21 August, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.06: 'Space (I Believe In)'


Oh god.

Look ... I mean ... I had a feeling I was going to come out of this episode feeling extremely uncomfortable.  Let me first start by asking – Do you watch 'It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’?  If not, and if you enjoy demented humor, you’re missing out.  I spent 99.9% of this Covert Affairs episode, “Space (I Believe In),” in a pretty decent frame of mind, and then the last 30 seconds suddenly sent me into feeling exactly like the YouTube supercut of every single utterance of the phrase “GODDAMNIT!!” in the entire ‘It’s Always Sunny’ series.  Google “always sunny goddamnit supercut” and you’ll find it.  That is me, right now.

If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll know that I’ve been dead set against this “Helen is really alive!!” twist since the second we found out Helen ever existed to begin with.  And that is all while knowing it was 99% likely to happen, due to Bionic Woman constantly lurking in the background the entire season.  Why do I feel so uncomfy with this?  It’s two reasons, really.  First, it gives me horrible flashbacks to ‘Alias’.  There’s GOTTA be some ex 'Alias' superfans who watch CA, right??  Well, if you live in my head, which is not at *all* something I’d recommend, you’ll know (remember, this is pure fact because you’re hypothetically living in my brain), that the first two seasons of 'Alias' were amazing and seasons 3 through 5 were an ever-increasing pile of steaming shite.  Maybe I’m exaggerating, but it was a STEEP slope into season 5.  :shudder:  Anyway.  The turning point was the last scene of the season 2 finale, when Sydney wakes up confused and disoriented in Hong Kong, meets up with Vaughn, and Vaughn tells her, “Syd, you’ve been missing for 2 years, we thought you were dead.”  Syd then looks at Vaughn's left ring finger and is like, WTF dude, is that a WEDDING RING!?  Then we got to spend the ENTIRE 3rd season with some random blonde being MARRIED to Sydney’s new boyfriend.  What a nightmare.  In all fairness, JJ Abrams leaving the show to focus on ‘Lost’ was really the larger issue at hand; the overall quality of the show took a major dive at the same time.

But point being, one of the major suckage points was the fact that the writers purposely threw in this love triangle so as to *manufacture* drama and put a wedge between Syd and Vaughn.  It FELT contrived, and caused nothing but lameness the entire season.  I don’t know what the angle of the CA writers is with this Helen thing, but if it’s to set up a manufactured love triangle, then no.  No thank you.  It’s been done on many other shows, and it has always been lame.  If, on the other hand, it’s to INFORM our lead characters and give them insights on next steps to deal with Henry, or to help them to grow as characters even, then maybe it’s something that can be of value.  We shall see.  There’s another reason I feel uncomfy with this though, as well - The whole “OMGWHUUT she’s still alive!!” thing is a liiiittle on the wacky side for this show.  It would feel right at home on many other spy shows, but one thing I’ve always liked about CA is that it usually tries to keep its head a little closer to reality and away from soapy town.  Now, to be fair, the Lena storyline also veered a bit close to soapy town, but I loved that storyline so much that I was able to get past that.  Likewise, IF this “Helesa” (the Twitter fans came up with this nickname: a Helen/Theresa hybrid) thing is done well, I’ll be forgiving.  We just won’t know what this is about until we get there.  Fingers crossed.  BIG time.

Have I seriously just spent THREE paragraphs on the LAST 30 SECONDS of this damn episode!?  Lord.  Writing the rest of this is going to be a rough ride.  Let’s get to *everything* else now, shall we?  Outside of my uncomfortable feelings about Helesa, I actually enjoyed this ep.  I’ve gotten a big kick out of the whole “Annie killed Seth” storyline this season in general, and I’ve had to really sit and think about why that is.  I’m a HUGE sucker for spy shows.  A running theme on these shows is that bodies tend to pile up at the hands of the lead characters pretty regularly, and as far as I can think of, it’s pretty damn rare for the characters to ever face REAL consequences for that.  Think about ‘Homeland’ - Brody has killed several people, from Tom Walker to that tailor who made the suicide bomb vest, to the damn VICE PRESIDENT of the United States, and has he really had to face consequences for ANY of these??  I don’t think so, not yet anyway.  He dumped that tailor’s body in the woods and I don’t think we ever heard another peep about it.  Did we, or is my memory failing me?  OH my cousin Katie just reminded me – “Well he WAS a no-show at his wife’s fundraiser event that night, which was NOT COOL.”  True.  Maj consequences.

