Covert Affairs

Season 1 Episode 1

Pilot

4
Aired Thursday 10:00 PM Jul 13, 2010 on USA
7.3
out of 10
User Rating
281 votes
6

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
The CIA prematurely remove Annie Walker from her training when they need her language skills for an assignment. When the job goes south, Annie realizes that there's something wrong and she seeks the help of her blind colleague to find out the truth.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Awesome start to an awesome new show!

    10
    I really enjoyed the premiere of this new show, which I am really enjoying. I thought the episode was incredibly fast-paced, and it is shaping up as a hit! The storyline was gripping and aptivating, and I couldn't look away.



    Overall, I thought there was nothing wrong with this first episode. It had some decent funny moments, and all the action you could possibly aswqueeze into this time frame!



    I'd definitely recommend this show, as I can already tell that it is going to be something that I will instantly love! Keep it up, Covery Affairs, as this show has so much potential, and I really want to see it succeed, and watch some great noew episodes! Can't wait for more, guys!moreless
  • Boring shaky cam "action" photography mars what little original story there is.

    1.5
    Covert Affairs pilot episode is a dismal exercise in pain endurance - for the audience. The obligatory bad photography (aka hand held shaky cam) on action scenes means that I have to avert my eyes, ignore it or get annoyed and turn off the [expletive deleted] show.



    When I have a beautiful 8' wide HDTV image, why in the world would I want to see blur, blur, jitter, jitter, out of focus excrement? That is NOT entertaining. It does nothing but ANNOY me. And from what I gather, a lot of people are turning off their TVs because it has ceased to be entertainment, and morphed into a painful experience (not to forget the annoying pop up ads, and other video vandalism).



    The acting was adequate - nothing particularly special. The [spoiler alert] shoot out in the hotel room was telegraphed. The subsequent fight scenes were unwatchable, and relegated the show to "Audio only" mode.



    Frankly, I have better things to do with my time than endure this. I banish thee from my PVR, begone!moreless
  • *** Spoiler-free *** Charming protagonist, convincing performers, exquisite "blind" partner, awkward backstory telling, questionable production quality, messy action scenes, slightly twisted but not intriguing enough story

    6.0
    The beautiful and talented Kari Matchett was the only excuse I needed to give Covert Affairs a chance. Seriously a show involving a hot female spy is hard to resist.



    Annie Walker is portrayed by Piper Perabo and I found her both convincing in her role and quite charming. But she's not just a pretty face as her personality is a mix between the funny girl next door and a femme fatale. There was also something cute and intriguing about her abruptly stopped training. I was also curious about her linguistic skills but they were under exploited. They could have used them to read lips or make the investigation more puzzling but instead they chose the easy way of seduction. I didn't mind but I was hoping for something more subtle and surprising. As for Matchett she's her boss and even if I found her role far too anecdotic I think their relationship has potential. Indeed she wasn't as despicable as I thought she would be and even if her story doesn't seem epic I'm sure the writers have planned something special for her.



    The other reason that convinced me to check out the pilot was the visually impaired guy. I thought he would make a great partner and found the idea quite original. And it was well executed because the actor's performance was exquisite and the very first minutes their chemistry was excellent. But don't expect the usual romance and other sexual tension we have already experienced a thousand times. It's a nice and refreshing approach. Moreover the story revealed that her heart is not ready yet to fall in love again. In fact her past was covered at the beginning during an awkward interview with misplaced flashbacks. It seems they over estimated their capacity to be creative. I think a simpler approach would have been more appropriate, like first showing us what happened a few years ago then going straight to her new career. The problem is that their solution made her story less authentic and I couldn't really relate to it. Furthermore these scenes were too short but I have to admit that they were well directed.



    It leads us to the production quality because I found it questionable in general. On the beach the lighting was immersive but during the other scenes, that represents 99% of the episode, it was really poor. It jarred with the professional acting and overall realistic universe. At times it was almost like watching a cheap homemade movie. It was really an issue because it should prevent you from believing in it. It got even worse during the action scenes. The shooting was all right but the pursuit on wheels was a mess. If you don't have the budget to pull a 007 then go for mind games and twisted investigations. But the real disaster was the diner scene. I still can't believe how bad it was. The filming actually reminded me of Batman Begins and the whole Christopher Nolan incident. It was short and the idea was to simulate drunkness so let's forget about it. However it should definitely inspire Nolan for his next film ! I also can't help pointing out how annoying some subliminal advertisment was because it instantly pulled me out of the fiction.



