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[Warning: Spoilers ahead from Tuesday’s season finale.]
Annie Walker is growing up.
In the action-packed season finale of USA’s Covert Affairs, the CIA agent viewers were first introduced to more than two years ago found a surprising ally in Jai’s infamous father Henry Wilcox (Gregory Itzin), effectively introducing Annie’s (Piper Perabo) new season-long case. Not to mention, Annie and blind CIA special ops guy Auggie’s (Christopher Gorham) dramatic change in relationship status.
“We really are excited about the moves that we make at the end of this episode. They are exciting. They cash in on what we’ve been building over three seasons and yet they really set the table for season four,” co-creator/executive producer Chris Ord said to The Hollywood Reporter.
Ord and fellow co-creator Matt Corman weighed in on the season finale’s top moments — including Annie and Auggie’s big step forward — and what it means for season four.
The Hollywood Reporter: The events of the finale set up the next season rather well. When do you start crafting the new episodes?
Chris Ord: We start writing season four [in less than] a week and reconvene in the writers’ room. We’re just itching to get back in there and start breaking the season because there is so much grist to the mill.
THR: Were you entertaining different endings to the episode than the one we saw?
Matt Corman: We knew we wanted to advance Annie and Auggie and their relationship. I guess, in the back of our minds, there was a question of how far do you take that, and what we settled on is what we feel is organic and intimate and sexy. Also, we knew we wanted to thrust Annie into a new element of intrigue with Henry and the folder he shows her. We knew we had two fixed points and it was a matter of how do we get our characters there. How do we tell that story? Literally the nuts and bolts of how the information is put out changed a bit but we had a clear sense that those would be the big moves we would do at the end of the season.
Ord: Once we solidified that, it allowed us to layer in Henry’s commutation of his sentence, getting to the declassification of Jai’s name, which we felt bookended season three in a satisfying way, but now that Henry’s out of jail and meets with Annie at the Vesta diner, it gave us a launching pad for season four.
THR: Henry and Annie’s secret meeting at the diner brought it back full circle. (In the premiere, Jai was killed getting into his car at the Vesta.) Was it always the plan to have their conversation take place there?
Ord: We always intended to go back to the diner. Once we found it was a location that kicked off the season and we saw it in the dream episode in the ninth episode, we felt to go back one more time would honor Jai and his memory but also be a great place to stage that scene between Annie and Henry, which will be the catalyst for more season four spy stories.
THR: The information that Henry gave Annie about Joan (Kari Matchett) and Arthur (Peter Gallagher) was enticing enough to where she quickly decided to work with him. How damaging is the new intel she gets?
Corman: You have to imagine that whatever is in that file is highly compelling. She makes her decision very quickly and she is going to be thrust into a totally different world vis-a-vis Joan and Arthur. Now we can’t exactly tell you what it is right now, but it’s going to change her life forever and it’s even going to change the trajectory of the show.
THR: In what way?
Corman: Yeah, it’s going to change the stakes for Annie. It’s going to change her perception on the world of the CIA and the greater world, and it’s going to thrust her into more danger than we’ve seen to date.
Ord: This is a show where our lead character has really developed over the last three seasons and will continue to develop. The scene with Henry was case in point. The first time she met Henry in episode 104 at the bar with Jai, she was a decidedly different person and a different operative — basically listened to Henry pontificate. Here we see her in a scene with Henry leaning back, she’s comfortable in the situation, she stands up for herself and is a very different operative since season one. That was always the goal with the show, to develop Annie to see a career, not just a rookie CIA operative.
THR: She definitely was going toe to toe with Henry and negotiating in her own way. It sounds like that will continue when season four kicks off.
Corman: Definitely. As the show evolves and grows, Annie is starting to blossom into a fully formed person and an operative who is very confident in her abilities. It takes a while, interestingly enough. When we were talking to somebody who worked in the CIA, they said that they felt it takes several years before an operative really has the skill set to be in any situation in the world.
Ord: The CIA invests in all their operatives, essentially. They know that the operatives need to go through these early growing pains and their hope is they make it to the other side wiser and more mature, and that investment pays off.
THR: You touched on this briefly, but the Annie-Auggie relationship moves forward in a very significant way. What can you say about where they’re headed?
Ord: Their moment together was inevitable. They have such great chemistry between the two actors and the two characters, and we felt it would be false to find a contrivance just to put off their relationship for another year. It felt organic, it felt natural to get them together. For us, what’s exciting is just because Annie and Auggie are coming together doesn’t mean that their story ends. If anything, it gets even juicier because they’re faced with certain challenges if they want their relationship to go forward.
THR: What sort of obstacles could they possibly be faced with?
Corman: We established in the pilot that the CIA encourages dating but it’s very different in theory than in practice. Any time you have two people are romantically involved and work together, it gets way more complicated than any other relationship. Case in point is Joan and Arthur. We have already in our show a cautionary tale about how difficult it can be to maintain a relationship, and Annie and Auggie’s relationship will parallel that of Joan and Arthur’s and differ in some remarkable ways as well.
THR: At the start of next season, it’s safe to say Annie and Auggie will be together?
Corman: Well, I think that remains to be seen. We want to honor what we set up to a certain extent, so it’s going to become far more complicated than they could have even imagined very quickly.
Covert Affairs returns for season four next year.
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Robert De Niro