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Covert Affairs Season Premiere Review: Back to Square One?

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The promos for the sophomore season of Covert Affairs claimed that "spies have more fun." After watching tonight's premiere, I beg to differ.

You have no idea how much I wanted to love "Begin the Begin." Perhaps I had overhyped it in my mind, but I found myself slightly underwhelmed by the return of Annie Walker - and not just because the show let Ben live. It's not that this was a particularly bad episode, it was just routine and lacked the passion one generally expects from a season premiere.

Nothing much happened to move the story along. In fact, by the end, we seemed to be almost right back where we started: Annie working for the CIA unaware of Ben's whereabouts; Ben working off book. 

Season 2 Premiere Shot

The only thing different is that Ben's now working covertly for Arthur (I'm a little fuzzy on who exactly Ben was working for before) and Annie seems to be less fazed by his disappearance.

I hope the latter is true because if she yanks out that blasted shell bracelet this season, I'm not sure who I'll take it out on.

Despite the overall predictability of the mission-of-the-week (the big blonde Russian chick practically bellowed "assassin"), Annie's gut was spot on and her perceptibility impressive. I wouldn't have tied the candy bar to the tennis player's true agenda, so score one for Annie Walker.

I know Annie's supposed to be a good agent, but she's still very green - and impulsive. Definitely not experienced enough to be rushing into situations with potential gunfire, unarmed (seriously... WHEN is the girl gonna get a gun?).

It's not like she's Supergirl, as much as she'd like to think she is. Even Auggie knows this, which is why he cautioned her to "think it through," something she summarily ignored. It seems once the adrenaline starts pumping, her ability to reason goes out the window.

Of course, without Annie's tendency towards the impetuous this show could be intolerably boring, so I suppose I can accept it in exchange for some pulse-pounding action, which I hope improves as the season progresses.

Auggie, on the other hand, can do no wrong. Not only does he offer up the best advice (definitely don't compliment your own equipment when trying to impress a girl), he makes for one slick partner in crime-fighting. The highlight of every episode, bar none, is when he and Annie share the screen. It's something that should happen much more often.

Generally, I like Piper Perabo just fine and think she makes the most of her role as Annie, but there's an extra spring in her step whenever she has a scene with Christopher Gorham that I find becoming. It's not that surprising, though, since Gorham is so charming and so effective, he could give life to a corpse.

One thing that sort of took me aback, and I'm not sure if it was the quality of the screener I was watching or what, but Auggie's voiceovers sounded a lot like those in a first-person video game. So much so that I had the urge to scramble for an XBox 360 controller.

I was also disappointed that we didn't get any traction on the Liza Hearn/Henry Wilcox cliffhanger. She's just writing more inflammatory articles about Arthur? That's so last season! What happened after she and Henry drove off in the towncar together?

I hope the arrival of a high-priced attorney on Arthur and Joan's doorstep to combat the Liza Hearn-induced legal woes doesn't mean we're in for a lot of legal humdrum, because that could seriously grind this series to a halt.

Where is the intrigue? Where is the suspense? Where is something even remotely related to a purpose for either Jai or Danielle?

I had a chat with a friend this week about Covert Affairs in general and we seemed of the same mind that the USA Network formula might be hindering more than helping this spy drama. Setting my bias aside (I'm a die-hard Alias fan), a series about the world of espionage should have more edge than your typical run-of-the-mill procedural.

Spies generally connote a certain sexiness (in terms of story more than character) that I think Covert lacks. It seems a little too safe. It's a bit surprising, in fact, that this comes from the same folks who gave us the Bourne trilogy.

I hope it can manage to deliver up some stronger stories and surprises over the next few weeks because this just didn't provide the jumpstart I was expecting.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
  • 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (69 Votes)

Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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Just got back from a long biz trip really looking forward to this season opener...and now have to agree with most of the reviews - turgid writing, sloppy directing - i'm praying that the show gets its act together over the next few episodes, this was really a fun show last season. i never watched alias so cannot compare it.

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There was 1 very akward line: nadia said that before Estonia joined Euro, Estonia didn't have "the good stuff" aka good chocolate. thats completely, 100 percent... WRONG. nothing has changed here, in Estonia(yes, i'm from Estonia) since Euro came, only prices have gone up. I haven't seen any new products in stores.
all together, very weird season premiere. Your review is spot on. They could have done more with Ben storyline. overall pretty good episode.

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no,i don't think ben is a lone ranger. remember what auggie said about jai? don't believe a thing coming out of his mouth. why was jai's father harrassing him("in the light") about doing things we don't want others to see;if you can't deal with it,leave(looking at jai,who looked quite uncomfortable).what was he doing at the beach? and ben saying that if he had stayed(at the beach) annie's life would have been in danger. what happens to security risks? jai's the best looking thing stepping out of a mercedes-benz but i think he's his father's son only much much better looking.

Bobbie-whited

I think it was a sold season opener. I was confused however about how two gun were able to get past army security, thought it be tough to get in to a an army hospital armed with automatics. In spite of that i really hope that Anne gets over this whole Ben thing this season. Like most people i think she belongs with Auggie, and i happy to see he was in the action at least somewhat instead of behind his computer.

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I agree I was underwhelmed. I was not upset simply by the fact that Ben live, but mostly by they fact that he was practically dying at the end of last season and then like only slightly injured when he came out of the helicopter? I also thought the crime of the week was a bit weak

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Just got to watch it last night. I thought it was great! I felt like we jumped right back in where we left off...so that was nice. So glad it's back! Ps. I'm not a fan of the Annie/Auggie hookup right now...I like their friendship and hope it stays that way for a while. Auggie is the man! Also, I'm not a Jai fan. He is a good looking dude, but I am not digging his character/attitude. I hope they don't try to make a love-thing between he and Annie. No thanks!

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I love the show.....it was a little confusing w/ the Ben stuff but I can look over that. I'm not a fan of Ben, I like Jay much more.

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Sure it might not of been the best episode ever, but I thought it was still really good. I thought it was a very solid episode with a good plot.

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I found this first show of the season disappointing. It was disjointed and never grabbed me. It did last year.

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As incoherent and unexciting as it was I actually liked the episode quite a bit. After all the season finales in May, trying to outdo each other in the "who can pull a bigger shocker" contest, this was a sweet, unwinding, non-engaging hour. And so much closer to reality, at that. My major complaint has to do with the low level of visual pleasure: why were Annie's skin and Joan's hair so dull?

Covert Affairs Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

Annie: Increased heartrate. A spike in blood pressure. I think the polygraph is getting to you.
Ben: I think it's the polygrapher.

Annie: You have some mouth on you.
Nadia: You speak Estonian?
Annie: Just the swear words.

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