    Don't get me wrong I still enjoyed it but it was just decent entertainment. Following Annie in her adventures was exciting at times and I also found a gorgeous reporter quite intriguing. However in the end it didn't convince me to stick around. The cliffhanger was unexpected but it wasn't mind blowing. In fact it's quite difficult to impress the audience when it comes to spy fiction because we can't help comparing to James Bond and other masterpieces of the genre. Despite these issues I recommend it for the moments she shared with her partner. And I also never thought I would learn dating tips from a blind guy ! Last but not least let's consider that for once the procedural recipe should be mixed with a heavy format. So it's apparently not your usual episodic show. My advice is just to at least watch its pilot to make up your mind. If you find Annie's journey as refreshing as diving into a pool in the morning then you'll definitely want to learn more about her past and future.moreless
  • Not the greatest start

    5.0
    Pilots are often an exercise in creative frustration. The producers want to put their best foot forward and engage the audience, but they also have to set up the basic sandbox in which their toys will be playing. At the end of the day, that means a lot of plot and character exposition. It's rare for a pilot to hit the ball out of the park. Even some of the best shows started out by stumbling out of the gate.



    "Covert Affairs" starts out rough. I'll give everyone credit; they do everything possible to sell the notion that Agent Walker (Piper Perabo) is talented enough to play in the big leagues of the intelligence community. At least, they eventually do so. They begin by making her look like she's way out of her league and far too irreverent to get far in the serious world of real politik.



    The hook comes at the end: Agent Walker's former love interest, having disappeared from her life, is still alive. Walker's bosses at the Company (the CIA, natch) are using her to flush him out, which will inevitably be a source of much angst when she discovers the truth. As ongoing story arcs go, it's fairly tame right now, so hopefully it will get a lot more complicated.



    In the meantime, the writers just have to convince me that Walker has the chops to be a CIA agent on a level not so far removed from the iconic Sydney Bristow. The comparisons to "Alias" are inevitable, and compared to that pilot, this is sorely lacking. The family and co-worker relationships aren't on the same level, and neither is the writing. Most of the cast has plenty of credibility, but there were some spotty performances.



    For example, Auggie (Christopher Gorham) is supposed to be blind. It's a character aspect noted often in the story. So it's a bit problematic when the blind character is openly watching data move across the screen, following it with his eyes. This happens more than once. It's not just Gorham's fault, because this is something that could have easily been caught during the take. It's that lack of attention to detail that prevented this episode from coming together in the manned intended.



    That said, it wasn't horrible. It was just a bit bland and clunky. And frankly, that's what one comes to expect from pilots. There's enough potential for "Covert Affairs" to evolve into a tighter, better show, and this summer season is the perfect time to give it a chance.moreless
  • Did you want Alias to have less mythology? Then Covert Affairs might just be for you. And it even manages to distinguish itself from Alias.

    9.5
    It's going to be hard not to compare Covert Affairs in some ways to Alias, so I'll just get my thoughts on Alias out of the way now. I joined Alias at season two, caught up, and watched until the end. Even I had a hard time to get behind all the craziness that was the Rambaldi equation/sphere/predictions. I mean I enjoyed it until Alias was canceled and they were forced to rush it to conclusion (at least that's what I recall happening) So I always kinda wanted an Alias without all of that (or better handled at the end)



    Anyways, Covert Affairs is about a hot and very skillful C.I.A. trainee who, before completing training, is already thrust into a mission that involves her various language skills, ability not to be shot, and looks.



    They start off the episode with her polygraph test, reveling a love Annie Walker had with a man out on some idyllic beach. Could this be important? (Big props to the skydiving credit opening.)



    After hitting the ground of the Farm, she's quickly taken to Langley, flirts with an agent and meets her geek/tech blind friend who will be helping her with her missions and giving her advice. I love the device Auggie (blind guy) has to get around.



