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Covert Affairs S04E03: "Into the White"


Wow, kids, we're just blowing through the plot points this season, right? In a bout of verbal diarrhea, Arthur revealed that Teo totally isn't a terrorist. Or he's at least, like, 90 percent sure of that. Teo is just super-dooper undercover with the ALC—the Colombian terrorist group that killed his mom—so he has some kind of Batman-vengeance complex and Arthur opted to set him up with some real training so he wouldn't end up like that dude with the hockey pads in The Dark Knight. So far so good, except Teo's increasingly erratic behavior and outright refusal to communicate with Arthur raised some questions about whether Teo was still following the original mission, because what if his moral compass had been compromised and he was wasn't so much undercover as he was an actual terrorist?

Things looked bleak for a while, when Annie first returned to Colombia to try really hard not to have to assassinate Arthur's offspring. Henry Wilcox's info about Teo being involved in a bomb plot checked out, which was unfortunate because UGH Henry Wilcox. Also, Teo was pretty okay with Annie's theory that he could have gone rogue. 


Teo's utter lack of cooperation led Annie to collaborate with Sheriff Calder, crashing the terrorist camp-out, arresting Teo, and taking him to the CIA's version of a super-villain's lair—complete with car battery cables that I'm sure were going to be used in a very unpleasant way if Teo didn't start talking. But before that fun could commence, Annie kicked everyone out and tried to appeal to Teo with her puppy-dog pleading. He kicked her because when Calder warned Annie not to get too close, Annie immediately got too close... because trust and stuff. I totally called that one. 


Still, it's cool, because Arthur was right and Annie was mostly right and Teo is just so deep undercover that he can't even risk taking his daddy's money anymore. Annie gave him the magical untraceable phone that Auggie made for her and Teo skipped off into the sunset to fight the good fight and keep exacerbating those issues.

On a show like Covert Affairs, it can sometimes be difficult to connect with new faces right away. There's always the question of how long they'll be around and whether they're actually who they say they are. I like Teo, though. The sympathy comes easily once you think about the unfortunate family he's been born too. 

The usual Joan-and-Arthur-are-awful sentiments aside, however, "Into the White" marked another good week for those two! It was especially delightful for Joan, who got to go all sneaky spy gal on, well, everyone

Remember how Annie accidentally whacked Seth and she couldn't call a clean-up crew, so it was only a matter of time before her career was once again in jeopardy? 

No probs, Joan grabbed her catsuit and got down to business. She also snagged a snapshot of herself with Seth because when your marriage and career are already impressively unstable and you just barely won that promotion into your possibly philandering husband's old job, you don't need to be connected to an MIA CIA mole. 

Oh, and about that promotion: A senator on the interview crew gave Joan some sass about how she totally wasn't qualified to protect FREEDOM when she couldn't even figure out that her husband was cheating on her (cuz he wasn't),  and Joan fired back with some artful (if somewhat grainy) and totally incriminating nudes. <3 Joan. 


Auggie continued to be that boyfriend. Someone should tell him to stop. Annie took one of Auggie's T-shirts to Colombia and made a big show of it because they're gross. I'm starting to feel like I'm watching two different shows each week: One is a gritty(ish) spy drama and the other is a Teen Nick romantic comedy. 



MISSION NOTES

– I liked the possibility of Arthur's father feelings getting in the way of his professional feelings. Covert Affairs handled it really well this week. The issue was clear, but not hit-me-in-the-face-with-obviousness, and it was pretty understated when it could have very easily become melodramatic. Nice. 

– "If you can't live with secrets, then you shouldn't be dating a spy." Oh Arthur, you're really in no position to be lecturing anybody about successful spy-dating—even if I kind of agree with you. 

– This big secret better be good after building it up for three weeks. 


What'd you think of "Into the White"?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 12/18/2014

Season 5 : Episode 16

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Auggie's Banging Annie, he's doing ok!
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Really liked this episode. Finally people are beginning to like the Joan/Arthur complex, which honestly, has been interesting since the beginning. I for one have never been bored or frustrated seeing them together. They act exactly how the should be acting in the workplace, and now with the domestic drama of a new child on the way, as well as an illegitimate one who's deep undercover with the ALCU, I mean where is the bad here? Really?!!!

