Covert Affairs Creators Preview Annie's Parisian Adventure, Busy Love Life and More

Annie Walker can kick butt, but that doesn’t mean things will be any easier for the spy gal in the second season of USA Network’s Covert Affairs (Tuesdays, 10/9c). In addition to handling her high-pressure, high stakes job as a CIA agent, Annie (played by Piper Perabo) also must come to terms with beau Ben’s latest vanishing act, a sister who may go from clueless to curious, and the return of a frenemy (Sleeper Cell‘s Oded Fehr). Series creators Chris Ord and Matt Corman spoke with TVLine about filming in Paris for this week’s adventure, Annie’s busy love life, and more.

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TVLINE | Now that Annie is not so new to the spy world, what are the challenges she’ll be facing this year?
CHRIS ORD | That’s a good question, because that’s essentially what we hope the entire season is about. Our first season was all about Annie wondering, “Can I do this job?”  As we head into our second season, the question becomes, “What are the consequences of doing this job? What toll will this job take on my personal life?”

TVLINE | Is she going to be struggling more than ever to keep her spy life a secret from her sister, Danielle (Anne Dudek
)?
MATT CORMAN | That was very much the crux of the first season, and without giving too much away, we’re going to develop that further and introduce some new wrinkles vis-a-vis her relationship with her sister and keeping it a secret. It’s difficult to keep secrets for too long, and that will certainly contest it.

TVLINE | Is it a case of once someone knows, their life is in jeopardy and they have to move…?
CORMAN | I don’t know that it’s that grave. But I think when you do tell someone, you are entrusting them. You’re in essence burdening them with the truth of what you do, so you have to be very careful about who you tell and why. For a CIA operative, it’s the most important decision they make in all of their personal relationships – when and whether to tell people.
ORD | And bringing someone in is not necessarily helpful. Just because they know what you do doesn’t make them any less worried or decrease the amount of questions they may have. You’re still in the CIA, and you can’t really talk about what you do. So it’s a big decision for Annie. We want to have her think about it a lot.

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TVLINE | How big of a role is Ben (Eion Bailey) going to play this season? Is he just going to pop up here and there?
ORD | We said in the premiere that he’s not a guy who’s comfortable behind a desk. That’s the guy that Annie fell in love with — this adventurous, bold CIA operative who is only happy if he’s out there in the field. He will cross paths [with Annie] again, but to come in and work at Langley like Jai and Auggie and Joan and Arthur… It didn’t feel like it’s in his character.

TVLINE | Meanwhile, Annie’s not just sitting around waiting for him to come back, right?
CORMAN | No. She’s continuing to grow, and audiences will see her explore all options available to her. She had and has a very special relationship with Ben, but she’s starting to realize that it’s untenable to maintain those levels of ups and downs. Perhaps she’d want to explore what might be more stable.

TVLINE | There are quite a few love interests available to her this season.
ORD | Annie is a very pretty woman. And she’s a very interesting woman – smart, vivacious, funny. As a result, there are a lot of male suitors, as there should be. It would be nice to see Annie have to entertain those suitors going forward.
CORMAN | …or entertain the notion of suitors. [Laughs]

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TVLINE | What can you tell us about this week’s Paris episode?
CORMAN | It’s a fantastic episode that we’re really proud of. We sent Piper and Oded to Paris, and the scope is amazing. Oded Fehr [as Israeli operative Eyal Lavin] is fantastic — he and Piper have really incredible chemistry. For a spy show, to be able to get out and go places in the world is really critical. We were able to do that with Paris, and we’re going to do more of it going forward as well.
ORD | That’s something we’ve built on from first season. We were able to send a second unit to Venezuela, and to Zurich, and we have been able to send Eion Bailey to Sri Lanka…. We knew we had to send Piper to some of these locations to really get the scope and feel of an international spy show. Going forward, we have plans to send Chris Gorham to Istanbul, and we have some ideas for Berlin as well.

TVLINE | How would you describe the relationship between Annie and Eyal in this episode?
ORD | They had a great episode last season where they were stuck in the same safe house in Zurich, and we feel that this episode is a logical extension of that relationship. Once again, they have to recognize the chemistry between them, but they are [at] cross purposes in terms of goals. The episode really has everything that we want from that relationship, and people are really going to enjoy the sparks between them. We love their chemistry.

