network executives want me to believe. I look forward to finding out that everything in the teaser was a lie and I wasn't really spoiled at all.



Fun fact! Back in the 70s and 80s they would spoil the episode with clips from the episode right at the beginning of the episode. A few years ago I rewatched the A-Team, the original Battlestar Galactica, the Greatest American Hero and Buck Rogers online, and got to have every episode spoiled!
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Well, it sounds like she eventually told him in the end.

The problem is... by saying "I'm attending a support group" then she pretty much outs whoever Arthur has seen her with as ALSO belonging to a support group. Meaning it gets out that persons A/B/C have a problem with "whatever"

Under normal circumstances that's no big deal. But a boss in the CIA finding out that operatives A/B/C have issues... might complicate things.
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Sometimes you have to choose your relationship. She doesn't have to confirm or deny that those people are in the support group. And the support group could be for shopping, coping with loss, whatever. If she has to imply that some people she works with need help for something vague to save her relationship, so be it. If this causes the CIA to go on a witch hunt, that really isn't her problem. Bureaucrats gonna do what bureaucrats gonna do, they'd find another excuse if that's what they wanted to do.
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Yes. I mean the C.I.A is poster child for sketchy loyalties etc. I too believe that Eyal and Auggie are about the only people she can fully trust. She really can count on Eyal more than the agency. Joan means well but most of the time her hands are tied by the Agency and let's be real the Agency doesn't give a shizz.
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Basically I agree with the review... episode not too realistic... PLUS I wanted to see Eyal LOL!
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Hahaha ... I feel ya on this stuff ... I am not sure about this ep ... the last TWO eps, really. They were both very transitional episodes and after watching both of them, I'm still feeling very nervous about where this is all going.



I mean, I know we're supposed to think/understand that Annie is acting irrationally and falling back into old habits because she is still running in the screwed up mental state that eps 8 through 11 put her into, and hasn't even attempted to deal with any of that. And like you said, the episode wouldn't have gone anywhere if it had ended with the scene at the beginning where Joan responsibly shuts Annie down haha. I also think we're supposed to think/see that Annie's bull-headed persistence plus Arthur's excitement at the intel due to him recently learning about this terrorist dude and chomping at the bit to get a big win, could create the perfect sh*tstorm. Sometimes I wonder when we say how unbelievable this stuff is on t.v. shows ... that maybe we're giving organizations like this way too much credit, because I think stuff like this probably happens more in real life than we'd like to imagine haha. I mean look at the entire Iraq war clusterf*ck, for example, being kicked off by bad intel. But maybe that's just me being cynical.



BUT ... with all that said ... It is totally ridiculous that the CIA would not have forced Annie to go through the Bluebonnet Farm program thingy, regardless of the Eyal stuff that popped up last week. (Although I will say that this is absolutely something that would happen on practically every other spy show I've ever watched, and it's the type of writing that has always annoyed the crap out of me). And also even beyond Bluebonnet, shouldn't they put this chick into some THERAPY or something before letting her run crazy on the job right away??



It also seems that Annie's shaky mental state has manifested itself differently than I was expecting. I thought her behavior would swing away from what it was in the past (which I would have far preferred), but instead, she's done the exact opposite and dug her heels into old patterns more than ever. Now, of course, a lot of this is because Eyal HAS risked his life to save hers, and the effort that took was legitimately monumental. So I am a bit torn, because I absolutely get why she would be loyal to this guy, and why she'd be pissed at Joan for assigning her to c*ck-block him on a mission right after all that. But that doesn't change the fact that she's jumping on this stuff without fully thinking it through. And yeah wow, her comment to Joan about the CIA leaving her to rot in the Russian prison, that WAS totally wrong/awful/etc. Clearly Joan agrees with us on that front haha, but I just hope Annie sees the error of her ways at some point soon here.



And that's exactly what I'm worried about in terms of how the last 3 eps will play out: Because I still have a feeling that we'll eventually find out that Eyal did NOT betray Annie (i.e. Eyal was probably duped himself or something). So then in that case, how is it gonna end? Will it just be, "D'OH!! Wah-wah-wah, Annie was right again!! We shoulda never doubted her, let's give her another medal!" And then that's it? She doesn't learn anything from it or evolve as a character? Then what the hell was the whole point of season 3? I don't even need her to evolve for the better either, she can totally self-destruct and that's probably way more interesting to set up season 4, but SOMETHING needs to happen other than just, "Annie exhibits the same behavior as always and it works out for her again." If that's the case then season 3 will have been totally pointless. We'll see how these last 3 eps play out I'm just feeling a little nervous at this point haha.
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great review, meh episode
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YES!



