08 November, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.14: 'River Euphrates'

"COME on, THINK!!!" - Calder, to Auggie.  Truer words have not been spoken, for maybe this entire season of Covert Affairs thus far.  And it applies to essentially every character on the show, save for Barber and Rossabi.

First things first: You may recall that I was a tad bit peeved at this show last week.  The main reason for that was that I didn’t feel that Auggie’s situation with Annie was nearly dire enough to justify his decision to cheat on her with Helen.  Annie literally only had two people in the entire world who she could trust and count on completely – Auggie and Danielle.  It didn’t seem in character for Auggie to duck out of that small group of trustworthy people unless he felt like there was no hope at all for him and Annie.  So it was a disappointing thing to watch, because once you make a move like that, there’s a level of trust, that no matter how much you apologize and work to make up for it, you’ll never ever earn back.  You’ve shown that you’re capable of doing that thing in certain situations, and the other person in the relationship will then forever wonder if you might peace out again next time the going gets tough.

I’m pretty sure the A&A relationship was literally the only pure and happy thing left that existed in the entire Covert world, and to watch that be killed was sad.  It may not have been a death of a great character, but it was the death of a great dynamic. And I knew the second I saw it die last week, that it stood a good chance of never being able to come back for me, based on my many years of fangirl experience with past TV shows.

I’ve mentioned in several of my past reviews that Annie’s decision to go dark never made sense to me to begin with.  In the same way Auggie’s cheating made him look like a dick last week, Annie’s going dark without giving Auggie a say in it and then forcing him to tell her family she was dead, made her look like a complete dick as well.  For that reason, if they had played Auggie as being somewhat angry and resentful about what Annie had done, that would’ve made his move with Helen ring true to me a little bit more.  But they didn't.  Instead, Auggie seemed perfectly with the program, albeit not entirely thrilled about it, until he suddenly found his peen inside someone else.

Of course we could argue that the resentment and anger was there, but he simply was trying to ignore it until it manifested itself with the Helesa bone.  So, ok, in that case, I expected that we’d get some sort of explanation around that (or any other reasoning on his part, like trying to claim they were on a break, even if it was an idiotic excuse) ... but we didn’t get any of that.  Instead, we got Auggie just ... frankly not doing anything at all to attempt to redeem himself.  As a matter of fact, we got Auggie literally asking Annie to help him clean up his sex den with Helen.  REALLY, dude??  Reeaaaally??  It pained me to even type that sentence.  You are NOT helping your case with me here, in trying to convince me that I should still like you.

Oh another quick point too:  If there’s anything in the TV world I hate more than making characters act uncharacteristically dumb to move the story where you want it to go, it’s when a TV show creates a character who is more obnoxious and grating than most people could ever put up with, and then expects the audience to be sad/sympathetic when said character dies.  I could write a novel on this topic alone, so I’m going to stop here and just say that no matter how much “feely” music they play in scenes like Auggie crying to Joan on the phone, I just don’t care.  I’m annoyed by it.  I’m annoyed by Auggie.  It’s never going to bring me into Auggie’s “plight”, because Helen was never a character to me, she was a tacked on plot device.  Natasha was a character.  Helen was a tool.

Anyway, my biggest fears for this show once I saw last week’s ep were that a) I’d wind up just being annoyed with Auggie constantly now (check), and b) that I’d lose respect for Annie in how she dealt with the situation.  So when I saw how Annie reacted upon finding that confirmation of Auggie and Helesa’s sex den ... I was ... conflicted.  In a sense I feel like her gut reaction was the same as mine would have been – to blame herself.  Because yes, going dark WAS her choice.  She didn’t bring Auggie into that decision.  I’d feel guilty for that too.  And in that first scene, she was also probably so heartbroken that she didn’t know how to react.  So I somewhat got where she was coming from there ... but I then rolled my eyes 50 times over as soon as they got interrupted at the KEY moment of the convo.  TV show 101.

