For an episode solely focused on moving the overarching Fatah plotline forward, this week’s State of Affairs was slow and fairly forgettable. Sure the flashbacks added more pieces to the puzzle and the case-of-the-week directly related to making Fatah a central player in both Charlie’s present and past, but the episode offered no resolution and didn’t lay enough groundwork for a convincing cliffhanger. I’m starting to get concerned that if the show takes a holiday breather, no one will remember to come back in the new year.
We open in a Cairo nightclub where some American with entirely too much swagger is telling his shit-faced companion he should lay off the shots. Some suit in the doorway is eyeing them suspiciously, and as the two leave, the American, with all the bravado one should probably keep under wraps when in a dangerous region, posits that “the Egyptian secret police are not going to mess with an American.” Eh, says his local friend. “We’re not in America.” As if on cue, a van pulls up, multiple armed men grab them, tape them, and drag them off to a compound in the desert. There, Fatah approaches them with a knife and pulls the “do you know who I am?” bit.
In D.C., it’s still the night of the state dinner, and President Payton is reeling from the leaked report regarding the attack in Kabul—the main bombshell of which was that her son, Aaron, was killed by a CIA-registered weapon. As she storms toward a meeting with the CIA heads, Chief of Staff David Patrick tries to convince her that the leak was a blessing in disguise. POTUS isn’t hearing it. She wants to know the source.
“Somebody tell me—who is Nick Vera?!” POTUS asks the room of higher-ups as she grills them about the report. Charleston Tucker, who shouldn’t look anywhere near as showered and put together this soon after Nick was pulled from her car at gunpoint mid-makeout (really, it’s been maybe an hour; President Payton is still in her state dinner gown!), immediately averts her eyes.
Payton directly asks Charlie about Nick, to which Charlie responds, “I wouldn’t call us friends…” Still, she states she doesn’t believe Aaron’s killing was Nick’s doing, regardless of whom the gun was registered to. Just then, CIA Director Navarro comes in with news of the American journalist being captured by Omar Fatah.
Charlie heads to the seventh floor, clearly spooked about Nick’s disappearance. She pulls aside her Girl Friday, Maureen, and asks her to compile everything she can on Nick, including the unofficial and classified. No problem! says Mo. I already did that! What a good secretary—knowing what the boss needs before she knows she needs it. There’s nothing of use about Nick though, and Mo, who spends 80 percent of her lines each episode playing the concerned friend who is incessantly trying to tie her horse to Charlie’s cart, is tasked with finding out where Nick is now.
On the Fatah front, the CIA now has footage regarding the American reporter who was kidnapped. His name is Thomas Logan, and it becomes clear that he wasn’t kidnapped so much as tapped for an exclusive interview with Fatah. Charlie is immediately suspicious. “Fatah wouldn’t risk this kind of exposure unless it served him somehow,” she says. Regardless, there is 90 minutes worth of raw footage, and the journalist will be landing in D.C. that morning. What?! They just heard about his abduction, like, 90 minutes ago! This show’s timelines are seriously a trip.
Briefer Who Is Always In A Three-Piece Suit At 3 a.m., Dashiell, has a theory about why Fatah might be making a public interview. He’s been tracking militant groups online, and the chatter has been referring to “Ar Rissalah,” which translates to “The Message” from Arabic. Dash calls these sites “radical versions of fanboy pages dedicated to Fatah,” and in the past 36 hours, they’ve been off the charts.
Over at FBI headquarters, the reporter is being debriefed from his not-kidnapping/interview of a lifetime. “He seems really relaxed for a guy who was almost beheaded,” Charlie notes, and she doesn’t believe his story that Fatah was unarmed. She’s right though—this asshole reporter does seem way too chill, like the victim’s frat-tastic boyfriend who is called in by Benson and co. on Law & Order for questioning, but knows they have nothing to hold him. Har har har, they were all totally cordial, he says. “I even gave the driver my cell phone as a token of gratitude,” Logan says. “He must have played ‘Thunderstruck’ a dozen times.” Of course this guy has AC/DC on his phone.
Charlie goes into the room to ask about the cameraman. Al, Logan says he’s called. A local hire, who he makes a point to not get to know beyond first names. Logan says he wants to air the interview within 48 hours. Charlie asks him not to in the interest of national security, blah blah blah, but he’s not moved. ”I’m sitting on a Pulitzer,” he claims.
Back at Langley, images from a suicide bomber and a raided terrorist cell thousands of miles apart both happen to have the same symbol displayed—a zoomorphic calligraphy of an Arabic horse. It’s coded art, with the words “the message” hidden in the drawing. And, according to Logan’s footage, Fatah’s men were wearing patches with this symbol as well. Also, all that chatter that Dash mentioned earlier? It’s all Ar Rissalah talk, and it’s happening everywhere. All over the world—the Middle East, Europe, the U.S. “It’s a call to arms,” Charlie deduces. “Omar Fatah and Sheikh Hakam have just built the biggest terrorist network we’ve ever seen.”
NEXT: So how exactly did this reporter get an interview with Fatah, again?