“Covert Affairs,” Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot,” is the first episode of a new television series on USA about Annie Walker, played by Piper Perabo, a newly minted CIA agent taken out of the Farm, the CIA training school, for an operation in Washington DC.
Complications naturally ensue. Spoilers surely follow.
Annie Walker has joined the CIA apparently on impulse after an unhappy love affair in Sri Lanka with a mysterious stranger who ditched her with a mysterious note. (More of him anon.) Annie has language skills, is not too shy about the intrusive questions asked during her entrance interrogation, and seems eager to face challenges head-on, like jumping out of a perfectly good air plane.
Annie is called to Langley with a month to go in her training for an operation that requires her language skills. A Russian assassin wants to give up a list of his next several targets in return for money. All Annie has to do is appear in his hotel room in the guise of a high-class call girl, use a couple of souped up blackberries to exchange the money for the intel, and then leave.
The exchange is made, but then someone sprays the hotel room with bullets, taking out the Russian, and causing Annie to have to leave quickly for her health, sans blackberry with the intel. No problem. Annie slips back to the crime scene, now being investigated by the FBI, and manages to retrieve the intel, as well as give a convincing story to an FBI agent who we shall see again.
Annie is involved in a high speed chase with-someone. One of theirs, one of ours, who knows? But, it seems that dealing with her sister and the guy she is trying to fix her up with is more irritating to Annie than being shot at or driving through the streets of Washington at break-neck speeds.
The problem is that the intel is useless, consisting of data the CIA already knows. But, since the money transfer did not come off, why was the Russian trying to burn the Agency? And there was something else too. The Russian used a term unfamiliar to Annie, a fluent Russian speaker, as an endearment. A quick check with an old Slavic languages professor confirms that the word was “Kitten” in Estonian.
Annie, along with a blind former operative, now techie, named Auggie Anderson, played by Jake 2.0‘s Christopher Gorham, infiltrates the morgue. A quick check of the body confirms that there are no prison tattoos that the Russian assassin would have, as his legend included a stay in the Siberian Gulag. Clearly, the dead guy is an Estonian patsy, and the Russian is still out there.
Auggie, by the way, is a charmer, whose powers of observation serve him in good stead as a blind person, and who also rapidly becomes Annie’s friend and mentor into the wicked ways of the CIA, where lying and deceit and things not being what they seem are standard operating procedure.
In any case, Annie and Auggie are caught in the morgue by the same FBI agent whom she talked to at the crime scene. They have their story straight. She was entertaining a client from whom dead bodies are a turn-on. The FBI guy pretty much has figured out for whom Annie really works, but he can’t prove it.
A little bit of computer razzle-dazzle narrows down the Russian’s target to a journalist who seems to have roused the ire of Vladimir Putin. Annie helps to foil the hit at a book signing at the Smithsonian Castle. A quick foot chase, a fight at a nearby Metro station, and Annie looks to have had it as the Russian starts to choke the life out of her.
But who should show up but Annie’s old beau from Sri Lanka with a pistol? A quick shot puts the Russian down and saves Annie’s life. The boyfriend vanishes into the night.
Which brings us to Joan and Arthur, the married couple who are Annie’s supervisors. It seems that the real purpose for Annie being brought up from the Farm early was to flush out the old boyfriend. Who is he, and why does the CIA find him of interest?
Almost as important: How does Joan get away with using CIA and NSA resources to check up on her husband and make sure she is not cheating?
All in all, a promising start to what looks to be an entertaining season. And, since all characters in USA dramas seem to inhabit the same universe, I rather hope that, when it comes time to inform Burn Notice‘s Michael Weston that all is forgiven and it’s time to come in from the cold, they send in Annie to let him know. But beware: Fi is a jealous sort, and, with Annie, she would be right to be.
Covert Affairs, Pilot, TV.Rage