14 November, 2014

The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 5.12 'Starlings of the Slipstream'

Wow, Britta.  You really BRITTA'D that one, didn't ya??  Har.  I fully expect about 4 people to get that joke.  O.k. well this is GeekFurious after all, so I take that back - as many as 6 to 8 people who read these reviews may get that joke.

I will admit that from the moment Lady Labcoat was given a name, I spent the entire rest of the ep waiting and praying for her to Britta the fuck out of something, thereby giving me the excuse to use the joke in my review.  So when the ep ended in her drinking poison vodka after realizing Belenko had been manipulating her all along, I rejoiced.  Thank you and I'm sorry, poor hapless Lab Lady.

Well, as it often happens in this day and age, the internet kinda threw me off in terms of expectations for this episode vs. the way it actually played out.  Chris Gorham did a LOT of press for this ep on the various entertainment news sites before it aired because a) he directed it and b) it was kind of an Auggie-sode at least in terms of story focus.  The ep played out more or less the way I expected in terms of the major story beats, but the stuff I had read in advance had me expecting something a bit more ... action-oriented ... I guess.  The pace of the ep felt right, it was just more of a muted overall feel than I thought it would be.

But that doesn't mean that what we ended up getting in actuality was bad or even disappointing really, it was just different.  It turned out that most of the goodness of this ep was in its quieter dialogue moments, rather than heart-pounding action or suspenseful scenes.  Well, except the scene at the end of course, which was a good one, but I'll get to that in a bit.  But other than that final scene, "Starlings of the Slipstream"s character interactions are the real selling points of the episode.

I knew from Chris's interviews that we were gonna get some Auggie & McQuaid action here for the first time, which I was most definitely looking forward to.  I think we all were.  But there actually ended up being even a lot more of these two than I expected, which, THANK you, Puma Jeebus.  Praise the Puma, for he is kind and generous.  McQuanderson played it far too cool to let their sitch turn into a full-on pissing contest, but the little jabs back and forth and just the process of watching them feel each other out (this is starting to sound weirdly kinky) was pretty damn entertaining to watch.

And holy hell, McQuaid sure knows how to charm a person with fancy gifts, eh??  I haven't seen Auggie look so giddy-while-trying-not-to-look-giddy as he did when he felt up that fancy-ass laptop in lord only knows how long.  We got a perfectly-timed Army Special Forces vs. Navy SEALs joke, we got manly bourbon drinking and bonding at a bar, we got McQuaid telling Auggie he's trying to assess whether Augge's "good enough" to be Annie's handler, we got sarcastic Auggie quips about McQ's assigned "babysitter".  OMG we even got Auggie being forced to listen while Annie & McQuaid smooched, which, all I have to say is, I'm sorry Auggie but: How does it feel NOW dude!?  From Helesa to Hayley to Tash to Hayley and Tash again, Annie has had to endure these "ick" moments from you for practically an entire effing season at this point.  Homegirl deserves her damn moment in the sun to let her dudes be the ones sweating and duking it out now.  You go girl.  You.  Go.  Enjoy the blissful honeymoon phase of new boyfy boyf, cause knowing how this show operates, it probably ain't gonna last long.

Which brings me to the Annie & Auggie interactions.  First off, I have to say - The writer of this episode is a relatively new addition to this show.  Her name is Karen Campbell and she wrote both this ep and "Elevate me Later", which was ep 5.05.  And this is honestly starting to make me think that the Covert writers had been literally, physically incapable of writing dialogue where Annie & Auggie actually act like normal goddamn humans and take each other to task for anything, until Karen Campbell came along like a beautiful angel from heaven to save the day.  The kind and generous Lord Puma opened up the clouds and all the angels sang a joyous chorus while doves flitted about, and in a ray of wondrous light, Karen Campbell descended to earth to grace us with real, substantial dialogue between Annie and Auggie.

O.k. I might be slightly exaggerating, but Jesus Christ, I'll take anything I can get between these two when they finally start to TALK shit out.  YELL at each other babes, please, for the love of Puma, YELL.  Get it all out there.  And the dialogue needs to be TWO-way, rather than just a monologue where Auggie yells and Annie just looks silently sheepish.  Finally, Karen is giving us this script-writing present.  It only lasted for a couple short phone convos here, but at least these crazy kids let a few small bottled-up bursts out.  First we had Auggie getting pissed off at Annie for using McQuaid to gather intel (instead of himself), with Annie later insinuating that he was just biased against McQ.  We then got Auggie pissed off at Annie for going off-map on the mission per usual, with Annie accusing Auggie of not being able to handle their relationship as peers (rather than the old mentor/student relationship of the past).  And then, in the bar with McQuaid, we got the icing on the cake.  Auggie depicted Annie as '86 Tom Cruise wearing aviators and flying planes like a lunatic, while McQuaid answered this "maverick" accusation with, "One of her finest qualities."  The look on Auggie's face in reaction was pretty priceless.  Weird how the qualities you love and hate about a person can end up being one and the same.