TVLINE | Did Doug Liman direct the Paris episode? It has a very Bourne Identity feel during some of the action sequences.
CORMAN | Doug talks and consults with all of our episodic directors, but that episode was directed by Ken Girotti, who did a great job.
ORD |
The whole feel of the show, we’d like to think, is influenced by Doug and Bourne Identity [which Liman directed]. Our approach to action very much tries to embody what his approach is, which is we don’t want our fight scenes to be overly balletic or overly choreographed. We want it to play as real and frenetic as possible.

TVLINE | Now that Annie’s not so new to the spy world anymore, what are some of the challenges for her this year?

ORD | That’s a good question because that’s essentially what we hope the entire season is about. Our first season was all about Annie wondering, “Can I do this job?” As we head into our second season, the question becomes, “What are the consequences of doing this job? What toll will this job take on my personal life?” Those are the questions she needs to be asking herself.

TVLINE | Is she going to be struggling a little bit to keep this other life that she has secret from her sister?

CORMAN | Yeah. That’s going to be a continuing arc. That was very much the crux of the first season. Without giving too much away, I think we’re going to develop that further and introduce some new wrinkles in that vis-a-vis her relationship with her sister and keeping it a secret. It’s difficult to keep secrets for too long, and that will certainly contest it.

TVLINE | Is it a case of once someone knows, their life is in jeopardy and they have to move to another city?

CORMAN | I don’t know that it’s that grave. But I think when you do tell someone, you are entrusting them. You’re in essence burdening them with the truth of what you do. So you have to be very careful about who you tell and why. For a CIA operative, it’s the most important decision they make in all of their personal relationships – when and whether to tell people.

ORD | And bringing someone in is not necessarily helpful. Just because they know what you do doesn’t make them any less worried or decrease the amount of questions they may have. You’re still in the CIA. You can’t really talk about what you do. … So it’s a big decision for Annie. We want to have her think about it a lot.

TVLINE | Will Danielle have more of a role to play this season in that regard?

CORMAN | Yes. We love Annie Dudek. She’s a fantastic actress. Like all of our ensemble, we’re always struggling to find more and interesting storylines for her. I think fans should expect to see more of her this season than perhaps they did last.

TVLINE | How big of a role is Ben going to play this season? Is he just going to pop in for episodes here and there?

ORD | I think that’s just Ben. We said in the premiere, he’s not a guy who’s comfortable behind a desk. That’s the guy that Annie fell in love with is this adventurous, bold CIA operative. He’s only happy if he’s really out there in the field. He will cross paths again, but to come in and work at Langley like Jai, and Auggie, and Joan, and Arthur… It didn’t feel like it’s in his character.

TVLINE | Meanwhile, Annie’s not just sitting around waiting for him to come back, right?

CORMAN | No. I think she’s continuing to grow. I think audiences will see her explore all options available to her. I think she had and has a very special relationship with Ben, but she’s starting to realize that it’s c to maintain those levels of ups and downs and perhaps she’d want to explore what might be more stable. So audiences should expect that.

TVLINE | Can you also talk about all the love interest options she has this season? There are quite a few.

ORD | Annie is a very pretty woman. I think she’s a very interesting woman – smart, vivacious, funny. I think, as a result, there are a lot of male suitors, as there should be. It would be nice to see Annie have to entertain those suitors going forward.

CORMAN | Or entertain the notion of suitors. [Laughs]

TVLINE | One of them seems to be really making a strong play for her, the doctor. Is she going to really invest in this relationship?

ORD | Well, tune in. I think, for us, it was interesting to bring in a character who is outside the agency. You have to interact with those people in a very different way than you would with someone who knows what you do. So that will present its own challenges.

TVLINE | What can you guys tell me about next week’s episode?

CORMAN | It’s a fantastic episode that we’re really proud of. As you know, we sent Piper and Oded [Fehr] to Paris. The scope is amazing. Oded Fehr is fantastic. He and Piper have really incredible chemistry. For a spy show, to be able to get out and go places in the world is really critical. We were able to do that with Paris, and we’re going to do more of it going forward as well.

ORD | That’s something we’ve built on from first season, which is the first season we were able to send second unit to Venezuela and to Zurich. We have been able to send Eion Bailey to Sri Lanka. It would work so well last season, that this season we knew that we had to send Piper to some of these locations to really get the scope and the feel of an International spy show. Going forward, we have plans to send Chris Gorham to Istanbul. And then we have some ideas for Berlin as well.

TVLINE | Did Doug Liman direct next weeks episode? It has a very Bourne Identity feel during some of the action sequences.

