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Flirty Spies and Tampon Bombs: Is ‘Whiskey Cavalier’ the Best New Show of 2019?

And 16 other pressing questions

ABC/Ringer illustration

If you were watching the Oscars on Sunday night, the words “Whiskey Cavalier” might be triggering—and for that, I apologize. ABC was perhaps a little too enthusiastic in promoting its latest drama, doling out approximately 10 trillion ads for Whiskey Cavalier throughout the telecast. I can’t blame you for having whiskey whiplash by the end of the evening and being turned off by the show before it even aired.

But here’s the thing: I remain all in on Whiskey Cavalier. The show looks like a cross between a will-they-won’t-they crime dramedy like Castle and a live-action, network-TV-censored version of Archer. It stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohan, two objectively attractive people, who flirt while wearing leather jackets and shooting pistols across Europe. Its brain trust includes the folks who made Scrubs and Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. It’s called Whiskey Cavalier. What’s not to like?

With Whiskey Cavalier’s premiere Wednesday night, I dove right into the show with arguably the strangest name on television. I came out the other side with many questions; here are 16 of my most pressing.


1. What the hell is a Whiskey Cavalier? I do have an answer for this: Though the name does sound like an artisanal cocktail or a successful 1980s porn star, it is in fact the code name for Will Chase (Foley), an FBI agent based in Paris.

Will is apparently the softest boy at the bureau, heckled by his colleagues for having a sensitive side. He is also emotionally devastated after he gets dumped by his fiancé, Gigi, and so the pilot opens with Will in a trashed apartment littered with pizza and beer cans, singing a mopey rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” It is, as the kids say, a big mood.

2. Of course, when you’re an FBI agent tasked with saving the world from terrorists, you can’t just pop in your DVD of You’ve Got Mail (not a random reference—the DVD is in his apartment) and order takeout: You need to stop bad people from doing bad things. So the first assignment for Whiskey—referring to him by his code name from now on per official FBI guidelines, sorry!—is providing cover for his buddy Ray (Josh Hopkins), who’s meeting a CDC scientist who stole some “weaponized Ebola.”

I don’t pretend to know anything about biological warfare, but is “weaponized Ebola” a thing? Isn’t Ebola, as a deadly disease, like, already a weapon? And if it can be “weaponized” from its OG Ebola form (actual medical term), would it be presented in an ominous-looking red vial? And should its container have the word DANGER and a yellow biohazard sticker on it, or would that be too obvious?

A vial with a yellow hazard sticker All photos courtesy ABC

Actually, come to think of it, I’m on board with the sticker. I’m glad the scientists presiding over weaponized Ebola went to Party City for these stickers. It’s a wise expenditure. But yeah, go get that weaponized Ebola before it gets into the wrong hands, Whiskey!

3. Does the mission have a setback? Naturally, but not in the way you’d expect: Ray gets caught in traffic because fans of the soccer team Paris Saint-Germain have blocked his car on the street.

I totally believe that PSG, the most popular soccer club in France, would bring traffic to a standstill before kickoff for a big match. But it raises the question: If Ray, like Whiskey, lives in Paris, shouldn’t he make sure his extremely important Ebola meetings don’t overlap with a soccer game? Imagine if the FBI scheduled a sting operation outside the Super Bowl.

So Whiskey has to take matters into his own hands, chasing a goon who’s carrying the weaponized Ebola through the streets of Paris. But after Whiskey gets the vial back, he turns his back on the bad guy because he notices a marriage proposal taking place. My guy wipes away a tear while holding a gun.

GIF of Whiskey tearing up watching a marriage proposal

4. In getting distracted by the sight of true love, Whiskey is shot—but don’t worry, he’s wearing a vest. He then takes out the bad guy, says “City of Love my ass,” and lies down in the street.

Is Whiskey Cavalier already my new obsession? Have I already changed every contact in my phone to code names inspired by this show? Yes—my sister is now Tequila Thunderbolt; my best friend is Nacho Testaverde.

5. Will someone on the internet create a Whiskey Cavalier name generator? Maybe the dude behind the Wu-Tang Clan name generator that inspired Donald Glover to go by Childish Gambino can provide some assistance.

6. Once Whiskey gets back to the office after the shoot-out, Ray tries to cheer him up since he’s still all broken up about Gigi. (I suppose being shot in the chest is just normal FBI stuff, but getting dumped is absolutely calamitous.) He invites Whiskey to hang out at his place in the Lyon countryside. “We can eat a bunch of cheese and just bro out,” Ray actually says.

Is Ray the greatest friend ever? I mean, if someone invited me to the countryside to eat cheese all day—I’m assuming red wine is part of the package, it’s France—the least I’d do is make them a friendship bracelet and give them an IHOP gift card. (We’re getting off track, but IHOP is an excellent breakfast establishment, and giving people the gift of breakfast is my version of a “Lyon-and-cheese” bro-out.)

