Piper Perabo & Nic Bishop Tease “Huge” Covert Affairs Mid-Season Finale
BY Jennifer Griffin
Published 7 years ago
Covert Affairs is headed towards a “huge” mid-finale on August 26. That’s according to Piper Perabo, who took time this week to chat to ScreenSpy about season 5’s “Sensitive Euro Man,” an episode which is set to see Annie (Perabo) and McQuaid undertaking a seemingly impossible mission against Auggie’s (Christopher Gorham) wishes.
Under discussion on our call – Annie’s (not so) mysterious heart condition, Joan and Annie’s relationship, McQuaid vs Auggie and of course that finale.
We were also joined – surprisingly but pleasantly – by Nic Bishop towards the end of our call and got some great scoop from Nic on McQuaid, what it’s like to play a ‘James Bond’ style character and Nic’s recent experience of Social Media.
Read on for full highlights.
Annie’s been keeping secrets from Auggie recently. What is the state of their relationship right now?
In the previous season when Annie went dark she had to work all on her own. She also found out about this heart condition which she was so worried would take her off the board working for the CIA. It’s been a process for her coming back into the fold and learning to work as part of a team again, so in a big picture sense that’s what’s going on with Annie and Auggie. But also, it’s hard to go to work with your ex-boyfriend, even if what you’re doing is a less stressful job than working for the CIA. The kind of friction of what they’ve got through as a couple – and come out the other side of – can’t help but lie underneath all of the conversations they’ve had since she’s come back. At work they can’t really speak about their personal relationship, but it’s always there.
Does Auggie still trust her at this point?
Well I think he should trust her! [laughing]. Chris and I have been doing these scenes where Annie and Auggie are fighting and I hate it! I’m always saying “You could be nicer to Annie right now!” and he says “She’s not telling me the truth!” I wish that Auggie would be more understanding but that’s the ‘Annie’ side of things speaking, and I understand that he has to represent the ‘Auggie’ side of things. But in real life we still have our chairs next to each other and drink our coffee together.
What is Annie’s greatest strength?
One of Annie’s greatest strengths is her instinct – maybe not always where personal relationships are concerned – but definitely with work. It’s one of the things that keeps her safe because she’s often operating without a safety net in regards to when she should trust someone and when she should run and it’s often what saves her.
Did Annie’s decision to let McQuaid go last week come from her heart or her head?
When we rehearsed that scene we talked for a long time about why does Annie let him go. If you look at it in seconds, from the time she pulls the gun on him to the time she lets him go, she doesn’t actually put the gun down, but she doesn’t shoot either, and then she lets him leave. There were all these tiny increments of “If you really trust him you’d put the gun down and help with whatever he needed.” It was a matter of [figuring out] how do you work in that gray area? And how do you not cross the line with somebody so that you can never go back and they can never trust you, and how could McQuaid ever ask her for help again? How you act in that scene and how you treat each other starts to set up their whole relationship for the last seven episodes. There were a lot of versions of that scene in the rehearsal room.
What can you share about Annie and McQuaid’s mission in the finale?
The finale is so big we had to shut down a part of Toronto for it. It was so huge. One of the things I liked about McQuaid and the mission is that it comes all the way back around. I think it’s in episode 9, when you see that scene in the DPD conference room and it’s Joan and Arthur and Caitlyn and Calder and everyone is at the table. So all that’s happened has brought us all back together again. We need all those pieces to launch forward into the finale because the mission and what McQuaid’s been brought into is so big Annie can’t handle it alone. That’s one of the things that got me really excited about the mission for Ken. When we shot it we were all “Yeah! The band’s back together!” It was really fun for everybody to do these giant scenes together.
Has McQuaid and Annie’s dynamic evolved or changed in any way from what was originally intended, based on your on-screen chemistry?
The structure of how McQuaid is built is basically the same as they intended but I think the style has maybe evolved because of how Nic and I do our scenes. Nic has a real kind of bravado to how he plays McQuaid, and the writers, Matt and Chris especially, love that kind of man – that quick-witted, throw caution to the wind kind of guy – so once they saw how Nic embraced it in those opening Columbia episodes they got really excited. Things like how he talks to her when he picks her up in a helicopter and his devil may care attitude have really begun to define McQuaid because of the way Nic plays it.
What’s it been like for Annie to be back in the fold this season?
