Covert Affairs

Season 2 Episode 14

Horse to Water

3
Aired Thursday 10:00 PM Nov 22, 2011 on USA
AIRED:
7.5
out of 10
User Rating
63 votes
4

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

A former CIA analyst imprisoned for selling secrets is suspected as the source responsible for the death of a CIA asset in Russia.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • I liked it!

    10
    After seeing how bad the last episode was, I was a little tentative about this one, concerned that it was going to disappoint as well. But it did no such thing!



    Certainly, it was a brilliant episode! The case was interesting, it was unpredictable and it kept me completely hooked, three things that the previous episode failed to do in every way.



    I sure hope the remaining episodes of the season are more like this one! If they are, we are in for a real treat!



    Can't wait for more episodes! Keep it up!moreless
  • Can't help but love this neat program

    10
    Can't help it. Such a well written program and all things tied up neatly for each little segment. Yes there is that "what's going to happen?" but it's not the kind that frustrates you and keeps you from tuning in again. Well at least me. I love her Isreal love interest and the fact that Ben has never been heard from again - he was he only fly in the ointment, more like wallpaper paste than and agent. How could you not enjoy her standing next to Peter Gallagher in his leather jacket in Russia. The whole show is just so right. My only gripe - 10:pm give me 9:00pm and I can watch it without worrying how to get up to get to work tomorrow.moreless
  • I can't help but wonder how much of the success of "Horse To Water" depended on my willingness to invest in its scenario and how much was strictly a matter of atmosphere and calculated suggestion.moreless

    6.5
    We are, after all, talking about Covert Affairs, a show whose successes have all been modest. So I tend to think it's more of the former than the latter. But honestly, "Horse To Water" does have something to it, and I don't think it worked for me as much as it did because I was willing to fill in certain gaps in its story. I'm just not that generous.

    "Horse To Water" begins bracingly: an American double agent is executed in public. We get the impression that this murder is an important event based on the alarming immediacy of the scene. At this point in "Horse To Water," we don't know who Igor is and, furthermore, we don't find out later, either. But the fact that he's so abruptly dispatched gives the impression that his death is significant, even if he's not. It's a shock tactic, but an effective one.

    Then we discover that Igor was just a pawn in a plot hatched by Max Langford, an American triple agent who's been incarcerated on 12 counts of treason. Confined in a solitary cell, Langford is adamant that he's innocent of the charges that were brought against him but Arthur Campbell doesn't believe him. As it turns out, Arthur has good reason not to believe Max: he ordered Igor's death from his prison cell. Max's interaction with Arthur establishes the more interesting of the two main predominant themes in "Horse to Water," namely that everything CIA agents do boils down to trust issues between peers. They need to be able to instantly read people and know whether or not their assets are lying. If they can't make that distinction quickly, they'll wind up like Igor.

    The other main thematic component to tonight's episode is how much the show's protagonists can rely on their families to support them. Danielle and Annie start to bond at the beginning of the episode and even prepare to run in a Marine Corps Marathon together. But then Annie has to be debriefed on the Langford situation and is made to leave her sister. Annie is so wary of causing potential friction—especially now, since she and Danielle were in the middle of bonding—that she instantly regrets having to walk out on Danielle. But she does it anyway.

    This plotline was not as well developed as it should have been. Considering that the last scene of "Horse To Water" is Annie firing off rounds at a target range, I'd hope that the end of the episode would, in some way, affect Annie's relationship with Danielle. After all, while watching Annie kiss and make up with her sister is a minor motif of the show, this episode is supposed to be significant, because Annie sees her relationship with her sister reflected in the relationship that Max's daughters, Grace and Bebe, have with each other. But it doesn't, which makes Annie's confession to Joan about how she felt really scared in tonight's episode and hence now needs to learn how to defend herself feel weirdly tacked-on.

    That having been said, I like the main storyline of "Horse To Water," or more specifically, I liked watching Annie try to cozy up to Grace Langford. Annie is so convinced that Grace is not feeding her father information to and from his prison cell that she tells Joan that she just has to trust her, go against her own better judgment and stick by Grace. Annie's faith is ultimately rewarded in a rather disappointing way but, when she and Joan are talking and seriously considering whether Grace is who she appears to be or not, "Horse To Water" is a fairly compelling spy drama.

    Unfortunately, this aspect of the episode is also poorly developed beyond a point. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be as suspicious of Grace as I was. She just seems too good to be true. After a rocky introduction, Grace trusts Annie implicitly. This makes Grace seem rather suspicious, so much so that after she tells gives Bebe misinformation later in the episode, and Grace's phone conversation goes on longer than it needs to, it seems like she's talking to Bebe in code. As in, a seemingly innocuous line about banana cream pie sounded like code to my tetchy ears. But it's not code and it's not even brought up later in the episode so maybe it was never supposed to be thought of as code? To paraphrase Sigmund Freud, this time the banana cream pie is just a banana cream pie. And that makes knowing that Annie is right and that Grace is as good as she initially thought that much more underwhelming.

    Follow-through is generally a recurring problem for Covert Affairs' story-writers but it's especially problematic in "Horse to Water." Like, when Grace tells Annie that she doesn't believe her when she says that, "We have operatives in danger" because of Max Langford's actions. Considering that there hasn't been any scenes since the death of Igor that suggest that more of Max's pawns have been sacrificed, I'm inclined to side with Grace. That's the problem with opening with a shocking scene like the death of Igor: it's a quick fix and not a sustainable means of suggesting that something is at stake in the episode. The more time passes in the episode without similar developments, the more "Horse To Water" feels like a potentially interesting story that's neither organically developed nor thoughtfully resolved.

    But I will say this: the Augie/Jai subplot in tonight's episode was okay. Too often the fact that Augie's life beyond being Annie's handler feels stunted and inconsequential. But tonight, I like that his interactions with Jai had immediate consequences that will also matter later on. It was a serious Augie subplot that actually felt serious. Wow, how'd that happen?moreless
  • 214

    6.5
    "Horse to Water" accomplished the goal of a TV show, if that goal is to make you fall asleep. I kid, tonight's broadcast was not that bad, I liked the idea of cracking a mole, I liked Annie going undercover as a reporter and I like how the fight scenes get less and less realistic by the week, but don't be upset if you skip tonight's episode. Nothing happened that was that memorable or earth-shattering from a storyline development point.moreless
Alexandra Holden

Alexandra Holden

Grace Langford

Guest Star

Jamie Brown

Jamie Brown

Bebe Langford

Guest Star

Bruce Davison

Bruce Davison

Max Langford

Guest Star

Michael Therriault

Michael Therriault

Andrew Hollman

Recurring Role

Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor

Eric Barber

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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