Thursday, April 30, 2015

TV Show Review: Covert Affairs - Season 5

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good acting, action
Cons: Weak characters, predictable story
The Bottom Line:
Last dose of action
With Annie’s final missions
Ends on a weak note

"Everyone is Entitle to a Secret or Two, Right?"

Last season of Covert Affairs was wonderful.  They finally had a solid villain and all the episodes were part of a cohesive story.  Then along comes season 5, and the show once again drops down a peg or two.  Honestly, I was watching more out of habit than anything else by the end, so I wasn’t that upset when the show got canceled.

If you’ve missed this USA Network original series, it followed the career of Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) as she worked for the CIA.  She started out as a rookie, but after the course of five seasons, she’s proved herself, especially to her boss, Joan Campbell (Kari Matchett) and on again, off again love interest Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham).  Her adventures have taken her all over the globe as she’s worked to bring down dangerous international criminals.

Season 5 picks up a few months after the successful completion of Annie’s last case.  She’s been completely off the grid, but now she’s ready to come back to work.  But she is hiding something from her co-workers that might compromise her ability to work in the field.

However, she’s come back at just the right time as a terrorist blows up a satellite office of the CIA while Annie is visiting.  Fortunately, she saw something suspicious and wasn’t in the building at the time.  The location was classified, so who had access to that to sell it to the terrorists?  Meanwhile, Joan’s husband Arthur (Peter Gallagher) has started working for a private global security company headed by Ryan McQuaid (Nic Bishop), a man who has a crush on Annie from the moment they meet.  They seem to be running parallel investigations, but can McQuaid and his company be trusted?

It’s hard to figure out exactly where this season of the show went wrong.  The premise certainly sounds promising, right?  I know I was on board for those first few episodes.  But as the season continued, the plot become too obvious.  I called several twists and complications several episodes ahead of time.  And the characters started to do things wholly in service to the plot, creating some holes along the way.

Maybe that is why I felt the characters were more inconsistent this year than in years past.  At times, I liked them and understood their motivations.  At others, they just didn’t feel right to me, like they were doing things only because the plot called for it.  Some of the conflicts felt manufactured just to keep the characters apart and not an outflow of the characters we’ve gotten to know.

Part of the fun of this show has been the on location shooting.  That continues here with trips to places such as Paris, Venezuela, and Istanbul.

And the show still did a good job of action and suspense, giving us many great scenes over the course of the season.  While not a special effects heavy show, I’m sure they factored into the stunts we saw, but I was never thinking about them.

The acting was still top notch.  While the writing wasn’t up to par, the actors still gave it their all bringing the characters and story, such as they were, to life every week.

There were sixteen episodes in season 5, and they are all here on four discs in their native wide screen and full surround.  Extras are light, with just a gag reel and some deleted scenes.

Because the show was canceled after the final episode aired, there is a mild cliffhanger at the end.  I’m curious how the creators envisioned leaving their characters.  Still, it does feel like a natural place to leave things.  And I mentioned it was a mild cliffhanger, right?  It’s easy to envision the next step for the characters from this point.

Covert Affairs never quite found it’s best rhythm, but at times it was plenty of fun.  While season 5 wasn’t bad, it was never truly good either.  This is a season only fans will want to watch.  If you aren’t that invested in the show or characters, you can skip it.

Season 5 episodes:
1. Shady Lane
2. False Skorpion
3. Unseen Power of the Picket Fence
4. Silence Kit
5. Elevate Me Later
6. Embassy Row
7. Grounded
9. Spit on a Stranger
10. Sensitive Euro Man
11. Trigger Cut
12. Starlings of the Slipstream
13. She Believes
14. Transport is Arranged
15. Frontwards
16. Gold Soundz

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