Covert Affairs

COVERT AFFAIRS Season 3 Premiere Review

USA’s COVERT AFFAIRS begins season three with a boom… literally. In “Hang On to Yourself,” Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) comes to Annie (Piper Perabo) with a secret, but before he can tell her what it is, Jai is blown up in his car. Annie and the others are shaken to their cores, but life and work goes on, and the mystery of who killed Jai will not be one easily or quickly uncovered.

Should Jai have been killed off? Obviously he is one of the most expendable members of the cast, and his departure paves the way to move other characters around into new positions. There has been a struggle for most of the series thus far to keep him relevant and involved in the plots. Plus, spy work is dangerous, and Jai does have a tendency to pursue things he shouldn’t. Yet, his death comes so unexpectedly, and leaves such a void for the other characters, that it seems very tragic.

Unless he’s really alive, and this whole plot is cheapened in a couple of weeks. After all, Jai remains in the theme song, which unfolds just after his offing. We also don’t actually see him in the exploding car, and a man in a suit follows Jai out of the restaurant, so it wouldn’t be too hard for Jai to be kidnapped, and his death faked. Hopefully, as much as he may be missed, this is not the case.

The biggest development of Jai’s passing could be Auggie’s (Christopher Gorham) promotion into Jai’s job. It’s a logical step for Auggie, and one that he will surely excel at. Given what Jai did last year, Auggie could be forgiven for holding onto a little animosity, even after Jai’s murder, making the job just a little sweeter. But primarily, this removes Auggie from the other main characters, and allows him larger plots with more focus, a welcome development.

How will Auggie’s moving on affect his co-workers? Obviously, this movies him away from Annie, which is a shame, given their remarkable chemistry and fantastic working relationship. COVERT AFFAIRS has promised more Annie / Auggie stuff in season three, so while “Hang On to Yourself” does separate them into different departments, their story isn’t over. Plus, without working so closely, perhaps they could finally be a couple. That would delight many a shipper fan.

Joan (Kari Matchett) has it even worse, losing both Auggie and Annie. Joan still has a whole department of other employees, to be sure, but these are her stars, the ones she utilizes quite often. Most of all, she is furious at Arthur (Peter Gallagher) for making these decisions without her, thus reigniting their marital woes. Sure, Arthur has the authority to move around Joan’s people without her permission, but a loving husband would at least consult her first, no matter how the chain of command may stand. Will this destroy the union they have rebuilt?

Annie, as mentioned, is no longer in Joan’s department. Her new boss is Lena Smith (Sarah Clarke, Twilight, Men of a Certain Age), who gives Annie a heck of a lot more freedom than Joan did. Annie is now encouraged to sleep with people in the field for intel, and not to check in every few minutes, or even hours.

This may make Annie a little more effective, but it also makes the job more dangerous. Without Auggie, Joan, or anyone else keeping tabs on her, how will anyone know if something happens to Annie? How will she get the things that she needs in the field? It doesn’t seem a very wise way to structure her missions.

To make matters worse, while Lena may seem nice enough, she has got to be evil. Her name rhymes with Nina, the villainous character Sarah Clarke played on 24. Lena’s department looks like CTU on 24, and the phones even ring with the same tones that they did on 24. Perhaps Lena is good, and someone is deliberately mucking with TV fans’ heads. But the parallels are uncanny, which seems to foreshadow a dark reveal for her character.

Luckily, Annie does have her mother sister, Danielle (Anne Dudek), looking out for her. It’s Danielle’s insistence that Annie take an umbrella with her in “Hang On to Yourself,” which Annie almost forgets in a booth, that keeps her out of harm’s way when Jai’s car explodes. Danielle also makes sure that Annie has a roof over her head and food in her belly. It’s extremely unlikely that Danielle is a sleeper agent, so her caring touches are for all of the right reasons. If Annie goes missing, Danielle will not sit quietly by. She will do something about it.

What a great opening for the new season, COVERT AFFAIRS! Watch more installments Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA.

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