Covert Affairs' Sendhil Ramamurthy: Jai and Joan's Relationship Goes Downhill Fast
If it seems like Jai has gotten short shrift on Covert Affairs this season, Sendhil Ramamurthy assures that's going to change quickly.
"He's so enigmatic and has kind of been lost in the shuffle so far," the actor tells TVGuide.com. "They've been gradually building up his unhappiness. He's in some dark places this year, but his story ... [is] going to take off in the last few episodes, starting with Joan."
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Since a beleaguered Arthur (Peter Gallagher) dumped the second-generation CIA officer back on his wife, Joan (Kari Matchett), Jai's made a habit of saying vague, cryptic things and sulking about his lack of opportunities. But he finally gets his day in the sun Tuesday (10/9c, USA) when Joan — begrudgingly — deploys him to Belarus on a rescue mission after Annie (Piper Perabo) and Reva (Jaimie Alexander) are taken captive.
"That was the most fun episode I've done so far. It was Jai not in a suit and tie!" Ramamurthy says. "I got to ride helicopters, ride motorcycles, shoot guns, and it was just awesome. They wouldn't let me ride the motorcycle, so I was hooked up to a rig. It would hopefully look very cool, but I couldn't have looked more like a tool."
Meanwhile, Joan must put her personal feelings about Jai and his infamous father, former CSD head/dark ops engineer Henry (Gregory Itzin), aside to assign Jai the op. "'Hate' is a strong word, but we know they're not fond of each other, so you have to think of when Joan would ever call on Jai to help her. That kind of shows the severity of the situation he's asked to go in on," Ramamurthy says with a laugh. "The way she asks and the way he responds really sheds light on both Joan's character and Jai's character."
But don't think one mission is going to thaw their frosty relationship. Joan still wants him off her radar and Jai — not over the fact that Auggie (Christopher Gorham) was left in charge of the DPD when Joan was on jury duty — is still trying to seek advancement to no avail. "This is just the beginning of bad to worse. Their relationship goes downhill fast. The antagonism between them is unbelievable," Ramamurthy says. "He's trying to maneuver and move his way in there, but he keeps getting blocked. It's upsetting him because he knows he deserves to get there."
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Of course, given his father's less-than-stellar legacy with the CIA, can anyone really trust Jai? Between that and his mysterious conduct, he's understandably ambiguous, but Ramamurthy says he has never even entertained the idea that Jai could be a bad guy. "That would be kind of cool, though, right?" he says. "But I think you'll see in this [episode] that he's actually a very loyal guy. You'll see him try different avenues [to advance] and you think he's going in one direction, but he's pulled back because of Annie. It really kind of humanizes him."
So what's Jai's true agenda? Ramamurthy doesn't know the specifics, but Henry will be back and he promises that by the summer finale, "it'll be abundantly clear what Jai is up to."
"His dad is definitely involved," he teases. "Something happens between Henry and Jai midseason and it involves cigars and a limousine. It's a little messed up, but it's cool. They haven't written [the winter episodes yet], but I think it's potentially a game changer. So get ready for more Jai!"