I may have jinxed myself last week when I said I'm still enjoying Covert Affairs more than Homeland.
Never in the entirety of this series did I think I’d ever be yelling at Annie to walk AWAY from Auggie’s door. But I was tonight. Emphatically.
O.k. look. There’s two levels on which a TV show can piss me off:
Level 1: Giving us plotlines that are lame, not believable, drag on and on, or are otherwise obnoxious in one way or another. This is forgivable to me for a certain period of time. Depending on how much I love the characters, I will put up with it for quite a while actually, many times even to the end of the series. Covert was on this level with me during eps 4.07-10, but it mostly recovered with 4.11-12.
Level 2: Making me lose respect for the main characters. This, much more quickly than Level 1, can really be a dealbreaker for me. It’s one thing if it’s a show like Breaking Bad, where the entire POINT of the show is for a character to turn bad. But Breaking Bad, this ain’t. See the thing is, it’s all about expectation. There are characters that you expect to keep your respect throughout the series, and there are characters that you don’t. It’s the characters that I love and respect that make me love the show. If I stop liking those characters ... then ... yeah. That’s a problem for me with the show itself.
The second this Helen character was introduced, I knew this was where this was going. I knew that I’d eventually find myself losing at least some measure of respect for Auggie at some point in the season, and I knew it would be akin to all of the following moments for me, on other TV shows I once loved:
- Vaughn waits 5 seconds before dating, becoming engaged to, and then marrying some other chick after Sydney disappears. (Alias)
- Carrie decides it would be a great idea to DATE Brody after he was, you know, a goddamn terrorist. (Homeland)
- Luke turns into a total wishy washy loser after his long lost daughter April (cousin Oliver) shows up in the last season or so of Gilmore Girls.
- Jax screws the porn chick in a purposeful attempt to make Tara dump him for good because he doesn’t want her to risk her life and career for him and the MC. Tara then eventually goes back to him anyway. Over this time period, I gradually wind up hating both characters. By the end of season 4, I hate literally every character on the show except Opie. I stop watching the show at that point, and my decision is validated extremely early in season 5. (SOA)
It didn’t turn out well for me and any of these shows in the end. I kept going with them for a while afterwards ... some of them I even finished out ... but those moments proved the be the beginning of a downward spiral in every case. I’m still waiting for Homeland to recover; we’ll see how that goes. So far, not great. Was this episode of Covert Affairs the one that will be the first toll of that same death knell? I don’t know. It’s way too soon to tell. Once I love a show, I don’t give up easily, so we’ll have to wait and see with this one now.
But the thing is, it’s not even just that. The other huge problem I have with this Helen storyline is ... actually, I think I can go back to my review of the freaking season 4 premiere to illustrate exactly where this went wrong for me. I mentioned in that review that one thing I always loved about CA in the first 3 seasons was that it made us interested in the Annie/Auggie relationship withOUT focusing the entire show around it. And as part of that, Covert Affairs was, really, refreshingly, NOT SOAPY. It was SUCH a nice change of pace. So naturally, the problem I’ve had with this Helen character from day 1 is that the entire reason for her existence on the show is to cause soapy drama. And I could see it from the second Auggie told Annie about her existence, before she even showed up on screen. We all saw it coming from miles and miles away.
And don’t try to give me some bullshit excuse about Helen being there to act as the catalyst to push Annie into going dark either, because they could have easily done that ANY other way, with ANY other character who had nothing to do with a freaking soapy LOVE TRIANGLE. But here it is folks, Covert Affairs has now entered soap territory. Which means it’s now just like every other obnoxious show out there. And that’s exactly why I’m so disappointed.
Now, back to Auggie. How does a character lose your respect? Well that’s obviously completely subjective. Certain people are willing to forgive certain actions more easily than others, and a lot of that depends on a) the context and circumstances of the situation and b) your own personality and life experiences. And hell, I want characters who are flawed. They’re not interesting to me if they’re not flawed. There’s a reason I love Girls, much to HGF’s disapproval. But everyone has a line that is considered “too far” if it’s crossed (even Girls started pushing up against that line for me at the end of S2). For me, tonight, Auggie crossed that line.
If Auggie had some sort of definitive proof that Annie was not interested in seeing him again, I’d be a lot more forgiving of what he did. But he didn’t. He had ONE comment from Calder that Calder practically *spelled out to him* that he was lying to keep A&A from ruining the mission. Not anywhere near enough to be like, “Ope ... o.k. snaps well I guess that whole Annie thing is over with! Calder told me to let her go so I guess I will!! Next?” Also, it took Auggie what ... THREE conversations with Helen to sway him from “I have zero interest in you anymore” to “Let’s bang”!!?? REALLY, Auggie?? You’re that easy? You’re that weak of character to just whip it right out of your pants so quickly with someone else when your girlfriend leaves you to your own devices?? O.k. fine, I know faking your death is different than just being on a business trip or some shit, but whatever. This is the spy world dammit, faking your death and going on a business trip are essentially the same damn thing!! He knew Annie was alive IN TOWN & working to complete the damn mission. She even delivered that laptop TO HIM!! He didn’t even give her a damn chance to work out her shit in D.C.! No, Auggie, NO. NOT cool. NOT. EFFING. COOL. If you were my boyfriend, well, you would not be after this. I’d be DUNZO, baby. I’d immediately be off to Israel for the best revenge f*ck of my life with Eyal. (Hey Annie – hint hint!!)
