Not as repetitive as you might think.
A solid plot and three take-notice moment’s in last night’s State of Affairs had me paying more attention to the show than I have in weeks. It’s almost making me want to watch, by which I mean look forward to it each week, by which I mean as opposed to turning off my mind and turning on almost the only thing on Monday nights right now.
I mean, I’m still turning off my mind juuuuussst a bit with State of Affairs.
All four laudable points, though, each came with their questions and counterpoints, the sum of which leaves me unsure of how to cover State of Affairs from here on out. It’s one step forward, one step back, one and a half steps sideways with a weird pirouette of a slick handoff under cover of darkness with this show.
But, to the laudability:
The central plot involved a Qatari spy recruited under a false flag to spy for (he thinks) the CIA when in actuality he’s being fed bogus intelligence to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Qatar during negotiations over military bases. It’s all very run-of-the-mill exciting, up to and including the point when a computer program delivered by a mysterious (and grows even more mysterious) femme fatale provides the necessary something something to prove that the intelligence is fake. I mean, there were big red warning alerts all over the photograph and everything, so… conclusion!1
Secretly bananas. It’s great. I love State of Affairs when it just charges straight ahead like this. The main complaint about bringing in new, cool characters and techno-pretty deus ex machinas is that there’s a pretty cool Delta Force character sitting in a South American jail right now and there’s nary a word about him in the episode.2 After juggling a different ball for episodes 2-5, State of Affairs is going to take a couple of episodes – at least – to find all of them3 and decide which ones it wants to put back in the air.
- Cliff Chamberlain shows why he was hired as his Kurt gets multiple scenes that fulfil the promise that’s sort of been hanging around that character since the beginning. I don’t in any way endorse the idea of giving an alcoholic who fell off the wagon a bottle of (pretty good looking) bourbon, even if the nation’s security is at stake, but Chamberlain nailed scenes that could easily have become laughable. Counterpoint: where’s he been for the last four weeks?
- Mo and Charlie having a couple of moments before Mo basically chemically interrogates her friend at her friend’s request was actually very touching. Counterpoint: It was also very short, and felt, in retrospect, disconnected – there was no real emotional flow, or weight, to that string of scenes. At this point it’s tough to say if that’s the writing, the directing, or the actress.
- Katherine Heigl got, if not her Emmy clip, her second-half-of-season-featured-tease – everything she does she does for this country – which was a) daaaaamn and b) such, such, such a nice contrast with some of the mopey, must-compare-to-Grey’s Anatomy emoting in the last few episodes. She can easily carry this show if someone consistently writes a show worth picking up. Counterpoint: But then they had her do that terrible truth serum hallucination scene, and even her dramatic closing line was weirdly framed and somehow felt unearned.
Next week: The previews look very intriguing – CIA Director Nestor Carbonell surviving a carbomb alone was a great tease. Hopefully there’s a showrunner stringing them together well and leaving out the chaff.