Great writing with sharp dialogue
Plot twists we were really into
J.K. Simmons selling Howard Alpha hard
When will Quayle get with the program?
Howard gets closer to Emily in the other world, but whose side is the the “right” side in this thrilling episode?
Counterpart gets deeper into the mystery between the two worlds as Howard (JK Simmons) gets to know Emily Prime (Olivia Williams). But even as Howard starts falling for Emily Prime as they investigate an embassy pouch drop, we still don’t know whose side she’s on. Howard meets Alexander Pope and is warned off Emily, but Pope seems to be giving intelligence to Howard Prime. Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco) has her own brush with being burned but manages to escape, and Howard Prime discovers that original Howard’s games partner isn’t everything that he seems (though that has more to do with Emily, who despite her coma still has secrets).
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Meanwhile Quayle (Harry Lloyd) and Aldrich (Ulrich Thomsen) go to a defector to get information about project Indigo, which isn’t a project but a “school”. Apparently the other side has been sending sleeper agents over for quite some time (we’ve already met three this episode) and “Shadow” is a mole that may or may not be compromising the entire original side. Howard also tries to get to know Howard Prime’s daughter Anna (Sarah Bolger). Let’s make sense of this episode of intrigue!
Howard’s forays into Prime’s life provide the punch of emotions we crave.
Every action/sci-fi show cannot solely exist upon sci-fi and action if it wants to hold our attention. Sending Howard into the other world without any guidance about his living ex-wife and daughter was a master stroke. It’s not just that he was eventually going to meet them. He had to meet them. But it was the fact that Howard Prime didn’t bother to tell him about them that has us really empathize with Howard. This episode may have been relatively quiet action-wise but it amped up the emotional weight tenfold by handing Howard what he wants: A wife who is still alive and a daughter to boot.
“I’m sorry. I know I made mistakes in the past. And I’m so sorry. I regret so much. And I know I can’t just suddenly fix everything…For a few minutes, can you just pretend you don’t know me? And I’m not your negligent father, the guy who left and hurt you and ruined everything. Can we start over? Just tell me everything about you and I’ll just listen. I won’t say a word. Please. Tell me what I’ve missed.” -Howard
Is Howard Alpha stopping to consider the consequences of his actions? Emily Prime tries to make it clear to him that she’s not his wife and this isn’t his second chance. But we get the feeling that even she doesn’t seem to believe what she’s saying. And it works. J.K. Simmons’ finest moments are these moments as he develops Howard Alpha as the sad, shy, mild mannered guy as he gets bolder and more assured living Prime’s life. Watching Howard Alpha both cling to the past with Emily Prime and try to capture what he’s never had with Anna is the perfect counterpart (pun intended) to the building mysteries and action sequences in the show.
Aldrich and Quayle, mole trackers extraordinaire
Aldrich and Quayle have decided to make it their business to figure out who on their side in the embassy is the mole. They’re able to establish that the person is relatively high up but does that come as a shock to anyone? Also we’re still trying to get our bearings in this whole Quayle/Aldrich relationship. Quayle is ostensibly “in charge” but seemingly has not an inkling of a clue about anything Aldrich knows. We can’t help but wonder who is really in charge in this duo.
“Who is Shadow?” -Quayle
Are Aldrich and Quayle the worst mole-detectives ever? At some point we had to wonder why on earth they aren’t just sitting down with each other and laying their cards on the table. Aldrich knew about the defector he went to get information from and has known about this “school” for some time. The baker asking Clare if she was a part of the school confirms this knowledge has been around for quite some time. So we find it a little hard to believe that Quayle is so in the dark.
Emily may be in a coma, but she still has secrets to tell
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this episode was the shock of learning that Andrei isn’t just Howard Alpha’s Go partner but was Emily’s lover. In fact we’re still recovering from it! We learned a heck of a lot about Emily Alpha and boy is our good opinion of her getting blown to smithereens. Setting up Howard Alpha as the most steadfast and loyal man in not just one but two worlds only to learn that the woman he’s so dedicated to not only has been lying to him for years but cheated on him with another man? Let’s just say we’ve got some choice words for Emily Alpha.
