For all the lame attempts to recreate exotic locales with green screen, Covert Affairs came through in a big way, shooting on location in Istanbul. Director Félix Alcalá makes full use of the scenery, and really immersed the viewer in the setting. It's clear the episode cost a lot of money to make, and it turned out great.
Also helping is that "Half a World Away" is an Auggie episode, with Annie off to the side for the first time. Auggie is the most charming character on the show, so more of him is always good and the episode filled in the blanks of his past.
The plot is muddled, and after thinking about this for a while it barely makes any sense. Here are the facts. While in Iraq, Auggie and his team were sent to kill a man named Khani. The operation hits a snag (what did they expect, driving a single Humvee and parking it right in front of the safehouse?), but Auggie manages to kill the man who is supposedly Khani, confirmed by a photo. But then the translator, Nasir, radios about a trap and throws an explosive under the Humvee. It blows up, blinding Auggie.
In the present time, Auggie hears a voice on the recording--Khani's voice--implying that Nasir was actually Khani. Indeed, the person Auggie is tracking in Istanbul is Nasir, not the supposed Khani from the photo. Annie also visits Khani's sister, implying that the government somehow knew afterwards that Nasir was Khani after all. Basically, the intelligence before the raid was all wrong--that the man in the photo was either a random person or a decoy, and the real Khani was their translator Nasir. After the raid, the government somehow pieced together the information and Nasir became Khani and found Nasir/Khani's sister.
Here's where things fall apart: Auggie recognizes Nasir/Khani by his voice, implying that he believed that Nasir/Khani died in the blast, or else why would he have Annie check to see if Khani was dead? At that point, did Auggie believe the Khani in the photo--the one he shot dead--was the right Khani? Was Auggie briefed about Nasir/Khani after the raid?
We have a semblance of what happened--betrayal, the loss of a team, loss of eyesight--which fuels the pain and vengeance in the episode, but the plot really needed more explaining. Although I'm usually not a stickler for plot holes, this one got to me because it made no sense and the writers didn't even try to rectify the problems by throwing in a few lines of dialogue at the end that could have clarified the situation. Still, very strong episode minus the plot holes and of course Rebecca Mader. :)