Covert Affairs: Half a World Away

There are a few shows I watch on a regular basis that I enjoy but rarely find something interesting enough to write about. One of those happens to be Covert Affairs.

The shows on USA depend on a three pronged formula: 1. A compelling lead character with an interesting profession, 2. A stand alone case/job that is exciting enough to keep you paying attention for the hour, 3. A larger story arc that keeps the show moving along. Not all of the network’s shows successfully pull off all three in a given week, but usually hitting two out of three still keeps me watching. Of the five shows on the network I watch regularly Covert Affairs has consistently failed to hit that mark. Usually the episodes are shallow enough, and Annie Walker uninteresting enough, that it doesn’t take much effort to follow them. Tuesday’s episode was different.

The most interesting character on the show isn’t Walker the wunderkind C.I.A. agent, but her blind handler Auggie, played by Christopher Gorham. Auggie provides the show’s humor, wit, and compassion. All we learn about Auggie in the series’ first 18 episodes is that he used to be in the field. Frankly, the show has been so uninteresting that I forget if they even said or hinted at him being in the Special Forces. “Half a World Away” focuses the entire hour on Auggie’s back story, with little intervening from Annie, and its no surprise it was by far the best episode of the series to date.

It centers around Auggie’s vacation to a jazz festival in Turkey. While there he picks up a voice in the background of one of the reels of audio he’s had recorded. Even though the incident happened years ago, he quickly recognizes the voice belongs to the terrorist responsible for him losing his sight, and the position in the military he loved so much. With the help from a flight attendant he’s obviously known/hooked up with for years, he’s able to locate a flight the man, who also happens to be a big target for the FBI, will be on.  Of course, Annie, back in D.C., pry’s the information out of Auggie and tries to convince him to let the C.I.A have the flight re-routed to DC so they can arrest the man and shut down his many terror cells. Auggie, predictably wanting revenge, seems hell bent on killing him instead. The flight attendant friend helps Auggie sneak aboard the flight via the cargo hold, and using some high tech audio equipment is able to locate flush the terrorist out, leading to a fist fight which our hero, blind mind you, obviously wins. Instead of exacting his revenge by killing the man, Auggie gives into his inner saint and instead ties him up and lets the F.B.I. apprehend him upon landing.

If the episode had ended there it would have been infinitely more interesting than any pickle Annie had gotten herself into. But at the bar in the final scene is where Christopher Gorham really lays it on. After Annie explains to him that what he did was right and noble, Auggie gives a great little monologue about a picture of his platoon he carries around with him, noting the irony of a blind man holding onto something like that. He cared for those men; they were his brothers. Even though he’s blind, he tells Annie he can still see every color and every face in that photograph as vividly as the day it was taken.

It was a very well acted scene by Gorham, and a very well done episode by a show that hasn’t had many of them.

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