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‘Let’s Dance’ exclaims Covert Affairs

Covert Affairs poster

Written by : published Thursday 20th September 2012

‘Let’s Dance’ exclaims Covert Affairs main image

Upon getting shot center mast by Lena Smith (Sarah Clarke) her previous handler and confidant, Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) from her coma thanks to the help from doctors but more importantly Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham) and Joan Campbell (Kari Matchett) in the latest episode of Covert Affairs titled "Let's Dance".   And it was a close call too: Lena almost got away with setting up so much evidence against Annie that even Arthur Campbell (Peter Gallagher) was quick to give her a guilty verdict. Annie is now up and about and ready for revenge. How far is Annie willing to go to get her revenge?

Annie goes pretty far, considering she just got plugged twice in the chest.  They never clearly say the passage of time, but one would have to assume at least a month or two has passed since her attack. And Annie wastes no time upon figuring out where Lena is, which is somewhere deep inside Russia.  There is an old agent, someone Lena used and played for her own devices named Dmitri (David O'Hara) who is retired from the spy life. Dmitri plays the piano and runs a music shop.  Annie’s goal is to use Dmitri to get to Lena.

And by all means, Annie succeeds in her mission.*

(*)- Be warned all ye who pass this point continue at their own risk as there be spoilers. Also there may possibly be a weird nerdy/geeky but definitely long comic book-like nerd rant thrown in for good measure.

There were two things I was expecting to happen by the end of the episode “Let’s Dance”. First and foremost, there was Annie capturing Lena or killing Lena and her triumphant return home, but it wouldn’t be as triumphant.  The second thing would be they would drag it out further. Into the episodes returning later in October.

I preferred the idea behind the second option, as I felt that killing Lena was just too easy. After a great season of a slow burn and really taking time to handle their story appropriately, moving the pieces on the board, they would quickly end with Lena captured or killed, and it felt too cheap or easy.

The end result was something a bit hit and miss; they ended up killing Lena, but it just ends, and teases that she is captured by the Russians.  What is interesting is that I didn’t feel that option one was completely a let down, but at the same time, the final battle with Lena felt hollow for some reason.  And I can’t be sure as while for the character the catharsis of killing Lena is definitely there, one can’t argue that, but perhaps for the audience, it feels to swift and quick. And perhaps that is the real concern I had going into the episode. My previous review (found here) I was a bit hesitant to mention this as I’d save it for this review, but truth-be-told, Covert Affairs somewhat pulled a Suits. This season on Suits has been fantastic, just as Covert Affairs has been only to seem to rush quickly for the finish line.

With all this said, let’s be clear that I understand the idea behind running a television series, especially in today’s post-L0ST landscape. If you dare try a serial story-arc, make sure you keep the network and the fans happy. USA Network is known for it’s quick week by week procedural, and plus, well, fans are fans. They are quick to turn, but quick to praise.

When “Let’s Dance” was looking to be the final episode until mid-October, particularly after the big twist of Annie getting shot by Lena two episodes prior… well, there was what I’d like to see happen**, and what I thought might happen.

(**)- This is where this review gets super geeky/nerdy here. Apologies those who continue beyond this point.

Perhaps it is my overall love and fandom growing up, or perhaps it is recently acquiring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection Volume 3 that this whole thought process is fresh in my mind, but I was sincerely deep down hoping for a “Return to New York” situation with Covert Affairs.  And we somewhat get the tail end of the process to end the break before Covert Affairs returns in a few weeks.

Before I continue, yes, I’m comparing Covert Affairs to The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. The original idea behind “Return to New York” was simple. In the TMNT books by Mirage Studios, while Michelangelo, Donatello, April, Splinter and Raphael prepare for Christmas, Leonardo is attacked and brutally beaten during a training run by their arch foe The Shredder (once thought to be killed by the four ninja turtles) and his Foot Clan.  The Foot viciously not only return a near fatally wounded Leonardo as a message, they charge on April’s Second Time Around Store, where the Turtles have been hiding away/preparing Christmas and as Casey comes to help at the last minute to help turn the tide against the Foot Clan. As the Battle escalates, The Foot set the Second Time Around building up in flames, forcing the TMNT, Splinter, April and Casey to retreat back to Casey’s farmhouse in Massachusetts.