Preach it, MaryAnn. Annie is the most irresponsible, most hypocritical, most idiotic "spy" ever to bear the job description, and I'm sick and tired of how she violates protocols and ignores orders at the drop of a hat, only to get away with it time and time again.
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Your question 5 came to me too. Why would he just drop them at the door of his own apartment. I mean, he would know Annie knew the files came from him. So why not just give them.



Also one more thing that bothered me. As I said last episode, I'm annoyed by the fact that Annie and Auggie are about to take a beer for the last 10 episodes. And it never happens. Come on now. I'm sick of it. And I know the spy life is busy. But just one evening, come on
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I assumed the intel was was couriered over or delivered by a different Mussad agent or something because Eyal wasn't around locally. But that's just a theory.



I think they keep leaving Annie and Auggie hanging to ensure that neither has a chance to talk things out, leaving them more prone to go down the yellow brick road. Eg if Annie could talk things through with Auggie, she would not be relying on Eyal so heavily at the moment. I guess it's all in lead up to season final things.
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Yeeeah, the weird way Annie got the intel in the first place makes me seriously question whether it was actually Eyal. But then the fact that Annie didn't even question it threw me right back into my rage of WTF-ery.
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Wow MaryAnn, you were so angry I thought I was reading Lily's review of Once Upon a Time again. :)

I'm not mad, but I absolutely understand where you are coming from. If Joan and Arthur are the best leadership there is at the CIA, help us all! lol After only two years, Annie is supposed to make mistakes and get knocked down by them or learn from them or both. Instead of cutting Annie off, maybe Joan should just share her happy pills and tell her to get used to the disappointment that comes with the job. Speaking of that, I honestly don't know where they are going with that or why it quite suddenly popped up, except to manufacture more marital drama between Joan and Arthur. Like we need more of that. Wasn't he wanting to go to China? I'll spring for the ticket.

I also thought Christopher Gorham did an excellent job of directing and it gave the episode a slightly different feel that I liked. Hope he gets to sit behind the camera again soon.
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Haha, my raaaaage!



I totally get that it's okay for Annie to make mistakes because she IS still relatively new. If anything, I'm more annoyed with everyone else for just letting her do so with no real repercussions, no guidance, nothing.
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Well, given Annie's comment about having a clone, and Auggie's retort about two Annie Walkers, I think the Mossad's diabolical plan is to body snatch Annie. Eyal gave her the bad intel in the hopes of derailing her career so the Mossad would lose interest in her.
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I think the simple fact of the matter is that Annie has only been in the SPY business for two years!!! TWO YEARS!!! You really expect her every major decision to pan out for the best?!! Bullcrap!! You could be in the game for 5, 10, or even 15 years and still make huge mistakes. Now I'm with you that hers have been quite monumental to say the least, but through some of those mistakes have come great results, like finding out about Lena. Had she not gotten that deep with Simon, who knows what she would've been able to pull off.



As for her superiors, you make a great point. If I were them, I would've given her crappy jobs as punishment. Joan and Arthur definitely baby her to a fault, but Annie definitely changed the game when she lashed out at Joan about Eyal. Truthfully, I was on Annie's side with that one. Now, you just may get your wish. Her next boss may not be nearly as forgiving as Joan or Arthur has been.



I think its a shame because she's had the unfortunate luck of being involved with super shady influences. With the exception of Auggie and her sister, practically everyone she comes into contact with has some kind of secret that gets Annie in trouble, mostly not of her own fault in my opinion.



I definitely liked the episode and Gorham's work, and still love what's happening with season 3.
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I'll just point out that if you're going to "make huge mistakes", being a spy is not your choice of career. The average lifetime of spies is pretty short simply because you don't have 2 years or more to figure it out. You're pretty much mistake-proof from Day 1 or you're the former, late spy.
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I just re-watched the pilot of E-ring, which came out in 2005. One of your "mistake free" spies lobbied to incinerate a whole operation because it was too risky. Everyone else involved dies, but he gets to stay squeeky clean. No thanks-I would prefer a spy to risk things in the name of patriotism, integrity, or justice. With risk comes rewards and failures, however. As you said, some failures are lethal.
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