ORD | No. The whole feel of the show, we’d like to think, is influenced by Doug and Bourne Identity. Our approach to action very much tries to embody what his approach is, which is we don’t want our fight scenes to be overly balletic or overly choreographed. We want it to play as real and frenetic as possible. That’s really something that Doug has done for a long time, and we tried to take and imbue into the show.

CORMAN | Doug talks and consults with all of our episodic directors, but that episode was directed by Ken Girotti. He did a great job.

TVLINE | How would you describe the relationship between Annie and Oded’s character in this episode?

ORD | They have great chemistry, Piper and Oded and the two characters. I think that we love the chemistry between the two of them. They had a great episode last season where they were stuck in the same safe house in Zurich. We really feel that this episode is a logical extension of that relationship where they crossed paths. Once again, they have to recognize the chemistry between them, but they are crossed purposes in terms of goals. I think the episode really has everything that we want from that relationship and people are really going to enjoy the sparks between them. … It’s so evident, and it’s great to have. It was evident last season. Coming off that Zurich episode, we knew we wanted to bring Oded back because the chemistry was there. He was such a fun character that we immediately started to make plans to bring him back this season.

TVLINE | Is he going to be back for more episodes?

CORMAN | Yes. We have at least one more planned for him this season. .. He’s a fantastic guy, and he brings a real energy to the role and asserting authenticity because he himself was in the Israeli Navy. He has some understanding, at least at a very baseline level, about what it means to be in dangerous situations.

TVLINE | One of the other things I found interesting about this episode was it seems like Auggie’s maybe being groomed for a bigger role at the CIA.

CORMAN | Yes, that’s true. First of all, Chris Gorham is a fantastic actor, and we’re always looking for ways to get him to do more and more interesting things. We do like to get him into the field, but that’s challenging, so it has to be very specific circumstances that you saw last season. So another option though is other opportunities within Langley, within the CIA headquarters. He’s going to get the opportunity to do something different within the agency, and he has to just weigh the costs and benefits of doing it.

TVLINE | Romance-wise, is there something in the works for Auggie?

ORD | Down the road, certainly. It’s always important to us to keep Auggie… His relationship with Annie is such that it could easily devolve into Auggie just being Annie’s best buddy. For us, we want to keep the chemistry that’s there between Piper and Chris. He is a lady’s man and that’s a very important part of his character. He’s a very masculine guy. I think by keeping him that way it gives us possibilities for him, romantically, down the road.

TVLINE | Is there anything you can share about the character that Rebecca Mader is playing?

CORMAN | Her story does intersect with Auggie. It’s the episode that takes place, at least in part, in Istanbul. The two of them will be going to Istanbul for shooting.

TVLINE | Is that an Auggie backstory episode? What are you guys planning to explore about Auggie?

CORMAN | It is. Without revealing too much, it gets into who he is and how he got to where he is now. A lot of light will be shed on the character and how many key aspects of him are present.

TVLINE | It seems like for right now Jay has been told to just sit tight. Is there a bigger storyline looming for him?

CORMAN | Yes, and he’s not going too content to just sit tight. I think that audiences will be very interested to see how his role expands and changes. It’s safe to say that things will be changing very much for him over the course of the season.

TVLINE | Is it going to bring him into contention with Auggie? Auggie seems to be headed on a path up in the agency whereas Jay is kind of stalled.

ORD | A little bit, yeah. That’s going to be a natural offshoot to both of their trajectories. But we see even more going forward with Jay than just that.

TVLINE | What can you share about episode 3, where they go back to the farm?

CORMAN | Three is great. We’ve always been fascinated by the concept of the farm. That there’s this kind of mythic institution where this training goes on and they learn all this cool spy craft. So, for us, we were trying to find a storyline that was organic, where Annie could actually take part in what goes on there. It was a lot of fun to do.

ORD | It was very convenient for us because in the pilot, she’s pulled out of training earlier. She has reason to go back to the farm and complete it. Also, you may or may not know this, but we as writers and our writing staff do a ton of research about the CIA and the institution itself and places like the farm. Everything we tried to reflect in that episode is basically what goes on at the farm. It’s just to give people a look into that otherwise unknowable part of the CIA.

TVLINE | We also met a bunch of CIA recruits, including one played by Sebastian Pigott (Being Erica).

CORMAN | He’s great. All of the recruits we were really happy with. They each represented different sort of paradigms of people that might go through the CIA. They look for all types. It’s interesting. That that bit about the character Sherene, who is so valuable because she speaks Farsi is definitely true. They’re also looking for athletic types and nerds and just any smart person who has a skill set is valuable to the CIA.

