Umm … holy SHIT, Covert Affairs. If you haven’t seen episode 402 "Dig for Fire" yet, turn back immediately, because I’m going to just jump right to the point here.
The very LAST thing I expected when this episode began was that we would finish it with our two main characters attempting to cover up a dead body that Annie left in the Potomac. And not just any dead body, but none other than Joan’s “Pills Anonymous” buddy and carrier of massive pining Joan-crush from last season, Seth Newman!! And of course that is only after finding out that he was the mole leaking intel to Henry and Solstar. I suppose that last part was not exactly a major shock, but until now I really hadn’t even thought much about Seth since last season. And I spent the first half of the ep busy focusing on the question of whether Joan’s baby was Seth’s instead of Arthur’s. So I will admit, I was a little distracted, until that moment when Seth walked past A&A and Auggie grabbed Annie’s arm with a gasp. At which point I said, “D'OH!! Uhh DUH!!”
Whew ... o.k. let’s take a few steps back, shall we? I spent the first 30 minutes of this episode on the edge of my seat, but also wondering if this would wind up being one of those episodes like “Man in the Middle” that is literally ALL tension and dialogue on a medium simmer with some occasional moments of intense flare-ups/arguments between characters. Those eps are nice to do every now and then, but I’ll admit that I was wanting more than that from the second ep of season 4. Still, the first half of the episode gave us great tense scenes between Annie and Arthur, Annie/Henry, Joan/Auggie, and quite a nicely heated argument between Arthur and Auggie in Arthur’s hotel room while Annie pretended to have to take a wizz. (“Sack up,” Auggie!!) The sequence where Annie tails Henry through the DC Metrorail was really cool too; nicely filmed. I’ve only ridden the DC Metro once ever and it was way back in 2004, but I think that was really the DC Metrorail in this ep, right? Or am I an idiot for thinking that? It’s got those domed ceilings, right, with the big “M”s on the trains?
We also got some very nice plot progression during this first 30 mins with the Teo/Colombia stuff, and I was frankly kind of shocked at how many of the secret bombshells from the premiere were fully let out of the bag to all the characters here, so early on in the season. In a sense I’m extremely happy about this though, because I can tell you from other shows I’ve watched that there are few things more frustrating to the audience than to spend an ENTIRE season knowing a secret that one or more of our major characters don’t, and to be forced to sit through ridiculously contrived storylines and idiotic behaviors from the characters in order to keep the secret(s) hidden from each other until end of the season. Any Sons of Anarchy or Castle fans will know exactly what I mean. Uggh. So I’m quite glad Covert has laid a lot of this stuff out on the table right upfront, so we can now sit and watch as it hopefully causes very interesting situations for our characters to deal with and work through as the season plays out.
So, all in all, the first half of the episode chugged along pretty decently, but THEN, BAM, we got the first scene in Auggie's apartment. This was where "Dig for Fire" really started to come together for me, and to break away from that "Man in the Middle" feel. First off, CHRIST, how sexxxy was that scene, visually?? This ep was directed by Félix Alcalá, the same guy who directed “Suffragette City," with that dreamy ethereal quality. So it’s really no surprise that he directed this ep as well, with scenes like this one on Auggie’s bed with the jazz music in the background. Whew!! (fanning face) ... And of course, as I mentioned and discussed with several of my fellow fans last week, we got some actual real dialogue between A&A here! Per usual, Auggie did most of the talking, but at least we got some important character interaction here, albeit with Auggie clearly still hiding some major stuff from Annie. Annie’s never been great at expressing herself; I and several of my fellow fans have wanted to shake her by the shoulders for quite a while now (season 3 included), and tell her, “Annie, USE YOUR WORDS, HONEY!! Use your WORDS.” At least we got a little of that in this scene! A teeny tiny bit. I really hope we get more eventually.
And then shortly after this, we got the scene of Annie and Joan in the bathroom! I didn’t mention this last week, but one of the things that greatly pained me about the last third of S3 was how horribly strained Annie & Joan’s relationship was, and how neither of them ever properly talked anything out. We kept getting hints that Joan had gone through a similar past traumatic situation that Annie had been through with Simon and Lena, but we got zero exploration of what that was or whether Joan could give Annie advice in that area. Instead, these two just fought like an exhausted mom and teenage daughter and never got to the root of any of their issues. So I really appreciated this scene in the bathroom, even if they still talked about essentially nothing other than the preggers bombshell. Annie looked like she was about to choke up when she said, “Joan, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something ...” before Joan interrupted her. Was the “something” simply the Arthur/Teo/non-cheating secrets? Or was there anything more to that?
