SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t watched tonight’s Covert Affairs season premiere, stop reading now. Creators Matt Corman and Chris Ord take us through the big twists and tease what’s next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When we talked before I saw the premiere, you guys said there would be about four bombshells in it. You weren’t kidding.
Chris Ord: Now do you trust us?
Yes. Maybe the best place to start is with the opening sequence: the flash-forward 10 weeks that showed Annie (Piper Perabo) telling Auggie (Chris Gorham) goodbye and Auggie trying to stop her from, it appeared, exchanging bullets with Calder Michaels (Hill Harper). It’s a great way to create suspense.
Matt Corman: That’s a convention that we’ve always loved in novels and film and television. It’s something we thought about, and it just seemed right to give the season an architecture like that. We’re doing more long-arc storytelling. So to invest the audience in this world and let them know that something big is gonna happen and lead to that moment felt right, felt exciting.
What should fans remember about that scene?
Corman: It’s Calder. So we’re introducing this character, and throughout the season as he plays a bigger and bigger role, that will be in the back of folks’ minds and they’ll be thinking about that and wondering where it’s all leading and how we could be heading to this collision. We liked that idea, that this new character comes in and we are privy to something that the rest of our characters are not. It informs the viewing and gives everybody another layer with which to watch the show.
Ord: And within the episode, it changes the way you view him when he does come onscreen in Colombia. We’ve seen him in this flash-forward, we know we have to pay attention.
The way Annie said she should have, on the morning after she and Auggie slept together, just told him she loves him instead of reading him in to the file that Henry Wilcox gave her — does that mean she won’t have said “I love you” up until that point?
Corman: That’s a very astute question. I would say folks need to tune in. The other component [of the sequence] is to frame up this kind of tragic end point for them. It allows people to view their blossoming relationship in a different light. You know it’s headed to this.
The fact that they were having that conversation on the phone seemed to be a callback to their phone call last season when Auggie was asking Annie to come home from Russia because he had important things to say to her. And then you also had them really dancing in Colombia in this episode, which seemed to be another callback to the dance they shared when Annie was in a coma last year. Should we expect moments like that this season?
Ord: Again, that’s a very astute view of it. We and our writers and our actors are all very well aware of what we’ve done in the past. We like drawing on the past, bringing things back that people wouldn’t normally expect. So I think the audience should look for things like that.
I appreciate you getting Auggie shirtless pretty much immediately. Should we expect more shirtlessness this season? More sex scenes?
Corman: [Both laugh] Not gratuitously.
Ord: Not gratuitous shirtlessness. But Annie and Auggie are in a relationship. There is romance between them. I think the audience has been hoping to see that for three seasons, and this was our opportunity to showcase that but also to challenge that. One thing we’ve always investigated on the show is, can you be a spy and have love? And here, we’re doubling down on that because both characters in the relationship are spies.
And that scene of Annie taking the bullet out of Auggie in Colombia turned out pretty sexy.
Ord: They are spies and yet they’re also lovers. So we love when those two ideas merge.
What was the inspiration for the secrets Arthur (Peter Gallagher) has been keeping? He has a son, Teo (Manolo Cardona), who’s part of a terrorist group in Colombia, and Teo has been receiving money from Arthur in an account that Auggie set up.
Corman: A little bit of this was born out of real life events, where Gen. Petraeus resigned very quickly in the face of his alleged infidelity with the woman who wrote his biography. We were like, “He resigned so fast, and did it so publicly, and didn’t even seem to fight it — what more might have been going on? Is there ever a scenario where someone cops to an affair to cover something else?” So that got us thinking and was the genesis for this story line. We thought it was very interesting that someone could admit to something which is seemingly very damning and in fact derail their career, but that there could be even deeper secrets.
Ord: So we’re not done with the secrets is the long and short of it. There were four bombshells in the premiere, but the fun of the season is that each secret leads to truth, that leads to more secrets and more truths. That’s the challenge of being a spy: You search for the truth, and you just might find it. I think that’s what Annie will find this season.
Corman: The great scene between Auggie and Arthur in D.C. alluded to the fact that Auggie has some big secrets, and that will inform the rest of the season as well.
And are those secrets inside this situation with Arthur, or elsewhere?
Corman: It’s elsewhere. Bigger. Juicier. [Laughs] More personal, I would say.
Arthur met a woman (Michelle Ryan) and told her that their “arrangement” is over. Was she the affair?
Corman: It may look like the woman he was having an affair with, but it’s actually deeper and more complex than that. It’s gonna be hard for the audience to know exactly what was going on there until episode 5, 6, and then 7.
Now that Arthur has resigned from the CIA, how much of him will we see?
Corman: He’ll still be a very vigorous presence. He’s in the show as much or more than we’ve seen. He’s just not in the building in the same way. Starting in episode 2, actually, we’ll begin to get a sense of what went on with him.
Teo said he was done with Arthur. Will we see him again?
And who was Arthur calling in Colombia?
Corman: That’s one of the mysteries.
Joan’s pregnancy: Was that in the works or in response to actress Kari Matchett’s real-life pregnancy?
Ord: It was both. It was something we’ve always contemplated, and then, in many ways, it felt like a gift. It was wonderful news for Kari, and it was wonderful news for us because it allowed us to play the pregnancy as real. So fiction and reality came together in a great way.
Last question: Calder Michaels wants to get to Langley. How soon will we see him there?
Ord: He’ll be there pretty soon.
Corman: We don’t want to tip it off, but within the first batch of episodes, he’ll re-emerge in a new and dynamic way. And we’ve been really happy with Hill Harper. He’s a terrific actor, a lot of fun, and just brings a new energy to the show.