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A Noose Hanging Low: Covert Affairs “River Euphrates” Review

By on November 8, 2013

Christopher Gorham as Auggie. (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/USA Network)

Henry Wilcox’s are not the only days numbered.

From the opening credits of “River Euphrates” to the sneak peek of next week’s Covert Affairs episode, the dirge played out, leaving no doubt about for whom, or for what, the bell tolled. USA has already renewed Covert Affairs for a fifth season, so know that everything now is set-up for the new season … read: relationship discord/death = a multitude of storyline possibilities.

Though “River Euphrates” was an all-around satisfyingly progressive and entertaining episode, its atmosphere was saturated with disheartening awkwardness … no, it wasn’t all awkwardness … some of it was plain old sadness. It wasn’t the character portrayals, the storyline, the funereal soundtrack, or the unquestionable proof that Calder ‘Swaggerific’ Michaels (Harper) wears Superman underpants (Yay!) that disrupted the digestive tract. Nay, it was the pervasive ugliness of the ungainly elephant standing in the space between Annie and Auggie that was uncomfortable to watch. Their romance is not long for this world.

The episode opens with Annie (Perabo) standing silent and conflicted outside Auggie’s apartment. Auggie (Gorham) opens the door and, in a rush of impassioned relief, takes her in his strong arms and crushes her to his firm, muscled chest … WAIT!  No, that’s not at all what happens, is it? In fact, that is the exact opposite of what happens, because Auggie ‘I’m-A-Philandering-Dongle’ Anderson is now guilt-personified, and Annie ‘I’m-Too-Stunned-To-Say-Anything’ Walker is, well, too stunned to say anything.

In case you missed last week’s episode, here’s the skinny: Auggie, in a not very impassioned moment of idiocy, shtooped Helen, knowing full well that Annie was alive and in town. It appeared at first that the illicit shtoopage was perhaps a ruse to solidify the Dead Annie cover. Wrong answer; both he and Helen knew Annie was alive, and they both knew that they both knew. So, hm, was Auggie trying to give Annie the “White Fang” treatment so she’d leave town without Henry (Itzin) killing her? Or, did Auggie feel he owed Helen something for loving him and sacrificing herself by going dark to save his cover in Rome?

In “No. 13 Baby” it was unclear how much Annie actually knew about Auggie and Helen’s tryst. She admitted to Helen that she’d seen them together, but doesn’t appear to react as severely as one would expect if she’d just seen her partner bumping the uglies with someone else, so we could assume she wasn’t watching from outside Helen’s apartment.

Pictured: Hill Harper as Calder Michaels-- (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/USA Network)

Pictured: Hill Harper as Calder Michaels– (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/USA Network)

In “River Euphrates,” at first, the script would have us believe that Annie’s initial malaise around Auggie is a product of dismay over the bad news that the romantically schizophrenic Helen Hansen (Michelle Ryan) is dead again, and later that Annie is in the midst of an identity crisis, but we viewers know that’s hogwash. Why? Because if either of those were the reason for her long face, she’d have flown into her lover’s arms, but that didn’t happen. And what about Auggie? When Annie arrives at his door he hadn’t yet known about Helen, and he didn’t know that Annie was aware of his infidelity. So, why was he unenthusiastic at her arrival? Perhaps he did perceive the Annie Scent on the bus, and intended for her to see him cheating? Lots of questions are hanging in the befuddled air, people, leaving the terrain wide open for leggy drama that will run us right into next season!

Annie surely can’t say she wasn’t warned by numerous people, including Auggie’s dark ex-wife, about the perils of going dark. In “Crackity Jones,” Helen advised that one day Annie might have to choose between getting Henry and being with Auggie. In “River Euphrates,” the piper’s bill has come due reinforcing what Annie had feared since making the decision to go dark in “Levitate Me” – that she underestimated the consequences and overestimated her preparedness. And now she may have lost everything that mattered to her … all because of her bloodlust for Henry. Damn.

Here’s the rundown: Annie arrives at Auggie’s apartment with news of Helen’s death. Auggie is devastated. For the remainder of the episode he is treated like a bereaved spouse instead of a cheating boyfriend … which felt odd. Auggie takes Annie to Helen’s apartment where it becomes clear that Auggie and Helen slept together. Auggie makes a feeble attempt at explaining himself when they are interrupted by an intruder, but not before they find a hidden message in Braille that Henry’s money man, Nelson Smith (Johnathan Togo), is a custom’s official moving and laundering hundreds of millions of CIA-printed dollars with which Henry is funding his nefarious activities.

Annie heads to New York and apprehends Smith. Finding him, she tells him she wants Henry’s head on a spike and takes him for a ride during which Smith causes an accident and gains the upper hand. Annie brokers a deal with him: she’ll get Henry before Henry kills Smith and his family in exchange for information about Henry’s money. Smith accepts, revealing that all of Henry’s funds are being transferred to Hong Kong where Henry plans to set-up shop.

Meanwhile, Joan receives a tip from FBI Agent Vincent Rossabi (Noam Jenkins) who has a healthy hate-on for Henry himself. His intel leads Joan to the diamond broker’s store in New York.

Smith tells Annie about Henry’s laundering of cash through a diamond broker, so Annie heads to the broker’s store only to run into a relieved Joan who’d already extracted intel from the broker’s hard drive. Annie tells her of Helen’s death and a discussion about protocol for coming in from the cold ensues. Joan calls Calder and asks him for help.

Elsewhere, devastated by Helen’s death and chomping at the bit to tear Henry limb from limb, Auggie engages the world’s greatest techie, Eric Barber (Dylan Taylor), to assess the security at Henry’s house, then insisted Barber make himself scarce.

Earlier, Eric Braithwaite (Craig Eldridge) tasks Calder with investigating and cleaning-up the dead Jane Doe incident at the bus station. Calder learns dead CIA Agent Helen Hansen is the Jane Doe, and Henry Wilcox was her killer. He confronts Braithwaite about how he knew about the death within hours of it happening, making the intuitive leap that Braithewaite is in cahoots with Henry making it super extra sticky that Henry was told Braithwaite opened a blue file on him! Braithwaite is evasive. This is when Calder receives the call from Joan asking him to circle the unicorns and go get Henry.

Calder arrives at Henry’s house just as Auggie’s people are busting down to door to find that Henry had used a decoy and was most likely already on his way to Hong Kong. Finally, Joan and Annie meet Calder at a private jet to set off for Hong Kong to end Henry. Joan privately apologizes to Calder for her treatment of him, which Calder receives graciously. Annie gets on the plane to find Auggie there waiting. The curtain falls as Annie and Auggie sit across from each other in uncomfortable silence as the noose tightens around Henry Wilcox’s neck.

Next week on Nov. 14th “There Goes My Gun” will have Annie, Auggie and Calder headed in Hong Kong on an unsanctioned mission to apprehend Henry’s courier before it’s too late, and Joan and Arthur reveal a traitor who’s been hiding in plain sight. Any guess who that might be? My money’s on Eric Braithwaite. How else would he have known about Helen’s death within two hours of it happening if he hadn’t been in cahoots with Henry?

Covert Affairs’ “There Goes My Gun” airs Thursday November 14 (10-11 pm ET) on USA. See first images here.

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