Piper Perabo Piper Perabo

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Thursday's midseason premiere of Covert Affairs. Read at your own risk.]

It's getting very personal for Annie & Co. on Covert Affairs.

On Thursday's midseason premiere, Annie (Piper Perabo) headed to Istanbul — with some help from Eyal (Oded Fehr) — to follow a lead on Belenko (Shawn Doyle), while McQuaid (Nic Bishop) was still unconscious from the bullet he took from Caitlyn (Perrey Reeves). Staying one step ahead of her, Belenko, who's doing some dirty dealings with with Qabbani, a Syrian arms dealer, engineered a meeting with Annie in a hotel for a brief tete-a-tete while his cronies tried to flee with a trunk full of duffel bags. Annie and Eyal chased them down... but the trunk is empty. In happier news, when she returns home, McQuaid is finally awake after having emergency surgery for a pulmonary embolism.

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Back in D.C., Auggie (Christopher Gorham

) was in the dark about Annie's mission until Joan (Kari Matchett) broke it to him, but he's more concerned with finding a way to tie the Chicago and motorcade attacks to Belenko. His pal Tony (Rossif Sutherland), whose car the motorcade bomb was on, said Belenko is untouchable because of his diplomatic status. Tony then got fired and ostensibly fell off the wagon and drank himself to death. But Auggie, who bumped into Annie at the hospital, is adamant that Tony was murdered. Meanwhile, Calder (Hill Harper) convinced Stephanie (Nazneen Contractor) to extract files from Moshkov so they can link Belenko to Chicago. After asking for a down payment, she agreed to continue the spy game at no price.So was Tony murdered? What's in the duffel bags? What's Belenko's endgame? Co-creators and executive producers Matt Corman and Chris Ord answer our burning questions.What's in the duffel bags?
Chris Ord:
[Laughs] The contents of those matter, but ultimately you'll see the reasons behind it and the machinations regarding them matter more. Things are about to escalate.Safe to say Tony was murdered, right?
Matt Corman:
You'll find out very soon how he died. His death plays a huge part in how we move forward in these back six [episodes]. Ord: Going into this back six, as you saw in the summer finale, we pointed out who our Big Bad is. Shawn Doyle is amazing. In many ways, Annie's mission becomes simpler as she goes after him, but it's also more complicated because she figures out what all of this is about. When will we see what Belenko is truly after?
Ord:
It'll unfold gradually. You'll get pieces every episode. [The attacks] weren't random; he had a purpose. What he's conspiring is bigger and deeper than Annie could imagine. You're continuing the theme of the season: juggling the personal and the professional. Eyal told Annie to tell McQuaid how she feels. Is it good for Annie when the mission becomes personal? It's a 180 from her detachment earlier this season.
Corman:
At the end of the day, that's what the series has been about, the emotional and the procedural meetings on these spy missions. That's a great question. I think Annie has always risen to the challenge when the mission becomes more emotional. This also complicates things, but we feel in a good way. It deepens the purpose of the mission, but Annie's always ready to meet that. I don't think this will affect her negatively. She can keep her eye on the ball. She wants to catch Belenko for McQuaid, but it all started with Chicago.We see this too with Calder and Stephanie.
Corman:
Right. Calder and Stephanie always had a good relationship. There was a connection there. But as often happens, as you start to work together, those emotions grow. Their case is different because Stephanie doesn't really know what she's doing and Calder has to guide her, be her handler. Annie is more independent.Annie and McQuaid are together now. Are you consciously trying to make their relationship different from hers and Auggie's?
Ord:
It is different as you'll see. It's not more complex than what she dealt with with Auggie, but just different. McQuaid doesn't work for the CIA, so that in and of itself creates ease, but there are new things she has to deal with him that she never dealt with Auggie. She's also older now, more seasoned, so she's at a different place than she was when she was dating Auggie and they had to work together every day.

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Annie and Auggie can obviously be civil with each other and work together, but can they ever get back to where they once were?
Ord:
Never say never. I think they'll always need each other and that'll become very clear in the next few episodes. They're trying to figure out how to move forward, but I don't think they'd cut each other off completely. They're adults and professional, and their relationship is evolving.Is that because Auggie plays a "huge part" in these six episodes?
Corman:
Yes. You'll find out a lot about his backstory. It's actually very central to these back six and is very revealing about his past.Arthur is the new Auggie for Annie, feeding her intel from home.
Ord:
I'm glad you picked up he's sort of doing the Auggie thing. He's front and center in all of it. Arthur's still at McQuaid's, and he'll be doing a little bit of everything, but as the episodes go on, his life will get more problematic, and Joan will figure into that as well.Belenko has a hand tremor that Annie made sure to point out. How does that come into play?
Corman:
He has a health issue and we'll get into that.Ord: Annie is battling a health issue herself, so to have that mirror that is fun. But it's not a throwaway thing.So they'll be facing off and coming down with hand tremors and heart palpitations?
Ord:
[Laughs] I guess that's the potential! You don't want two sick people fighting it out. I guess that could happen.Will Annie ever return to the CIA?
Ord:
It's not out of the question. She's not actively trying to go back, but I don't think she's against it either. ... Unlike last season [when she went rogue], she has a place to go to in McQuaid's. Corman: The CIA is part of the show. It's really about Annie trying to figure out what is best for her right now. She's proven that she can work on her own and with little backup. But does she want that safety net back? And will they take her back? What can you tease about the finale?
Ord:
The finale was shot in Argentina. It's enormous in scope and the questions that it asks. I think there are more seismic shifts in the episode than in any other episode we've done. It's truly big in the life of the show. We wanted to go big and we think we accomplished that.Covert Affairs airs Thursdays at 10/9c on USA.