And of course, last but not least, we have Annie breaking into Seth’s apartment. I had read a spoiler that made me expect a physical fight to ensue there, but I did NOT expect anything like what actually went down. It totally shocked me not only how involved and stunt-laden the fight was, but the fact that Seth DIED as a result. I mean o.k. first off, maybe this is stupid of me, but I’m not convinced that a fall from the height of that bridge would really kill someone. But maybe it’s way higher than I think. In any event, holy shit. And then, seriously, the scene in Auggie’s apartment afterward, with the bandage tape on the forehead!? I will admit I am a HUGE sucker for shit like this, but that was seriously one of the best things I’ve seen on my TV in a while. Well o.k., in the cute/funny department, anyway. This is another perfect example of the type of character interaction that we’ve gotten almost none of since mid-season 3!! MORE, please. MORE!!
And then of course at the end, we have Henry setting Annie up to carry out more of his agenda, via a trip back to Colombia. With this development plus Seth Newman now mysteriously “missing,” we’ve got a lot for our characters to deal with in ep 403. (Insert Seinfeld voice: "Newman!!!") I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
A few last random thoughts:
*The first scene in the episode, with Annie and Arthur – This is the first scene inside Danielle’s kitchen since Lena shot Annie and Simon in there, right? I had been wondering if and when Annie would enter that room/house again. This scene was different than how I thought that would go down, but we did get a callback to that trauma with Annie mentioning “the last time someone broke into my kitchen.”
*I cannot emphasize enough how much I HATE that weird stubby fat creepy little silver revolver Annie always insists on carrying. Does the flash-forward scene at the beginning of 401 indicate that she’ll finally get a normal gun later in the season!? God, I hope so.
*Have you ever heard of the Showtime documentary called “That Guy … Who was in That Thing?” It’s about exactly that – those actors you’ve seen in countless movies and TV shows, and you know their face SO well, but you don’t know their name. You just know that they were “the guy from that one movie, and a few eps of that TV show.” I caught a decent chunk of this doc last year, shortly after getting into CA, and was pleasantly surprised to see Gregory Itzin featured pretty prominently in it. Well guess what? We know his name now.
*Should we discuss the flats Annie wears during the Henry-tailing sequence? I mean Jesus, I’m just glad the poor girl is finally wearing some sensible shoes for an outing like this. Maybe they should let her do that more often.
*So we were right about Arthur’s “affair,” just a cover for the Teo-related secrets he’s trying to hide. No shock there. Nice to see him protecting Joan from the shitstorm, at least.
*Have you ever heard a more polite and dainty puke than Joan in that bathroom with Annie?? Hahaha that was amazing. I wish I could barf like such a lady.
*Seth’s “Buenos tardes” that causes A&A to recognize his voice was kinda hilarious for two reasons: 1) that he would conveniently say that exact phrase in the office, and 2) his voice is so weird and loud there; sounds like it was definitely put in during ADR.
*Annie’s little red VW has taken a lot of shit-talk from picky fans over the seasons, who have wondered why she never got a better car. I’ve never had any issue with it, but I do find it interesting that they beat that thing up pretty bad in this episode. Is that the end of Annie’s little red Golf?? Well maybe not, I just watched the scene again and I guess it’s not THAT bad. It just initially had me picturing that ep of South Park where they kill off Chef by slowly tearing him to shreds via bear/cougar-mauling. There was major venom involved in South Park’s case … was there any similar venom in this case about that little red Golf? Hehe. But after watching the scene again I’m thinking it’s actually more like Walter White’s Aztek, indestructible.
So now for the ep 402 "Dig for Fire" grade ... I’m going to give this episode an:
Holy shit, is that too high?? Am I being too generous? I kinda loved this one. I just have not felt nearly this satisfied by a CA ep since the “Let’s Dance”/”Rock ‘n Roll Suicide” timeframe. Maybe that’s not saying much given my huge frustrations with the last third of season 3, but still. I really liked it, what can I say? Am I crazy? Tell me in the comments section.
Rachael (The Plopper)