21 November, 2014

The Plopper Reviews COVERT AFFAIRS 5.13 'She Believes'

Sigh.  Olga, just when we were starting to get to know you.  It's been SO long since this show has allowed Annie to have a worthy female adversary and/or partner in crime, and the minute we finally got one, they couldn't let the poor woman last more than one episode. Yes, she was in 5.11 & 5.12 too, but she barely spoke more than three words until this ep.

I liked the role Sana played last season, but she was just an innocent civilian getting pulled into the spy shenanigans against her will at at that point.  Other than Joan, I can't think of the last time Annie had another female SPY to work with and play off of, and learn from ... was Lena the last one before now?  More than 2 seasons ago?  Sure, the writers made an incredibly feeble attempt at putting Helesa in this role for one episode last season (ep 4.07), but they failed miserably by also attaching the stereotypical "evil predatory female" qualities and soapy Auggie love connections there as well.  "Hey Ladies, watch out for those other non-penis-having creatures out there!!  Danger!  They'll manipulate you and dupe you into faking your own death so they can screw your boyfriend behind your back while you're gone!!"  Uggh.

Anywho.  When Covert Affairs spends too long of a stretch as just "Annie and a bunch of dudes," it starts to grate on me after a while, so Olga was a very welcome addition to this ep for me.  Frankly, I'd actually go so far as to say she was the best part of the entire ep.  I had a feeling from the previews that most of this ep would be spent searching for Auggie without much sign of Auggie himself, so what I hoped we'd get out of it instead would be Angry Torturous Annie, which I always quite enjoy.  Sadly we didn't get nearly as much of that as I had hoped though, as it took a long time to get Belenko where they needed him (which makes sense), and once they did finally get him in that chair, Annie's "torture" methods failed so fast that it had me cracking up at the TV.  And this is where Olga jumped in from the bench to save the day and show Annie just how the hell a good torture session is conducted.  Granted, she didn't quite get Belenko to sing like a canary about Auggie, but their session was cut short when they realized Belenko had a tracker in his mouth.  And at least they confirmed Belenko had Auggie, still alive.

For her part, while Annie wasn't exactly kicking ass and taking names left and right here, she was able to get in a few brief moments in the sun and sassy quips in here and there.  And speaking of moments in the sun, this show has me starting to wonder if see-through tops/sweaters that allow your bra to shine right through and become the star of the show are actually super in style right now and I just totally missed that trend??  Or is that a look that Annie Walker is just trying to start all on her own?

I digress.  This ep started to make it apparent why the writers gave Belenko that hand tremor.  It allows Annie to use her experience with The Myocarditis to find B's weak spots and strike from that angle.  Convenient, contrived?  Sure.  But I can usually forgive this type of stuff if a) it's an interesting enough story that plays out in a believable manner and b) it allows for development of the main characters.  I thought "A" was accomplished pretty well here, but per usual for this show, the "B" carrot was only dangled out there very briefly in the form of a quick snark-off between Annie & Belenko, before being quickly yanked away again.  That's how Covert rolls.  They like to throw in little quips here and there and call it "character development" for Annie.  Not sure if they'll go any further with this or just leave it at this superficial level, but this show could go either way.

For what it was worth, both Annie and Belenko sneered enough attitude at each other during that scene to make it amusing in its own right.  "That must be hard.  Having to cope with your .... condition."  "And how is your condition Annie?  Is your heart slowing you down??"  Lol just the idea of two people throwing their respective medical problems in each other's faces is kinda hilarious.  Annie also got a good Dexter moment in here too, when she had to grab the hypodermic needle and jam it into Belenko's neck herself to knock him out when the doc failed to get the job done.

Calder, Joan and McQuaid all had some decent roles to play here too, working together to follow the clues and eventually figure out Auggie's general whereabouts by the end of the ep.  At least they managed to narrow it down to a country and city.  And that's a pretty major accomplishment when you begin with the entire world as your starting point.  McQuaid got a fun scene where he got to pummel his old trafficking contact into telling him where Mr. Dog Walker had been shipped off to.  If only Ziggy Sobotka were still working at the docks, McQ probably coulda gotten the goods out of that dummy a lot easier.  If anyone actually gets that reference then you'll win a big gold star from me.  Oh and McQuaid sure is quick on his feet for someone who recently took 2 bullets to the torso eh?

