Covert Affairs Summer Finale Preview: “Sensitive Euro Man” [VIDEO, PHOTOS and INTERVIEW]
[Warning: General spoilers in the images, article, and interview.]
We’re wrapping up the summer season with so much potential drama. I smell a cliffhanger. The upside is that they’ll be back with six more episodes this fall. We had the chance to chat with Piper Perabo, and a surprise Nic Bishop, on a concall last week about what to expect Tuesday night.
Looking at the season so far, Perabo addressed the confusions some fans have about Annie’s condition, which was relayed during her scenes with Eyal, and which some fans missed. Perabo is rarely in the U.S. when the show is on, so she didn’t see the final episode. “[During the Twitter feed a few weeks ago], one of the kids said, ‘you know, we need to find out more about…the cause of Annie’s heart condition,’ and I called the writers the next day,” she says. “[The viewers] don’t understand that…Annie was shot in the heart in season three when she was with Simon in her kitchen. [The] scar tissue from that gunshot wound is what’s causing this heart condition she has now.” She laughed that it must have been covered in a scene where Chris Gorham had his shirt off. “We’re going to try and lay it in somewhere in the coming episodes.”
Perabo also looked at Annie’s growth over five seasons. “When we started…it was a show about a rookie, and I’d never done TV before so I didn’t have the faith that we would get even past a season. So I never considered how a rookie evolves, and I’ve been really happy with the writers in that they let her experience level and the people she meets dictate how she behaves and evolves like a real person,” she says. “They continue to let her…grow and she doesn’t just stay kind of naÃ¯ve; that’s been really satisfying.”
She points to the Wilcox storyline last season as part of that evolution. “In the beginning…we were doing…more serialized storytelling, mission-of-the-week stuff and [now we have] longer arcs. When we finished season four and Annie was on a boat…at sunset riding out in the South China Sea…I had no idea. [She] she could have gone anywhere. And the fact that she decides that she needs this work and this work is part of who she is, I think really honors the fans who’ve watched the show from the beginning.”
She adds that this season, it’s been great to be back in the fold vs. last season as a lone wolf on a mission. “For Annie to come back into the CIA…it’s hard for her to sort of play by the rules and listen to instruction and have a boss and all that. But for me playing it…when Annie was dark, she would keep moving [and I moved] through different guest stars,” she explains. “The only constant was Henry Wilcox [Greg Itzin], and so it’s so fun for me to be back with Peter [Gallagher] and Kari [Matchett] and Chris [Gorham] and Hill [Harper], who are like a gang that I’ve had for so long. [The shorthand] we’ve had [during] these years of working together is really fun because [I’m] back in familiar territory.”
This season, Annie’s also had a new scene partner in McQuaid, played by Bishop. Perabo says their chemistry has definitely informed how McQuaid has been written as the season progressed. “The structure of how McQuaid is built is the same structure that they intended, but I think a little bit the style of McQuaid has evolved because of how Nic and I do the scenes,” she says. “Nic has this real kind of like bravado or something about the way he plays McQuaid annd…the writers, Matt [Corman] and Chris [Ord]Â especially, they love that kind of man, that kind of quick-witted, throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of guy. So once they saw how Nic embraced it in those opening Colombia episodes, they got really excited. Things like…how he talks to her when he picks her up in a helicopter and this kind of like devil-may-care attitude has really begun to define McQuaid because of the way Nic plays it.”
Perabo says a lot of rehearsal went into the scene in Annie’s apartment that closed last week’s episode. “We talked for a long time about why does Annie let him go. I mean if you look at in seconds, the amount of time from when she pulls the gun on him till she decides…she doesn’t put the gun down but she doesn’t shoot and she lets him leave,” she says. “And it was all these tiny increments of, ‘if you really trusted him you’d put the gun down and help him with whatever he needed,’…so how do you kind of work in that gray area and how do you not cross the line with somebody so that you can never go back and they can never trust you and how can McQuaid…ever come to ask her for help again. How you act in that scene and how you treat each other starts to set up their whole relationship for the last seven episodes, and we worked on it…there [were] a lot of versions of that scene in the rehearsal room.”
Bishop, for one, is loving the job, and the role. “I can quite honestly say…this is by far one of the best roles that I’ve played, one of the most enjoyable, one of the….clearest, as far as [what they] wanted the character to be, that I’ve ever played,” he says. “I’ve been…doing it for 20 years, and I just love showing up to work and playing this guy. I mean he’s got a great sense of fun and adventure but he’s also…really good at what he does and he’s very specific about the way he goes about getting it [done and has] a good time while doing it. And it’s a blast. I’m having a blast.”
He admits it’s a fine line to be suave but not suspicious. “I think it’s largely in the writing and the twists and turns that the writers have put into the script…and the way that he also came into Annie’s world,” he points out. “[He] was kind of dubious and she was very apprehensive about him and still kind of is. And I think because the audience is backing her character all the way…[they] almost see McQuaid through her eyes a lot of the time. I play off that very much. I think…if a guy is sort of overtly charming or seems like he’s always got everything together, then that also lends itself to a character that could be suspicious or dodgy, you know? So it’s got that kind of fine line, and I just…try to play that to the best of my ability and have a great deal of fun doing it.”
Both had high praise for their co-star Gorham when he takes the director’s chair. He’s wrapping work on his second episode this season, which will air later this fall. “He’s easy to trust. You know that he knows the story as well as we do…and he knows all the conventions of how the CIA works, how an intelligence call goes through,” says Perabo. “All the things that the actors almost take for granted and that maybe a new director wouldn’t know, Chris knows them without even thinking about it.” She adds that’s it’s funny to shoot scenes with him as Auggie and then have him say “Cut” after they’ve wrapped their dialogue.
“He knows the show inside and out because he’s been with it since the beginning so he really understands all the characters and…all the spaces. And I think because he trusts the crew and they all trust him, he can kind of really focus on the acting and on the story side of it. So from an actor’s perspective it was great,” adds Bishop. “And my very first scenes with Auggie in the whole series were in his episode that he directed. The first time I ever meet Auggie is when [Chris is] directing me. So…it was kind of an odd thing for us both. But it was great. I had a really good time.”
As for what to expect in the summer finale, Perabo teased that it’s BIG. “We had to shut down a part of Toronto for it. We had to shoot on the weekends. It was so huge,” she says. “[It] comes all the way back around…[to the] scene in the DPD conference room [with everyone] at the table. So all that’s happened has brought us all back together again, and we need all those pieces to sort of launch forward into the finale, because the mission and what McQuaid’s being folded into–it’s so big it’s not just Annie that can handle it. So that’s one of the things that got me really excited…you need everybody. Even when we shot it, we were all like, ‘yes, the band’s back together,’ like it was really fun for everybody to do these giant scenes together.”
“Sensitive Euro Man” airs Tuesday night at 10/9c on USA. To Tweet with the cast and crew during the episode, use the hashtag #WhosTheEnemy.
Here’s the official logline: Annie helps McQuaid with a difficult mission, against Auggie’s wishes. Hayley’s hunt for the truth becomes more dogged.
And here’s a sneak peek:
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