Hahaha lord, I tried really hard to not get too angry/emotional in this review, but this ep was clearly intended to mess with our emotions, so I am reacting accordingly. Whew. O.k. I am going to now try to sit back and look at the rest of the episode objectively. Up until minute 38, I was enjoying the ep pretty well. On the whole, I can at least give it one thing – It was a LOT better than the other Helesa-heavy episode: 4.07. 4.07 was very poorly plotted and poorly executed at that. For the most part, I didn’t have this problem with 4.13. Well, not too much anyway. It had its issues – like why the hell did Violet give up the info about Hillcrest to Annie after 2 seconds of talking to her?? She didn’t know her from Adam at that point!! And how the hell was Deric Hughes working for the CIA when he was busy blowing up helicopters full of innocent civilians for Henry?? I suppose the DCI must be in cahoots with Henry, otherwise he wouldn’t even be allowed in the building? I don’t even know at this point. It’s so convoluted. Oh and how did the DOJ peeps even KNOW that Joan gave Annie the go-ahead to use extraordinary measures with Teo in Colombia?? Did she document that somewhere? Maybe ... I suppose it could’ve been in her best interest in terms of explaining that mission to the higher-ups?
The Corvette scene ... and the bus scene. They were both beautiful scenes. But from the second the Corvette came on screen I could just feel the writers trying to butter me up. Turns out I was right. They were setting me up just to rip my heart to shreds a few scenes later. And for Auggie NOT to recognize via smell or something that it was Annie sitting next to him on the bus, and likewise for Annie not to tap him on the leg or give him SOME LITTLE HINT ... was ridiculous. Auggie has blind guy super senses and Annie has a brain in her damn head! For the audience to be in-the-know on things that Auggie wasn’t for this whole episode ... that always makes for an extremely frustrating experience for the viewer. I’ve never been a fan of that story-telling device myself.
And then in the end, we had the whole, “Helen sacrifices herself for Annie” bit. Did the writers think this would make us like her? I’m unclear. It didn’t even come within 500 miles of the ballpark of working for me though. And would Henry really be dumb enough to not suspect Annie and Jessica Matthews are one and the same?? I mean ... I suppose that must be one of the possibilities he had running through his head up until that moment. And why did Helen do it in the first place? A character that manipulative wouldn’t then turn around and be that much of a heroic and selfless saint. The only motive I can think of is that she kinda lost the will to go on after realizing that Auggie only wanted to poke her for the night rather than to be her husband again. Whatever it is, I just could not possibly give less of a crap about it/her. She was never made to be a likeable character, so I can’t then be expected to suddenly care about her fate. Other than to just be glad she’s dead.
O.k., just a few last points before I end this:
- I was in such a daze after the Auggie/Helesa boning scene that I couldn’t even appreciate Barber’s g-ride. It would otherwise be amusing though.
- As hate-able as Calder was earlier this season, and as much as I wanted to kill him for trying to manipulate Auggie into thinking Annie was done with him in the gym scene, I also don’t blame him for the way this episode went. He was only trying to protect the damn mission from mushy-gushy A&A lovebird disaster. Auggie has NO ONE to blame for letting himself fall for such an obvious trick but himself. No one. Auggie, you are a class A idiot.
- I can’t even with Joan and Arthur right now. I can’t concentrate on them. Some stuff happened. They had a plan. It backfired immediately and now they’re just pissed at each other. I mainly found that turn of events to be obnoxious. I just want to make some damn progress on getting Henry.
I'm still so discombobulated by this ep I’m not going to be very objective on my grade. I understand that what the writers were going for was the fact that faking your own death has consequences on your personal life. Huge consequences. I totally get that. I just wish it hadn’t all gone down in such a soapy manner. I wish it wasn’t something I could see coming for months in advance. Any TV fanatic has seen this millions of times before. It’s so cliché. I wish the writers had properly built Auggie’s situation to a point of being sufficiently desperate and dire on the Annie front, so that screwing Helesa would be more understandable and forgivable. I really don’t think it would’ve been that difficult to do, with Annie being “dead” and all. But for some reason they chose not to do that.
This is the same grade I retroactively gave 4.07 at the end of the summer season. Like I said, 4.13 was much better plotted and executed, but what it represents and confirms for me in regards to this season as a whole is a much bigger problem. That’s not saying that the last 3 eps of S4 can’t be good and redeem it at least somewhat, but I won’t know till I see ‘em. The way Annie handles this will be the absolute key for me in those eps. What do you guys think? Tell me in the comments.
And, well, there is one bright side here. When is Eyal coming back?? Because OH boy, I can’t WAIT for that shiz.