Covert Affairs Review: Step Into My Office, Said the Spider to the Fly
Covert Affairs’ “Space (I Believe In)” belongs to the subtle but undeniably spellbinding chemistry between Henry Wilcox and Annie Walker. Okay, spellbinding might be pushing it a bit, but there is most assuredly a beguiling web being weaved here that borders on the captivating. Bear with me for a moment while we’ll do a little deconstruction.
As CIA liaison, Annie is paired with FBI Agent Vincent Rossabi (Noam Jenkins, Rookie Blue) to investigate Seth Newman’s death, hoping to steal the flash drive containing evidence proving Seth’s collusion with Henry Wilcox. Conveniently, Henry also ‘hires’ Annie to get the flash drive back, though we don’t know why yet.
Auggie creates a dummy flash drive for Annie to switch with the real one at Langley, an attempt that is thwarted by the arrival of a suspicious Rossabi who takes it from her. When Annie delivers the real flash drive to Auggie later, he’s surprised.
Auggie: How did you get the drive?
Annie: Magic kit when I was 9.
Auggie: As if I needed another reason to be into you.
Rossabi surrenders the dummy drive (pun intended) to Calder Michaels, whom we all suspect is in bed with Wilcox. While at the CIA, Rossabi disparages Annie in front of Calder, then, breaking the universal AA code of anonymity, reveals Joan’s and Seth’s Narcotics Anonymous connection in front of Calder and Annie, who is caught off guard by the news. Ouch, that was low.
Once Annie and Rossabi leave the room, Calder (Hill Harper) and Joan have a silent yet smoldering Mexican ‘Eyeball’ Standoff during which she imagines relieving him of his manhood with the heel of her shoe and he pictures himself forcefully kicking the pedestal out from under her feet. This is pure conjecture of course, but that’s what it looked like. Side note on Kari Matchett. Man, that woman has the chops! She, her disarming dimples, and her impenetrable gaze deserve more than a Gemini, she deserves a Golden Globe or three!
Amid all this drama, a suspect emerges: Marlon Higgins, a drug dealer with a record who used Seth’s credit card to buy pizza. In the most gripping sequence of the episode, Rossabi kicks down the door of Higgins’ apartment, a concealed Higgins springs out and to knock noggins with Annie, then dives for his gun. As Higgins starts shooting up the place and glass starts flying, Annie dives behind the shelving partition while Rossabi flies in out of nowhere and throws himself on Higgins. Higgins and Rossabi grapple onto the balcony and fall through the fence to fall two stories below onto a car, crunching the thing to smithereens.
The flash drive is uber-encrypted, surrendering only a few pixels of deciduous tree canopy to Auggie and Annie. Looking for a link between Seth and Henry, Auggie analyses Henry’s driving record and notices an anomaly: one address he visits weekly. However, they find no intersection between Henry’s and Seth’s driving histories. Hoping for a Hail Mary Pass, Annie and Auggie investigate Henry’s anomalous address and recognize the location as Camp Hillcrest where Henry took Jai as a small boy. Henry had earlier confided to Annie that those visits to Camp Hillcrest were some of his fondest memories of Jai’s childhood. Recognizing the place, Annie adroitly comments, ‘He’s paying his respects. He’s grieving. Greed can be bought, and anger cools. But grief—?’ She shakes her head dejectedly, ‘He’s never going to give this up, Auggie.’
So, now we’re left wondering, what other photos are on that flash drive, and what else did Henry use this land for? Does he own it? Are there bodies or top secret files or other damning evidence buried under the bramble? Is there proof that Henry engaged in a perversion in the woods? Time will tell, my friends. What does the fandom think?
Auggie is unsuccessful in infiltrating FBI records that would prove it was Annie’s skin and blood found on Seth’s corpse. As a result, Annie’s staring at the business end of a double barrel shotgun. Also, Rossabi reveals that he’s found Annie’s phone number all over Henry’s phone records. This spells ‘career suicide’ for Annie Walker.
So what now? Annie is up caca creek without a spoon and along comes Henry …
Now we can talk about Henry and Annie. First, have you noticed Henry’s overall demeanor toward Annie? His mannerisms, the tone of his voice, the way he looks at her? He’s almost charming. She exhibits the same unspoken friendliness at times. Soooo—what’s the deal? Aren’t they supposed to be frenemies? Hasn’t he threatened her numerous times? Let’s look closer.