Joan strolling into that hall and casually handing out those folders, with a special one for the Senator was so fun to watch. I really loved the look on Joan's face when she saw the Senator's horrified look and then recused herself!! LOL, well done Joan!!!

Auggie is acting like an over-protective, know-it-all boyfriend, and it definitely needs to stop at some point. Definitely agree with you there.

I like the additions of Teo and Calder. Teo really showed me a lot taking out that suicide bomber and sticking to the mission afterwards; oh and refusing Arthur's help. That is one committed SOB!!! Calder reminds me of the good soldier that doesn't get all the answers until its too late, yet still acts like a gentleman when possible and gets rough when necessary. His eyes are always focused on the big picture and I respect that.

Gotta credit Annie as well. She's put herself in a dangerous position between Arthur and Henry, and it will get more dangerous as time goes by. Henry has an evil endgame as usual, and whatever it is has to be solved, by any means necessary, and Annie completely understands that. I just wish Auggie would too.
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I really loved this episode actually. For like... tons of reasons. I really like Teo, and the Sheriff as new most likely recurring characters. Joan is AMAZING, Arthur is suddenly pretty great to see too. And Annie is starting to get some spy credit and actually be pretty competent at her job!
The only trouble rn is Auggie. I can deal with the utter newly-coupled shmoopiness as log as they go on being badass on the side... which Annie is starting to be again. Auggie, however, really ISN'T. It's almost like the fact that he's a grown man and experienced spy just flew through the window in the inter-season. Pity that.
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I like Auggie and Annie, together. But, I agree they've kind of turned him into a whiny, wimpy, whipped boy when it comes to Annie. Not good.
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On the contrary, I think Arthur is exceptionally well qualified to be giving advice about dating spies.
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I REALLY like Covert Affairs, but this episode bothered me a bit. In no particular order...

If Annie was going to ignore the advice to stay 6 feet away, she should have at least been PREPARED for a kick and not been surprised by it. Good grief!

The ambush on the ALC looked like it was done by amatuers. They all come in from one direction, allowing the terrorists an easy path to run away out the other side??? Sheesh. And, out of that entire operation, they ended up with exactly ONE prisoner? And, they're ok with that?

What CIA idiot uses a meat HOOK to hang a seriously dangerous bad guy. Teo had to jump, what, 6 inches to get off that hook???

Fine, Sheriff allows Annie to be alone with Teo. I got no problem with that. But, the INSTANT Annie leaves the building, the guard just stays outside? WTF? And, then they blame ANNIE that Teo escaped? No. Blame goes to the idiot who used hung up on a MEAT HOOK and to the guard who left the dude ALONE for 5 minutes.

For supposedly such a great spy, Annie is a SUCKY liar. I hate that. She's better than that.

And, Joan should know better than to look so smug right after blackmailing the senator. Like no one's going to put 2 and 2 together? She should have looked surprised or at least unconcerned. That said, good for her for doing what needed to be done. That senator clearly had an agenda and a chip on her shoulder.

SOOO, while I love the series and REALLY love the characters, and this episode's STORY was great -- the writing was HORRIBLY LAZY this time around.
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"Henry Wilcox has spies all throughout the CIA." ....ummm, I don't know about you but, where I'm from that's called TREASON!
Why is this guy not in jail.... again? He's no longer a part of the system, why the heck is this civilian playing a hand in anything at all?

I have a feeling Auggie's phone will later be used a plot device. They made too much of a stink about it.

Joan has become my favorite character. period. Her sweeper work and the not so subtle yet quiet threat against that crass Senator was absolutely fantastic. That is what I expect from a CIA agent, not Annie stumbling from one case and falling into the next. Annie is so sloppy, it's a wonder how she is still alive.

