USA’s cool spy series Covert Affairs [Tuesdays, 10/9C] returns with a bang this week. Some people, it seems, require something more than a wake-up call…
Covert Affairs’ mid-season finale found Annie [Piper Perabo] finally telling her sister what she does for a living – and being asked to move out of the guest house. Wake Up Bomb finds Annie getting injured while on a retrieval job in Venice and trying to settle into her first safe house when she mixes painkillers and a booze and inadvertently winds up in a Basque chef’s bed.
Meanwhile, Jai [Sendhil Ramamurthy] has tired of being marginalized in the department and seeks out someone to get himself deposed before an inquiry about a leak in the CIA – getting the expected response from his father [Gregory Itzin].
The chef, Zavier, it turns out, is suspected of being a Basque terrorist and after being chided for winding up in his bed, Joan assigns her to stick close to him – he may still be in communication with a terrorist cell. Sure enough, Gorka turns up in the restaurant. And then, there’s a bomb!
There were no credits on the screener made available for review – and not teaser [just a card reading ‘Annie loses package and gets injured’], which really isn’t germane to the rest of the episode. The important stuff – Annie having to move out of her sister’s guest house and into her first safe house; the terrorist arc, and Jai’s situation – is set up smartly and efficiently and breaks with the expected mix of humor, wit and drama.
Although Auggie [Christopher Gorham] is almost omnipresent, his role is mostly just support – tech and moral – and Gorham continues to bring his best stuff to the game.
The ep rides on Annie, Jai and Zavier. Perabo brings more vulnerability than usual to the ep, making us feel Annie’s pain as she recovers from her injury; her vulnerability in the way she handles herself with Zavier, and her frustration in what she sees as being in Joan’s [Kari Matchett] doghouse [especially important since that’s not really the case]. Ramamurthy plays Jai’s frustration, apparent ego and especially his intelligence [and especially in one key sequence near the end of the ep] so well, that his arc becomes a major revelation.
Zavier is a passionate person who loves what he does so much that he names his restaurant Extarte – his family name and Basque for ‘home between,’ the equivalent of ‘a home away from home.’ The actor captures this passion and also a wicked sense of humor – especially the morning after he feeds Annie in the restaurant. Perhaps his best moments, though, come from his scenes with his brother at the ep’s climax [see: wake-up call].
Even in the rough cut provided, Wake Up Bomb is a lot of fun. While it definitely fits within the profile of the series thus far, it pushes boundaries in the way it expands on what we know of both Annie and Jai – and sets events in motion that will undoubtedly continue to have ramifications in the future.
Final Grade: B+
Photo by Frank Ockenfels/courtesy USA Network