The rest of the episode, prior to the last couple scenes, played out a lot like a typical Covert Affairs episode, mostly in a decent way.  Albeit, more annoying than usual in the sense that NONE of our main characters were working together most of the time, and they were all tripping all over themselves and fucking things up at many of the major turns.  Annie let Nelson grab the gun from her, Auggie got fooled by the decoy, Calder got to Henry’s house too late altogether, Joan ran literally into Annie just as she was escaping that diamond wholesaler place, and NO ONE got Henry Wilcox.  But I suppose, at the very least, they were able to figure out his money-moving schemes and to track him to Hong Kong.  And we got some comedy from poor Barber at various points, while he was trying to help his “buddy” Auggie (are they really buddies or does Auggie just use Barber constantly?).  OH and I also liked that Rossabi is getting to help exact some revenge on Henry as well for how bad he got screwed over earlier in the season.  That is, IF they can ever actually make this whole “take down Henry” thing happen.  Maybe by some time in 2017.

It’s crazy though, how an episode can be going pretty well for me until literally the last 2 minutes plus the preview for next week.  Sometimes even the preview for next week alone can throw me into a complete rage and change my feelings on the ep I just finished watching.  I’m fighting as hard as I can to avoid having that happen tonight as well, and my cousin Katie texting me on a fiery rampage isn’t helping my efforts there hahaha.  In that last scene on the plane, Annie’s nicey nice self-blaming routine went overboard for me.  Complete with the necklace delivery service and all.  The hell?  Aren’t you going to at least get a LITTLE bit mad, Annie!?  Are you human at all??  Are you just starting the range of emotions and you simply haven’t hit the anger stage yet??  Is that coming next week?  Because I’m finding this to be a bit odd.  I’ve always bought Annie as being a cool chick, but Jesus, the woman acted like a SAINT in this ep, to the point of just being a bit crazy.  Katie’s take on it is that it’s almost like Annie in this ep was written as every dude’s fantasy – the chick who blames herself when YOU cheat, who continues to be cool with you anyway, who will never impose her lady feelings on you, who will never have PMS, and who’ll still go to the sports bar with you later and drink beer and eat hot wings with you. 

And honestly, she makes a great point with that.  I kind of am getting that feeling right now.  This episode was co-written by one male and one female writer, so I can’t necessarily say it’s because it’s coming from a male point of view ... but I do find it kind of hilarious that Chris Gorham got the luck of being able to direct the episode where all of this plays out.  Heh.  Anyway here’s a few more points and then I’ll try to summarize my feelings:

  • Am I an idiot for being confused as to how Annie found Nelson at that soccer game?  Did that plastic wrap have a secret map on it??  I don’t get it.
  • Joan’s reaction to running into Annie, who she thought was dead, was HILARIOUS.  Even the awkward delivery of the line, “Annie!  You’re alive!”  And then just, RIGHT to business.  Uhh wow she really took THAT in stride, didn’t she?
  • If all I get from A&A these days is nails on a chalkboard, I was glad that I could, at the very least, get some decent Joan/Annie feels.  After Joan’s nonchalant reaction to Annie’s being alive, we got some pretty good J&A time in the car.
  • Auggie’s comment on the plane: “I was scared I lost you.”  Oh really, Auggie, WHEN was that exactly??  That time when you KNEW she was faking her death??  The time when Calder told you every detail of how he helped her fake her death and what she was doing on her mission?  The time when she was IN TOWN DELIVERING A LAPTOP TO YOU for said mission??  The time when Calder was so obviously lying to you about her not wanting to see you??  I’m not entirely clear.
  • Oh and Annie’s response to that felt a bit forced.  “You know when I was scared?  When I knocked on your door and you asked who it was, and I ... didn’t know the answer.”  Is she too busy trying to figure out who she is to even know how to react to Auggie?  That question is not entirely sarcastic.

I’m not completely sure how to feel about this episode right now.  It’s at least somewhat leading exactly down the path I had feared, where Annie’s reaction to the situation doesn’t entirely resonate with me, and where I just spend nearly every minute of Auggie’s screentime wanting to punch him hard.  Should I start my mourning for the old lovable Auggie now?  I don’t know.  There’s two eps left to make me feel differently.  I just still have this nagging feeling that the only characters I’ll still like when this season is over are Barber, Rossabi … and maybe, shockingly, Calder.

GRADE: 82/100

As much as A&A alternately pained me and annoyed the crap out of me here, I’m not weighting that very heavily in assigning the grade.  Because I need to see more of how that plays out before I can fully judge it.  And aside from that, I felt like this was a decent ep, but the total dumbassery of nearly everyone involved, in terms of screwing up their missions, was still frustrating.  Therefore I come to the grade of 82.  Too high?  Too low?  Do you disagree with nearly every point I made?  Tell me in the comments.

p.s. Soooo ... when’s Eyal coming back?

p.p.s. Can we bring Simon back from the dead?

p.p.p.s. Is it bad that I’d almost be willing to take Ben over Auggie right now?  And I HATE Ben.  Sigh.


