That twist sold us hard on this week’s Counterpart!
In this week’s Counterpart roundtable Howard Prime (J.K. Simmons) goes toe to toe with Ian Shaw (Nicholas Pinnock) before Emily (Olivia Williams) steps in to defend him and give some sort of explanation for their relationship before they go off on a hunt together for the mysterious address. Turns out everyone is pretty confused by the address and they’re especially confused by burning of whatever is inside it (all engineered by Alexander Pope, of course). Ian Shaw isn’t yet suspicious of Howard Alpha taking the place of Howard Prime but what is clear is just how jealous of Howard he really is.
Baldwin (Sara Sarraiocco) is off attending Nadia’s funeral and meeting that bartender again for a little girl time. She confronts Clare (Nazanin Boniadi) about ordering her hit and also manages to get her to agree to pay her 100k if she finishes her contract. But everybody brace yourself because we found out who the mole is. None other than Quayle but not with his knowledge. Turns out he’s actually married to Clare and whoops, he’s been leaking information. Worst part? Aldrich knows too and he doesn’t seem like a very forgiving guy.
Without further ado:
Ashlee (@ashleedell): Fan of all things film and TV and writer at TV After Dark.
Desirre (@desirreandrews): Desirre loves wrangling her brain squirrel, podcasting, and writing. She also likes greeting brand new people.
Shoshanna (@pdxrosaire): Shoshanna is an aspiring author and songwriter who loves yoga, tacos and good wit.
Mindy (@msy1168): Mindy is a cancer registrar, grandma and lover of twisty shows.
Kiddle (@kiddle): Lover of cats, photography and smart (or witty, or simply entertaining) television.
1. We open with these three interlopers from the other side. Give us your thoughts about what their endgame is?
Ashlee (@ashleedell): At this point I’d probably be taking a shot in the dark because of how the writers meticulously add in big twists. It will definitely be something huge though, given the circumstances with the ringleader dynamic that is starting. I’m guessing their endgame will be with something involving Angel Eyes, who by the way does have some angel eyes. Especially since he said the city was filthy and that everyone in it deserves to die.
Desirre (@desirreandrews): I think they are some form of back-up plan. For who? I don’t know. Maybe they’re going after Pope’s people. A clean-up crew of sorts
Shoshanna (@pdxrosaire): We know that Lotte Verbeek’s character (Ringleader) is also the secretary for Quayle’s boss (and his father-in-law) Roland Fancher. Is she then working to take out her double and replace her to get even more info. at a higher level in the Office, or is she already working for the Other side? I don’t feel like I have enough data on this one yet.
Mindy (@msy1168): I have to say I honestly don’t know what their endgame is. Lame answer, I know but this show has really got me flummoxed.
Kiddle (@kiddle): The first two operatives we see (I call them “sleeping guy” and “the other woman” LOL), are interesting. The woman seems to be more “by the book” – going out wasn’t in her frame of reference. She’s there to get the job done, whatever that might be. The guy is harder to read. I originally thought he would be and was tempted. However, the disgust in his voice was not faked when he said “It’s filthy.” Ian Shaw is a different story. He has more information, but it seems clear that his end objective is whatever his AGENCY’S objective is. But, we don’t entirely know what that is…except to not have their entire population destroyed by illness.
2. Baldwin showing up at her other’s funeral when she was part of the reason she was dead was twisted. Why do you think she went?
Ashlee (@ashleedell): Her other’s death definitely struck something in her. I think Baldwin was a lot more similar to her Other than she wanted to be or would admit and it seems like she felt she was a part of her in some way. I thought this scene was well put together, especially the part where someone said Nadia was her first love.
Desirre (@desirreandrews): I think she went for closure and to pay her respects nothing more or less.
Shoshanna (@pdxrosaire): How many times would you get to see you own funeral? Like never. Of course, I would go to my own funeral if I could, to hear what people say. In Julius Caesar, Mark Antony states at Caesar’s death, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones…” In this case, Nadia’s murder of her father is not remembered (or known) at all and we get a somewhat ambivalent glimpse into her life from an ex-girlfriend. Nadia’s first girlfriend states that Nadia could be very sweet, but that she would often become inward as if she wanted to be alone. The first girlfriend says that she feels like she never really knew her. Something that has been echoed again and again about many of the characters. Howard says later talking to the butcher’s wife “Can you really love someone when you can never really know who they are? You have to love the lie.” Perhaps Nadia’s inward times were when she was thinking about the death (murder) of her father?
Mindy (@msy1168): I think Baldwin couldn’t resist seeing who showed up. Maybe she wanted to see if her other had people who loved her or maybe she wanted a glimpse of someone specific from her own past.
Kiddle (@kiddle): Baldwin is consumed by “survivor’s guilt” and she’s been altered by what she has had to do in her alternate life. (By the way, who really determines whose life is the “real” one? They both exist.) Her forays out, in my opinion are extremely risky. Her alternate is DEAD. So, anyone recognizing her represents a real threat.
3. Why do you think Baldwin wants to finish the job so badly, and for so little money?
Ashlee (@ashleedell): I was surprised she was still trying to go through with it. I think it is definitely way too risky, especially if Baldwin is trying to stay hidden. I mean she already has a gigantic scar on her face and isn’t that great at blending in – especially in a Whole Foods. Perhaps it’s to assure herself that she can continue upholding the villainous side of her.
Desirre (@desirreandrews): So she can stay on the more modern side while gaining her freedom, maybe even to find anonymity.