7. Enough about Whiskey: He’s only half of this show’s spy tandem. It’s time to meet Frankie Trowbridge (Cohan), a CIA agent who goes by the code name Fiery Tribune. Unlike Whiskey’s sappy ass, Frankie is no-nonsense and doesn’t give a shit about emotional attachments. She’s hooking up with a mercenary at the beginning of the show and shrugs off the fling when her hookup tries to betray and kill her after being bribed by someone else with Bitcoin. (Bitcoin, really?!) [Whispers.] She’s the tough one in this dynamic.

Serious question: Is the character’s actual name even more ridiculous than her code name? Frankie Trowbridge sounds like an edgy train conductor for a Thomas the Tank Engine spinoff series.

8. Whiskey and Fiery (keeping this government code name, too, sorry!) are both after Edgar Standish (Tyler James Williams), an NSA agent who has government secrets and compromising information about CIA agents. Is his name supposed to sound similar to Edward Snowden’s? Duh.

9. Two of Whiskey Cavalier’s main characters, Williams and Cohan, are alumni of The Walking Dead. Is the series cornering the market on Walking Dead alums, and if so, who’s next? Is Steven Yeun going to show up in Season 2 as legendary FBI agent turned rogue mercenary Smolder Moonshadow?

10. Oh, right: Technically, Cohan’s Walking Dead character, Maggie, is still alive and might not have made her official exit just yet. It’s a little messy, but the TL;DR version is: AMC and Cohan were in an argument over her salary during contract negotiations, and then she signed up for Whiskey Cavalier, so she was temporarily written off the show. Her Whiskey Cavalier deal allows her to return to the AMC series on a limited basis in the future.

But if given the choice, should Cohan stick with Whiskey Cavalier or return to The Walking Dead? Based on the evidence of just one episode, I think Whiskey Cavalier is the smarter choice. Whiskey Cavalier is fresh and exciting. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead continues to lose essential cast members—Danai Gurira is leaving the series in the 10th(!) season—as it limps along like one of its zombies. The newest villains wear zombie skin and are ASMR enthusiasts. The Walking Dead is, sadly, on its last legs.

Lauren Cohan, I have seen your future, and it is wearing suave leather jackets and flirting with Scott Foley as CIA super-spy Frankie Trowbridge.

11. Fiery set up a rendezvous with a helicopter and—JESUS CHRIST, IS THAT A BAZOOKA?!

A bazooka blowing up a helicopter

The wildest part about all this is that Fiery and Whiskey just shrug the helicopter explosion off like it was nothing. Shouldn’t they be a little shaken up from their ride blowing up in their face? Shouldn’t they be concerned that at least one person, a helicopter pilot, just gruesomely died?

If the “weaponized Ebola” wasn’t enough of a hint, Whiskey Cavalier doesn’t really dwell on the spy stuff nor take it very seriously. This is a flirty workplace drama—the work just happens to be stopping terrorists and witnessing the occasional bazooka explosion. Still: RIP, Mr. Helicopter Pilot. To commemorate your service, you have been posthumously awarded the code name Blazing Paddles.

12. Is there a lot of sexual tension between Whiskey and Fiery?

Edgar saying, “A lot of sexual tension in the car”

Hell yeah, there is. Thanks for pointing it out, Edgar “not Edward Snowden” Standish.

13. When Fiery gets shot after a bounty is placed on their heads, Whiskey needs to quickly find a place for them to hide. Thankfully, they’re close to Lyon, so Whiskey takes them to Ray’s place. But barging in on Ray has some unintended consequences, because the guy had company: Whiskey’s former fiancé, Gigi.

I’ll be honest: That was a twist. How could Ray share all of that fancy bro-hangout cheese and then do this? My man Whiskey Cavalier didn’t deserve it.

14. Ray and Whiskey’s FBI boss, Alex Ollerman (Dylan Walsh), comes over to the house and tries to to break protocol by apprehending Edgar. That’s when it hits them: Their boss is also part of this vague government conspiracy! It appears that Alex is going to kill everyone—he does shoot Ray, though not fatally—but then he is briefly distracted by Fiery’s TAMPON BOMB.

GIF of a bomb made out of a tampon flying across a room

Is this the first-ever tampon bomb in the history of shows, or for that matter, bombs? I applaud Whiskey Cavalier for its, uh, ingenuity.

15. And that just about wraps up Whiskey Cavalier, which ends with Whiskey and Fiery officially teaming up in Europe to stop a sleeper cell, suggesting this show might follow a spy-case-of-the-week format while also maintaining the overarching “government conspiracy” plot. But does any of this really matter? Not really, since Whiskey Cavalier will live and die with its knowingly cheesy spy gadgetry, the flirtatious behavior of its coleads, and its willingness to not take itself seriously.

16. Will I keep watching Whiskey Cavalier after this week? 100,000 percent. Network television dramas don’t really hold a candle to the prestige fare that can be found on cable and streaming services—most dramas either take themselves too seriously or are created by Dick Wolf. But based on the absurdity of its name alone, Whiskey Cavalier seems to know what it is—a goofy spy drama with a lot of sexy chemistry.

This is Miles Surrey—code name: Sriracha Parthenon—signing out, until Whiskey Cavalier’s newest mission next Wednesday.