There were another couple funny Barber moments here too, which I always enjoy.  I've seen a few people get pissed at what the writers have done with him this season, but frankly I don't see the problem - I love him in every scene he's in.  I can't think of one moment of ever having been annoyed with Barber.  And Joan's big Balkans secret threatened to come out, until it ... didn't.  Joan fans know the pain of how much the Covert writers love to open new mysterious threads with her and then completely forget about them.  This Balkans thing HAS to finally come to fruition at some point this season, right??  It's gotta.  Oh and Calder is gonna get his ass into a heap of trouble by being so ridiculously gung ho about Sydney's responsibilities with Mashkov (sp?).

The spy plot here was engaging enough, with miss "Rooftop Bitch" (as Shelby calls her) from last week chasing down Britta and then Annie for the entire ep.  Annie convinced Britta that Olga was an assassin trying to kill her, but in the end, it turns out that I guess Olga wasn't trying to kill Britta after all.  Or at least I don't think she was.  We just know that Olga says she and Annie are on the "same side," but we'll have to find out next week what exactly that entails.

So then in the end we had Auggie's long-teased-by-Chris-Gorham fight scene to end all Auggie fight scenes, when he was kidnapped in his apartment.  You didn't even have to be a spoilerhound to know this was coming, since they showed it in the damn preview last week, but I thought it was a well-done scene nonetheless.  Auggie's cane was his weapon here, and it was pretty damn effective actually ... until he got zapped.  Then it was all over for Mr. Anderson.  Did he take that watch off on purpose as they shoved him into the van??  His ransacked apartment should be evidence enough, but maybe he's counting on some blood evidence on his watch after pummeling the dog-walker and the other Belenko thug in the faces?  Side Note: I think this was the Eone Timepiece watch that both Chris and Eone Timepiece tout ALL the time on Twitter.  To then see the beautiful watch smashed all to hell was sad and funny at the same time.

Lemme do some final random thoughts and then I'll get to the point:

  • Remember in S3 when Annie got shot nearly dead & then was back up and running by the next ep?  At least in that case they made it pretty clear that a couple months had passed between being comatose and running around.  But with McQuaid in this ep??  Auggie was still in jail!!  Are we to believe this punching incident with the ME happened weeks after his initial meeting with him last week?  Seems like a timeline fail.
  • Auggie on the phone w/Annie: "McQuaid brought me some tech."  Annie: "Oh he did, that was thoughtful!!"  Bwahaha. 
  • I'm tired and my brain is probably just not working well, but what was the deal with that Mayflower thing Auggie kept listening to on his laptop?  Did that tie into the story?
  • I get scared every time Annie runs or exerts any physical energy whatsoever these days.  There are scenes where it feels like they are purposely faking us out with it too, like at the end when Olga puts her ass on the ground and Annie breathes like a maniac.
  • I love music, but I know nearly zilch about jazz.  I think that was Mingus playing in that final scene, according to a comment from Chris G.
Overall I'd say this ep worked pretty well for me.  A bit better than last week, though last week was decent as well.  So I'll give it a ...

GRADE: 88/100

The rest of the season should be pretty intense, with Auggie being kidnapped.  We'll see.  Annie is sure to shit her panties and go ballistic on any poor slob that crosses her path.  And heads-up for next week:  Just like last year, Mockingjay Pt. 1 comes out next Thursday and once again conflicts with CA.  So my review for 5.13 will be a little late, but it'll probably still be Friday late morning my time.

Now tell me what I Britta'd in the comments.  And meanwhile let's hope USA doesn't Britta the fuck out of Covert Affairs by canceling it.

