First, let's backtrack a little. Just so we're all on the same page, let's talk a bit more about what exactly the term "dramatic irony" means.
Dramatic irony refers to the disconnect and resulting tension that occurs when the audience knows more about a particular situation than one or more of the characters does. The results can be tragic, like in Season 4's "No. 13 Baby" when Helen claims that she is Jessica Matthews and Henry Wilcox shoots her on the spot. We, as the audience, know it's really Annie who has been tailing Henry as Jessica for the past three months, but we also know that Henry doesn't know that.
But, just to be clear, the results can also be comedic, like in the Covert Affairs pilot episode, when Annie's sister Danielle says to her:
"You're such a horrible liar! You'd make like the worst spy ever."In this episode, we've just watched Annie get shot at, prostitute her way into a crime scene, Listerine her way into a morgue, and then proceed to track down and capture a Russian terrorist. Danielle, on the other hand, hasn't seen any of that. This is dramatic irony, even though it's not, you know, dramatic.
Lots of television shows use this technique to keep the audience on their toes. In fact, every show uses it to some extent. But, not every show plays with it quite the way Covert Affairs does with Annie and Auggie's relationship.
Why? Because not every show can get away with creating a disconnect between what's being said and what the audience is seeing on screen while the characters in question are literally touching each other.
The first time we really see the full extent to which Covert Affairs pushes the dramatic irony between Annie and Auggie is in the Season 2 finale, "Letter Never Sent."
|She's not smiling, Auggie. SHE'S NOT SMILING.|
The same kind of tension occurs between Annie and Auggie throughout Episode 3x02, "Sound and Vision."
However, just because the will-they-or-won't-they question was resolved with a bang in the Season 4 premiere does not mean that Covert Affairs has given up on this technique forever.
In fact, in Season 4, it's alive and well on a whole new level.
Previously, dramatic irony was used to mask Annie's feelings for Auggie, keeping Auggie in the dark while the audience felt the tension rise. But, now that both parties have admitted their love for each other, that hidden knowledge is off the table. Instead, once Annie goes off the grid and becomes Jessica Matthews, it's all about presence.
In this scene from the Season 4 episode "No. 13 Baby," we get dramatic irony simply because we, as the audience, can see that Annie is right next to Auggie, all the while knowing that Auggie cannot. This creates a metaphorical distance within a physical closeness that is only made possible by Auggie's blindness.
In a show that's all about intel, it's no surprise that dramatic irony plays such a prominent role in Covert Affairs. Television is, by nature, a visual medium, and using Auggie's blindness to create dissonance between what the audience hears and what they see makes the relationship between Annie and Auggie something uniquely dynamic.
We can't turn a blind eye to that.
Written by: Jacqueline
Jacqueline is one half of the team at the helm of Red Herry, and the whole brain behind almost every fish pun you can find on this website. She is a fierce advocate for helmets, ice cream, and the Oxford Comma.
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