16 July, 2014

The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 5.04: 'Silence Kit'

Wow ... for a few minutes during "Silence Kit," I started to mentally plan out the rest of season 5, and it consisted solely of Annie surfing the web for new career opportunities, updating her LinkedIn profile and getting pissed when her profile views go down by 10% even though she just revamped the entire thing and she thought she was using all the right key words, goddamnit.  This is not me speaking from experience, by the way.  It’s just ... you know ... how I would imagine ... something like this might go.

I’m on vacation right now and tonight marked the first time I’ve ever watched a brand new Covert Affairs episode in the same room with my oft-quoted cousin Katie.  It made for a fun time when we laughed our asses off at our version of the rest of season 5, but it also makes it a bit hard for me to judge the episode overall.  Well, that and the fact that I have the horrible disadvantage of watching it in 1995-o-vision: low def, tinny TV sound, no pause button, no rewind button, and no replay.  One and done, baby.  You miss a line and you’re screwed.  Maybe the replay will come on while I’m still writing this.  I hope so.  I am really, seriously roughing it here.  I'm practically in a third world country.  But alas, I shall persevere.

God, I’m so confused.  What the hell was the explanation for Annie’s heart condition again!?  I blinked my eyes and feel like I missed the entire thing.  Well first off, I chuckled at Dr. Eyal at first, trying to diagnose her himself, although in the moment I was forgetting that he used to be a med student.  So at least he has some experience in that area.  And at least he got her to a real doctor eventually.  But the explanation was SOO ridiculously glossed over – Eyal mentioned the scars from her shooting, and then she said that myocarditis is caused by an infection ... and then Eyal said “So I was right about the scar tissue” ... wait what??  Scar tissue from what?  The infection?  Lena's bullets?  What am I missing?  They damn well better give us more explanation for this in future episodes and if it’s completely unrelated to the injury + open heart surgery that she already had (which left no surgery scar) then I’m going to lose my gat-damn marbles. 

Also, I love any glimpses of Eyal we can get, but I also can’t help but feel annoyed with the way they sort of trot him out for a quick thrill once a season these days.  I’m a little torn because I’m glad this episode didn’t diverge from the original spoilers I saw (and liked), and a key part of that involved the Eyal scenes being flashbacks, not present day.  But at the same time I just get bummed out thinking about the probability that this will be all we see of him the entire season.  Who knows I guess.  We’ll see.

Let’s talk about Annie for a sec, guys.  Let’s have a slow jam.  Do we have any fans of The Wire here?  Remember Jimmy McNulty?  When I got to one of the late seasons of The Wire, it suddenly struck me that Annie Walker and Jimmy McNulty are the same character, at their core.   Both are cocky in a way that is alternately obnoxious and/or charming depending on the situation, and both have extremely strong natural instincts for what they do.  They also both have a passion for their jobs to the point of obsession – and hey, it’s great if you can find a job you love – but when your job is Homicide Detective or CIA field operative, an overabundance of passion for your job can get a bit unhealthy and dangerous.  Both of these characters have been completely willing to throw their entire lives in the garbage, if necessary, to capture a bad guy.

Jimmy as a character always felt very real and human because you could see the mental/emotional toll his job obsession took on him.  He was a womanizer, a not-great dad to his kids, an unfaithful boyfriend and a raging alcoholic.  A functioning alcoholic, yes, but just barely.  And the degree of fucked-up-ness in his personal life was always a direct function of how obsessed he was with his work at any given moment.  Annie, on the other hand, has mentally and emotionally always seemed a lot like Teflon to me ... particularly since Russia in mid-season-3.  Starting with Lena/Russia, it has just been - throw whatever crazy tragic shit you want at her, homegirl is gonna bounce right back and act like nothing ever happened within 3 episodes.  The woman is unbreakable at this point, and we’ve never gotten much insight at all into why, or how she feels about any of what is happening to her.  If I were to rank things that drive me insane about this series, this would have to be at the very top.

Is Annie ever going to feel as human to me as Jimmy?  I doubt it.  But the potential I’ve seen in season 5 from the start has been that the exploding heart situation might finally challenge Annie enough at her core to make some progress in this area.  And for that reason, I appreciate what we were able to eke out of her in this episode.  Annie completely forgot how to articulate words ... to convert feelings into audible sounds coming out of her mouth ... in mid season 3.  Tonight, she gave us more of that than we’ve seen in nearly two seasons.  She admitted that she’s freaked out, and she admitted that she literally doesn’t know who she is as a person outside of her job at this point.  The fact that her problem was magically resolved for her by the end of the episode when Auggie somehow redacted the medical info from her record was nearly as obnoxious as when he got her out of Bluebonnet in season 3, but I don’t think her happy dance will last that long.  There wouldn’t be a season 5 arc if no one in power at the CIA finds out about this.  It’s really just a matter of when and how, at this point.  I hope we get a lot more of this Annie character progression as a result.