Now for our Hooker With a Heart of Gold, Sydney.  I spent a good part of the summer season cringing every time she came on screen, as it seemed like all we ever got from her was moaning and groaning of the porn variety and meaningless chatter with Calder about his job woes and his love-sickness towards her.  She started to finally slightly grow on me right around the time she told Calder to eff off at the police station, and in "She Believes", it actually culminated in her being directly helpful to the mission, praise the flippin' Puma.  It only took 13 damn episodes, but we finally got there.  The way this ep played out with Mashkov wrapping his gross chubby sausage fingers around her neck, I was afraid she might not make it through the ep to accomplish her goal.  I still wonder if she'll survive the season, but we'll see.  But it was nice that she finally got a chance to shine here.

Like I said earlier, I had a feeling this ep would be Auggie-light, but I didn't expect Auggie to be almost entirely absent.  We did finally get a glimpse of him at the end, being dragged to his (final?) destination (Grozny?) where they will presumably be torturing our dear Mr. Anderson for info next week.  Maybe Chris Gorham wanted a week off after directing himself in such an Auggie-heavy ep last week, lol.

Here's a few random thoughts before I get to my conclusion:
  • Annie literally did nothing at all to protect Dr. Schumer after he helped her grab Belenko.  A bit of a Carrie Mathison a-hole moment?  Will it come back to haunt her later?
  • This show really loves its meaningful trinkets, especially necklace pendants and postcards.  Olga's postcards were somewhat reminiscent of Annie's childhood postcard stories from season 3.
  • I expected Annie to lose her shit in this ep more than she did.  She managed to keep it together shockingly well, considering that her wittle Auggie bud had just vanished off the face of the planet.  Maybe next week she'll go crazier?
  • Olga looked like she was bashing Belenko's skull in with that hammer, and then a few minutes later he was totally fine.  This is a TV/movie pet peeve of mine.
So how was this ep overall?  Twitter has taught me that there is a certain faction of the fandom who view Covert Affairs solely as a show about Auggie Anderson with some other useless garbage in between Auggie scenes that can be fast-forwarded through because it's not important.  They are not watching Covert Affairs so much as they are watching an entirely different show called Auggie Affairs.  As such, they regularly end up watching episodes that are probably around 7 to 10 minutes long.  In thinking back through the show's history, "She Believes" seems like it must be a record for the shortest Auggie Affairs episode ever made, at about 2 minutes long.  So I have no doubt that a majority of Auggie Affairs fans must have hated this ep.

As I am a fan of the hour-long drama Covert Affairs, I thought this ep was ... certainly not amazing, but aiight.  The ep respectably accomplished its goal in getting us from Auggie's kidnapping to finding Auggie's whereabouts, with a few interesting moments along the way.  It would have been nice if they could have really wowed me with something during this part of the story, but they didn't put anything quite exciting enough in here to accomplish that goal.  Although Olga cracking fingers and stabbing hands came somewhat close.  Next week seems like the one where all the shit's gonna go down, so we'll see how they do with that one.  So far the fall season has been 3 decent eps in a row without completely blowing my socks off yet, but I'd say last week (5.12) was most definitely the best of the three.  I hope they give us some thrills next week.  Oh crap, I just remembered that we have to wait TWO weeks for the next ep.  Balls.  Now I know what I'm NOT thankful for this Thanksgiving.

GRADE: 83/100

Bash me in the head with a rusty hammer in the comments.

The Plopper

Recent reviews by the writer, below:
14 November 2014

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


  1. I actually watched this one live! Amazing! Well, I accidentally left the TV on while I was working... so now, reading your review, I kind of remember what happened. Thanks!

    1. Hahah glad I could help. It was certainly not an essential episode in terms of ongoing character arcs or anything. You just need to know the plot movements for the Belenko/Auggie/kidnapping stuff.

    2. If it's not an AUGGIE AFFAIRS episode, I tune out.... because as a misogyn... sorry, as someone who worries about JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY,, I don't buy the whole "chicks can do stuff" Hollywood pinko liberal bullshit. Everyone knows chicks can't do anything without a man!

    3. HAHAH fuckin' pinko commie bastards. The show is about ethics in spy gadget review journalism why can't anyone see this!!

    4. Waitwaitwait! Maryploppins is a girly? OF COURSE she writes about Annie in this review! NO JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY! Why are you writing about the woman of a show about a man???

    5. DAMN IT!! Ya caught me redhanded!

      Possible series description for Auggie Affairs:

      "A blind CIA Tech Op uses his technical wizardry to save the world one mission at a time, despite having a sighted assistant who is never in the office."

      Or how bout Olga Affairs while we're at it:

      "A brilliant FSB operative hunts down the duplicitous diplomat who killed her husband, until a blonde American intercepts and fucks everything up."