Now take ‘The Americans’ ... the bodies piled up all season, including the damn PARTNER of the FBI dude/neighbor investigating the KGB.  There’s constantly the threat on that show of any one of these killings coming to light, but that hasn’t happened ... yet.  Granted, it’s only been one season, so there’s plenty of time.  But you see where I’m going with this.  On CA, again keeping itself somewhat in the realm of the “real world,” when Annie accidentally kills someone, she has to face REAL consequences for it.  She has to sit in the hot seat for an entire in-depth murder investigation.  Yes, Henry saved her ass in the end, but her going against him now means she’s in even hotter water now than she was to begin with.  She doesn’t just get to wipe her brow in relief and go on her merry way.  She’s now even more screwed than she was when this ep started.  Like I said, the effort to stay within the realm of logic and reality is one of the things I’ve always loved about this show.  And the tense and suspenseful way they played out each bit of Seth’s murder investigation in this ep was great.  I’ve always loved Rossabi as a character, and Noam Jenkins was awesome in that final scene with Annie, after he had been “broken” and turned by Henry.  You could really feel his pain.  Poor Rossabi has been the CIA’s punching bag throughout this entire series, so I’m glad Annie defended him against Henry in the end.  The poor guy deserves someone on his side.  Marlon, on the other hand, is f*cked.

Here’s my random thoughts before I get to my summary and grade:

  • The exposition spent re-introducing Rossabi to the audience every single time he shows up again on CA drives me insane.  Wouldn’t a new viewer be able to figure it out from less obvious comments here and there??
  • Hahaha poor Tim Griffin – how would you like to be killed off of a TV show, only to be forced to return for one more episode to play your own dead body?  Oh well, part of the job of an actor I suppose.  ;-)
  • I recall recently saying, either in one of these reviews or to my friend Shelby, “Joan’s goddamn abandoned pill addiction storyline will haunt me to my grave.”  FINALLY it reared its hazy drugged-out head again tonight!!  We still have zero background on it, but at least it’s something I guess.  Oh and Annie jumping in to stop Rossabi’s line of questioning in defense of Joan gave me the warm fuzzies.
  • Calder, seriously, continues to be ... THE WORST.  It’s frankly kind of annoying me, because he really didn’t seem THAT terrible in eps 401 or 403.  I could at least identify with where he was coming from in those eps.  But in 405 and 406 he’s just been downright insufferable.  I hope they put a little humanity back into his character soon.
  • “Now Rossabi thinks there’s a conspiracy to cover up Seth’s murder.”  Auggie: “Well there kinda is!!”
  • Bwahaa when Annie secretly calls the FBI chick in the evidence room to distract her – I love that she keeps the sound on her damn cell phone turned ON.  Great spycraft there – “Swipe click click dial!!”  Very inconspicuous.  Hahhaa I do like that her trick didn’t work here though.  Rossabi caught her.  That woulda been way too easy.
  • They can’t possibly have much of a budget on this show for fancy stunts, I’m assuming, but they still managed to make Rossabi and Marlon’s fall from that balcony look pretty cool.  Didn’t feel fake at all – props to the director and stunt coordinators for that one.
  • Annie/Auggie HAD to realize that Annie’s number would be all over Henry’s call history.  But Rossabi’s initial investigation was focused on Seth’s call history, not Henry’s.  I suppose they simply had no better option at that point than to put Rossabi on that goose chase, to buy themselves some time to get Henry’s GPS data.
  • I already called out Noam Jenkins for his awesome performance this ep, and holy SHIT Gregory Itzin in that final scene with Annie?!  The recurring guest actors they have on this show really are top notch.  What a great scene.  I liked his line too: “You haven’t lost nearly enough yet.”  YET.  And we’ve never seen him that out of control.
This was one of those transitional episodes that I always find extremely difficult to assign a grade to.  The main purpose of it is to set up the next few eps, and depending on how those go, my opinion of this one could change significantly.  But if I’m taking this solely on its own, and mostly ignoring Helesa since it only took up 30 seconds here, I actually quite liked this one.  I thought it was smartly written, it kept me on my toes at every turn, surprised me in several places (e.g. whoops Auggie couldn’t hack into the FBI database after all, amongst many other moments), and all the actors gave great performances.  It wasn’t snazzy like last week with Vienna, and it wasn’t action-packed, but it was very solid, clever and entertaining.  It also set up the rest of the summer season, it seems, with Henry now on the complete warpath against Annie (along with the rest of Team Campbell).  I guess I’d give this a grade of …

