E: Do me a favor, y’all, okay? This episode begins with a dreaming Annie reliving her beautifully lit romance with Ben Mercer, and the moment in last week’s episode where he saved her life. If you’re going to go through all the sexy footage repeatedly, though, could ya please get some new stuff? Or just tone it down a little? Also, do you suppose the agents cars get bomb-sniffed everyday?
And, get out of town! Eric Lively is out – with no further explanation that the phrase “now that we’ve lost Conrad” – and Mohinder Suresh of Heroes is in! Aw, networks suits, what’s the deal? I’m never going to convince C she ought to watch this show if this keeps up. Mohinder – er, that is, Sendhil Ramamurthy – plays Jai Wilcox, CIA royalty and interloper into Joan’s department, sent there by Arthur to keep tabs on Annie and watch out for the mysterious Ben Mercer. Oh, very interesting. Jai gets Auggie’s back up immediately, not least when he claims Joan is thrilled to have him there. “That sounds like Joan – to be thrilled with an interloper installed in her division!” That’s why it’s interesting – Auggie is very smooth, but Jai gets right under his protecting layers. Oh, ans speaking of revelations, did I mention that Arthur was married to someone else when he and Joan fell in love? No wonder she’s insecure about their relationship. Also, this may be just me, but I’d love to know what name Annie knew Ben by. I somehow suspect it wasn’t his real one.
I don’t think I mentioned last week, but Annie lives in the guest house of her sister’s gorgeously appointed home, so she can eat with sister and her daughters a la Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up. Once she’s woken up from dreams of Ben, Annie wanders into the kitchen, where sister Danielle asks for a quick favor – could you just sign this paper saying you’ll be my kids guardian if my husband and I die? Since death and disruption are part of Annie’s job, and stability isn’t so much, she’s hesitant, and of course Danielle is offended. You know what my favorite bit about this living situation is? You get to hear Danielle utter lines like “popsicles are not breakfast food!” It’s like the writer lives in my house…
Joan seems to have it in for Annie, too, because when the latter arrives at the swank, high tech new offices (were they? someone must have revamped this from the pilot, but I honestly don’t even remember), she’s immediately put on “walk in” duty. Fans of The West Wing will recognize it as a version of Big Block of Cheese Day; normal citizens with a cause get their issues heard. Of course, because this is a tv show and Annie is our heroine, she’s not in for a day of complete loonies. Oh, sure, she’s got the loonies – my favorite being the fellow who promised to tell her who killed Kennedy. TED Kennedy. No, her ticket to excitement is a terrified mother, Helen Newman, whose computer genius son Walter (why not a daughter? no reason to reinforce the stereotype that all computer geniuses are male, is there?) has managed to interpret something played over a number station (a radio station that transmits coded data by simply reading numbers over the air) and is now being stalked by unknown baddies. Walter, by the way, loves spy novels, and is reading his favorite, Robert Ludlum’s Parsifal Mosaic, which is about a spy whose lover left him on a beach only to mysteriously reappear on a railway platform. Gee, I wonder why they made so sure to both show and tell us the name? Doesn’t sound like something an eleven year old should be reading, of course, but age appropriateness is an issue with precocious readers. Also, in the book, the lover is a double agent. Does this bode well for Ben? Oh dear. He seems so devoted to Annie.
Anyway, we’re soon caught up in a chase to find a fleeing Helen and Walter before the goons get them. The CIA figures out that the codes were from the IRA. They’re interested in an old IRA agent living nearby, and start working with MI6 to monitor them. Annie gets assigned to a gruffly handsome MI6 agent, James Elliot (oooh, another very Jane Austen name, what was it with cable tv tonight?) ; they meet using passwords about honey, but soon retire to her car to discuss their gear starting with complaints from Annie about her walkie talkie (they had plenty of high tech tools last week, so that’s odd) and complaints from James about the years British agents have to wait to get into the field. Then there’s more grousing about not being able to have a family, and nicotine addictions; James has no family, but he does have the patch. Half way through, he says! The two of them break into the Newman apartment (hee, Newman) where they find lots of recordings – but none of the IRA number station. Walter must have taken them with him. But just as Annie comes to that conclusion, she’s beset by an intruder, and despite her CIA Farm approved skills, she’s about to get taken out when James shoots the fellow (who turns out to be IRA) between the eyes. My favorite part of the whole bit comes when they sneak out of the building (now filled with the frustratingly efficient Bethesda police department) with the help of a cop on CIA payroll.
Annie, as you might imagine, isn’t too pleased with having to be rescued yet again. She starts spending time in what’s presumably the CIA gym, working out her frustration (as well as some frustration from a nasty fight with her sister from the custody issue). Auggie show up, totally disses the Farm’s combat training (which, wow, that’s weird, right?) and establishes his dominance as the master of all media by teaching Annie hand to hand combat. This intrigues me because sparring between men and women usually has a sexual component to it, but their relationship is entirely platonic. Isn’t it? Is it weird of me to wonder? There’s all that sweat and aggression and they have their hands all over each other. I’m just saying. Christopher Gorham, as fans of Ugly Betty will remember, looks like a nerd but is actually completely and unexpectedly ripped. You look at him and think, seriously? Have they attached his head to someone else’s body? All in all, fascinating and odd.
Annie figures out where the Newmans are hiding. Joan wants Annie to leave the clean up to the big kids, but Jai speaks up for her and Joan – backs down? What’s going on with this? Weirdness. Annie finds them, gets them to trust her by giving a speech about making mistakes (which really, they didn’t – Helen ran before the CIA could process what she said and help her) gets the intel, and is feeling pretty smug when Helen mentions that they tried the British Embassy before they tried the CIA. That’s an odd choice, don’t you think? But since MI6 didn’t know anything before Annie brought it in, Annie deduces something is wrong. Which is that James – who, it turns out, is half way through giving up cigarettes for Lent – is an IRA mole, and coming to get Annie and the Newmans right this very minute. Ouch. Annie booby traps the cabin hideout for Elliot’s goons, but decides to put Auggie’s lessons to the test and take James out not with her firearm but on her own. Well, with mace. And a rock. This time Annie gets her man.
I’m not entirely sold on this – I mean, why didn’t James (or whomever) just let the IRA courier in the apartment kill Annie? I suppose he wanted to protect his cover, but still. As James sits in a police cruiser, recovering from his little date with the rock, Annie quizes him about the incompatability of family life and the spying business (he can’t believe that’s a question she’d ask) and his answer (not compatable) makes her sign Danielle’s guardianship papers after all. She’s hoping for much better than what a bitter double agent got for himself. Joan (smarting from her marital difficulties) tells a former IRA agent set up as a patsy by Elliot that you can’t atone for your past, you have to just move forward. Arthur, on the other hand, asks for Jai’s assessment of Annie (smart and intuitive) and then orders him to get as close as possible to her.
Auggie’s not going to like that, oh no.
Next week, foreign ops. Fun!