Early on in this episode, Henry invites Annie to meet at the unfinished headquarters for his new firm, Lexington Global Consulting and Risk Management. Lexington Global, which Henry smugly tells Annie is named for the thoroughbred bay colt who sired some of the greatest champions in history, will be an incubator for the next generation of the most elite spies.
His intention, he shares with her, is to spawn the next generation of superior spies, of which he invites her to be the first. Wait. Uh, spawn? Did he just say spawn, like as in, s-p-a-w-n? Okay. Take a breath. So, a guy who is known ‘affectionately’ by the press as The Prince of Darkness—and whose own son called him Satan’s Little Helper—that guy tosses out the word SPAWN——well, now, it’s an itty bitty leap from there to the words ‘Devil Spawn’. Idn’t it? Yeah, like pure evil. Surely this association is not lost on Annie Walker.
So—if you watch closely how these two—Annie and Henry—speak to each other, you’ll notice the paradoxical relationship between his words and body language, even his tone of voice. He speaks in the tone of a favored uncle who once bounced you on his knee and slipped you licorice after you’d brushed your teeth! Let’s take an intuitive leap from where we’ve just been, to the inside of Henry Wilcox’s coal black and broken heart—assuming he has one, which this reviewer thinks he does, twisted as it may be. Could it be, possibly, that Henry sees Annie as his daughter? Or, perhaps, a younger version of himself?
Jai was a colossal disappointment to Henry. Jai had little, if any, respect for Henry. Annie, on the other hand, engages Henry and smiles at him, even relaxes in his company at times. I think we may have seen them wink at each other. Not all the time, of course. At other times he’s menacing, threatening. But when he’s not, he’s, well, endearing, affectionate, even. What’s up with that?
Since he sees that in Annie, he will do anything to pull her in. In discussing Seth, Henry submits that Seth was an associate, ‘part time and off the books, just like you,’ he says, drawing the parallel. He gives Annie a check for services rendered to Lexington, making the point that she’s already working for him—just not full-time—which is what he now wants. He wants her, but he wants her to come willingly. Like a daughter.
But Henry has made some erroneous assumptions about Annie Walker; assumptions which are going to sink their incisors into his fleshy backside. ‘Enough money and the right motivation,’ he believes, ‘can make anyone do anything.’ But what he doesn’t understand about Annie is that money isn’t want motivates her … doing the right thing and making our country great, those are the things that motivate her. He also doesn’t understand her intuitiveness in regard to the human spirit.
Annie sees Vincent Rossabi for the good man that he is. Henry threatened to expose Rossabi’s alcoholism to force him to doctor the DNA evidence so that Higgins’ skin, instead of Annies, was found under dead Seth’s fingernails. Annie learns this when she visits the Hoover and finds a self-loathing, devastated, teary-eyed Rossabi sitting behind his work table. In a stunned stupor, Rossabi tells her she’s off the hook, though it is clear he knows she was the killer. What does Annie do? She confronts Henry.
Annie: How did you turn Rossabi?
Henry: Once an addict, always an addict. Booze. Mistakes. Regret. Opportunity. Any person can be influenced, turned completely by the contents of one single piece of paper. The trick is finding the right piece of paper.
Annie: What are you doing? Why are you dragging me down with you, Henry?
Henry: You needed to see what I’m capable of.
In the end, when a glossy-eyed, sober-toned Henry asks Annie to commit fully to him, she refuses, causing him to rage emotionally — just like a disappointed father.
Annie: Whatever you’re playing at, it’s not going to bring Jai back. You need to make peace with that. I have Seth’s flash drive … photos.
Henry has a red-faced indignant temper tantrum, during which he drops his final bomb: Auggie’s ex-wife, the woman Auggie watched die, Helen Hanson …. SHE’S ALIVE! And … apparently … Auggie already knows this and hasn’t told Annie. Duh, duh, duh, duuuuuuuuuuh!
Tune in August 27 when Auggie confronts Arthur about Helen Hanson, and teams up with a seasoned operative, while Calder grows suspicious of Annie in ‘Crackity Jones’ at 9pm/8pm Central.