For Annie to come back is hard. It’s hard for her to play by the rules and listen to instruction and have a boss and all that. But for me, playing it … when Annie went dark I was moving through different guest stars each week. The only consistency was Henry Wilcox’s Greg Itzin. It’s so fun for me to be back with Peter and Kari and Chris and Hill who are a gang that I’ve had for so long. There’s a certain fun and a shorthand [that comes from] these years of working together. So when we do these scenes where Kari and I are at her desk in the DPD and Hill walks up it’s really fun because we’re back in familiar territory.
Will the season finale bring any new developments for Joan and Annie?
Hmm … how can I tell you and not tell you? [laughing]. Yes you will see some developments. What the finale sets in motion is too big for Annie to handle on her own. She needs all the different pieces of her spy network to be able to move forward. Whatever problems she’s had with Joan in the past, she’s had to come face to face with so they can work together to complete the mission.
Is the cause of Annie’s heart problem a mystery or did we all miss something?
You know what, this is so funny. I’m glad you said this because I said this to the writers the other night. When we’re in Canada we’re abroad filming, so when the episodes air in the United States I’m rarely in the United States, so I can’t watch it along with everybody else. What I do is follow the Twitter feed. I’ll follow the Covert Affairs hashtag and also the hashtag for the episode. Oh by the way, the summer finale hashtag is #whostheenemy in case you want to know that I’m following your conversation, I’ll be following that hashtag!
So last Tuesday night I’m following the Covert Affairs feed and one of the fans says “We need to find out more about the cause of Annie’s heart condition.” I called the writers the next day and I said “The viewers don’t understand that when Annie was shot in the heart in season three (when she was with Simon in her kitchen and she was going to run away) Simon gets fatally shot, and Annie gets shot in the heart, that the scar tissue from that gunshot wound is what is causing this heart condition she has now.”
When I called the writer’s room I was like “They don’t know. The viewers don’t know!” and they were like “But we said it! We said it!” and I said “We must have said it in an important scene where something else was going on. Maybe Chris took his shirt off or something because they didn’t hear us!”
We’re going to try and play it in somewhere in the coming episodes – I’ll bet Chris had his shirt off when I said it – but a lot of the viewers didn’t realize it’s connected back all the way to the Simon shooting. The tissue from that is what’s messing with her heart. So, that’s the cause of it but I think the way the writers wrote it there’s a larger metaphor at play there.
We’ve also got some highlights from our chat with Nic Bishop below:
On Joining Twitter
Nic Bishop: I’ve only just joined Twitter since starting the show. It’s a very new experience for me but I think the instant feedback from the fans is really incredible. They’re really invested in the show and it’s so nice to hear back from them. I think it’s great.
On the James Bond Nature of the Character of McQuaid
Nic Bishop: I can quite honestly say this is by far one of the best roles I’ve played, one of the most enjoyable and clearest as far as understanding what they wanted the character to be – and I’ve been doing this for 20 years – but I just love turning up for work and playing this guy. He’s got a great sense of fun and adventure. I’m having a blast.
The Bond character is one of my favorite types of roles, driven by so many things that I’ve always enjoyed about cinema. McQuaid is very much that type of character. He’s got the means to fly his own private jet or helicopter, or drive boats or jump on a plane and go anywhere he wants to in the world. So that adventurous side of him is something I’ve never really experienced before in a character. That alone lends itself to so many wonderful opportunities. And I wear very expensive suits, so I mean –
Piper Perabo: [interrupting] Very Expensive! [Laughing].
Nic Bishop: Very expensive! We’re filming in a location today that’s quite dirty and I’m always feeling like I should be dusting myself off after every scene. So that certainly has the Bond element to it.
On Whether we Should Trust, Like or Even Dislike McQuaid
Nic Bishop: I think it’s largely in the writing, and the twists and turns the writers take the script. It’s also because of the way in which he came into Annie’s world which was kind of dubious. She was very apprehensive about him and still kind of is. The audience is backing [Piper’s] character all the way. The scenes are largely shown through her eyes most of the time, and I play off that very much. I think also if a guy is overtly charming or seems like he’s always got everything together that also lends itself to “could be suspicious” or “dodgy” y’know? There’s a fine line and I just try to play that to the best of my ability – and have a great deal of fun doing it.
Covert Affairs’ “Sensitive Euro Man” airs Tuesday August 26 at 10/9 C on USA.