Ahh, episode 7 of the season. We have arrived. Historically, this has been either an instant classic or a disastrously terrible ep, depending on the season. There's no middle ground. It’s also an extremely pivotal ep, as it tends to kick off the eps leading into the summer finale.
We were actually on a fantastic roll there for the first several seasons – 1.07: The original Tash ep. Train bang. Adorable “Annie fixes Auggie’s collar” moment at the end. 2.07: The Iraq/Auggie background ep, with the great scene at Allen’s at the end. 3.07: Simon. Oh, sweet, hot, sizzling Simon. In Cuba. And his psychotic handler, whose throat Simon slit whilst simultaneously staring directly into Annie’s soul. Granted, that sounds horrifically creepy, but in my humble opinion, it’s one of the best eps of this series. We were on such a roll, until we got to 4.07. That blasphemous, illogical turning point of season 4, where we could feel ourselves been shoved down a hole into soapy hell(esa). For shame. Season 4 had its ups & downs after that, but never entirely recovered.
So I was a bit nervous about where this one would fall. Colossal failure, instant classic, or will we buck the trend with a "meh" middle-of-the-road ep 7 for the first time ever? I just finished watching "Brink of the Clouds", and I gotta say ... I can't call classics this close to airing, but I really, really enjoyed this ep. It wasn't without its issues (wow they sure found Mueller quickly) and its cheese factors, but I was able to forgive those things because it was effective for me on so many other levels.
It was the polar opposite of last week in terms of B plots - Every minute of last week's B plots drove me absolutely insane because none of them tied back in with the A plot very well, if at all. It's not that I didn't know they would tie in eventually, but they just seemed to be off in their own individual worlds last week. Auggie was juggling chicks, Calder was boning, Joan and Arthur were having marital woes. All while Annie was off working the actual mission in Paris. It was disjointed. But this week? Well o.k. granted, the Syd plot still doesn't tie in. But at least we spent mercifully little time on it. And Calder, thank GOD, managed to be involved in the actual mission in an interesting way this time, with the drone strike, as did Joan. Arthur and Baby Mack were off this week, and frankly that was fine with me. This episode required full focus on the main story for how densely packed it was.
And Auggie. Thank GOD ... I mean yes he was still juggling chicks, but it meant something this time. There was legit tension around what Hayley was gonna dig up, and when, and whether he could stop her from blowing the whistle. Tash, who felt like a whiny teenager at least for the first half of last week's ep, started to make sense again here. She stopped being obnoxious and turned back into an adult woman, and called Auggie out on the fact that, job or not, the situation was not something she could endure and still respect herself in the morning. I liked that she finally made the tough call and extracted herself at the end. It was the right thing to do for an adult person with any self esteem.
And in the meantime, Auggie's connection to Mueller was interesting and it allowed him to contribute vital support to the mission rather than just going around randomly boning everything that moves. Plus, the connection to Annie that has been missing for a lot of this season felt like it was partially back again, with him working to save her from being exposed. This ep reminded me of what always endeared Auggie to me in the first 3 seasons of the show, in terms of his approach to both the job and to his "bestie" Annie. And then, BAM!! Crayley's claws emerged at the end, big time. It's not like this wasn't a predictable development to the situation, but at the time it happened here I wasn't really in that frame of mind, so it was a fun "Oh shit!!" moment.
Another reason I enjoyed this ep? Timeliness/relevance of the storylines. O.k., yes, the fact that Team McWalker found Mueller so quickly and easily was totally absurd. They accomplished in half a day what it seems to take years and years to do in real life. Then again, I guess it had already taken them years to track down "Faruq", but this ep had the final break in intel that led them to him. Still though. It felt ridiculously fast because our first intro to him was at the beginning of this ep. Oh and on another logic note, escaping from that missile seemed like a real breeze for Team McWalker. NBD.
BUT, timeliness - Man did these guys just get lucky with this airing so close to the Bowe Bergdahl situation that was all over the news in recent months?? Admittedly, I haven't been paying close attention to that story, but the way Bergdahl kinda "disappeared in the night" reminded me a lot of the Mueller storyline here. Yes I know a lot of the Bergdahl story is hearsay, but still, it's data that has been floating around all over the place very recently in the news, so it lent some credibility to the Mueller plot for me. Of course it's not the first story of its kind either, it's just the most recent that I know of (and o.k. yes it also closely resembles Brody on Homeland). And then, obviously, the drone situation plus Mueller's gripes with the CIA and US Government were also very in line with current events. So even though this was just kind of a quickie high level glimpse into this stuff, it felt reasonably plausible for a fictional "summer fare" TV show.
