Tonight's episode of "Covert Affairs" (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET on USA), titled "Man in the Middle," is a big episode for the USA drama -- not only does it mark star Christopher Gorham's first foray behind the camera, it also serves as the catalyst to propel the spy show into its final arc of the season.
Annie (Piper Perabo) is forced to make some tough decisions regarding her relationship with Eyal (Oded Fehr); Joan (Kari Matchett) and Arthur's (Peter Gallagher) marriage faces its biggest challenge yet; and Auggie (Gorham) comes face to face with ex-fiancee Parker (Devin Kelley), who needs a huge favor from him.
In addition to debuting an exclusive preview clip from the episode, above, we caught up with Gorham to discuss some of the challenges of directing, what's ahead for Annie and Auggie and how the show became involved with Operation Proper Exit. Warning: Light spoilers ahead.
Can you preview tonight's episode without giving too much away?
Yeah, it’s a big episode for the show. This episode really kicks off the storyline that lasts through the rest of the season. Eyal leaves Annie a file with some pretty explosive intel that people are suspect of, but Annie stands up for because of her relationship with Eyal, and she’s essentially put her career on the line supporting this intelligence. Arthur orders a drone strike based on it, and the repercussions of that drone strike are then felt through the rest of the season and are pretty serious.
Annie goes out of her way to point out that she doesn't have feelings for Eyal in the episode; is her relationship with him a concern for Auggie at this point?
Well, I think it is on two levels. I think the first level is the work level where he just wants to make sure, as her friend, that she’s supporting him for the right reasons. That she’s not -- because she has feelings for him -- vouching for him instead of really using her head and making sure that this intel is legit. And I think, not necessarily subconsciously, but secondarily, he is curious to find out if anything has been going on with the two of them, because he’s been exploring the fact that he’s had feelings for Annie for a while now and been wanting to talk to her about it and just hasn’t been able to find the right time. So I think that information certainly matters to him on a personal level as well.
Parker also returns in the episode and I'm guessing that stirs up some old feelings. Is Auggie over her at this point and wholly focused on Annie?
Yeah, well it’s funny, because I was playing with some things … I was really actually glad I was directing this episode because I was really able to craft the emotions they’re feeling and leaving this awkward uncertainty in the scenes, so that the audience wasn’t quite sure what’s happening. But also I feel like they’re coming from two very different places at this point, because I think Parker comes in expecting Auggie to still be angry about what happened, but by this time, Auggie’s realized that really he has feelings for Annie and has put his relationship with Parker away, and so I think she doesn’t find exactly what she was expecting to find, and I think that there’s some uncertainty and some uncomfortableness surrounding that. But there’s always awkwardness the first time that you see your ex, especially when it was a very serious relationship like theirs was, so that’s definitely present. But by the end of the episode, Auggie makes it pretty clear where he stands.
What were some of the challenges of directing an episode for the first time?
Well, the biggest challenge on this was just physically related and time related because the first day of shooting on this episode was a huge day. We were shooting at a venue in a giant proscenium stage with 250 extras and had to shoot everything in that theater out within four hours, so that then we could move over to the catwalk of the theatre next door where we had the end of the chase, a fight scene and high-fall stunts -- it was just an enormous undertaking. [Laughs.] And the other challenge, just an overall challenge, is normally our show shoots in eight days, and just because of the way the schedule worked out, we only had seven days to shoot mine. So I had one less day, and some pretty big action stuff. But we got through it, and it all really came together. I was really thrilled with the end product.
Last time we spoke, you mentioned that Operation Proper Exit would be involved and those seeds were planted in this week's episode. How did that story came about?
You know, I can’t remember now how Matt [Corman] and Chris [Ord] heard about the program, but they’ve been in direct talks with the guys that run the program and some of the warriors who’ve been through it, and I was able to get on the phone with them as well. Rick Kell is one of the founders of Operation Proper Exit, and [he and] Command Sergeant Major Don Harbin and Corporal Craig Chavez actually came up to set for the two days where we were filming on that Operation Proper Exit stuff in Toronto and were there for the two days. Corporal Chavez lost his sight, much like Auggie, while serving, and he lost one eye and his vision has been restored only slightly in his right eye where he has some limited peripheral vision.
But he came up, and we just had a great time just talking and sharing stories, and they were so supportive of the collaboration that we were doing and the fact that doing this storyline would bring attention to their foundation. Their foundation’s called Troops First, and I filmed a PSA, in fact, that will run concurrently with this episode [Episode 15], which is going to air right around Veterans’ Day. It’s a great program. They were running it while our troops were in Iraq, and now that we’re out of Iraq, they just got approval to start doing this program in Afghanistan to take some of the wounded warriors back to Afghanistan. It’s pretty extraordinary, and they’re doing some great work, so we were really pleased that we were able to highlight it in the show.
Can you preview the final few episodes of the season, both in terms of Auggie's arc and the overarching storyline going into the finale?
Well, for Auggie, the next couple of episodes are leading up to his trip back to Iraq in [Episode] 15 and trying to find that time to have that very important conversation with Annie, and he ends up in Amsterdam helping her in the season finale. Eyal’s involved all the way through the end of the season, and you actually have some really fun stuff with Annie, Auggie and Eyal at the end of the year. Then by the end of the season, Annie and Auggie finally have that conversation that they’ve been talking about for so long.
"Covert Affairs" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA.
Do you think Annie has feelings for Eyal? How do you think she will react when Auggie finally reveals his feelings for her? Weigh in below!