ORD | They’re all top quality too. The CIA, we found out, get close to 10,000 applications a month. That gives them their opportunity to pick from the best of the best and find highly qualified people.

TVLINE | Do you guys have any desire to revisit some of those characters and maybe pull them into one of Annie’s missions?

CORMAN | We were just talking about that! It could be a lot of fun. I think any of the people that we met are candidates to come back into the show because we were happy with all of them.

TVLINE | What can we expect for Joan and Arthur and their very, very complex marriage?

CORMAN | Their marriage is going to continue to evolve and grown. What’s at the heart of it for us is that they care about one another. Ultimately, they do trust and love one another, so they’re just trying to navigate this complicated situation within that. Without giving too much of it away though, each of them will be in the field. You’ll get to see them out and about in the field over the course of this season.

Vlada:

Oh, that’s interesting because didn’t Arthur say in one of the episodes that he’s not allowed to be in the field anymore?

Male:

Tune in and see how that would happen.

Vlada:

Interesting. Is Arthur ex going to stir up trouble for them?

Male:

Yeah, well, a little bit. (laugh)



Comments (14)

  • I just love this show and can’t wait to see it each and every week!!

    Comment by CarolH – June 14, 2011 09:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’d like to see more camera time for Sendhil Ramamurthy and Chris Gorham.

    Comment by Stormy – June 14, 2011 09:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Couldn’t agree more, especially with Christopher Gorham. His character is interesting and he is gorgeous!

      Comment by Mandy – June 14, 2011 12:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “Fremeny”? I’m sorry, I so don’t mean to nitpick but it’s just a really amusing typo. :D

    Comment by DL – June 14, 2011 10:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Not a typo, actually. It’s common slang for a sort of “friendly” enemy or a sometimes friend/somtimes enemy.

      Comment by KC – June 14, 2011 02:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It looks like Ben is going, so I’m going to delete the series from my dvr recordings. I’ll pick it back up at the end of the series, with reruns if Ben and Annie get together.

    Comment by prish – June 14, 2011 02:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • To the writers, bring and keep Ben hanging around. Hello! Jai and Auggie are great friends! Ben is the man for her. Its the CIA that is keeping him from contacting her. Yet the boys mentioned above say its Ben. Do the right thing and find a way to make the show more intriguing, find a way for Ben and Annie to communicate w/o the CIA knowing, they are spies….

    Comment by tj – June 14, 2011 03:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m disapointed that Ben won’t be in this story anymore. I cared about this show because of Ben and who he was,and hoe he was with Annie,if he isn’t in it it won’t be the same draw. I’m better off waiting to see if he is in it and buy the dvd. I really don’t want to see Annie sleeping with every Tom ,Dick and Harry either.

    Comment by cb – June 14, 2011 03:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Zzzzzzzzzz. Poor man’s Alias, with lesser actors.

    Comment by deedeedragons – June 14, 2011 06:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So glad to see an American TV series actually using Paris as opposed to the studio backlot pretending to be Europe with 20 year old cars with French number plates.

    Comment by DC – June 16, 2011 08:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Anyone else notice that Piper Perabo looks like Sarah Paulsons twin?

    Comment by zenith – June 17, 2011 12:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Great series! So glad you have Eyal this season – hope he appears regularly. Like Annie with Auggie too; not Jai though, the chemistry is off because he is too regimented and negative. Annie is a free and positive spirit!

    Comment by ARc – June 17, 2011 09:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I like this show very much. All the characters are very interesting. but I have to admit that I look for Ben each week. He is the most mysterious and I just love watching him.

    Comment by cat – June 28, 2011 11:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • BRING BEN BACK! The episodes with him are way more entertaining than those without him. I feel that they have not properly explored the annie/ben relationship that they set up in the pilot leaving the storyline hanging for several episodes even though it very clearly was the underlying incentive for annie to join the CIA and for the CIA to bring her in from the farm so early. The writing has been very uneven and kind of left viewers hanging, like the ep in season 1 where annie realises that ben had been meeting with jai when they were in sri lanka at the end of the episode, and then COMPLETELY ignored that fact in the subsequent ep even though one would have thought that that little revelation would have impacted annie in some way. I think it was ep 9-10 but am not sure. In all, the show would benefit from a more cohesive storyline management, where the characters that are central to the storyline are actually IN the show. In other words, bring ben back!

    Comment by cg – July 24, 2011 02:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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