Those who remember the first TMNT film from the 1990’s probably remember it being Raphael instead of Leonardo, with the plot (of the "Return to New York" comics) closely resembling that film, where the turtles train, regain strength and return to New York to face their foe.  Now, in a film, things are condensed for the sake of time.  But as a grand story, this took place at around Issue # 10. The Turtles didn’t return to New York until Issue 19.  That’s a nice long chunk of time where the turtle, Leonardo especially, was out and about training; regaining what he lost when he was attacked by the Foot Clan and Shredder. When Issue 19 comes around, the TMNT return to New York, meet someone who should be a foe and use him to lead the charge to attack and bring down the Shredder. It cumulates in a final battle between Leonardo and the one who harmed him: The Shredder. You guessed it: Leonardo wins, beheading Shredder.

What does this AT ALL have to do with Covert Affairs?

Wait for it: I was expecting something similar along those lines of “Return to New York” to occur but in conjunction of Covert Affairs.  For example: What about Annie’s sister Danielle (Anne Dudek)?  Danielle had to be listed as first of kin to be contacted, plus Auggie noted he would be the one to contact her. Someone HAD to contact her in regards to her sister being, I dunno, shot and almost killed. And Danielle at least as written/portrayed in the series thus far would drop everything to be with her little sister. The birth of that question leads to further questions of what would I be expecting from a “Return to New York”-like version of Covert Affairs which would be to say I was expecting that Lena would go full-court press on Annie in a weakened state trying to wipe out Auggie, Annie and Joan, but in the process, either forcing Annie to escape Washington and seriously question to trust or causing Lena to escape the U.S. Then the next few episodes would be Annie slowly but surely getting back into the groove of things before the season finale is her triumphant return to wherever Lena is to confront her and bring her in or kill her.

While watching “Let’s Dance”  there were already huge similarities to the storyline from the TMNT books (Dmitri is Zog, hunt for Lena leading to Annie vs. Lena final showdown) yet it felt more like a missed opportunity to not keep the pace down where it was which was a nice slow burn. It felt like we turned the heat on way too quickly to resolve the Lena storyline.

Granted this didn’t mean I expected Annie to sit around all depressed and what have you. Obviously other adventures could have been had where Annie perhaps is going out training on her own, as Auggie, Joan and Arthur try to get to the bottom of the Lena situation. It just felt too quick and easy that Lena escaped the United States, and that Annie was back up to her feet.

I think perhaps the other thing I am a bit sad about is there was a real sense of history and bile between Joan and Lena. To see that play out a bit more would have been nice. Or perhaps a bit more of some semblance of a beat down, mental or otherwise from Joan’s side against Lena would have been great especially after Lena whupped Joan at the hospital as at the end of the day it is still Annie’s villain to stop and face.

And I guess because there was only a one episode build-up since Lena tried to kill our heroine twice with no real time to stop and think and gestate with those actions and the loss of Simon, the moment pumps a few bullets into Annie, I suppose I felt just like Annie did: which was “This was supposed to be cathartic for me. Why does it not ring true or feel right?” And that is what it felt like. It felt… a bit weird.

With that said, “Let’s Dance” is still a fantastic episode of Covert Affairs. Don’t let my weird/odd projection of a TMNT-esque Covert Affairs fool you; the episode was good (just not what I was expecting or projecting on to it) as there were things that were absolutely fantastic in this episode. I am a big fan of little moments, above all, moments that feel absolutely earned by the characters and “Let’s Dance” had plenty of those:

  • Every Auggie and Annie scene particularly Auggie in the car with Annie. I would have loved to just witness a bit of the silence or the conversation of the car ride to the airport.
  • The scenes between Joan and Arthur at the dinner table and Joan’s resignation attempt
  • Any scenes between Dmitri and Annie in the music shop

“Let’s Dance” felt like a great conclusion to the whole Lena and Annie arc but one that felt like it needed a few more episodes in between “Suffragette City” and this one. Overall though, Covert Affairs has made great strides this third season and has a real flair for this new sense of storytelling. One hopes they can continue down this same path in the remaining few episodes and onwards/upwards into season four.

About the author goodbadgeeky


Nick ‘Nitro’ Arganbright has an extreme love for a good story, whether it be in film, tv, video games, comic books, music or more and it shows in each article and podcast he produced. The titular podcast he produces is called The Good The Bad & The Geeky with co-hosts Jon Bettin and Nathan ‘DJ Meat’ Haley. The podcast has helped him make a few contacts within in the industry which he hopes to use to entertain and inform readers of his reviews on Examiner.com and The TV King, offering an average joe opinion that is often overlooked in major print and online publications. If you’d like to e-mail him, please do so at [email protected] or you can tweet him on twitter at @goodbadgeeky.

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