This week, State of Affairs revealed what its modus operandi will be for most of its season: case of the week, with the serialized mystery over Aaron’s death sprinkled throughout. For something that’s supposed to be Katherine Heigl’s comeback vehicle, it all feels a bit too generic, which is unfortunate because when given the right platform, Heigl is a great actress. State of Affairs’ generic-ness continued this week with a national security crisis whose outcome is telegraphed early on and there’s very little movement on the Aaron-pointing-a-gun-at-Charlie and Omar Abdul Fatah front.
Somewhere in the Bering Sea, a.k.a U.S. territory, floats an oil rig in the middle of a nasty storm. But, it’s not really an oil rig; it’s a Russian ship that’s meant to hide a submarine tethered to it under the sea. Russian scuba divers are trying to retrieve information from a CIA fiber optics line. Unfortunately, the storm becomes so violent that the tether is cut and the submarine starts sinking to the bottom of the sea, to depths it’s not built to reach. As the submarine starts to creak and make other troubling noises and the director uses a gratuitous amount of lens flare, Anatoly, a Russian intelligence officer, volunteers to go to the communication room to call for help.
Far away in Washington, Charleston Tucker (still can’t get over that name) is enjoying a meal with POTUS and her husband, played by Courtney B. Vance. It’s not clear how much time has passed since the pilot, but apparently Aaron’s death occurred relatively close to his birthday, which they have all gathered here to celebrate. As the First Gentleman says grace, Charlie remembers Aaron pulling a gun on her.
Since Aaron isn’t there to make a birthday wish, POTUS asks Charlie, who’s looking mad uncomfortable, to make one. Charlie says she hopes to never lose the feeling that Aaron is watching. When it’s POTUS’ turn, she says she wishes for justice to befall those who violently and prematurely took her dear son away. Because she has yet to inform POTUS that Fatah was a CIA—her—asset, Charlie just sits there with a blank and/or guilty look on her face, but no one notices.
Things get even more awkward for Charlie when the FGOTUS says he just wants the truth about his son’s death, and not secondhand accounts, but the actual truth. Clearly wanting this moment to pass, Charlie interrupts and suggests a toast in Aaron’s name.
Last week, we established that Charlie was a risk taker. This is reaffirmed tonight as Charlie, ignoring Washington D.C.’s no calling and driving law, calls super-secret spy guy Nick when she receives another text message that reads “Remember Me?” and contains a picture of her and Nick escorting Fatah.
Back under the sea, the camera lens is still flaring as Anatoly finally arrives at the comms room and instructs the operators to deploy the buoy so that they can use it to communicate. There’s just one problem: only the Americans will be able to hear whatever is transmitted through the buoy. And that’s exactly what Anatoly wants. He quickly slices the throats of both men, takes over control, and deploys the buoy. Speaking with pretty good English, Anatoly sends a message in which he identifies himself as “Nightfall.” Surprise, he’s an asset for the CIA!
Mid-recap poll: Who actually thinks he’s going to be rescued?
Anatoly’s message reaches Langley right as Charlie stumbles in reeking of vodka. No one cares though because Charleston Tucker is a badass. Once Anatoly’s identity has been verified, Charlie’s team of indistinguishable briefers get to work on solving the problem. First things first, moving this to the front of the book. As Charlie is giving each of her minions tasks, the new guy walks in, which surprises everyone because they thought that Director Skinner getting fired meant that this guy was fired. Appears that’s not the case. There’s no time to dwell on this, however, because one of Charlie’s briefers comes running in to tell them that they have a big a problem: The data in the fiber optics cables contains not only weapons specs, but also the identities of all of their assets worldwide.
NEXT: Meet the new Director of the CIA