Covert Affairs Season 3 Preview: New Attitude, New Boss, New Love and a Devastating Loss

Covert Affairs Piper PeraboCovert Affairs‘ spy gal Agent Walker is growing up.

“We’ve always thought about Season 3 as Annie’s teenage years,” says executive producer Matt Corman, which means we’re about to see her give in to some adolescent impulses. After all, Corman notes, teenagers tend to “push boundaries… and also act a little bit frisky and maybe act out.”

As Annie tests some limits this go-around (premiering Tuesday at 10/9c on USA Network), she’ll be dealt quite a few new challenges. Below, Corman and fellow EP Chris Ord preview a loss, a new boss and some heartache ahead for our favorite field op.

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THERE WILL BE A DEATH | As the latest trailer not-so-coyly teased, someone will bite it — and soon! The death was designed to “remind the audience that there are real stakes to this job,” says Ord. “Just because Annie survives week to week doesn’t mean that it’s not a dangerous job… We had planned to make a move like this as early as writing the pilot.” And before you conspiracy theorists get up in arms, Corman confirms that the victim of the deadly car explosion really is Covert Affairs Piper Perabo Sarah Clarkegone for good — although we won’t see the body. “It would have been charred and grotesque,” he explains. But the questions left behind after the demise, including who was responsible and “how this affects everyone in the world of our show drives the story in the third season,” adds Corman.

NEW BOSS, NEW ANNIE | As if the loss of someone close to her wasn’t enough to deal with, Annie soon finds herself working in a new division headed by Sarah Clarke’s notorious spy, Lena Smith. While Joan was the “tough-but-fair mom,” Lena “brings more of the cool step-mom vibe, who is a bit more lax about the rules and seemingly a lot more fun,” says Ord. But is Annie’s new mentor – and the freedom she gives the younger operative – good for her? “As teenagers try to learn and become themselves, they make a lot of mistakes,” he replies. “Annie’s going to be learning the hard way a few times this season.” Adds Corman: “What remains to be seen is whether this leads her to a dangerous place or not, but I will say that the seismic nature of the first episode is not an outlier. There’s going to be a lot of big moves and exciting turns.”

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Covert Affairs Piper Perabo Richard CoyleTHE LONG PLOT | With several new story threads unraveled, there’s “a lot more long arc storytelling in this third season,” says Corman. “It’s a more novelistic approach, where we are weaving themes from week to week much more fully than we ever have.” One such beat will concern Annie’s conflicted feelings for a charismatic baddie-turned-love interest played by Richard Coyle (UK’s Coupling), who will appear in multiple episodes. “Being a CIA operative always means trafficking in human emotions and manipulating people,” previews Ord. “But that’s a dangerous, two-edged sword, because in order to use real emotions, sometimes it means you have to have real emotions. For Annie, lines will be blurred.”

SECRET FEELINGS | Although the season opener doesn’t offer any information about Auggie’s trip to Africa, the EPs tell TVLine that he did indeed visit Parker, and we’ll be seeing more of Auggie’s girlfriend. Couple that with Annie’s new love interest, and you may be wondering if there’s any good news for Annie-and-Auggie fans. Well… “They go to Barcelona, and they have to pretend to be a married couple, which has its own complications and humorous situations,” teases Ord, who adds that the hour is “one of the best episodes we’ve done. It’s just got such heart and emotion and action and the backdrop of this beautiful [city].”