I'm also still sticking to my theory that Jai is still alive and Arthur knows. That guy knows everything.
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Just because the comments are kind of light on this show this week and it's a USA show, I gotta let this out about Royal Pains: I think I have issues with setting up a fake medical trial, even to catch a murderer. Because medical ethics and scientific research ethics.
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Lack of opening: still not okay.
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Actually, I'd rather have a minute more of story telling than watching the same opening every week.
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That's a valid thing to say if this is Breaking Bad or something, but let's face it, in order of asset value, this show had : the opening, the adorableness of Piper Perabo, the adorableness of Chris Gorham, the fact that it was on in the summer, the production value of an american show, the USA network formula for light shows that run forever, 15 other things, Arthur's eyebrows, then the story telling ability of the writers. Not really one of their major strengths. Or even something that should make their list of assets. Which is fine, it wasn't ever intended to be that kind of show. So why are they giving up one of their greatest strengths to give us more of something they don't particularly stand out at? God only knows.
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Funny. I actually like the writing, for the most part. While I do like Piper, I wouldn't watch a show just for her. I want to have a good story, too, and I think Covert Affairs does that.

Funny (or sad, actually) that the opening is what you feel is its strongest asset. Yet you still watch it???
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Well, I'm 3.xx seasons in now, and it it still has most of its other assets. Obviously if the opening had been its only asset from the beginning I'd just loop that.
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Even Graceland gets an opening and Graceland is ACTUALLY depressing! (In a good way.)
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I couldn't take it anymore. Democratizing power of the Internet for good or ill. I let @ChrisGorham and @CovertAffairs know how I felt about it because they were soliciting ass-kissing on twitter.
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I skipped words, they were soliciting ass-kissing [em]about season 4 being the best season[/em].
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I'm enjoying Joan and Arthur scenes way more than Annie- Auggie scenes, basically because Auggie is REALLY starting to bother me. DUDE, REALLY. STOP IT. Anyway, Annie keeps being Annie when she's not around Auggie, so that's fine.
Liked the episode. Hate Henry Wilcox and I'm not sure how I feel about Teo and the sheriff.
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Something must be wrong with me -- no agreements from the peanut gallery, please -- because I've always enjoyed the Joan and Arthur scenes much more than the standard fare. They frequently seem to me like the only adults on the show, at least in the main cast.

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Ha, yeah, "verbal diarrhea" definitely covers way too much of this episode's plotpoints, it's like every episode is shot with half a script and then they run to do an infodump to fix the holes right before it gets to the editing bay.

"Hockey pants" is still how I hear that line from The Dark Knight, but I know you're right that it's "hockey pads".

How shitty is the CIA's black site if A) it's right next to where they captured the guy; and B) it takes 45 seconds to escape from? I thought it was just Annie who was a terrible CIA agent, but everybody this season seems to be.

Auggie's phone is an impossible thing, it basically connects to cell towers miles and miles away so as to scramble its location, but any cellphone broadcasting with that much power would be instantly located by the same sort of triangulation, and as it roamed from tower to tower it would be connecting to an obvious radius of towers further away from it, so they put some magic into it to not be obvious. And then Annie gives away this tech to Teo, which is perfect because either it gets discovered and he's blown, or it doesn't and he does something they need to track him down for but can't.

I didn't like this episode, too much bouncing around, too many machinations, no clear drive, and Teo's motivations were nonsense - they're alone in the black site and he can't tell her, but they're alone when she's about to put a bullet in his skull and he can AND he's asking if she trusts him?? HOW CAN SHE TRUST HIM?!? But she does, because Annie is magic. And yeah, Auggie and Annie are awful as a couple still.

Joan's CIA behavior was great, finally something that doesn't involve sitting at a desk or walking down a hallway.
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Okay, I thought about this all day because it's highly proximate to my academic research field and the security aspect is closely related to my professional field and it sounded like typical Hollywood bullshit at first. Then I designed it. Facts: Cellphones have a shorter range than cellphone towers. Cellphone signals and distances can be boosted with fairly simple hacks, both hardware and software. So, Auggie's hypothetical cell phone design: first, vary signal strength depending on which tower you are connecting to in order to change the apparent center of the signal and second, ignore towers to the South of you and connect only to the towers to the North of you to prevent anyone determining your signal by ignoring the signal strength. Now, instead of using only the half of towers to the North, make the subset of towers a randomly selected shape and direction. Also, since I'm being kind of a known-it-all with cell towers, it's technically trilateration* rather than triangulation, but to be fair and also correct myself in every sentence I just said, "cell" isn't even the correct term and hasn't been since everything went digital over a decade ago.

tl;dr version: I think I can make this phone, and if you were closer, you could stop by for a drink some time and I'd show you how it works on cocktail napkins.