  2. You had me LOL-ing at "The way this ep played out with Mashkov wrapping his gross chubby sausage fingers

    1. Hahah thanks glad that one caught someone's eye ... I had it worded differently (less funny, I think) until like right before I hit publish and then I adjusted it to add the "sausage" part in there. ;)

  3. Chris also quipped that he was editing the episode he had directed while #513 was being shot

  4. This show pulls a Steve Jobs burn-the-ships mentality so many times it makes my head spin haha. Like you, I was looking forward to the return of Jessica Mathews in the torture department. But rather than go there again, Annie handed off the opportunity like the best of the USA's

  5. 4x100 women's track & field relay racers, letting Olga shine like a diamond. This doesn't sit back on its laurels. Goes for new ground. I like that.

  6. Finally, your modesty cracks me up! We've seen Annie in a bikini and naked, so the horrors of a see-through blouse to the bra underneath escape me. Madonna, Katy Perry, Brandi Chastain aren't we beyond that?

    1. The point of my cracks about Annie's sheer tops has absolutely nothing to do with modesty. I'm about as far from modest as a person can get. The point you're missing is about context - you wear a bikini when you go to a beach or a pool, and you're naked when you shower and have sex etc. .... you are *not* generally either of these things when you go to a business meeting or go to the grocery store or eat at a restaurant. I have personally not seen tops this sheer as a fashion statement before, so now that Annie has worn them twice in close succession, I'm simply starting to wonder if there is some fashion trend out there that I had missed.

      I seriously doubt even Madonna herself is not gonna be wearing one of her pointy bras with the tassles when she goes to, say, pick up a prescription at Walgreen's. And Katy Perry is not gonna be shooting fireworks out her tits while buying bread and milk at Safeway/Kroger/Albertson's or whatever local grocery chain you're familiar with.

      I personally would have zero problem with this if they did, the same way I have zero problem with Annie walking down the street in a see-through top and bra ... more power to 'em. But it doesn't mean I'm not gonna still be amused by the out-of-the-ordinary nature of it.

    2. Hahahahaha GOD, I love you!! TOUCHÉ!!!! Walgreens, fireworks, LOL. (Brandi Chastain btw is the US Women's Soccer player who whipped off her jersey when she scored the winning goal in the World Cup Finals, like the guys do. I'm hoping for a snappy rejoinder for that one, too ;) )

      Piper Perabo is pretty fashion forward, and a lot of people and shows mimic her "looks." It wouldn't surprise me a whit if she or the show was making an avant garde fashion statement.

  7. I'm kinda mourning the loss of Olga and Annie as a pair as strange as that may be. I've been waiting forever for the writers to give Piper Perabo another female to play off. I've seen nearly all her work, and she has great chemistry with women as much as she does with men. Her scenes with Danielle were so natural, and with characters like Megan or Simon's sister. And this episode illustrates how a partnership with a female spy could be really awesome. Kinda like the Rizolli and Isles or the bromistry that Neal and Peter have in White Collar. Not everything has to be about romantic pairing.

    I'd go as far to say that Annie and Olga was this short time, my favorite spy pair ever. These guys do spy work in synchrony. Awesome! And again, I maintain that the CA writers don't know what to do with a really good Actress, and Lynn Collins manage to infuse her short lived character with a lot more than the script called for. Awesome. Killing her was kinda lazy. Sure, if you want to write them out, do it, but to kill almost every guest star at the end of their appearance? Yeah, lazy!

    There was really no reason to kill Olga, and after her personal backstory, it's seems unnecessarily cruel. Unless, her death serves in some way to influence Annie's emotional journey of discovery. Lets face it, Olga would not have died had she simply put a bullet in Belenko's head. And she didn't because she liked Annie and her plight to save her friend well enough to hold off on it. Olga died because Annie needed Belenko alive for Auggie's sake. If these emotions play into her death, then at least, Olga's death would not be all for nothing. Because now, wouldn't Annie feel oblige to 'get Belenko', as she promised Olga as she died? There was a look of tremendous regret on Annie's face when Olga died.

    Fashion wise, ueah, I'm not loving the costume designers with those sheer shirts. Seems very out of character for Annie, especially this season, or ever actually. Although I absolutely love her Indianna Jones look whenever she's off the beaten track. More of that please. And Annie in a suit. And Annie is a trench coat. What happened to those costume people? Get them back. And I honestly think the stiletto heels have outstayed their welcome. Really, Powers that Be, just give the girl designer boots to run in. Annie's fun to watch when she's running flat out, when she can with shoes that let her.