GRADE: 91 out of 100

Dang, I feel like a zork giving so many eps B+ and A- grades other than 4.02, which I thought was a solid A.  But that’s just how these have been for me.  And believe me, if you were to read my old reviews of eps 3.13 and 3.14 you’d see that I have NO problem giving episodes “eh, not awesome” reviews just after watching them in real time.  I just luckily have not run across any of those in season 4 YET (knock on wood).  Am I lame??  Tell me in the comments.

The Plopper

10 comments:

  1. Deep review. I liked the part when Annie reaches in her pocket and gently lays the check on Henrys desk(in a go f yourself professional kinda way)then starts to casually walk off then BAM hair flip whip " OHNOUDIDNT" HENRY backlash. Love that i thought Henry was gonna spontaneously combust ! I liked the episode..never watched homeland or alias...so im a wookie rookie. Not sure bout the Helena thing either but Covert Affairs sucks me in every episode. Oh if i was still in high school i would sooo want you to grade ny papers :) - Milena

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    1. I love that the only time she even *considered* cashing the check was to buy Auggie more computers.

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  2. Goddddddddddddd.....damnnnnnnnnit. (*Mac Voice*) I didn't think it was possible that I could love you more, Ms. Ploppins, but I do now. I'm an It's Always Sunny junkie and this made my heart EXPLODE.

    You know what else exploded last night? My head! Goodness gracious. I was so uncomfortable and I just kept thinking...everyone is so mean. HARSSSSSH. That bullshittery that Calder tried to pull on Joan with her pill-popping was just...damn. But...but...but...but, I am glad they did acknowledge that little bit of history. Seems like Joan needs another sponsor, huh? Poor Seth.

    Poor Vincent. From the beginning of this episode you could just feel that he was barely hanging on and Henry jumped on that with a quickness. Harsh.

    Poor Marlon, Miland, Marcus...whatever his name was. He didn't even know WTF, man....HARSH.

    Poor Annie. Jeezhus. She flailed around Auggie's apartment like a spastic gnat. I gotta admit I half wanted Auggie to accidentally on purpose smack her in the face. HARSH? Keep calm, Annie. Auggie always saves you except for the one time he.....can't? Wait. Stop. Hold the front door. WHAT? You mean there's something Auggie can't do? He can't save the world? Hmmm...ok, I'm gonna have to think on that one. ;)

    Poor Henry. He just really misses his son, right? He wants payback. Wants to run a company of super mutant spies and take down the entire universe and he wants Annie to come along? I'm confused. I love Annie. I do. I mean, no, I really, really do, but I dunno if she's like super spy material. Not yet. Which makes it an extra good thing that she turned him down b/c her feely feelings tend to cloud her judgments sometimes and well, Henry just seems to need peeps who are a little bit more....HARSH??

