Jesus H, it's a damn good thing Annie was such a badass spy in last week's ep, because she sure as hell was tripping all over her own two feet a lot of the way through "Embassy Row". She stumbled and bumbled her way to the finish line after having spent the entire second half of the ep being quite literally physically dragged by one dude or another to places unbeknownst to her until - whoopsie daisy!! - she somehow just, found herself there.
Now, before we continue can I just say, IF WE HAVE TO SPEND ONE MORE "ALMOST THE LAST MINUTE OF THE EPISODE" ON CALDER BONING SYDNEY I AM GOING TO GO BALLISTIC. O.k. I think I already just did go ballistic. But I am going to go EVEN MORE BALLISTIC. And on that front, this may be a record for the longest, most torturous amount of continuous time we have ever spent in an episode of Covert Affairs on storylines that are NOT THE A PLOT. What the hell was going on here? I should go back and count the number of minutes it was, if I'm not too lazy. It was crazy. I had an extremely stressful and depressing day at work and this episode was just continuing the stress.
I came into this ep expecting another jolly romp with the Annie/McQuaid dynamic duo, and instead what I got was like ... one of those eps of Game of Thrones where they spend the entire ep on all the most boring storylines. Hahaha uh oh I better be careful with this one, Magnus (Head GeekFurious) is gonna kill me. But let's just say if you had a hypothetical ep of GoT where 90% of the ep was "Stannis & the Red Woman conduct a lengthy beach ceremony for the Lord of Light" and then maybe the next 9% of it was just one loooonng close-up of Gilly's baby crying. And then the last 1% of the ep we mercifully got 5 seconds each of Arya and then Tyrion.
O.k. that might be a slight exaggeration. I'm just saying ... the balance of this ep was weird. I think that's partly because we had to spend time setting up what we all knew was coming: Hayley continuing her descent into full-on Crayley by starting an investigation on Annie. It's gonna be her who eventually finds out and exposes Annie's myocarditis, right? It has to be.
And speaking of Crayley, Auggie's trials and tribulations also got a LOT of screentime here. I was really afraid I was gonna have spend a couple paragraphs complaining about what the hell the writers are doing to Auggie this season, but thankfully it wasn't as bad here as I expected it to be. Last week, he could blame his ridiculous lady juggling on the idea that he was just working Tash for the mission. But this week, well, I guess the two ladies just flipped places. Tash became personal, but luckily, Auggie was upfront with her about Hayley, rather than going the douchey two-timing route I was afraid he would go. Whew. But I suppose that his inability to break up with Hayley due to her investigation on Annie was a bit of a convenient turn of events. Does that mean next week will be a third episode of Auggie's Lady-Juggling Side Show?? I think I've had my fill of that now.
And then we had Arthur and Joan. Again, just, more screentime than I expected. It's not that I don't care about them, it's just that I don't care that much about them hahaha. Noooo o.k. I'm kind of joking, I love these two, don't get me wrong. Again though, I think the issue was the combination of them + a hell of a lot of screentime given to Calder's dramas with Sydney and her tie to the internal investigation. It's just, when you cut away from Annie waking up in the trunk of a suspected terrorist's car and immediately cut to so, so, SO MANY CONSECUTIVE MINUTES of people's marriage and girlfriend and office dramas ... it's like you've now just taken ALL your momentum and then very slowly bashed it to a dead bloody pulp. At a rate of like, one bash per 30 seconds. And between each swing of the bat you're just sitting there checking your watch going, "When is the next swing? Is it here yet? Oh ... No? How 'bout now?"
Whew. Some of this might just be my workday talking, guys. I need to focus my brain to think about exactly what the hell was going on with Annie in this ep. Because in my defense, I literally could not understand ONE word Ivan was saying. I had to rewind almost every single line, and even when I rewound it, I still only got about a third of it. It's one thing to have a thick accent, but add in a serious mumble, and now you've got a problem. I am going to press "Play" on this episode again right ... now. Playing.