“I didn’t know she was married! I’m sorry Howard. By the time she told me I was already…” -Andrei
But maybe Emily Alpha being the cheating kind is a good thing. For one we’re now rooting harder for Emily Prime and Howard Alpha which we discussed earlier. Plus it’s now giving us a direct comparison to Emily Prime. When we first met Emily Prime we thought she was the cheater. Turns out we were dead wrong and so far she’s as loyal as they come. Thematically Counterpart is making us take a step back and examine our loyalties to everyone. And we like being kept on edge. Up until now we’ve only seen Emily Alpha through Howard’s very rose-colored glasses. Turns out even women in comas can have their secrets blow up in their faces.
Even though more is revealed the mystery deepens as the Counterpart crew searches for answers
Counterpart has its main cast looking for answers by seeing what falls from tossing their nets wide and seeing what they dig up. By providing some answers that lead to even bigger questions writer Zak Schwartz keeps us guessing but also keeps us interested. This episode doled out just enough information to blow our minds and keep us hooked and wanting more. Howard Alpha and Emily Prime’s mysterious team-up proved quite satisfying for us in building the tension between them.
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There are so many questions relating to this episode we don’t even know where to begin. What is Clare’s role with newly introduced Project Indigo “students”? And since she didn’t call them assassins, what are they there for? Whose side is Alexander Pope on? Will Howard Alpha figure out that Emily was cheating on him with Andrei? Will Emily Prime fall for Howard Alpha? Will Anna figure out that Howard Alpha isn’t her dad? Will Quayle start managing the mole situation a little more effectively? This is only a small sampling of questions we’ve got. We could go on for days!
It isn’t poor Harry Lloyd’s fault that thus far Quayle seems to be an utterly ineffective bureaucrat that isn’t particularly aware of much of what is head of counterintelligence is up to. After all you’d expect someone who had gotten his job through family connections to be a little irritating. But thus far Quayle seems to be doing a whole lot of nothing. When will Quayle and Aldrich step up and hold our attention?
JK Simmons as Howard Alpha living in Howard Prime’s world was the ultimate standout this episode followed by a brief appearance by Sara Serraiocco as Baldwin that may have been short but still gave us the chills. Watching Howard Alpha trying to manage his expectations for a relationship with Emily and Anna Prime but failing was heartrending and effective. And Serraiocco’s Baldwin was silent and utterly terrifying this week. We don’t really get the impression you get away with trying to kill Baldwin and we know she’s an assassin but now we’re on the edge of our seats waiting to see what her next move is going to be.
The show has so many threads leading in so many different directions you’d be hard pressed to not find at least two you’re desperate to know the answer to. We’re really intrigued by the Baldwin storyline (will she switch sides?) as well as wondering if the Howard Alpha-Emily Prime investigation team will continue and what consequences that will have for them personally down the road. If Counterpart continues to develop their storylines as well as they’ve been doing we’re definitely in for a bumpy ride.
Comments, Questions, & Concerns
- Is that poor baker dead? We need closure.
- Is Anna irritating or awesome? The jury is still out. Kids are so tricky!
- That guy with Alice and Alice Prime, he seemed lucky, huh?
- It was really fantastic seeing Lotte Verbeek, veteran of another Starz favorite Outlander!
- J.K. Simmons can really do no wrong. We think if Howard Alpha and Howard Prime always wore the same clothes we would still be able to tell them apart because he’s just so good at making the characters distinct.
- Did anyone else start to wish death on Emily Alpha? How did you do Howard so wrong, girl? And after keeping him down at work, too!
Stay on the edge of your seats with us for Counterpart!We’ll be diving in deep with full reviews of Counterpart for the rest of the season, so make sure you stick with us!
Counterpart will continue on Sunday, February 25th at PM ET on Starz
Counterpart Review 1×05 “Shaking the Tree”