    *sigh*

    Helesa. Not gonna say I told you so because we ALL knew this was coming. I really don't think she's coming back to mess things up for Walkerson but I do think this whole thinking his wife was dead and hearing that she's not from his new girlfriend and finding out that everyone knew but him b/c oh ha ha ha they all can see but he can't and they went and changed her name just to mess with him even further is really gonna screw with Auggie's head. And THAT is gonna cause some problems for Walkerson. Some HARSH problems.

    So.....next week....

    Auggie punches Arthur. Is it too much to ask that I want him to jab Helesa in her mouth and or eyehole? "Hello, Auggie..."

    Will the Baby Puma return to Umbra1079 anyone who gets in his way of the mission that only he knows about?

    Will Calder's creepy factor be dialed back to a reasonable level?

    Will Annie finally move into her new NOC apartment leaving emo Auggie to play sexy jazz to himself and wonder what's next?

    Will Henry Wilcox continue decorating his office, dropping the most awesome metaphors in the history of ever, and plotting world domination?

    Will Walkerson survive?

    And the most important question of all....

    Will we see more Eric Barber?
    Dun dun dun........

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    1. We get one more week of Barber.
      And more of your comments made me LOL.

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    2. "Which makes it an extra good thing that she turned him down b/c her feely feelings tend to cloud her judgments sometimes and well, Henry just seems to need peeps who are a little bit more....HARSH??"

      AHAHA good point, I didn't even think about that. She doesn't have the dead cold lump of charred coal heart that it would take to be a Henry-style superspy.

      "but I do think this whole thinking his wife was dead and hearing that she's not from his new girlfriend and finding out that everyone knew but him b/c oh ha ha ha they all can see but he can't..."

      I KNOW RIGHT!? I was toooooooootally forgetting about how Arthur could SEE it was Helesa from the damn Teo-related pics and didn't say anything!!! WTF.

      "Is it too much to ask that I want him to jab Helesa in her mouth and or eyehole?" HAHAHAAAAAA .......... NO.

      "Will Annie finally move into her new NOC apartment leaving emo Auggie to play sexy jazz to himself and wonder what's next?" Yup I am betting so. This should be interesting. And these next few eps better not be CrappyLameTown.

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    3. "Poor Marlon, Miland, Marcus...whatever his name was. He didn't even know WTF, man....HARSH."

      HAHA I just realized, my review says, "Marlon is f*cked" when it should say, "Marlon WAS f*cked over." In my tired haziness last night I was totally forgetting that the guy was dead by the end of the episode haahahha. I was just so happy Rossabi survived that I forgot all about Marlon winding up in the body bag. He was f*cked over even much worse than I alluded to in that comment. ;-)

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  3. I'm really glad it's not just me who really, really, really didn't want Helen/Theresa/Helesa to be alive. Not because I've watched Alias (I haven't), just because I love the character of Auggie, and assuming that he doesn't know about her being alive (which I don't think he does...it would make me question just about everything he's ever said, since that would negate the entire "no more secrets" thing...so I really HOPE he doesn't), obviously he's in for a huge shock. So for his sake, and just because it would be nice if Walkerson could finally be happy, I really wanted her to be dead. I guess we were the only 2 in denial...

    Now I LOVE Covert Affairs, but this episode totally stressed me out...and not just the first time either! As long as I can remember, I could never bear to watch situations on tv when you knew that someone was about to completely embarrass themselves, or get caught for something really bad. There were plenty of things I liked about this episode, but it just made me uncomfortable all the way through, like you said. I feel very protective of Annie and Auggie, after wanting them to get together for so long (Yes, I understand that they are tv characters), and I don't want anyone messing with them.

    Depending how things go next week, I might have to punch "Helesa" myself.

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    1. "Depending how things go next week, I might have to punch 'Helesa' myself."

