Covert Affairs Bosses on Season Finale's Big Payoff: "It Was Just Time"
Christopher Gorham, Piper Perabo
[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Tuesday's Season 3 of Covert Affairs. Read at your own risk.]
After numerous close calls, Annie (Piper Perabo) and Auggie (Christopher Gorham) at long last had their "talk" on Tuesday's Season 3 finale of Covert Affairs. And by talk, we mean kiss! Finally, right?
"It felt right," co-creator/co-executive producer Chris Ord tells TVGuide.com. "After three seasons, how much longer can you keep them apart?"
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The closing-minute smooch, in Annie's guest house, wasn't the only big thing to happen to our covert op. After rescuing Eyal (Oded Fehr) with an assist from Auggie and tracking down Khalid (Haaz Sleiman) in Amsterdam, Annie returned to an invite asking her to go to the same diner where she met Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) in the season premiere before he was killed. Who sent the invite? Jai's dad Henry (Gregory Itzin), fresh out of prison. He offers Annie a new mission in a folder that she apparently cannot refuse.
What's the mission? And what's next for Annie and Auggie? Ord and co-creator/co-executive producer Matt Corman answer our burning questions.
So the kiss — it was time, right?
Matt Corman: Yup, it was just time. It's been a long time discussing it and there's always been a lot of chemistry between Annie and Auggie. It's always a question of when in the life of a series, or if, do you bring two characters together. We felt that after everything these characters have been through this season that we owed it to them and we owed it to the audience. Now what happens after this remains to be seen. It's a big, wide open world. We don't want to imply that everything is great now that they're finally together.
Chris Ord: I would also add that to find some device that would keep them from this moment for one more season was going to be a challenge. The chemistry was too great and we felt we needed to honor that. In real life, those two characters would've come together and we sort of had to follow that feeling. Matt's right in the sense that just because two characters come together, it doesn't mean that it's going to be an easy road of sunshine, rainbows and bunny rabbits. There are certainly challenges to being in a relationship in the CIA. That's something we've tried to show with Arthur (Peter Gallagher) and Joan (Kari Matchett) for three seasons. It's just the tip of the iceberg.
Why did you decide to have Auggie make the big move?
Corman: That's interesting. I think we just kind of felt our way through what it would look like if they came together, what it would look like if they kissed, and it felt right. It's sort of a dance. At the end of Season 2, she was very forward. She was very close to saying she had feelings for him when he gave her the car, so it had to feel balanced and real, just like real relationships. Sometimes one person is moving more quickly and sometimes the other is. It just felt very real, very organic. Having seen it, we feel it really honors the show and it moves us into a fun and interesting place.
Ord: It also honors what we've seen this season with Auggie's speech to Annie when he was at her bedside, the discussions with her on the phone when she was stuck in Russia, and him wanting to get to this moment. ... He ultimately realizes this isn't a moment you wait for; this is a moment you go out and get, which is why we chose to set that moment at a place like Annie's guest house, where you don't expect it there. She's at home, it's not a big deal and out of the blue, something like this happens. We feel that's the way true relationships happen. You don't need magical ballrooms and parties. We felt this was a fun way to honor their emotion. It doesn't need the bells and whistles.
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She seemed oblivious to all his hints. She can't be that dense.
Corman: [Laughs] I think that's just life. Sometimes we miss connections in life. Both of them have had a lot going on this season, so it's understandable that when one of them is focused on a relationship, the other is distracted.
Ord: Even in [the last episode], she expected him to bring her to the bar for something. He threw the curveball by saying he's going to Iraq. I think there was a certain expectation there. Maybe because of that, she wasn't predicting this.
What's in store for them in Season 4?
Ord: We'll be in the writers room next week. Matt and I already have a number of thoughts, but to give you any concrete evidence or thoughts would be misleading. Even we don't fully know where we're going. But there's no doubt that this is will be a complicating factor in their work. It's doing to make their lives, together and separately, infinitely more difficult, but that's good.
Corman: But it will also make it, together and separately, infinitely better and filled with romance. You're faced with your trade-offs.
Do they have to be public with their relationship?
Corman: Not necessarily. They're supposed to, but we'll see what happens.
Ord: We all know from recent news events that being in the CIA and being public about your relationship don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. [Laughs]
But neither of them is married.
Corman: Not that we know of!
Ord: Oh! [Laughs] We did say in the pilot that the CIA encourages relationships within the agency, so ideally the agency would be psyched about this, but we'll see.
What's in the file Henry gave Annie?
Corman: Tune in to [the premiere] sometime next summer!
Ord: There's definitely something compelling in that file that made Annie change her mind and agree to the mission as quickly as she did. We love the character of Henry and Gregory Itzin. He's such a strong actor and such a fun character to watch that this felt like a good way to go on the espionage side to end Season 3 and to kick off a new spy story for Season 4.
Does it have anything to do with the declassification of Jai's mission?
Corman: It definitely could. We'd prefer it if people speculated over the offseason and we'll see how the guessing matches up with reality.
Are you planning on having another season-long, or half-season-long, villain like Lena (Sarah Clarke) was this year?
Corman: We're still in the very early stages, but I think we'll introduce some new characters, just to keep things exciting and to keep our characters on their toes. The presence of Lena and Simon this season was a great story engine. It won't be exactly like that, but you can imagine a longer arc. That person could have something to do with Annie's mission or they could be part of a different story line.
How about old faces? Eyal needs to return, obviously.
Corman: Of course. We love Eyal, so he'll be back in some capacity, and maybe some others. We'd love to revisit with Danielle (Anne Dudek) again.
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What's next for Joan and Arthur?
Corman: It's been fascinating watching this Petraeus thing and we don't ever want to do "torn from the headlines" stuff, but it does give you pause. The whole affair and the way it unfolded the way it did — it's fascinating if you're a conspiracy theorist. The timing alone is interesting, right after the election. We don't know exactly what we're going to do with them, but it's two characters we love and I think we're going to finally put them through their paces.
Ord: I'm sure we'll show some parallels and some pretty stark differences [between them and Annie and Auggie].
You described Season 3 as Annie's rebellious teen years. How are you looking at Season 4? Are you continuing the metaphor?
Corman: I don't think we're going to look at it exactly like that for Season 4. I think we'll just look for a controlling idea for this season. I think we've already started seeing it a bit in the finale with Annie's interaction with Henry. If you look at her in that scene versus the first time she met Henry, which was I believe [was the fourth episode of the series], she's grown so much.
She was very confident and authoritative with him.
Corman: Exactly. And she's earned it. She's been through a lot. She's much more mature and wiser. It's reflected in the way she approaches her job. We want to see Annie to continue to develop as an operative. We want the audience to be able to look at her in any given season and know what season it is.
The past couple seasons, you had an idea of how you would end the season. Do you know yet for Season 4?
Corman: Oh, absolutely! [Laughs] No, we don't really know yet. Maybe in a few weeks. I think this season is one we're very proud of and there were a lot of big moves in it. I think we'll continue that pace, that urgency and that long-arc storytelling.
Ord: One thing we do want to do is continue one long arc throughout all 16 episodes. This season, we did a reset in 11 and 12 after Annie killed Lena. I think we'll push forward through the end next season, so maybe you'll see a Lena-like kill in the finale next year.
What did you think of the Covert Affairs season finale?