Often compared to the popular Fox series "Alias," "Covert Affairs" follows a similar base plot but doesn't live up to the same depth as "Alias." That's not to say that Perabo doesn't make for a sleek secret agent - it's actually a really fitting role that she seems more and more comfortable within. Additionally, the series has gotten darker and more serious this time around and the result is richer and more satisfying. Perabo really does go along with the change in tone well, with a performance that is powerful at times.
While the idea of a new female CIA agent who's learning to balance her work life with her home life is compelling, "Covert Affairs" doesn't really feel like it tries to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the genre. That's not to say that the show isn't entertaining, but up until this point it didn't really push for real depth - it's zippy and entertaining but didn't go too far below the glossy surface. This season does focus on Henry Wilcox (Gregory Itzin), a former CIA head and father of Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) an agent who was killed in the previous season. Itzin is a terrific actor (his villainous turn as President Logan in "24" is a memorable example) and he really turns in an excellent performance, offering a mysterious, layered character whose ulterior motives soon become apparent. Peter Gallagher and Kari Matchett continue to provide fine efforts as Annie's supervisors.
Some of the best scenes still involve CIA agent, Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) trying to hide the fact that she's an agent, and the toll that takes on her day-to-day life. Additionally, another great aspect of the series is the dynamic between Annie and her blind best friend/co-worker Auggie (Christopher Gorham). This season, the two have taken their relationship to another level and have to come to grips with all of the risks that come along with this particular brand of office romance.
Some of the highlights this season include the opener, "Vamos" (Henry's file suggests that Arthur is funneling money to a Colombian terrorist named "Teo", leading to a dangerous visit by Auggie and Annie), "Into the White" (Annie tracks Teo, who she finds out has been playing as a double agent), "Levitate Me" (turmoil as Arthur is placed in custody and Annie is wrongly classified as a rogue) and season finale, "Trompe Le Monde". Lastly, for a basic cable series, the globe-trotting series continues to offer reasonably slick cinematography and production values.
A darker, more serious tone leads to a greater sense of weight and stronger drama for season 4 of "Covert Affairs". I've had a mildly positive view on the series with some concerns early on, but after this season, I'm looking forward to what comes next for the show.
Season 4: (Episodes named after Pixies songs.)
44 4-01 16/Jul/13 Vamos
45 4-02 23/Jul/13 Dig For Fire
46 4-03 30/Jul/13 Into the White
47 4-04 06/Aug/13 Rock A My Soul
48 4-05 13/Aug/13 Here Comes Your Man
49 4-06 20/Aug/13 Space (I Believe In)
50 4-07 27/Aug/13 Crackity Jones
51 4-08 03/Sep/13 I've Been Waiting For You
52 4-09 10/Sep/13 Hang Wire
53 4-10 17/Sep/13 Levitate Me
54 4-11 17/Oct/13 Dead
55 4-12 24/Oct/13 Something Against You
56 4-13 31/Oct/13 No. 13 Baby
57 4-14 07/Nov/13 River Euphrates
58 4-15 14/Nov/13 There Goes My Gun
59 4-16 21/Nov/13 Trompe le Monde
VIDEO: Universal gives the show a slick, attractive 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Image quality is crisp and detailed, looking as solid a presentation as one can expect to find when watching the series on digital cable. Colors looked bright and well-saturated with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The series gets a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that - while not up to the level of an action picture - is once again solidly enjoyable, with the rear speakers used for occasional sound effects and ambience, as well as reinforcement of the score.
Extras: "Sights Unseen: Auggie Undercover" character featurette, an amusing gag reel, deleted scenes, a "Covert Affairs Prequel" (which will be fun for fans) and an "action reel". Some commentaries would have been nice, but the show really seems to have front-loaded the extras effort onto the first season set.
Final Thoughts: A darker, more serious tone leads to a greater sense of weight and stronger drama for season 4 of "Covert Affairs". The series continues to offers strong performances, including a lead effort for Perabo that continues to improve. The DVD offers very good audio/video, as well as a handful of minor extras. Recommended.