  1. That last "when I knocked on your door, and you aske who it was and I didn't know the answer" line. The way Annie stared at Auggie afterwards seemed accusatory to me. So I wondered if there was an element of "I don't know who I am in relation to you any more" in there too. It felt like that to me.

    1. Yeah it's interesting because the second time I watched that scene, I actually read Annie's side of the interaction a bit differently. I always watch the ep and then start writing and then watch it again as I'm writing, before I hit "publish" on the review. And on second viewing of that scene, I read Annie as more on the "I don't feel cool with any of this" side than I had the first time around. I'll have to watch that line again to see if I get the same accusatory vibe there. But her look towards and then away from Auggie as the scene closed certain seemed none-too-thrilled with him hahaha.

      The thing that still drives me nuts though is the question of why she was being SO *outwardly* forgiving towards Auggie (since he doesn't have visual cues, I'm thinking he probably took that interaction to be more positive than she was viewing it to be). She's letting him off the hook completely in all her interactions with him. I'm not sure what that means or where it's going ... but ... what ended up completing my "pissed off" feeling was the flash of the hand-hold in the preview for next week haahahha. Because then it felt like, not only is she totally absolving him of wrongdoing, she's *comforting* him physically next week hahahaa. Made me want to just punch everyone in the face. Who knows what that hand grab is even about though. We'll see. :-P

    2. Could Auggie have meant "I was scared I lost you when you figured out I banged Helen?" Even so, major fail points to Auggie's character development, which I was praising so highly at the beginning of this season.

    3. Oh crap I messed up this comment on my first attempt. My day is not going super awesome. I need to try to delete the "deleted" message now. Anyway here is my comment:

      Hahah oh yeah I think I saw Rhiannon suggest that on Twitter too. If that's what he meant, then it only makes me want to add FIVE swift kicks to the balls along with my 5 punches to his face. Because to me that translates to, "Oh thank god, I can cheat on you all I want and you'll still be here for me!! Yay!! I win at life!!" Oh go shove it where the sun don't shine, Auggie. Clearly you've found the perfect woman who'll let you go do whatever the hell you want and she'll still "be cool." How nice for you.

      Btw, did you see this week's 'New Girl'? It was actually kind of a perfect antidote to all this obnoxious A&A misery. Nick & Jess's fight and subsequent revenge-attempts were hilarious, entertaining, and guess what? They both made the right decisions in the end because THEY LOVE AND RESPECT EACH OTHER!! Omg what a concept. Naked Taye Diggs in Jess's bed isn't even enough to break them up. Fun times.

  2. I am so confused by it. I mean i liked on the plane when she told Auggie i dont know why i kept it and gave him the necklace. I thought oh good annies going to give him hell but then she stoped. I am wondering if this whole thing is gettting to her and she dosnt care about anything but Henry. Auggie felt totaly out of charter. He slept with Helen realised that he loved Annie but was ready to apeshit on henry for killing helen. Wtf? Bring back Ben or someone that can safe Annie and where the heck was arthur last night

  3. I honestly think at this point in the season with 2 episodes left and after getting so fiery raging mad last week that I'm just too tired to get worked up about last night in either a good or bad way. Don't get me wrong (minus Auggie's hissy fitting and boo hoo'ing and Saint AnnDroid) I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It was much better than last week mostly because it was minus Helen and I'm pretty sure the only way it could've gotten any worse were if we had to sit through an hour of Henry & Sana or Arthur & Bianca. (Just shoot me in the face...)

    But please, nobody ask me what the hell Henry Wilcox is doing (besides ALL the bad shit) b/c I'm still confused as hell. Something about diamonds and money and laundry and pizza and decoys and Hong Kong.

    And I'm with ya Rach, I don't know how Annie knew about the soccer field unless she super spied on him and his happy fam for longer than we realized or I missed something completely.

