Covert Affairs Season 4: What Are Your Top 4 Reasons For Coming Back?

COVERT AFFAIRS Season 2 Cast Photos (6)

My feelings about Covert Affairs are akin to my feelings about ice cream: it’s all good, even if it’s the wrong flavor, and I’m willing to overlook the occasional batch blighted by freezer burn to get my sugar fix. And let’s face it, Covert Affairs can occasionally feel as if it’s been left at the back of the freezer just a little too long.

That said, there are a good few reasons why I keep coming back for more, even when I’m not completely invested in Annie’s adventures. A list is usually complete in multiples of five, but apparently this show makes me a rebel, so here are my top four favorite things about Covert Affairs:

The show knows when a change is in order.
 

Covert Affairs Glass Spider Season 3 Episode 8 (6)

The premise of Covert Affairs in the first two seasons was pretty simple: every week there would be a new case and Annie would help fix it/solve it/throw it in jail. Simple. Problem is, the show needed a lot of individual plots and sometimes an hour just wasn’t enough to draw a plot to a satisfactory conclusion. There were season-long arcs, of course — see: the Ben situation in season 1 — but these were vaguely formed and existed mainly to give context for Annie being in the CIA.

It wasn’t until the third season that the show changed tack and actively gave Annie something to do that stretched out beyond one episode. Season 3 was when Covert Affairs became serialized, with an overreaching arc that formed the meat of the first ten episodes or so and had an impact on the remaining episodes. This meant that instead of watching one hour to get the full story, viewers were being forced to commit to watching the entire season to figure out what the heck was going on.

Okay, so there were a few episodes where you could probably jump in and get the gist of the single episode plot, but to really appreciate season 3, you had to stick with it week after week. Was the change worth it? Your mileage may vary, but while I found myself disliking the season arc at times, I thought it helped to develop the secondary characters — mostly Joan and Arthur, who finally had reasons to appear in episodes, rather than popping up now and then to do their best stern face at Annie.

Location shooting makes anything more interesting.
 

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Remember the days when Covert Affairs used to stick Annie on top of scenery shot in some far flung land, seemingly with the hope that we, the dear viewers, would ignore just how fake it looked? I’m still scarred from the horror that was London, CA-style, dear reader.

While interspersing Toronto-filmed scenes with footage shot in different countries was a good idea in theory — and kind of convincing in some cases — the show really came into its own when it decided to, well, actually shoot on location in different countries. Not only has this made Covert Affairs stand out from the crowd, it’s made it more visually interesting, too.

Just take a look at ‘Half a World’ away, which the Globe Tracker on the official USA site says was one of the first episodes to film large portions overseas. The episode premise was good, sure, but it really benefitted from those scenes shot in Istanbul and Jordan, which added an authentic touch. (Plus, it was educational. Who knew Istanbul really has a jazz festival??)

The relationships are nuanced.
 

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From Henry and Jai Wilcox’s tempestuous, antagonistic father-son bond, to Danielle’s initial reaction to finding out just what her little sister is getting up to when she’s supposedly pottering around finding artifacts for the Smithsonian, Covert Affairs knows when to alter familiar relationships to try and elicit maximum effect.

I must admit to finding Danielle cloyingly earnest a lot of the time, and Henry Wilcox has never been one of my favourite characters, but if anything that just adds to the realistic nature of these relationships. It’s usually easy to pick a side in any disagreement, and when the disagreements involve television characters, it’s fun to have a character to root for, even if you’re mainly siding with one because you really dislike the other.

Of course, one of the best relationships on the show is the friendship between Annie and Auggie that lasted for most of three seasons. They didn’t always see eye to eye (no pun intended) and they had their fair share of drama, but they were solid besties, always ready to have each other’s backs. It’s not just a realistic friendship, spy stuff aside, it’s an enviable one, too.

Another fantastic relationship on CA is Joan and Arthur’s marriage. They bicker, they use power plays against each other, and their marriage seems to be on the rocks more often than off, but it’s always interesting to see how they navigate the boundaries of their work and home lives and come back together in the end.

Auggie.
 

And then there’s Auggie. He is easily one of my favourite characters on TV at the moment, and not just because he’s gorgeous (although he is). Back in season 1, he was Annie’s wise and welcoming guide to the world of being a CIA operative. By season 2, he was the cool bestie, who could come up with an escape plan at the drop of a hat. And season 3 was when Auggie got caught up in his own drama (and Chris Gorham got to act his ass off). The breakup with Parker? Fantastic to watch.

Why’s Auggie so awesome? Because he just is. Auggie is the type of character who would be likable on any show: he’s solid, he’s smart, and he’s willing to ignore the rules when he knows he’s right. Then there’s his blindness, which is well written on CA; rather than it being portrayed as a constant source of angst, as many other shows would probably be inclined to do, Auggie’s blindness just another facet of him, one he’s mostly accepted and altered his life to accommodate.

Then there’s his relationship with Annie. Now, I like Annie, I do, but there’s only so much blundering around and conveniently talking so many languages (seriously, how many is she up to by now?) that a character can do before she’s borderline obnoxious. Thankfully she has Auggie’s calm to compliment her occasional bull-in-a-china-shop attitude – and he has Annie to compliment him. It works, and maybe that’s the key to Covert Affairs success. When the show hits rough patches, we can always rely on Auggie and Annie to keep things afloat.

 

So there they are, my top four reasons for tuning in to Covert Affairs each week. Come be a fellow rebel, dear reader, and leave your top four favorite things about CA in the comments below. (And no, you can’t just say Auggie four times — if I resisted doing that, you can too…)

Covert Affairs returns for its fourth season on Tuesday July 16th at 9pm on USA.