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Covert Affairs Postmortem: "Annie Will Be Tested in Ways We Haven't Seen"

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Tuesday's season premiere of Covert Affairs. Read at your own risk.] Covert Affairs kicked off Season 5 with a bang and then some. Four months after...

Joyce Eng

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Tuesday's season premiere of Covert Affairs. Read at your own risk.]
Covert Affairs kicked off Season 5 with a bang and then some.
Four months after killing Henry in Hong Kong (watch the Season 4 finale here), Annie (Piper Perabo) finally makes her way back to the DPD ready to work on Tuesday's season premiere. She tells Auggie (Christopher Gorham) that she wants him to be her handler again, only if they can go back to "simpler times." "I realized I can't do this job and have emotional attachments, if that's OK," she says. "Time passed. We're good," he replies.

Exclusive Covert Affairs Sneak Peek: What is Annie hiding?

But where was Annie for the last four months? On an island in the South Pacific. She refuses to reveal any more to Auggie and Calder (Hill Harper), and gets saved by a mission when old foe Khalid Ansari (Haaz Sleiman) turns up in Chicago, where Auggie's old pal Charlie works as an operative. After Charlie's men shoot Khalid dead before he can reveal anything, Annie finds a link between him and Borz Altan (Michael A. Goorjian), a former U.S. soldier who had done security work for McQuaid Security, owned by Ryan McQuaid (Nic Bishop), a former protégé of Arthur's (Peter Gallagher) who hires his mentor.Annie, after suffering an out-of-nowhere panic attack while chasing Altan, deduces that Altan is planning to bomb the Chicago Board of Trade with help from his siblings Mykola and Oksana, and they arrest Mykola there just in time. She's partially right. They were planning to blow up a building with Mykola as the suicide bomber: the Chicago DPD facility. It explodes into bits with Charlie & Co. inside, while Annie kills Oksana outside the building and Altan is in the wind.Meanwhile, the DCI appoints Calder as DCS, much to Joan's (Kari Matchett) chagrin, who is reinstated as head of the DPD. But Calder will officially remain "acting DCS" until he gets his "sh-- together." Might that involve Sydney (Nazneen Contractor), with whom he's hitting the sheets? Who is targeting the DPD? What was Annie's health scare about? Co-executive producers Matt Corman and Chris Ord answer our burning questions.How did you approach Season 5? It's almost a reset of sorts with Annie returning after going rogue?
Matt Corman:
We went back to something that was in the very beginning of the show. Annie was asked, "Can you separate your work from your personal life?" This season, she makes a declaration to Auggie at the beginning that in order to do this job, she feels she really needs to keep them separate. That's going to be the theme throughout the season. The real question of the season is, "As a spy, can you have it all? Can you have a full and complete life or do you have to sacrifice some part of yourself in order to be an involved servant to the CIA?"Chris Ord: And we have the added element of secrets. ... Annie has never had a secret. We want to raise a lot of questions and allow the audience to go on the journey with us as we answer those questions.When will we find out what she was actually doing on that beach? Are we going to flash-back?
You'll get a full picture as to what happened. We'll start to pull back layers in the upcoming episodes. You'll get clarity on some fronts, but there'll also be even deeper mysteries as to what happened. Is it related to that panic attack she had?
Was that a panic attack? We don't even know! [Laughs] No, there's more to it than just a panic attack. And her secret and time [on the beach] are related to what's going on with her health. That's the question: What is going on here? That's what we want people to say after they see it.

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Is anyone going to figure it out or will she tell anyone?
Well, in the CIA, it's very hard to keep a lid on secrets forever. It will come out one way or another, let's just say that. The other thing about the CIA is they don't like it when you harbor secrets from them, so there will be repercussions of that.Corman: It's an agency that traffics in secrets, so they take it very personally when you lie to them. The CIA likes to know what its officers are doing, so any time you go off the grid for four months and come back and are sort of evasive, they're going to be wondering everything from, "Is their heart still in it?" to "Are they a double agent?" Every question that can come to mind, they're going to ask.Annie and Calder believe that Borz was working with someone from inside the DPD for the attack. Are they on the right trail for a mole?
Yes. It's a very complicated situation that will unravel, and her health and this secret that she's harboring will gravely affect her pursuit of the case. You saw, it's complicating her ability to do her job from the get-go.Can McQuaid be trusted? He definitely seems to have her number — no pun intended. I'm also assuming he'll ask her out again.
: [Laughs] I think you're quite right. He has her number. And [her saying no] is not going to stop him from asking her out again. He pushes the right kind of buttons. He's a strong guy, opinionated and there's something very attractive to her character about guys who are no-nonsense, very controlled of their world. He's a private spy, basically. He doesn't have to follow any of the rules of the folks of Langley. Can he be trusted? There is an undercurrent of, what's really going on? That's the exact spot we want to be living in.Corman: And it's a whole other dynamic with Arthur working for him. Arthur spent such a big part of his career working for the CIA and now he has to shift gears. McQuaid is a great guy. Arthur was his mentor, but it's different for Arthur. He's in the corporate world now, but he's so adept that he can adjust. For four years, he and Joan had to navigate working with someone they're married to. Now they have to navigate, how do you work with somebody who might be on the opposite side of the fence?Joan has her own work situation going on. Will she keep pursuing the DCS job or at the very least uncover whatever's going on with Calder?
There's definitely going to be tension between her and Calder. But she knows what Calder told her was probably right: Arthur's past indiscretions played a role in the DCI's decision. ... Calder's secret has something to do with Sydney. You'll find out soon exactly who she is and what he's doing with her.

6 things to know about Covert Affairs Season 5

Auggie says he's fine with a strictly professional relationship with Annie and he's going to date Amy Jo Johnson's character, Hayley, a National Counter Terrorism Center investigator, this season. Will that make Annie reconsider her stance?
It'll definitely make Annie rethink things, but I wouldn't say it's a triangle per se. She really believes that in order to do her job effectively, she has to remove the emotional component and she's going to try to stick to that as much as possible. Of course, that is easier said than done. Annie will be tested in ways we haven't seen this season. Have you plotted out how the season ends?
Yes. We always leave a little room for surprises, but we have the framework. We're breaking episodes in the latter part now. We can certainly promise a lot of twists and turns. Traditionally, we've done stories over 10 episodes and then six. This one is really going to span the full 16. It's a bigger story. It's got bigger scope, but we hope it's more satisfying for the audience.What did you think of the Covert Affairs premiere?