Don’t let the pretty faces fool you.
Covert Affairs: Season Four has an arc which lasts through all 16 episodes making this season the most interconnected one yet. At the end of season three Annie (Piper Perabo, Coyote Ugly) and Henry Wilcox (Gregory Itzin, The Mentalist) are in a diner, the same diner where Henry’s son Jai died. Henry gives Annie a file and after she reads it indicates she is in. But in what? That’s the question which kicks off what can be thought of as a game of cat-and-mouse which lasts over the course of the season.
Annie is being pulled in different directions this season, mainly between her newly-romantic relationship with handler Auggie (Christopher Gorham, Ugly Betty) and her involvement with Henry. This season focuses on balance and whether as a spy that’s ever possible. The timing couldn’t be worse for all of this as a new player emerges, CIA Station Chief Calder Michaels (Hill Harper, CSI: NY), whose shady motives worry Annie. And the rest of Annie’s team don’t make the journey easier, as Arthur (Peter Gallagher, The O.C.) divulges a huge secret and Joan (Kari Matchett, The Horses of McBride) has a surprise of her own which affects everything.
* “Vamos” — Annie travels to Colombia in search of a dangerous person known as The Puma.
* “Dig for Fire” — Annie and Auggie team up with Arthur against Henry.
* “Into the White” — Joan starts interviewing for a new position within the CIA.
* “Rock a My Soul” — A confrontation erupts between Arthur and Henry.
* “Here Comes Your Man” — Annie and Auggie cease all communications while Annie is in Vienna.
* “Space (I Believe In)” — Annie walks a thin line when she infiltrates an FBI investigation.
* “Crackity Jones” — Annie must team up with an operative who is hiding a devastating secret.
* “I’ve Been Waiting for You” — Annie convinces Teo (Manolo Cardona, Undertow) to turn on one of his own.
* “Hang Wire” — Annie goes to Copenhagen where things are set into motion which can never be undone.
* “Levitate Me” — The long-awaited confrontation between Annie and Calder finally arrives.
* “Dead” — Annie starts her deep cover operation.
* “Something Against You” — Auggie must team up with Calder, a decision which displeases Joan.
* “No. 13 Baby” — Joan and Arthur have a falling out while Auggie must deal with an unexpected confession.
* “River Euphrates” — Annie travels to New York and one step closer to Henry.
* “There Goes My Gun” — Auggie, Annie, and Calder travel to Hong Kong.
* “Trompe Le Monde” — The season winds down as Annie and Auggie try and get Henry to the United States.
At this point, you’re a fan of Covert Affairs or you aren’t. Season Four will not convert you nor is it designed to, instead rewarding the loyal viewer who has stuck around since the first season. The mythology is deeply entrenched and only becoming more so as the season progress. Some have complained about the romance between Auggie and Annie as yet another “will-they-or-won’t-they” cliché which seems to erupt whenever two characters of the opposite sex are paired with one another. For the most part I don’t mind the pairing as it is dealt with in a manner a bit unusual for the genre. But I do concede the point it’s a bit of a cliché.
The biggest draws for the season are the storylines, the acting, the action, and of course the locations. Covert Affairs does deal with spycraft, after all, and that’s a global game more now than at any other time in history. So it’s great to see a show honoring that by offering up foreign locales. (I swear, some of the Hong Kong footage was shot at the same location as parts of Transformers: Age of Extinction.) I enjoyed this season more than the ones before because I feel as though my viewing is rewarded with subplots and characters only recognizable to a longtime viewer of the show. If you’ve been a fan then Covert Affairs: Season Four will earn a recommendation for you like it did for me.
The technical specs are a mix of the expected and the not-so-much. The aspect ratio of the video transfer is the industry standard 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen so no surprise there. The palette is a bit on the muted side but it’s wonderfully consistent across all four discs. Some grain but no major distortions of any kind to report here. Occasionally the white levels can be blown out but the blacks are held much better, rarely if ever falling into complete darkness. Now on to the unexpected. The audio tracks are two fold, one is a better than usual Dolby 5.1 while the other is a descriptive audio stream. Fans of the show well know one of the main characters is blind but that doesn’t always automatically translate to the set’s manufacturers taking the time to include such a track as would be necessary for someone sharing the affliction to need. It’s an unexpectedly smart move.
The special features are also more than I expected. Each disc contains a selection of deleted scenes. The fourth disc also has an action reel, a web series which serves as a prequel to the show and a gag reel as well. All in all not too shabby for a TV season.
Covert Affairs: Season Four isn’t the place to begin if you’re interested in the show at all. Ripe with mythology and backstories the casual viewer will be lost, especially with the addition of a season-long arc. However, it’s this very thing which leads to my recommendation for the set. The locales, acting, and writing are all well above par and this is the show’s most satisfying season yet.