    I don't get why Auggie was so super upset about Helen dying....again. Ok, this time it was for real, but really? Really, Auggie? You weren't like excited when she suddenly came back to life now were ya? It just comes across as more guilt to me than actual grief b/c let's face it, you banged her and sent her off on her merry spy way to look out for your supposed one true love, Annie. So yeah, I just want to smack the salt out of your stupid ass tears for that. Get over it. And you were scared you lost Annie? Ok. So what does that mean? When you get scared, you get horny? I'm so confused....again.

    And Annie...well...you said it best when you said you didn't even who you were or what to say or how to answer or whatever it was you fucking said to Auggie on the plane. I don't know who you are either, Annie. Talk to us. Tell us how you're feeling. Something. Anything. COME ON! Even if it's that you were scared of losing Auggie too....or you want to twist his dick off....or you want to go sell apples on the side of the road...you miss being a blonde! TALK!!

    And why did you take the necklace? B/c I don't buy the "I don't know why I took it" bit.

    I'm more in love with Calder Michaels than I am the show at this point. Just the way he struts and talks and cleans up Walkerson disasters, I mean messes.
    And Joan. Well, Joan owns. Too bad she's married to a douche. Arthur's still grieving over Teo? Wow, are we positively sure that Auggie is NOT Arthur's son? Pity party of one, you're table is waiting! More guilt than grief. Again. So it was left to Joan to go out, get her own intel, and pretty much kick everyone's ass.

    Also loved:
    Barber keepin' shit real while trying to go healthy.
    The Black Mountain song in the opening scene.
    Rossabi. Is it me or did he seem kind of giddy that Annie was dead? LOL.
    Calder's expressions.

    There were some things I LOL'd at like....the mumblePASTABOXmumble...Barber's health food kick...the look on Auggie's face when he realizes the bed's unmade...Joan's business card....Annie & Nelson...Auggie's Super Swat Team of Special Forces...Henry's eyebrow double, I mean decoy.

    I guess that's all for now...can't wait for next week where we get...Hong Kong...hand holding...and lots of hot WalDerSon action! DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNNN

    1. "And I'm with ya Rach, I don't know how Annie knew about the soccer field unless she super spied on him and his happy fam for longer than we realized or I missed something completely." Glad I'm not the only one who was confused by that. If someone can figure that out then they will be a genius. Until then I shall assume it was a plot hole.

      "So yeah, I just want to smack the salt out of [Auggie's] stupid ass tears for that. Get over it. And you were scared you lost Annie? Ok. So what does that mean? When you get scared, you get horny? I'm so confused....again." YES. This. Everything you just said. Ditto. My sympathy level for Auggie right now is below zero.

      "Tell us how you're feeling. Something. Anything. COME ON! Even if it's that you were scared of losing Auggie too....or you want to twist his dick off....or you want to go sell apples on the side of the road...you miss being a blonde! TALK!!" THIS too. God. Like you were saying in our convo earlier, we're still waiting to hear how Annie feels about shit that happened LAST season for Christ's sake, probably even stuff from season 2. I guess the most we're ever gonna get from her is some bummed out looks every now and then. Words are too much to ask for.

      "And why did you take the necklace? B/c I don't buy the 'I don't know why I took it' bit." Uggh. Thinking about this still makes my blood pressure rise. My beloved Simon's steamer trunk key necklace has permanently disappeared into the ether never to return, but I can guarantee you this goddamn idiotic Helesa necklace will haunt us for the rest of the series. Can't wait for that.

      "I'm more in love with Calder Michaels than I am the show at this point." Uggh ... yeah. True. And Joan I always love her ... and yes your "pity party of one" description for Arthur and Auggie is PERFECT I wish I'd thought of it for the review hahhaha.

      Hahha and yeah as far as stuff that made me laugh - other than Joan's nonchalant reaction to running into Annie, it was probably Barber's serious reaction to Auggie's joke about knocking on the door of the OTHER van parked in front of Henry's house. It was maybe the only split second of the entire episode that I spent not wanting to stab Auggie's face off.

      "I guess that's all for now...can't wait for next week where we get...Hong Kong...hand holding...and lots of hot WalDerSon action! DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNNN"

      I wish I could jump into my TV the second the hand-holding happens ... like I would pause it right when their hands clasp. Then I would jump into the TV and I would find a sledgehammer. And I would SMASH the hands. Because it doesn't bring me any feeling but nausea right now. Auggie doesn't deserve to have his hand held right now. At least not by Annie. Let Calder do it.