The Plopper

Recent reviews by the writer, below:
7 November 2014
The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 5.11: 'Trigger Cut'
27 August, 2014
The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 5.10: 'Sensitive Euro Man'
20 August, 2014
The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 5.09: 'Spit on a Stranger'


  1. Your comment on Annie just looking sheepish every time Auggie yells at her, I think is more because she is aware that she has changed and is unsure of whether these changes are positive or negative. She respects Auggie so feels that Auggie may be right so she doesn't argue, but at the same time she knows that these same changes help her be a better spy. McQ understands this and reassures her (as in the scene in 5.03 where Annie tells McQ how she got Borz to talk). That's why I think McQ is better for Annie than Auggie. He accepts her just as she is. He is there for her, like when she requested a helicopter ride in 5.08; he didn't ask for all the details, he trusted her enough to know that she had a good reason. It was only after they were in the air that Annie told him why. Auggie would have been, why? who? what? Auggie also constantly talks about trust, but I think he really means that he wants to be told everything she is up to. So, who really doesn't trust whom? [Sorry about the rant.]
    I also like what the writers are doing with Annie coming back into the light -- as shown by her appreciation of the sun on her face. This is something new - after the hookup.

    1. "She respects Auggie so feels that Auggie may be right so she doesn't argue, but at the same time she knows that these same changes help her be a better spy."

      Agreed. But Annie tends to have problems using her words in these situations in general (with everyone), so I'm always relieved when they finally do let her do so. It's hard to let the audience into her head when she doesn't stand up for her point of view in these situations.

      Good points about McQuaid being more accepting of Annie than Auggie is. I don't know that either Auggie or McQuaid are better for her than the other though, as I think they are both good and bad for her in different ways. Auggie is too controlling and yet weirdly enabling of certain destructive behaviors at the same time. He also apparently peaces the f*%$ out on you if you go dark for more than a month or two, as we saw last year LOL. McQuaid, on the other hand, is so much like Annie that it could wind up being a very bad/dangerous thing in certain situations. We'll see if that ends up happening with these two in the future. All I know is that for now, I'm enjoying the hell out of them. Annie was in need of something very different in the romance department after all the shit that went down in late S4. Lucky, she got exactly that via the magic of television writing. ;)

      I'm pretty damn certain that the writers don't plan for McWalker to be forever ... but given their track record I'm just curious if they'll even let them last till the end of the season. I'm pulling for 'em though.

    2. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fans that want the Auggie/Annie lovers relationship (see twitter and facebook pgs) back which happens to coincide with the major slip of ratings for this show. If they do bring this relationship back, I have to stop watching it again. Auggie has an issue with any man Annie is with, remember Simon? Like Hayley said, he thinks he's above and better than everyone else, It's fine for him to go off the wagon like with Tash but it's not fine for Annie. Control issues. McQuaid is a good man for her, grounds her, makes her human, makes her feel like an appreciated woman and not an operative all the time who is used to benefit another time and time again.

      Joan's secret about the Balkans I believe play on the real events that happened during the same period and the same place she was "stationed" there. During the Kosovo war, the FLA was responsible for the disappearance of approx. 600 minority people during the war. Kosovo is part of "The Balkans". No one has any information nor has any government investigated into it. I think either she knows something or unknowingly participated in these disappearances during "training" exercises and may be charged with war crimes ?

      what I don't understand is, in Season 2 Episode 2 (I think EP2) Auggie explains to Annie how he lost his sight and how his unit was killed during that mission. How do these characters Tony, Muller, fit into as his unit? Did I miss something? These names don't match what he told Annie. Could this be just a writer error or am I reading too much into it?

      Also during that episode, he told her he was chasing a terrorist only known as "Jack of Diamonds". I think Belenko is a persona who doesn't exist per se. Remember Annie couldn't find any non-obvious information on him but he had plenty on her including her heart condition. I think Belenko is "Jack of Diamonds" that the Special Forces (Auggie's supposed unit) was sent to kill during the Iraq War but Auggie failed to and he is back to finish what he started with Auggie. That's the only link I can think of as a link between them since there is no information about Auggie.

      I believe if they bring back the Walkerson (Auggie/Annie) intimate relationship at which seems to be hinted at when I read the interviews with the creators of the show, it won't survive another slid in ratings and kiss goodbye season 6.

  2. Just watched the episode (yeah, the show is no longer high on my priorities list lately), and you've pretty much summed up my feelings... though, I didn't know the fight at the end was coming because I don't watch the previews.

    1. Oh my my good thing I didn't give it away in last week's review (I usually try to refrain from referencing the preview though). ;-)

    2. It wouldn't have ruined anything. I don't get involved in the community so it's not on my wavelength. I just tune in and watch. I don't know anything about what the actors or writers are saying, nor what fans are saying about the show (outside of this blog). So, even if I had read about it, it would have gone in one ear and drowned somewhere in my bloodstream.

    3. It's a hell of a lot more pleasant way to watch any show.