*for the layperson who accidentally read this: trilateration is basically using a Venn diagram instead of trigonometry.
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Sounds to me like a phone that needs to know its exact physical location at all times, the physical location of ALL cell towers in a 50 mile radius at all times so that it can avoid connecting with the towers closest to it (which in an under-developed country could be dozens of miles away), the physical obstacles between the handset and the distant towers since it has to be able to actually connect to the towers it finds (if you've ever used Sprint, you know how connecting to a tower doesn't necessarily mean having a phone call connect), it has to be able to bypass and override tower handover by jumping over corresponding cell sites, it has to be digitally encrypted and then also scrambled since it's a secure phone, and it has to do all this without overpowering other handsets and cell towers in the area while looking like a regular phone. Sounds impossible with current tech, but also sounds like even if it were possible the battery would die in seconds, you'd need something the size of a briefcase at least to power it.
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Yes to most of that, but replace the phrase "impossible with current tech" with the phrase "an active research area". The battery is a consideration, but not as much as you'd think.

And, remember, we are supposed to believe the government is years ahead of the state of the art, whereas this would be barely ahead of the state of the art. Not just in TV land are we supposed to assume this, when was the last time you heard "my friend who used to work at the [government agency] said they had [computers or some other thing] that are 10x [faster or some other appropriate metric] than the latest technology sitting in the [hall or dump or warehouse] collecting dust because it's been obsolete to them for years". I'd have to measure that time in weeks, even though I believe it's all myth.

I'm not saying he could built it in an evening, I'm just saying it could be built in a finite amount of time given a few assumptions (the govt has cell phone tower gps locations for that country, the govt has solved several of these problems at the component level and he's just combining them not doing all the science, etc). Science is to strong a word for most of it actually, what I'm saying is that this has already been reduced to an engineering problem.
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But this wasn't a DARPA-developed phone, this was something Auggie whipped up. I have had several family members with high clearance engineering jobs and the amount of stuff that's way ahead isn't as much as we think, most of the "way ahead" stuff is only on-paper, especially today where the government hands out grants to develop vaporware on a daily basis.

And the whole idea of this violates several cellphone principles, the handover, the ability to broadcast beyond the closest towers without pinging them, that sort of thing is asking for a lot of leaps, not just one.
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"...it's like every episode is shot with half a script and then they run to do an infodump to fix the holes right before it gets to the editing bay."

Omg, this.

I was wondering about Auggie's phone. I didn't ~think~ it was real, but it's always nice to get the confirmation, so thank you!

LOVED spy Joan. <3
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I think this show has changed tone and focus and I'm curious if they got new writers? Its a lot better than the first two seasons. I'm gonna keep praising the fact that Annie's wearing flats, not platforms...and LOVE the boots.
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SO excited about the flats! The heels used to bug me so so so much in the early seasons. I mean, I love me some heels, but c'mon.
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I can't believe how girls can even get excited about shoes even when they specifically suck more. Spies-> seduction + cocktail parties -> heels. It's part of the uniform.
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I'm not watching one of those shows. That relationship stuff blows right by me with no notice whatsoever. I just thought that was the sort of packing talk all spies have. Spy 1: Remember your shoe-phone! Spy 2: Got it! Also, nabbed your deodorant!
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Can this become the Joan show? At this point she's much more interesting than Annie!
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I was about to say the exact same thing, you beat me to it :)
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Anyone else concerned about Annie spilling the beans

Teo said that CIA safe-houses are wired up the kazoo so he couldn't let it slip that he was still undercover. BUT... Annie pretty much blabbed all of their dirty laundry in a room within the Safe House while on the phone. Even if it was only her side of the conversation... she pretty much said Teo was Arthur's son.

Also, it looked like that other CIA spy was maybe in the next room... since as soon as Annie screamed "Teo, NO!!!" he ran out a small door that connected to that bomb-supply-room that Annie was using. Was he evesdropping?
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