We meet Annie as she's taking her polygraph before entering the agency, the strangely intimate (and possibly actionable) questions enabling us to see her "tragic" back story — she met a man on a faraway beach, fell in love, exchanged shell bracelets and three weeks later he left only a note behind saying, "The truth is complicated." So she took her broken heart, history of world travel and amazing talent for languages back to Washington, where she joined the CIA.
Before you can say "but why not law school" in three languages, Annie is yanked into the thick of things, called into active duty even though she hasn't finished her training because, well, because she's an attractive woman who speaks Russian. No doubt the CIA is brimming with attractive women who speak Russian, but if you're going to spend your time picking plot holes, you're going to miss all the fun. Like watching Auggie walk Annie through her early days with a Zen-like patience that one suspects will turn to lerve, or Peter Gallagher and Kari Matchett out-seething each other as married and competing division heads or Annie dodging bullets when her first job goes horribly awry.
Neither as bumbling as Chuck nor as predictably lethal as Bourne, Annie is a convincing novice, with just enough special training (not to mention all those languages!) to keep her alive but not so many to make her Angelina Jolie scary. At its heart, "Covert Affairs" is about Every Woman Starting a New Job. Because of course it isn't just the bullets and the high-speed car chases that have Annie so frazzled, it's the internal politics, the possibly double-agent new colleagues and Annie's inability to forget That Guy. Action-thriller lite is a newish sub-genre and a high-wire act to maintain, especially when your hero's wearing Christian Louboutins. (Someday all this shoe nonsense will end but this, alas is not that day.) Here's hoping "Covert Affairs" is up to the task.