Covert Affairs S3 blog #10: Put on Your Red Shoes, and Let’s Dance the Blues

When is a secret agent not a secret agent? Covert Affairs sees CIA operative Annie Walker working behind the people who work behind the scenes. Every time her cover gets deeper, she wonders if she’ll make it back in one piece, and as the same person — particularly since many of her assignments involve romance. When national security meets personal insecurity, can one good woman protect her country without sacrificing her ideals, her life or her heart?


As we head deeper into the back half of Covert Affairs Season Three, the pace hasn’t just picked up: it’s gone haywire. The show was already international enough but the ante’s been upped to classic Cold War status, pitting the U.S. against the Russians after CIA agent Lena Smith is revealed as a mole. She killed Simon, she tried to kill Annie, and she escaped to Moscow. Annie heads to the foreign capital city, contrary to everyone’s wishes within the CIA and in fact against organizational policy (so: status quo), in order to “photograph”  — not execute! she is warned — Lena, who has, incidentally, killed even more CIA agents since arriving in Russia. Episode 10 is titled “Let’s Dance” (watch it HERE); talk about an understatement.

Typical of the character, Annie does her very best to keep her promise, despite having been once again sent out into the cold, resourceless. She actually manages to ambush and photograph Lena in a convoy (the value of the photo is that, in proving Lena is in Moscow, the CIA will have a negotiating chip for extradition); unfortunately for Annie, the convoy is a ruse and Lena, ever one step ahead, is not present.

What recourse does this leave for an honest, heart-broken, manipulated and mad-as-hell CIA agent? In the end, the two spies do meet face to face, in a secluded cabin where each tries to negotiate the other into a corner of surrender (Lena suggest annie defect!), but each of them carrying a gun.

What advice might David Bowie have for Annie? As we well know, every episode in Covert Affairs Season Three takes its name from a David Bowie song. This time, it’s the title track and first single from Bowie’s 1983’s “comeback” album, Let’s Dance.

Let’s look through the lyrics for a code about this events in this episode, possibly some hints about the not-far-off season finale.

Here’s a famous line with obvious-enough meaning for Annie:

Put on your red shoes and dance the blues

The song’s bridge can offer insight on a couple of levels. Given Lena’s overture for defection, it could be her message for Annie. It could also be Annie’s memory of Simon, guiding her to make the “right” decision:


If you say run, I'll run with you

If you say hide, we'll hide

Because my love for you would break my heart in two

If you should fall

Into my arms

And tremble like a flower


Perhaps the couplet that I like the best here is in the song’s second half, which simultaneously represents Annie defecting or dying as well as throwing herself into oblivion at any level (love for Simon, hate for Lena, anger with the CIA):


Let’s dance for fear your grace should fall

Let’s dance for fear tonight is all


The episode does end with shots fired — as it did two episodes ago. There are still six episodes left, and the (let’s) dance of deceit that began with Jai Wilcox’s assassination is far from played out. It will be, as always, fascinating to see what goes down “under the moonlight,

this serious moonlight.”