    1. Just like you, I loved the interaction between Annie and Olga. Olga is a Russian Annie, they are so alike. There are also a lot of parallels (postcard, relationship with handler, etc). Too bad they killed her off.
      When Joan was talking to Annie regarding getting Auggie back, she tells Annie that while they (she and Calder) are still working to get her back as a field op, they haven't yet and will instead subcontract her through McQ (for now). Did I miss something? Did Annie ask to be reinstated with the CIA or is Joan making an assumption? With the way Annie works, she's better off not returning to the CIA.

    2. From one Anon to another,

      Hey, Yeah, good point. I never thought about how alike they are, right down to the post card. I really dislike them killing Olga. Damn, that makes me even more sad. It's like the writers find all these nuggets of gold and just toss them away because they think it's iron pyrite or something. lol

      She would have made a really great private consultant for McQuaid's company too, and we could have had Annie and Olga spying in the future in the private sector. But Nooo! Lets not let Annie fly too far before we rope her back in.

      No, I don't think Annie asked to be back,certainly not on screen. I think that is Joan making an assumption based on how much Annie has made the C.I.A her life in the past. And maybe some regret in the way Annie left. I kinda hope she tells the CIA to Eff Off! Really, she's got the best of both worlds being a private consultant and with McQuaid Secuities, she can really rise to be the kind of operative that even she never imagined. I'm thinking all those toys she gets to play with now!

      I mean, the show is 'Covert Affairs'. There are plenty of venues for that. And imagine, when she graduates fully, she could be a member of an elite force that roams the Clandestine services. (Could have been partnered with Olga-heh!) DOD, CIA, etc. Annie is better off where she is, but I don't have much faith in the writers to capitalize on this original concept. They are good at touching upon a subject, but never seem to realize the value of what they've created. (i.e Lena/Joan/Annie/Simon, should have been thoroughly explored in the entire season 3) They seem too married to the whole, Annie's family is the CIA idea, and too afraid to re-invent the show into a really exciting direction. But it might be a moot point as I doubt we will get another season. But hopefully, a handful of episodes to wrap up.

    3. LOL there are so many "Anonymous"s on here now I can't keep y'alls straight anymore. ;) As for Anonymous #1, I totally agree about Olga. I've never seen Lynn Collins in anything before but she was great here. Would have loved to have gotten much more of her and Annie being badass spies together. But yeah I do agree that the writers are probably using her death to help fuel Annie to get Belenko. Hmm next week should be interesting.

  8. > "Twitter has taught me that there is a certain faction of the fandom who view Covert Affairs solely as a show about Auggie Anderson with some other useless garbage in between Auggie scenes that can be fast-forwarded through because it's not important. They are not watching Covert Affairs so much as they are watching an entirely different show called Auggie Affairs. As such, they regularly end up watching episodes that are probably around 7 to 10 minutes long. In thinking back through the show's history, "She Believes" seems like it must be a record for the shortest Auggie Affairs episode ever made, at about 2 minutes long. So I have no doubt that a majority of Auggie Affairs fans must have hated this ep." <

    OMG! That's literary entertainment at it's best! There's something about beauty in truth, and that's the truth! But I'm actually really mollified to know that there's more than this fragment out there. That there are fans who watch it for the story. For me, it was always about a young and ill prepared Protagonist being initiated to the CIA by fire, and her continuing struggle to balance her life and work and like all good stories, should end with the culmination of that journey. Now the writers have strayed away somewhat, but I'm still really enjoying the portion of the show that is about the initial premise that was so successful with critics and general viewers alike. The story that is not about 'The adventures of Mr. Anderson's wondering penis!'

    Thanks for such a great review!

    1. I don't know who you are Anon, but I think I love you. x)

      Also Rach, I love you too - but that's not news. ;)

    2. What do you mean you don't know who Anon is? It's Anonymous! Everyone knows Anonymous!

    3. HAHA thanks "Anonymous" glad you liked that bit!!

    4. 'Anonymous' Yeah, I read it over a couple of times it was so funny. lol.
      Thanks for the love Sarai:)

      Seems like it's impossible to avoid the shipping lanes. I would LMAO if the show ended with Annie telling everyone to bugger off and catch the first plane to L.A. to watch the next Jason Bourne movie with Danielle and take her nieces to Disneyland. I can only imagine how different Annie would seem to Danielle considering the last time they were together, they were sharing ice cream and Annie was mostly optimistic.

      Yeah, yeah, I know people generally don't care about Danielle, but still, you can't deny that 'Danielle thinks Annie is Dead' situation needs to be addressed. But there again, we are talking about Covert Affairs writers, so who knows?

      Shall we start taking bets on when Annie's heart will explode?