    The mission involves a Russian sniper who wants to defect with valuable information. Annie is sent to meet with him, hot-sync phones (data transfer), and leave. Things get really complicated when the meeting room, a hotel, is shot to pieces and the contact dead.



    There's another aspect of the pilot, involving Arthur, director of clandestine services, and his wife Joan(didn't see it coming), who is the head of DPD or Domestic Protection Division (where Annie now works). She thinks he's cheating on her...and they seem to have an ulterior motive to having Annie onboard.



    The culmination of the mission, including the shooter who saves Annie's life wasn't a huge shock, otherwise why would so much attention be given to a worthless character in such a secretive world?



    Annie also lives with her sister and there's some down time spent there, along with not being able to tell her about her job.



    In summation: If any of the above sounded like Alias, that's alright it's bound to happen if you enjoyed that show. But this isn't Alias, it is it's own show and it seems to heading in the right direction. Just enough intrigue, humor, action, and suggestive dressing to keep me interested. And all story and plot points seem to be handled very well. Slick and fun show.moreless
Neil Girvan

Neil Girvan

Paul Shanahan

Guest Star

Carlos Gonzalez-Vio

Carlos Gonzalez-Vio

FBI Guy #1

Guest Star

Mishael Morgan

Mishael Morgan

Woman #1

Guest Star

Eion Bailey

Eion Bailey

Ben Mercer

Recurring Role

Emmanuelle Vaugier

Emmanuelle Vaugier

Liza Hearn

Recurring Role

Noam Jenkins

Noam Jenkins

FBI Agent Vincent Rossabi

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The CIA is prohibited by law to work on cases on US soil. So the name and description of the Domestic Protection Division portrayed on the show is taking dramatic license.

    • Annie's first mission is one month prior to when her training was supposed to be completed.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Auggie: You'll find this is a weird place to work. Polygraphs every year, no cell phones allowed inside the building, no dating foreigners. In fact, the CIA highly encourages dating inside the agency. It keeps things in the circle of trust. It's like a Club Med without the free drinks.

    • Auggie: Seeing that dead body really turned me on.
      FBI Agent: You're blind.
      Auggie: What, are you a sightest?

    • Annie: So is this about me hooking up with my taekwondo instructor? 'Cause I checked the handbook. It's not against the rules.

    • Annie: So is this, like, your thing? You wait outside the entrance and chat up girls on their first day?
      Conrad: Absolutely. I'm both lazy and predatory.

    • Auggie: Blind guy leading you around the CIA. Insert ironic joke here.

    • Joan: How much do you know about the domestic protection division?
      Annie: Uh, I've actually never heard of it.
      Joan: Good. That's the way we want it.

    • Annie: Can I ask you a question?
      Auggie: I was special ops in Iraq. I got out of a humvee to look at what I thought was a dead dog. Next thing you know, I'm Ray Charles.
      Annie: Oh. I was gonna ask what the headphones are for.
      Auggie: Oversharing. My bad.

    • Auggie: You alright?
      Annie: I saw a man get killed today. I lied to a federal agent. I was shot at.
      Auggie: Or as we call it "Thursday at the agency."

    • Arthur: Why can't you be a good CIA wife and just trust me?
      Joan: Because I'm not a CIA wife. I'm a wife who works for the CIA.

    • Danielle: Well, I think that went pretty well.
      Annie: Well, that makes one of us.

    • Arthur: Welcome, Miss Hearn. So glad you could make it. I brought along some legal counsel to brighten up the room.

    • Annie: So what's the secret?
      Auggie: Well, I'm not sure there really is one secret. But I find that it helps to keep a healthy sense of humor and a bottle of Patron in my desk drawer.

    • Danielle: Wow. Straight to the Cherry Garcia. Rough day, huh?
      Annie: No. I'm fine.
      Danielle: You're such a horrible liar! You'd make like the worst spy ever.

  • NOTES (10)

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Annie references the Baltimore Colts when she describes how her boyfriend left her. This is a real life infamous incident when the NFL team packed up all their equipment and left town in the middle of the night, having never announced they were relocating the team to Indianapolis.

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