Christopher Gorham, Peter Gallagher
[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about the Covert Affairs Season 4 premiere. Read at your own risk.]
Covert Affairs creators Matt Corman and Chris Ord wanted to "shake things up" in the Season 4 premiere — and that they did.
The episode kicks off with a 10-week flash-forward that sees Annie (Piper Perabo) tell a distressed Auggie (Christopher Gorham) that she loves him over the phone before coming face-to-face with new character Calder Michaels (Hill Harper), and they shoot at each other. And fade to present. After a hot-and-heavy night together, Annie reads Auggie in on the contents of the file Henry (Gregory Itzin) gave her: It contained intel on Arthur (Peter Gallagher), who had been funneling money to the Colombian terror group ALC and its leader Teo (Manolo Cardona), aka the Puma, through an account opened by Auggie.
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"The dominoes will start to fall," he tells Annie. "Within a week, Arthur will resign. In a few months, this thing will blow wide open and everyone involved will be brought down. I'm sorry to say this won't end well for your friend Auggie."
While in Colombia, Annie and Auggie meet Calder — an ambitious station chief who's none-too-pleased with their off-books mission — and Teo after Auggie takes a bullet in the shoulder. After evading another gunfight, Teo tells Annie to tell Arthur that "the blood is on his hands." It turns out Teo is Arthur's son, a fact Auggie reveals to Annie on their way back home. During a tense conversation, Auggie tells Arthur that he wants to read Annie in "on all of it," to which Arthur threatens there will be "ramifications." Auggie doesn't reveal all to Annie just yet — because an emergency meeting is called and Arthur resigns, under the guise of an extramarital affair, just as Henry had called it. Oh, and Joan (Kari Matchett) is pregnant!
So what's next for the DPD? What kind of dealings were Arthur and Auggie doing with Teo? Corman and Ord give us the scoop.
That was a jam-packed premiere. Can Annie trust anyone now?
Matt Corman: We wanted to raise the stakes. ... I think trust is a key theme this year. When you're in the CIA, keeping secrets is your life and your livelihood. When your personal life gets involved, it's very complicated. That's what this season's about, particularly with Annie and Auggie now in a relationship. Their life is going to get complicated really quickly.
Why did you decide to open with a flash-forward?
Corman: We've always loved that type of storytelling device. It felt natural. It gave us something to build toward later in the season when we explain all that. ... It both teases what's going to happen and introduces us to Calder in a dynamic way. That also frames how you view Calder when he shows up in the main story. Why is he shooting at Annie? Is he bad?
What kind of clues did you leave in that wrecked bedroom Auggie is in? You know everyone's going to be looking for some.
Chris Ord: [Laughs] There are tons of clues within that little scene for the careful viewer. There are small indications that are buried in that shot there. Over the course of the season, you'll understand what that scene means, so I suggest maybe checking back every now and then.
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The only good thing about that scene is that it seems like Auggie and Annie are still together.
Corman: Yeah, that's also good that you noticed that because as we're wont to do, we'll test their relationship wholeheartedly. They've dated before, but here they are both sides dating each other and that's so hard to do.
When did you decide that the file would implicate Arthur and Auggie?
Corman: We always knew that. We always had a very specific view of what that would be. It makes it much more complicated for Annie that two of our characters are involved. They're going to have to navigate it going forward. And it's tough for Annie. She cares for both of them. Going down to Colombia, she put herself in the middle of the problem.
Ord: This is Annie's family. Annie's very protective of her family and she's going to be trying to hold it together.
Why did she trust Henry so easily? Couldn't he have doctored the file?
Ord: That's a good question. A good spy would always see where it leads. With Henry, she knows that he's smart enough to know that if he fabricated stuff, she'll figure it out. He knows he's got to get her something real to get her on this path. She's too good to be fooled.
Corman: She just has to be smart enough to play the game better than him. It's more seeing where it goes than who she trusts.
Ord: She was really in before she sat down.
Henry has been the so-called "villain," but depending on what Arthur and Auggie did and what he's trying to expose them for, he could actually be good.
Ord: Yeah, we hope viewers see that too. The thing is, every character is the hero of their own story. There's so much nuance to Henry, and he fully believes that he's in the right, and I think some opinions of him might change this season. And that's a testament to Gregory Itzin.
Does Annie regret reading Auggie in? She says so in the flash-forward.
Ord: Sometimes the truth is hard. I don't think she regrets being honest and open with Auggie though. She might regret what has happened.
Auggie reading Annie in about Teo seemed like a calculated move.
Ord: Yeah. There is a strong kinship between them and they're trying to do all these things, but they're bound by certain oaths of their job. In order to honor his relationship with Annie and what they just went through in Colombia, he felt he needed to do that. Now are there more secrets? Definitely.
Corman: Auggie has many more, even bigger, secrets that Annie and the audience don't know about. ... We'll flash-back generally to [his and Arthur's past in] Colombia to understand a little bit of what he's talking about, and what exactly he's done.
Arthur resigning is exactly what Henry wanted. Is he playing to Henry's hand?
Corman: It's an interesting calculation to play into what somebody wants. It's quite a big sacrifice. Arthur's a very intelligent person, so you have to imagine that everything is a calculation even if it seems like a huge defeat. Even within this huge act, there's more behind it. ... He has a much deeper arrangement with [Michelle Ryan's character Teresa] than what you see in the episode. He's trying to end their arrangement, and it affects some of our other characters in a major way. She has a huge role in the season.
Ord: Arthur is a big part of these secrets so just because he's out of the building, it doesn't mean he's out of our lives. ... He and Teo have a fraught relationship. That's all we'll say now. He is his son and he wants to have a relationship with him, but there's a lot more going on that will be revealed in Episodes 2 and 3.
Does Joan know about Teo? When will she find out?
Ord: That will come out in the second episode, as well as him learning about the pregnancy. A lot of questions will be answered then.
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Calder's very smug and ambitious. Does he have ulterior motives besides climbing up the CIA ladder?
Ord: Someone who's so self-interested is an interesting person to be part of the CIA. He's out for himself in a very crafty, intelligent, but unknowable way. He's ambitious and you'll see what comes with that ambition. We hope fans are as excited as we are. Hill and Manolo are two dynamic actors. They're living in the gray. That's exciting for us. Not all characters are all good or all bad. Now you're wondering if Arthur and Auggie are bad. We'll be exploring both roles with all these guys and they're complex characters.
Some fans might see this arc as a convenient roadblock for Annie and Auggie after they just got together. Can they be happy?
Ord: That's exactly the question. When destiny brought them together, it also brought this file in Annie's lap. Will they survive? That's what we'll see them dealing with the rest of the season.
Corman: This is just the beginning. Arthur's and Auggie's secrets will be revealed slowly in the next couple episodes, and Annie has to decide how to deal with them. But, like you said, they're still together in the flash-forward.
Will the flash-forward be the midseason finale?
Corman: Yes. It's not real time, but around real time. The flash-forward will be the midseason finale and you'll get the full picture of that scene then. But don't miss the other eight episodes! [Laughs]
Ord: There'll be people in jeopardy and deaths.
Covert Affairs airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on USA. What did you think of the premiere?