Inside the ‘Covert Affairs’ Spy Game With Christopher Gorham

Christopher Gorham in Covert Affairs (USA)

Christopher Gorham in Covert Affairs (USA)

The CIA is back in action tonight – at least the TV version of the spy agency – when  “Covert Affairs”, starring Piper Perabo as agent Annie Walker and Christopher Gorham as Auggie Anderson, premieres the first of its final six episodes of the second season.

Tonight, after Annie bungles a pickup in Venice, she heads home and, when Joan (Kari Matchett) gives her some time off, she locates and starts to set up her safe house. Feeling lonely now that she is no longer living at her sister’s, Annie stops in a Basque restaurant, which, surprisingly, leads to her next assignment.

But first, we get the inside scoop from Gorham, who talks about the final six episodes of the season, whether Annie and Auggie are headed for a romance, and if Ben will be returning.

Can you give us three high points of the next six episodes?
There is a lot of really good stuff coming up. Annie’s relationship with her sister is a lot more complicated because Annie finally told her the truth about what she does and, as a result, has been asked to move out. That is a major arc for these six episodes. Auggie starts a relationship with a girl in these episodes. It is a lot of fun, and when it gets to the end of the six episodes, it is still up in the air as to where that might go. We get to see Auggie with a girlfriend for the first time and see how he handles that. It is a sticky relationship because the girl that he ends up meeting is the sister of one of the guys in his unit that was killed when he was blinded, so it is potentially a very complicated relationship.

Another great thing about these episodes is Jai’s character (Sendhil Ramamurthy) is really taking off now. We are finally finding out where his ambitions lie and what is going to happen with his character. There is some great interaction with Jai and Auggie in these episodes. We are going to build on the tense relationship those two have.

We had that great episode this past summer with flashbacks that showed how Auggie lost his sight. Is there an episode in these six that will feature him again?
Not as heavily. Auggie is always very present in the episodes. For at least three out of the six, he has a heavier presence than the other three, but he never takes over an episode like he did with that flashback episode or the train episode from season one.

Auggie had his promotion already and he went back to what he was happy doing. Do you think he would like to get out in the field more?
Of course, he would. That is really where his passion lies. Because of his disability, it is not practical most of the time. Even in the summer season, he got out more than just in that flashback episode. He was out helping Annie on a mission earlier in the year on the [CIA] farm. We see him out of the office on this first six, but most of the out-of-the-office stuff is under the covers.

Watch the latest episode of “Covert Affairs”:

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Can you talk about how you prepared to play a blind operative?
I have been working with an organization in Toronto called the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. I reached out to them before we started shooting the pilot. They have been extraordinary. They completely opened their doors to me, have taught me everything they know and have introduced me to some guys — some of whom have lost their sight as adults like Auggie – some who have been blind since birth — and allowed me to cultivate relationships with these people, become friends, hang out, go out to dinner and meet their families. The combination of the very traditional brick-and-mortar research with having real relationships with people who have the disability, I think, has given me the bare bones education I need to make this character believable.

Does the show sometimes take Auggie’s abilities too far and instill him with super powers? He always seems to be able to tell when Annie is around.
The thing with Annie is a very specific choice that our writers have made, which is that these two people just have a connection. I think it goes beyond him having a very good sense of smell. He does have a good sense of smell and it is not a superpower. What he does have is a really good connection with this one person. What they have done is made the choice that those two people just get each other and he just knows it is her. He can’t explain it. But he can’t do that with anybody else. We even play with it in these six episodes, I believe. There is a time when Jai walks in and is wearing some kind of cologne and Auggie is still not sure it is him, but asks if it is him. But then in another episode, Jai is in the same space and Auggie has no idea he is there until he starts talking. I think with the exception of Annie, he doesn’t have that kind of sixth sense with anybody else.

Arthur (Peter Gallagher) and Joan are a CIA couple. Could that ever happen for Auggie and Annie or would that mean the show has jumped the shark?
It depends on how you do it. Certainly it could happen, of course. If it happens is the big question. The next question is when it happens. I think that relationship is the core relationship of the show. Certainly, the promise of a relationship is always more exciting than the relationship, at least when it comes to drama. That is something we are all very aware of. It is something the writers take great care of. Piper and I always take very good care not to get too cutesy or behaving like boyfriend/girlfriend even with our physical contact in scenes. We are always very careful when we touch each other and how we touch each other.

Or maybe Annie needs to get over Ben Mercer (Eion Bailey) before anything could happen between her and Auggie. Will Ben be coming back?
We don’t see Ben Mercer in these six episodes, but Ben was one of the big relationships in her life. I think that is a big character choice that the writers will make at some point: How long do you keep a relationship like that coming back. It is a choice that a lot of people in life have to make. When you have had a relationship that is that big and exciting and has made a big impact on your life, but you know isn’t the right relationship for how long do you let that person and that relationship and those feelings come into your life and rile things up? When he comes back, it gets those feelings going again and you are not sure, so Ben is out there as far as the CIA and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him again. Ben coming back would throw a wrench into whatever relationship Annie might have.

I was going to ask you about Auggie being a ladies’ man, but you already told me he gets into a relationship this season. Has he been avoiding relationships, or what is it about this one woman that has changed that?
I was talking about this. I think it is a couple of things. I think he was avoiding being in a relationship, but I think Auggie is also a difficult boyfriend because he is such a good spy and so good at keeping things close to the vest. The fact that it took him until season two to tell Annie, who has become his closest friend, to tell her the truth of how he lost his sight is kind of a big thing. She is probably the only person he has told the truth to in the recent past.

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