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Debuting just last week, the new summer series "Covert Affairs" on USA Network offers up a whole array of sizzling fun. Piper Perabo stars as Annie Walker, a CIA recruit yanked out of training for a special assignment which ended up being a lot more deadly than she or her handlers anticipated.
As revealed last week, it was not just because Annie can speak 6 languages fluently that she was asked to take a field assignment before her training was completed -- but because she had a 3 week fling with a renegade operative who has gone off the grid 2 years earlier. The CIA rightfully suspected that if Annie were placed in a danger zone, the renegade operative would surface. This calculated risk played out perfectly, but Annie was not clued in on this aspect of her mission. Being the bullseye-bait may not have been her first choice, let alone something she would have done voluntarily. But she was kept in the dark, Annie is blissfully unaware that her role within the CIA is being used more than as a fresh recruit.
So as the series continues, it will be a game of cat-and-mouse as the CIA circles around trying to lure their long-lost operative back into the fold, all the while letting Annie believe she is their hottest new operative.
Keeping a watchful eye over Annie and befriending her in the process is her field operative partner Auggie Anderson (played by Chris Gorham, best known as Henry from "Ugly Betty"). Auggie's role is a bit more complex in that he is sight-challenged and yet he seemingly gets around with perfect ease despite his disability. He is also surprisingly a bit of a ladies man.
Another key operative that will be introduced this week is Jai Wilcox (played by Sendil Ramamurthy, best known as Dr. Mohinder Suresh on "Heroes"). It remains to be seen whether Jai will be friend or foe, or simply Annie's competition at the CIA. But gauging by the quality of the actor who is cast in the role, it will not be as simple as it first appears. Here is to looking forward to finding out who or what Jai will be as the series develops.
Also on the chessboard within the CIA are Annie's immediate supervisor, Joan Campbell (Kari Matchett, best known for her work on "Invasion") and Joan's superior and husband, Arthur Campbell (Peter Gallagher, best known for his work on "The O.C."). The tension-filled professional and personal relationship between Joan and Arthur has fueled an under-current of suspicion and rivalry within the CIA. But the one thing they both seem able to agree upon is that Annie is an asset best used to capturing their elusive renegade agent.
Finally, on the home front, Annie is temporarily staying with her sister Danielle (Anne Dudek, best known for her work on "House") while on assignment in Washington, D.C. Danielle's motherly instincts to match-make and take care of her younger sister are well meaning, but a tad misguided at times. It seems a bit against type for Anne Dudek to play this role, but as any housewife knows, there is always a lion lurking beneath the surface when it comes to protecting her family. So Annie had better keep the trials and tribulations of her job far away from Danielle, or Danielle's inner lioness may be revealed.
Coming from the producers of the "Bourne" films ("Bourne Identity," "Bourne Supremacy" and "Bourne Ultimatum"), "Covert Affairs" feels similar in pacing and action sequences. There are no shortages of high-octane car chases, bullets flying, impossible to survive stunts, and razor-sharp action sequences. They also play up their lead characters' incredible good looks to draw the viewer in. No expense has been spared in detailing and decorating the CIA buildings, as well as the immaculate wardrobe for each character.
Following along the lines of similarly successful USA Network series, such as "White Collar," "Burn Notice," "Psych," and "In Plain Sight," "Covert Affairs" glistens throughout. It is upbeat, intriguing and an easy pop-candy type of series. It clearly echoes of other female-lead television series as "Alias" and the newly re-invented "Nikita" (which will debut on the CW this fall).
When working for a covert government branch, nothing is ever what it seems and it will be intriguing to see if Annie is aware of her superiors' shenanigans in dangling her as the carrot to see who bites. She has demonstrated an aptitude to learn quickly and use that to her advantage to outsmart those deceived by her blatant good looks. Plus, there surely must be more to the story if she coincidentally met and fell in love with a CIA operative on the run and then within 2 years she just happens to volunteer to work for the CIA. Those odds are not good for gambling. Perhaps Annie has something up her sleeve as well.
So who exactly is the mystery may that everyone is looking for? That is perhaps the ultimate mystery of the series. Who is the man that Annie fell in love with? Why is he on the run from the CIA? Why do they want him back so badly? Where has he been for the past 2 years? And how did he know that Annie had been put in the field and was at risk? Is there a mole inside the CIA working with him? What is the ultimate game that everyone is playing?
Like any good spy drama, there are certain to be games within games and more layers of mystery than any viewer could possibly sort out. But it is sure going to be fun to watch it all play out.
"Covert Affairs" airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on USA Network.
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