Now, I’ve been off Twitter, but my gut feel is that Walkerson fans were probably 8 million times happier with this episode than they have been all season so far.  And that is because not only did Annie finally produce real sounds out of her mouth hole, but A&A actually conversed back and forth to each other.  Thank god Annie told Auggie wtf is going on, because if they had dragged this out all season a la “Castle & Beckett hold huge secrets from each other for 22 1/2 full episodes” in Castle season 4, it would have been infuriating.  But just as importantly, thank GOD Auggie finally called Annie on her bullshit.  He has always handled Annie with such kid gloves - because I guess he’s afraid of losing her or alienating her or something - that it often makes me want to violently strangle both of them.  That’s why everyone loves Eyal, because he has the balls to call her on shit (and he’s sexxayy while doing it).  So for me it felt extremely refreshing to see Auggie finally get fed up and take a page out of Eyal’s book when he told Annie to fess up after they left the hospital.  For believability, we probably should have seen a little more wavering from her between “I don’t want to drag you into this” and “Let me vomit the entire history onto your lap,” but hey.  At least we got the end result.  I suppose we’re to assume the wavering happened during the commercial break.

The end scene with the two of them was ... really hyped up by the CA Writers' Twitter account.  I have found that in nearly 100% of situations, when the CA Writers hype up a particular scene before the episode airs, it winds up being anywhere from disappointing to rage-inducing on my side once I actually see it.  This time it was ... hmm.  Somewhere in between.  Maybe it was Annie’s giddiness that got to me, or Auggie’s lack of concern for the fact that this heart condition could actually kill her during the time he’s taking to hide her medical problems from everyone ... yeah.  I think that’s it - It’s the Bluebonnet-ness of the whole thing.  Auggie saves Annie from facing consequences once again, and Annie jumps for joy like a 5 year old whose parents have just given in on buying her a Happy Meal after she’s begged for it for an entire car ride.  I’m trying to remember to just be happy they talked at all.

Here’s my other random thoughts on the ep:

  • I’m glad this show has finally discovered Bon Iver, and is now using his actual music rather than that cheap bland Bon Iver knock-off song they used at the end of ep 4.16.  It's about time (or maybe it was just a licensing issue).
  • Calder and Sydney ... uuuugggghhhh I’m sorry but I’m still feeling like nearly every second of the two of them on screen is wasted time ... though this episode did seem to indicate that the storyline is leading to something.  I’m just still not entirely sure I’ll care what it is.  Joan calling him out was fun though.  “Whatever she costs is NOT worth it.”
  • I still feel exactly the same about Hayley as I do about the Calder/Sydney storyline, but at least the scene where she and Annie met was hilarious.  Crayley finally emerges!  I’m nervous for where that’s heading, though.  I don’t want it to be the jealous catty “Hayley tries to sabotage Annie” cliché that I fear it will be.  Like maybe Hayley will discover Annie’s secret and out her or something.  I don’t want to be reminded of the soapy Helesa bullshit from S4.
  • I actually found myself bummed about the scarcity of Annie/McQuaid scenes in this ep.  I’m still very interested in where that relationship is going.
  • The “DPD vs. McQuaid’s private firm” stuff continues to be fairly amusing, and I continue to not know how realistic any of it is.
  • Annie is exactly as good at keeping plants alive as I am.

I have to admit it’s hard for me to judge this ep’s plot logic without my DVR to re-examine stuff.  I need to double check how Crazy Roger uncovered Harris Wilson ... and actually now that I think of it, it’s kind of doofy that all the Harris-stalking Annie spent this entire episode working on didn’t really pan out to much other than him discovering her and her killing him in self defense.  Then all the uncovering of incriminating info happened offscreen by other CIA peeps.  All the real movement happened right at the beginning with Roger IDing him and then right at the end after Annie killed him.  In any case, it’s not all that important to me, since this was a pivotal episode for the character arcs, so that’s mostly what I’m judging this ep on.