      LMAO I'm with you dude. Or punch the writers, maybe. ;-)

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  4. Oh, dear, yes. Helesa. I'm pretty sure Arthur was behind her "killing" ( aka "getting Auggie out of the picture") for his own (nefarious?) reasons. (Maybe Auggie was too principled for what he was planning?). After all he's in the photos WITH her, isn't he. And the garage scene makes it clear they've had a LONG working relationship. I don't think it's necessarily just Teo who's "cutting off" they're discussing...I share the general hope that this doesn't get soap-opera-ish. My hope is that this will merely be used as a way to expose what ARTHUR is capable of.

    There are a few interrelated themes coming through strongly for me so far:
    • "We're all in the mud": all our "lily-white" characters are turning out to have things in the past coming back to haunt them OR have proven themselves capable of doing questionable things.
    •"Fathers/sons": we have 2 father-son relationships here - both fathers being motivated in their actions by their feelings towards their sons. It became even more apparent this week that Henry's motivation is revenge/grief. I think we're going to find Arthur's done some pretty questionable things in order to protect Teo in the next few eps.
    There's an expansion of this into other relationships too: Henry's feelings for Annie (I really think he was feeling quite paternal towards her - hence the RAGE at her rejection of him); Mama-Joan having to do some pretty dodgy dodgy things in order to try and keep her Annie safe...this leads me to this:
    I suspect the whole "wedge between Annie and Auggie" thing is typical promo misleading. A combination of the flash-forward, and these thoughts, and some of the looks into the psyches of A and A are making me hope that the wedge is not about their feelings towards each other. Here's what I think the wedge may be:
    1. It is very clear by now that Annie's greatest motivation for getting involved with Henry was Auggie. He was implicated in something - she wants to protect him.
    2. Auggie struggles hugely with the idea of needing protection (cue Turkey, Barcelona, therapy sessions - the list goes on...). Annie feels differently. The scene where she's stitching him up in Medellin? Auggie's "you don't have to do this, Annie" in the flash forward smacks of this to me...
    I HOPE I'm on the right track here - seems so much less soap-opera-ish than Annie gets into a jealous, hurt huff and walks out...
    Few more points:
    • Rossabi: was it just me or was there an actual tear under Noam Jenkins eye in that "broken" scene? Damn he did well this week.
    • Was it a wise move for Annie to have let Henry know she had the flash drive?. Maybe THAT's what was being searched for in Auggie's apartment...
    • Calder. How often do I have to say it, people? Calder is good folks! He has smelt a rat since day one and he REALLY doesn't like rats. And the more he deals with Annie/Auggie or anyone close to him the more it stinks. Agreed, he doesn't go about his business with charm, but in the end he'll do the right thing (as he said to Joan this week).
    There ends my handful of 5c and crystal ball gazing. For now...

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    1. "After all [Arthur]'s in the photos WITH her, isn't he." LOL I have to admit I had forgotten who was in the pics with "Theresa," Teo or Arthur hahahah. Thanks for reminding me.

      "'We're all in the mud': all our 'lily-white' characters are turning out to have things in the past coming back to haunt them OR have proven themselves capable of doing questionable things."

      Dude totally, you have no idea how much I HOOOOPE that where (or at least one of the places) they are going with this stuff, because THAT is interesting to me. A lame stupid love triangle is NOT (stating the obvious there of course). Hehehee. ;-)

      "There's an expansion of this into other relationships too: Henry's feelings for Annie (I really think he was feeling quite paternal towards her - hence the RAGE at her rejection of him)"

      YES he actually made me feel kind of SORRY for him in that scene!! And that is saying a lot considering how evil he is hhahahaa.

      "Auggie's 'you don't have to do this, Annie' in the flash forward smacks of this to me" Oh snaps I didn't even think about it that way but you could be right!!

      "I HOPE I'm on the right track here - seems so much less soap-opera-ish than Annie gets into a jealous, hurt huff and walks out..."

      I am currently praying desperately to the TV gods that you are right!!! Hahahah.

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