Part 2 of Covert Affairs' fourth season can be summed up in one word: dark. And we're not just talking about Piper Perabo's new brunette locks.
"There's a grittier, darker feel to these six episodes with Annie [Perabo] off the grid," executive producer Matt Corman tells TVGuide.com. "I think we've always seen the show as an evolution of a spy. We thought it'd be interesting in these six episodes to unplug her and put her completely on her own without her safeguards of the agency. And when you're on your own, things aren't easy."
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Annie, of course, is not just off the grid, but "dead" too, after having faked her death in the midseason finale in order to now try to take down Henry (Gregory Itzin). How will she do that? Will she get exposed?
Here are five things to know about the rest of the season.
1. The ex factor: As Annie mentioned in the midseason finale, her first order of business is to turn Henry's ex-wife, Sana (Seeta Indrani) — whom Henry met up with in Frankfurt hours before the deadly missile launch — to use as leverage. On Thursday's premiere (10/9c, USA), Annie, reborn as Jessica, tracks down and befriends Sana, but things quickly escalate by the end of the episode. "Sana is very prominent in the first two episodes and you'll see what she has or had to do with Henry," Corman says. " She's an interesting mirror into the psychology of Henry's brain."
2. A new and old spy game: Without the support and safety net of the CIA, rogue Annie will be forced to use some ingenuity and MacGyver-like brilliance to keep her mission afloat. "It almost brings her back to rookie status because she's doing everything on her own, but she has the experience of four years as an operative," Perabo says. "She has to operate from almost a criminal point of view. She knows how to do this, but she doesn't have permission to do any of this."
Also expect Annie to draw inspiration from having watched Calder (Hill Harper) and Teo (Manolo Cardona) in the field. "Even things that she saw them do ... and things that they did to people — she ends up sort of behaving like them because those are her examples of strong guys who get it done no matter what," Perabo says. "It gets kind of dark. Not just the hair! ... The hair is a total metaphor!"
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3. Hey, you look like...: Let's be real, brown hair isn't that much of a drastic change that would render Annie unrecognizable. "We're not going to ignore that," executive producer Chris Ord says. "That possibility of her being outed is always there." As such, the threat will rear its head as early as the premiere. "It's a risk she knows she's taking," he adds. "And it's seeing how and if she can get herself out of these compromising positions."
4. Teaming up: Back at Langley, Calder and Auggie (Christopher Gorham) are still the only ones in on Annie's secret and the former frenemies and alpha males try to put their differences aside to come up with a way to help her as much as they can. Calder also has to deal with Henry, who's very impressed with how he killed Annie, and will prove to live by the "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" adage. "Calder will ingratiate himself with Henry in a very interesting way. There's a plan of attack," Corman says. "That [relationship] with Henry is something he hopes to take advantage of."
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And when will Joan (Kari Matchett), who's returned to the DPD in a demoted position, and Arthur (Peter Gallagher) find out Annie's alive? Not for a bit. "When I read [Episode] 11 ... I was shocked that not everybody knew," Perabo says. "That puts incredible strain between [everyone]. Those that do [know] have slightly different opinions on whether to reach out or not."
5. A finale shocker: Corman and Ord promise closure on Henry in the finale, which will also reveal the DCI head and is chock-full of so many twists that Perabo had to tell her mom. "Literally I called my mom, like, 'Guess what?!'" she says. "[Episodes] 15 and 16 are so exciting. ... You don't really see the full flash of Henry's world until the very end."
Additional reporting by Kate Stanhope
Covert Affairs returns Thursday at 10/9c on USA.