Christopher Gorham Christopher Gorham

Christopher Gorham is back in the director's chair for the third time for Thursday's episode of Covert Affairs — and it's unlike any one he's helmed before.

For starters, he's in it. A lot. That usually isn't the case when a star directs, but Gorham, who was scheduled for the midseason premiere, ended up with Thursday's episode after he asked to switch so he could go on his family summer vacation. "They were very kind to bump me to the second one," Gorham told reporters on a conference call. "So that we could take the kids to the White House."

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Thursday's episode will pick up not long after the final moments of last week's premiere, when Auggie insisted to Annie (Piper Perabo

) that his old military pal Tony (Rossif Sutherland) did not drink himself to death, but was murdered. After an, um, incident, he turns to Annie to help him uncover the cause of death. Despite — or perhaps because of — the pair's fraught relationship as of late, Annie agrees to do so with some help from McQuaid (Nic Bishop). That means, yes, Auggie and McQuaid will finally meet for the first time. "I was really happy that I got to be the director for when Auggie and McQuaid meet. I have a lot of fun teasing Nic about how I was just not going to shoot his coverage," Gorham says. "[These are] her ex-lover and her love right now and they're trying to navigate it and they're trying to be gown-ups [and] they're trying not to be competitive."Taking the high road is also what Annie and Auggie are attempting to do, as they both recognize what it is that is driving a wedge between them (no, it's not McQuaid). "I think Annie is the first person since the guys he served with in the military ... with whom he's felt like he's found a true like peer and a true friend, someone who can really understand what he's going through," Gorham says. "I think their relationship started out very much mentor/student relationship. And now has I think come to a place where they really are peers. And I think it's part of the reason why their relationship has been so strained lately. ... Even aside from the romantic love is just like their genuine like love for each other as people. I think that transition [from] student to peer is always a tricky one and can be tough on both people."

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Auggie's reaction to the whole ordeal is also the opposite of what he reprimanded Annie for during the Tash debacle in Paris: putting the mission before emotion. But is Auggie too personally involved in this? Tony, after all, is the third friend he's lost recently, and being too invested can be just as damaging as being too detached. "Auggie tends to get himself in trouble when his emotions get away from him. I think we've seen that multiple times over the years. And, you know, where we find him at the beginning of this episode is a perfect example," Gorham says. "Auggie's just been losing a lot of friends and that's really hard because I think his friends, especially his military brothers, are really his family."But Auggie's determination to get to the bottom of Tony's death will not come without a price. "At the end of this episode he's left without the ability to control much of his fate," Gorham ominously teases. "He is kind of at the mercy of others and is in real trouble. That being said, he of all of our characters, I think, is as equipped as anyone could be to handle it. But it's tough. He gets put in a really tough spot. ... He's got a hard road the rest of this season."Covert Affairs airs Thursdays at 10/9c on USA.