GRADE: 86/100

I’m extremely glad we got movement on the A&A front and that we were treated to some Eyal screentime, but I’m getting annoyed that they’re dragging out the explanation of Annie’s exploding heart, and I’m still feeling very wary of whether it will actually be a meaningful consequence of her past experiences, which logically should be a cause of a physical problem like this.  I’m also noticing how infuriated I’m getting with every second we spend on B plots, particularly in the last few minutes of each ep, and I wonder if they’ll become more interesting to me at any point this season.  The potential of season 5 is all still here, I just hope it's realized.

Tell me I'm on crack in the comments.

The Plopper

Recent reviews by the writer, below:
25 June, 2014
The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 5.01: 'Shady Lane'
02 July, 2014
The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 5.02: 'False Skorpion'
09 July, 2014
The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 5.03: 'Unseen Power of the Picket Fence'


  1. I liked this ep a lot. But I'm not sure what I think about the explanation of Annie's medical problems. I'm not a doctor, but it seems implausible that she could suddenly have a heart condition from infected scar tissue from two years ago. I was really hoping it had come from whatever was used to fake her death. But that could also be because I'm big on characters making choices and those choices having consequences, and Annie suffering heart failure because she chose to fake her own death has a much nicer poetic irony than Annie suffering the effects of someone else's actions does.

    Loved seeing A&A together again, but there were a few eh? moments in there, too. It was kind of LOL when Auggie's berating Annie about not hiding things/lying, and then he's all, "Oh, yeah, she came by my place after the party," when we just saw him hunt her down at the party not two minutes before. I also still find it very hard to believe Annie and Auggie are both so well-adjusted that she can show up at his apartment while a girl is there and they can giggle it off like an accidental fart. Together or not, residual feelings or not, that shit's awkward, and not in the giggly fart way.

    Another A&A thing I had a problem with was the heart condition, altering the medical files thing. If anything happens to her, it's all his fault. I find that really short-sighted on his part and selfish on hers. She's basically saying, "I'm sick and I know this might kill me but I want you to let it kill me because it's all I've got left." Which I guess makes sense in TV world, but doesn't really squirt the mustard for me. Another issue I have with it is that hers isn't the only life she's endangering. By hiding her heart condition, they are endangering anyone who's sent out with her.

    Annie's car is totaled, she needs a new one. Doesn't she have Auggie's car in a storage unit collecting dust somewhere?

    I also would have loved if when the doctor asked if she knew what her name was, she fumbled. "Jessica...Lisa...Annie..." But that could be because I sometimes can't remember which name is the right name and I don't want to be alone in my dysfunction.

    Loved seeing Eyal again. I really enjoy Annie's and Eyal's relationship. And I know I'm in the minority here, but I really don't want to see Annie and Eyal or Annie and McQuaid get all squelchy. I like the dynamic of a girl and a guy who bicker and spar and look out for one another and at the same time don't feel the urge to drop trou. We already have one character with a magic crazy-chick-attracting penis. Let's not pile on.

    Speaking of, I still see no point to Hayley. I don't even hate her. She's just there and I wish she weren't. Honestly, this ep I found myself wishing Hayley's character had been eradicated and Auggie given the hooker storyline instead.

    Still not sure about Calder, either. I feel like the writers are struggling to find something for him to do, which is a shame because I like Calder. It's just that last year he had this big storyline and this year...I dunno. He's in love with a prostitute or something. Whatever.

    Lastly, what's all this crap about Annie not having anything but work? I could see this when she was goign around as Jessica. But she has her life back now. It's not like she's still pretending to be dead. She has as much going for her now as she ever did. Like, she has literally regained status quo. So I guess I don't get where she's coming from there.

    Or why she's still living like a mole person.

    1. "Annie suffering heart failure because she chose to fake her own death has a much nicer poetic irony than Annie suffering the effects of someone else's actions does."

      Ha interesting I never thought of it that way. I've been harping that it absolutely needs to be a consequence of *something* she's experienced on the show thus far, but I hadn't thought about it in the sense of whose decisions would have caused it. Even her getting shot by Lena was an indirect result of her own decisions though if you think about it, in dealing with Lena and with Simon. Albeit, she was a lot more naive at the time she made those decisions, so she was less blame-able. They'd BETTER give us more explanation on this whole thing. Maybe the death-faking drugs were a contributing factor too.

      "I also still find it very hard to believe Annie and Auggie are both so well-adjusted that she can show up at his apartment while a girl is there and they can giggle it off like an accidental fart. Together or not, residual feelings or not, that shit's awkward, and not in the giggly fart way."