First, let's talk logic: I can buy the idea that they'd send Annie back to try to work Ivan even though it's a super risky move after last week's drugging, because there's also a decent enough chance that she could be successful with it. What I don't quite so much buy is the idea that they'd assign a spy whose cover is totally blown in Russia (remember the little Russian prison debacle in ep 3.11?) to a case that so heavily involves Russians. Well o.k. wait - I was thinking Borz & fam were Russian but I just realized they were Ukrainian. Or Crimean? Now we're getting into murky territory. So I guess Ivan is the first real Russian connection? Maybe it's not as weird as I thought it was. Though keeping Annie on the Ivan assignment is still a bit odd.
Also, I gotta say, the scene where Annie overpowers Ivan after he drugs her makes ZERO sense. The guy is like 6'4 at least, and all Annie has to do is lightly shove his face away from her and he just passes out?? What happened there?? That had to have been written with a specific method for Annie knocking him out, but something seriously failed in the way it was shot. I rewound it like 4 times and played it in slow motion, and, literally all Annie does is shove his face and he's out like a light. I think maybe it's supposed to be her elbowing him in the face? But it just didn't quite work. Also, the scene where he's chasing her with the gun - Why the hell does he suddenly give up and resort to tackling her? Does he run out of bullets? It was unclear to me.
HAHA Annie's reaction upon running into McQuaid at the Embassy party was hilarious. I liked McQuaid's character development here ... he seems to genuinely care about Annie. What slightly weirds me out though, is that he's now caught Annie at a couple of her weakest moments of this entire series thus far: The heart explosion at the end of 5.02, and her drugging by Ivan in this ep. What's to convince him at this point that she's such an amazing spy? She would have impressed him through the first three quarters of 5.02 and for all of 5.03, I guess. But still, right now in general, she's shaky at best. Does he just sense that she's going through some shit at the moment? At the end where they're sharing a beer, he seems to.
The thing is, Annie's shaky state is right at the (exploding) heart of why season 5 is interesting. It's something I've been waiting for this show to do for seemingly ever - to turn Annie back into a human being. She spent the last third of season 3 and all of season 4 as this indestructible spybot ... to the point where on Twitter, we nicknamed her Anndroid. Finally she's starting to crack, and it's kind of refreshing as hell. So for all her bumbling and fumbling in this ep, I'm ecstatic that we're seeing the blood start pumping through her veins again. Real life people go through shit, man. They have crises. No human person is gonna go through all the crazy shit Annie has been through since season 3 and NOT hit a rough patch at some point in the aftermath.
Side note: The shot of Annie's head being shoved underwater by Ivan brought me right back to the Alias pilot. It's not like it's an uncommon occurrence/scene on a TV show, but what with this being a spy show and all, it just instantly reminded me of Syd and the psycho tooth-puller in Taipei. This one was kind of a fun shot though, with Ivan falling in too as McQuaid shot him. The rest of my random thoughts:
- It seems that most of us are in agreement that Tash's hairstyle was ... odd ... last week. This week, it was a mixture of ... even more strange, mixed with possibly a roaring 20's finger waves hairstyle?? Which is a fun look in general, but it just seems like they didn't quite get all the way there with it. They didn't fully commit. You gotta really commit to a look like that.
- Was the NSA "Mystic" program that can analyze every cell phone call coming out of Paris at a particular time one of those technologies they just conveniently made up for this episode?
- Watching Kari and Peter G try to say their lines over Baby Mack (a.k.a. Jude the Dude) legit wailing was pretty hilarious.
- Annie's delivery of the line, "I will set off EVERY. ALARM BELL. THEY HAVE. *DUN DUN DUUNNNN*" kinda made me laugh.
- Annie's "airhead" laugh that she employs regularly with Ivan is amusing.
- I was glad to see Team Barber and Hollman back on the job, with their "denial of service attack" drama.
- HAHA @ ep director Jamie Barber's pic being used for "Michael Oates" (Calder investigation scene).
I'm in a bit of a quandary about what grade to give this one. I found the McQuaid/Annie relationship-development to be very entertaining, and some of the twists and turns with Ivan were fun and suspenseful. But the crazy weird pacing and some of the odd direction choices threw me the hell off and made the episode more torturous and confusing than it should have been. And Calder's storyline seems to tie into nothing at all this season, though I'm sure it eventually will, and I hope they don't go a totally predictable route with that. Hmm.
Knock me out with a gentle face-shove in the comments.
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