  4. I don't know if you guys would be interested in what kind of ratings this show gets, but it's what I do.

    The 10/24 episode got 0.42 Live + Same Day A18-49, but went up to a 0.92 (+122%) on a Live + 7 basis.

    The median age of the viewers is 56. It does it's strongest Live + 7 number against older people:

    Men 35-64: 1.54
    Men 55+: 2.06
    Women 35-64: 1.67
    Women 55+: 2.03

    Men 18-34 is tiny with just 95,000 viewers to USA's initial telecast.

    1. OMG, you have NO idea how glad I am you posted this. I noticed that the Live+SD ratings have been WAY down for the fall eps, more so than they were last year (but White Collar's are not great either). It makes me wonder if it's making that up in the L+3 and L+7 ratings. Do you know how the fall eps are comparing to the summer eps, by any chance, in L+3 and/or L+7? I am sooooooo curious but I don't know how/where to get that information.

      Oh sorry one more q ... do you know how many total viewers that same 10/24 ep got in L+7?

      THANKS so much for the info!!

    2. Wow. So glad for that response. I was apprehensive that no one would be interested.

      Total viewers for that episode were 3.4 million vs. 1.7 million on a "same day" basis. Lots of 10PM shows these days suffer from DVR-itis. People don't seem to have time to watch them "same day".

      The ratings do seem much weaker now than they were in the Summer. A18-49 all.

      Avg. July - Labor Day:
      Live + SD - .71
      Live + 7 - 1.27
      (Highest episode was the 8/6 one with a 1.44)

      Avg. since Labor Day:
      Live + SD - 0.59
      Live + 7 - 1.08
      (Highest episoe was 9/3 with a 1.26)

      The show has had steady losses since 9/3. The losses seem greatest among the younger demos.

    3. Hahah yeah I'm definitely interested!! This is great info. I've always wished there was a better way to get L+3 and L+7 data for various shows and I've never been able to find a place that provides it consistently. CA pretty much always gets lower Live+SD ratings in the fall but this fall has been *extra* low (for both CA and WC), and I've never known how the L+3 and L+7s compare in summer vs. fall at all.

      I'm assuming the 10/24 ep is the most recent one that shows up in the L+7 ratings at this point, but I'd be super curious to see what they are for the 10/31 - 11/21 eps too when those are released (finale is 11/21).

      Curious ... if you don't mind me asking ... do you do this for a living or a hobby? :)

    4. "do you do this for a living or a hobby? :)"

      I'd rather not answer that question.

    5. Mysterious. ;-) No prob haha, I understand, with the public nature of the internets. I get pretty paranoid about what's searchable about me via google and stuff like that.

      Thanks again for the 411 though ... now you may have me bugging you again in the future for more info. :)

  5. Young people like myself (I can say I'm young because the median age is so OLD) are getting bored with the silly writing on the show. Season 3, especially early season 3, was far superior. This poor-man's grand-arc is a failure.

    1. It's a bummer because the switch to the serialized format in season 3 with the long arc was such a great thing for this show in the first 2/3rds of that season. And the very last thing I'd ever want the show to do is switch back to the mission of the week type deal (if anything I think that would be even more encouraging of an audience of old farts).

      My theory is that the reason eps 3.01-11 were so great is that the writers were trying out the new format, but NOT going balls-out/off-the-rails with it yet. I think after they got their feet wet, they then suddenly dove in head first and went a bit crazy, and got in over their heads. They started to lose sight of the basic elements that made this such a solid show to begin with, from season 1. Stuff like, keeping things logical, staying away from overly soapy storylines, taking the time to properly develop each story, focusing on the characters, etc.

      It also feels a lot like the writers have a bit of A.D.D. going on these days IMO. Like, they can't just pick a couple/few storylines and focus on those ... it's as if they tried to tackle literally EVERY bright idea that popped up in the writers room this season. There seems to have been no filter at all. It results in a show that feels disjointed, convoluted and illogical. I seriously hope that for season 5, they take a step back, take a deep breath and take a more reasonable approach on what they can (and *should*) tackle. Feels like they're trying to boil the whole ocean right now and it's not working real well.

    2. Yep. It was a show that surfed the line between reality and entertainment really well. And now it's just surfing the line between cheesy and tired.