      Hahah yeah it's an interesting reaction on Annie's part but I actually didn't find it unbelievable. That is mainly because Annie is SO obsessed at the moment with keeping her career that she's probably got a bit of tunnel vision going. She was so giddy in that moment about the medical record victory that she wasn't gonna let anything bring her down. Plus, she's continually chosen her career over Auggie, so this is just a continuation of that. That said, I think it WAS somewhat awkward. I'm sure her "No it's fine!!" reaction was partly an attempt to cover the awkwardness hahah, which I think would be the gut reaction of most people in that type of sitch, myself included.

      "I also would have loved if when the doctor asked if she knew what her name was, she fumbled." I was actually surprised she used her real name in that scene. She probably had no choice though because she'd be carrying all her "Annie Walker" identifying info in her purse.

      "Lastly, what's all this crap about Annie not having anything but work? I could see this when she was goign around as Jessica. But she has her life back now."

      Yeah it's certainly not *literally* all she has left, but there's clearly some psychology going on there where she feels like she needs it to to be happy. Like if she doesn't have that, she won't know what the hell to do with herself. She's like a crack fiend with her job.

      Agreed about Calder. It really does feel like they're not entirely sure what to do with him. He's kind of taking over the workplace role that Arthur used to fill for Joan, I guess. Even though Arthur himself still fills that role in a slightly different capacity now hahah.

  2. I did like this episode but I do wonder why the writers on spy shows think it makes for better story telling to be less believable. Is it coming from the studio? "Make it sexier! Make it more actiony! Conveniently put people in situations even if it feels like the world is about the size of a room since everyone on the show keeps walking into it!"

  3. Dear Covert Affairs,

    We get it. We understand that you're trying to drive a wedge between Annie and Auggie by introducing these weird, dramatic women and forcing us to watch them. Seriously, you don't have to beat us over the head with it.

    Here's an idea. Want us to feel torn, truly torn about Annie and Auggie? Give Auggie a girlfriend who isn't pathetic. McQuaid is awesome. He makes me go all Team McQuannie, kind of against my will. His secret smiles with Annie and the gun and his raw sexual magnetism..... and then you go and pair Auggie with these simpering, whiny girls. The girls that us single gals look at and go, "What exactly does he see in you?" The girls who go through their boyfriend's phone to see if he's been texting other girls or looking at naughty photos. That's Hayley. And we hate those girls. So just knock it off. Auggie may make questionable decisions on a regular basis, but give him a little credit. He deserves better.

    Anyways...... Down goes another car! Deja vu all over again, eh?

    Oh Calder. Calder, Calder, Calder. What. Are. You. Doing. This girl is not worth it. Seriously. She's a pretty face. #Calderson for life.

    From my time in D.C. and my knowledge of the Senate Intelligence Committee/subcontracting work, the McQuaid vs. CIA thing is pretty accurate, but it does generally require more finagling than a turn on the dance floor. But it's TV, and we CLEARLY need to spend more time on the whole Auggie/Hayley thing so...... sure. Why not.

    Annie acting like a five year old begging for a Happy Meal is a perfect comparison. She's like, "No Auggie! Don't Auggie! I would never ask you to get involved..... You FIXED it for me without me even having to ask?? Oh, Auggie!" Blech. McQuaid would never fall for that. He'd be like, "You like your job? Fix it yourself."

    Wilson's wife slamming the door in Annie's face? FINALLY. Someone who isn't immediately willing to make her a close personal confidant after a one minute conversation. (Cough, Sana, cough). Annie's "charm" isn't foolproof, apparently. And thank goodness, because that was enjoyable.

    Come back, Eyal. We miss you.

    1. LOL on the Sana spilling her guts so quickly after encountering Annie! This episode was a good one.

    2. "Give Auggie a girlfriend who isn't pathetic."

      Amen to that!

      And, Eyal rules!

  4. Also, Auggie with the hooker storyline. I like. I like a lot.

  5. I am loving annie and mcquaid. The ending Annie ok with Hailey that was weird. This show was so good last season last nights eppie had me going wth. It went from annie spilling her guts to oh hey we caught the postman. By the way the postman was so built up and we only saw him when annie was following him and the end. I am thinking i missed something but i dont think i did.

  6. O.k. I just finally got a chance to watch this ep in proper high def on Amazon (well, off and on intermittent HD because the wireless at this hotel sucks), and I have 3 comments:

    1) Everything is better in HD and with pause and rewind.

