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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"The Wake-Up Bomb" explodes all over Covert Affairs

     USA's Covert Affairs returns for a fall run with "The Wake-Up Bomb." On assignment in Venice, Annie (Piper Perabo) loses her target package. Taking things rough, she returns to the states, and indulges in a bit of alcohol. At the restaurant, she meets a charming Spanish chef (Santiago Cabrera, Heroes, Merlin). The next day, by coincidence, Joan (Kari Matchett) assigns Annie to watch the chef. It's really his brother (Matias Padin, Nya tider) who's the villain. Meanwhile, Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) makes a play that results in a major promotion, using his father, Henry (Gregory Itzin), as a pawn.

     Jai is turning out to be quite interesting. After being wasted for most of the first season, a fact that does not escape the character's own notice, Jai begins rebelling in season two. With his reputation way down, the only way he sees to raise it again is to trick Henry. Considering there is little love lost between father and son, and the son appears to be in the right, it's hard to blame Jai for his actions. Pretending that he is ready to testify on the hill about Henry being the leak, and quietly making sure his father knows this, Jai is named Director of Special Projects, and gets his own office. Henry actually reacts quite well when he realizes the truth, thinking Jai is finally showing promise. It's that twisted logic that proves Jai is better off without Henry's influence. Hopefully his future activities will help bring Henry down.

     Annie also has family problems, and also because of lies. Annie hopes that apologizing to Danielle (Anne Dudek), after giving her time to cool off, might reverse her sister's decision to kick Annie out of their home. It doesn't, but that's a good thing. Many series would let the status quo reset, but not Covert Affairs. Annie is setting up new digs, and it looks like while Danielle will forgive her sister, opening the door to a renewed relationship, she isn't going to let Annie back on the premises anytime soon. This is understandable, because Danielle has her kids to worry about. It's also realistic, making the case for great chemistry between the girls. Great job, writers.

    Of course, the highlight of almost any episode is any Annie / Auggie (Christopher Gorham) interaction, and "The Wake-Up Bomb" is no exception to this rule. Annie finally begins setting up a safe house, something Auggie has encouraged for awhile. She does slip up and tell him the general part of town it's in, even though he insists no one must know the location, including him. It isn't really a slip up, though. More, Auggie is Annie's closest friend, and the guy she trusts most. His housewarming gift of a bottle opener is as sweet as it is funny. Would the two of them hurry up and get together already? They could certainly handle more than a platonic relationship.

     The case of the week in "The Wake-Up Bomb" is pretty cool. With Annie open for a new relationship, her chef buddy seems promising. Their chemistry is great. Except, she isn't allowed to date a foreign citizen. And he is a reformed criminal with a brother who isn't so reformed. So, instead, we get an interesting story, with a few twists, and guest starring character that have a bit of depth. This raises the story to a higher level, and boosts Covert Affairs as a better series. With plots of the week at this caliber, it helps keep the show a tolerable procedural. Well, that, and above serial stories are pretty good, too.

     The only very weak point, and granted, it's a biggie, is that Annie just happens to hang out with the chef the night before he is assigned as her target. Seriously? Come on! Coincidences that big just do not happen.

     All in all, Covert Affairs is growing into a better series than it began as. If it continues this trend, it will quickly become a must-see show, something it isn't quite at yet, but on its way to. Watch is Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA.

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