And then we have Annie's story, which of course, currently heavily involves McQuaid. My cousin Katie was weirded out at how the pharmacy scene at the beginning was shot (I think it's just the Felix Alcala directing style), but I liked that they included this scene. It gave us insight into the hoops Annie has been jumping through this entire time to keep her myocarditis a secret. Seeing the logistics of it made that storyline feel a lot more real.
Were Annie's parallels with Mueller's character a total TV trope that has been done a bazillion times before on various shows? Absolutely. It's convenient, and it's a bit on the cheesy side. But I'm willing to forgive it at the moment because like I mentioned last week, I'm just so thrilled that they're finally focusing on delving into their lead character again. Obviously none of us think Annie is in any danger of becoming a terrorist, but she most certainly has been in danger of a mental breakdown for QUITE a while now. Or she should have been, at least, ever since the Lena/Simon/Russian prison debacle, and continuing into Henry and Helesa and beyond. But she was too busy being Anndroid during that time. Anndroid was not unlike the T-1000 in terms of sheer resiliency. But now as Anndroid gets pushed further and further into the rear view with every episode this season, I praise the Holy Puma Cub of all that is good here on earth and in the heavens.
The Mueller parallel may have been a bit heavy-handed, but I think it was worth it if only to get us to the mental breakdown-ish Lisa Morton scene on the mountain. If Mueller on his own wasn't thoroughly effective, this scene absolutely was. They lingered on the scene purposely for quite a while, even after Annie's "episode" was over, for a reason. They were pulling us into her complete and utter exasperation with her situation. It feels impossible to overcome at the moment, nearly hopeless, and we've just watched her smash head-on into that brick wall for probably about the billionth time, as the number of injectors she's keeping around seems to indicate. I personally don't have an exploding heart (except in my hypochondriac head when I watch this show), but for various professional reasons, I will admit that I'm relating to this storyline hardcore right now. I haven't been with Annie's plight like this since the "Let's Dance" and "Rock 'n Roll Suicide" days (you know, due to my hard time in that Russian prison back in '84, obvi).
And McQuaid ... oh ... always-there-at-just-the-right moment McQuaid. Sweet blonde private security firm CEO of love and light. And charm. You're doing aaaallll the right things, hon. Just be careful of newly single and always horny Auggie swooping back in to steal Annie right back out from the palm of your hand. Because Annie's fiiiinnnnally there right now, as I would be too (o.k. let's be honest, I've been there since 5.02). You found and engineered the magic usable injector when Annie couldn't? You said all the nice things to make her feel better? You researched her heart condition, for Christ's sake?? Maybe that's the spy equivalent of social media stalking, but it's working for me right now. I shouldn't speak for Annie, but you've sure as hell got ME wrapped around your little finger at the moment. Again though, watch out for Auggie next week. He's a wily one. I repeat: He. is. nimble. Get those sparring gloves ready.
A few more random observations:
- In the scene where Annie wrestles the bad guy right before Lisa Morton rears her ugly head, her stunt double is ridiculously obvious in a couple shots. The stunt double's hair is SO much longer!!
- After they filmed in Paris, the cast & crew went to the South of France, which I believe is what was subbed here for Azerbaijan.
- I went to high school with a guy named Farough Tabrizi. For a second there, I thought maybe his post-HS exploits involved becoming a Covert Affairs character.
- I liked the little nod here to Annie impossibly speaking every single language in the universe.
- A sign of my enjoyment of this ep: I wasn't even annoyed by Sydney. I liked the way she told Calder to go eff himself outside the police station.
- Annie: "The plan was to move forward [with the drone strike] unless I call back." McQuaid: "Well that's unfortunate."
- Nathan Mueller sure did have a deep sexy voice didn't he? Too bad he got blown to bits.
- Calder is falling down on the job. Get it together dude!!
- What the heck info does (not-so-)Crazy Roger have now?
I guess I'll go with 91 then. I'll check when the season is over to see if I want to adjust any of these. OMG thank GOD this didn't go the way of ep 4.07!! Whew. Blow me up with a drone strike in the comments. Plop a comment missile on me, Crew.
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