    2) I have to admit that Katie and I were so busy yelling at the TV while this ep spent 2 of its final 3.5 minutes on Calder and stupid Sydney ... that I kind of didn't listen to that conversation. Hearing it properly this time made me realize that it was actually a somewhat interesting interaction that continues to be exactly along the lines of the Looper comparison I was thinking of last week. Calder got shut down hard. Ouch.

    3) I softened up a *teeny* tiny bit on that final A&A scene on second viewing, probably partially because now my expectations for it are in the right place. I still stick with all the annoyances I mentioned 100% (e.g. Annie and the Happy Meal), but I was also able to get a few more nuances of the interaction that I didn't get last night. I'm still annoyed that Auggie is enabling Annie's unhealthy behaviors once again, but at least he doesn't seem nearly as giddy about it as she is. Still though, come on guys. There's a hell of a lot more to resolving a situation like this than hiding a medical record. We'll see how that goes for these two in the next few episodes.

  7. LOL, I'm late commenting again...or is it early? I can't remember, but anyways, here I am. I've only watched this episode all the way through 1 time which really makes zero sense. I should want to watch this one more than once, right? This show is making me all weird and paranoid like Roger.

    I really enjoyed that this episode and even a little bit last week really seemed to shift the focus back on Annie. I've missed that probably way more than Walkerson. It was nice to get into Annie's headspace a bit even if we really didn't get any true answers other than, "OMG without my job I am nothing and I just wanna die!" I hope we get to go even deeper into this subject and get answers as to why she feels this way. What is she running from? Did she forget she has a sister? I dunno.

    I loved that we didn't have to sit through a flashback of Eyal banging Annie back to health. It's awesome that she has a friend that will tell her when she's being ridiculous and full of shit.

    And since Hayley is gonna be around for a while, I suppose. It was great to see Crayley's head finally emerge. Oooh Auggie....what have you gotten your peen into?

    I love Sydney almost as much as I love Calder. She's like my new woman crush, but I see where you guys are coming from about Calder's storyline. It does seem like they're struggling to find him a story that matters. Although I did enjoy seeing them together more than McQuaid in a towel or Arthur "making it rain". *yawn*

    I knew Auggie was going to "doctor" those medical records the minute Annie was all like, "OMG they have the knowledge. This is my last night. I'm gonna do my job til they pry it from my cold dead hands because hey even tho I know you're blind and stuff and would prob trade seeing with being in the field, this is all about me and I am just nothing without my spy magic.", because Auggie always saves the day. Always.

    (But here's something I can't for the life of me get past....wouldn't the CIA have demanded a physical from her at this point? Like in all seriousness...if we're talking real life stuff, here's an operative that went dark and came in from the cold....wouldn't they at least check her out?)

    Enough talk of reality. Reality is too real.

    The Postman. Who cares?

    The ending scene was pretty awesome. I liked and enjoyed how light-hearted it was. #FEEEEELS I kept waiting for Crayley to go, "AUGGIEEEEEEE! WTF is Annie Walker doing here? Is it normal for an operative to visit their handler? I've got my eye on HER!" I loved how this is the most conversation that AA have had since probably Barcelona. The show works better when THEY TALKKKKKKK!

    I also agree about how changing the records put everyone in danger and not just Annie but I think Auggie does what he does to keep Annie in his life no matter what and there prob was some truth to that you should be able to decide when your career's over stuff on his end. Having said that....these are 2 very reckless individuals with a control complex. LOL.

    Who's ready for next week and #WalkersonInParis?

    1. "It was great to see Crayley's head finally emerge."

      That scene was hilarious, as were all Annie's reactions to Crayley's snippy comments hahaha.

      "But here's something I can't for the life of me get past....wouldn't the CIA have demanded a physical from her at this point? Like in all seriousness...if we're talking real life stuff, here's an operative that went dark and came in from the cold....wouldn't they at least check her out?"

      Hahaha right. Not that I know anything about the CIA but you really would think so. And if I were them I'd be about 20 times MORE interested in a *mental* evaluation after my employee just disappears for 4 months.

      "The Postman. Who cares?" Amy Jo Johnson!! So much so that she felt the need to expose him publicly on Twitter before the ep aired. She's just trying to make the world a safer place.

      "I'm gonna do my job til they pry it from my cold dead hands because hey even tho I know you're blind and stuff and would prob trade seeing with being in the field, this is all about me and I am just nothing without my spy magic."

      LMAO I was laughing at that too. Kinda like "Well you're fucked already but I'm gonna claw and grasp and flail and huff and puff as hard as I have to to avoid winding up like you poor Auggie!!" Charlton Heston is her role model.