Shoshanna (@pdxrosaire): I think that Baldwin wants to finish the job because she is a driven person. It takes massive commitment to be an accomplished musician like Nadia and Baldwin has taken that drive to become a skilled killer. I think for her it is a point of pride, but the money and perhaps the promise of freedom doesn’t hurt either. We see Baldwin staring at the peaceful photos like she is dreaming of another life, after she finishes her job. What surprised me was her trusting the barista and going to bed so quickly. The barista shows her a little kindness and she runs to it. Maybe she is just lonely or maybe she needed a place to crash.
Mindy (@msy1168): Baldwin is an assassin. I think it’s a matter of pride for her to finish the job. She could also believe that if she finishes the job, the people who hired her won’t kill her.
Kiddle (@kiddle): I don’t think that Baldwin thinks $100k is a small amount of money. I DO think that Baldwin is terribly damaged (wouldn’t any assassin be?) and perhaps sees no other course of action or options. What’s she going to do if she doesn’t do that?
4. Ian Shaw is not a stupid man. Why do you think he doesn’t appear to suspect there’s something up with Howard Prime?
Ashlee (@ashleedell): I think Ian Shaw thinks he knows exactly who Howard is, even though it wasn’t actually Howard Prime in the room with him. It’s clear he loves Emily a lot and actually cares about her so maybe for her sake he’s just letting it go. If he actually is oblivious to it all, it’s probably because of what’s on his mind with the love of his life.
Desirre (@desirreandrews): Ian has blinders on to anything that doesn’t suit his narrative. His hatred of Howard clouds his judgment.
Shoshanna (@pdxrosaire): I don’t think that Ian is a stupid man either. But maybe he is blinded by his love and trust in Emily so he doesn’t see it yet. Another example of love making us blind to the truth and believing a lie?
Mindy (@msy1168): I wondered about this as I was watching it. As twisty as this show is, he could know what’s going on but is trying to keep Howard’s cover. He could also just be so focused on Emily and Howard’s relationship that he doesn’t see how off Howard is acting.
Kiddle (@kiddle): There are two possibilities here. One, Shaw knows he’s dealing with something unusual, but hasn’t put the pieces together (his vision is clouded because of his relationship with Emily). OR, he really DOES know that he’s dealing with, as our family calls alternate Howard, “Walternate” in a tip of the hat to Fringe. I lean towards “vision clouded” Shaw.
5. What are your theories about Alexander Pope’s role in all of this, why he hasn’t ratted out Howard Alpha, and why he set the men to burning things at the mysterious address on the other world?
Ashlee (@ashleedell): At first I thought Alexander Pope may have been the leak, but now that that’s obviously not it, I am surprised myself at why he has continued protecting Howard. I’m still convinced he’s planning something big later on.
Desirre (@desirreandrews): I think he has designs to dominate on the other side. Greed and power, baby.
Shoshanna (@pdxrosaire): Alexander Pope is an enigma to me. I’m not sure what to think about his letting Howard wander around. But if he is the mastermind of a bigger agenda, I imagine that he would be thinking of ways that Howard could serve his purposes rather than killing him immediately. The same thing for the fire. There are probably other copies and/or Pope has made contingencies for when things go to shit. I mean look at all the cellphones, the coded messages between his lackey (the polygraph guy). Pope seems to have people listening everywhere.
Mindy (@msy1168): I think Alexander Pope may very well be the puppet master of both worlds. He wouldn’t rat out Howard Alpha if that were the case and he might want to destroy any evidence of it at the mysterious address.
Kiddle (@kiddle): Alexander Pope seems to be more of a chessmaster in this. He’s definitely pulling strings that others can’t, but it’s unclear whether this is good or bad. Having known Howard for more than 20 years, he’s in it for the long haul. (I LOVE Stephen Rea, and I LOVED the tip to the Crying Game in the last episode.)
6. And finally, that ending! What were your reactions to discovering Clare is married to Quayle, making him the unwitting leak?
Ashlee (@ashleedell): I thought the ending was INSANE! The Clare and Quayle twist was so unexpected and a great move for the show. Things are starting to come together with each character and now that we know a little more about Clare, I can only imagine what the next episode will bring.
Desirre (@desirreandrews): Such a great twist! When you’re so busy whoring around that you’ve no idea what your spouse is up to. He’s the perfect patsy.
Shoshanna (@pdxrosaire): Holy crap! That reveal about Clare and Quayle. I knew his wife had to be someone we had seen before. Again, for me this goes back to that “how well do you really know anyone?” premise. I love that he was the unwitting leak. Does it also mean that Clare would kill Quayle to keep the other’s sides agenda going? She didn’t seem to have any problem lying to Baldwin’s face, bedding her and then letting the assassin come to get Baldwin. But perhaps it would be different since she actually shares a child with him? Or does she know all about his screwing around and will relish the opportunity to finish him?
Mindy (@msy1168): I was stunned to see that Clare is married to Qualye. The writers really blindsided me with that and I’m usually pretty good at figuring things out. At first I thought she was in the nursery with the baby to use her as a tool to get information from Quayle or threaten him, but I quickly realized that she was actually his wife. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out now that he knows what’s going on.
Kiddle (@kiddle): Quayle’s response when he figured out that CLARE, the mother of his child and this “let’s have a party and cook nice food” wife is clearly not what she seems really sucked all of his oxygen out. I saw him wondering “what the hell did I marry?”
Final Verdict: Counterpart gives us a heart attack from the twisty ending
Three cheers for Jennifer Getzinger and her beautiful direction on this episode. Getzinger has some major cred and we were really looking forward to seeing what she did here and she definitely didn’t disappoint. We hope that she’ll be directing more episodes in the future. Getzinger guided us to that twist in a masterful way so that not only did we not see it coming, we were kicking ourselves for not seeing it sooner because the clues were absolutely all there. Will we learn more about Clare going forward? Here’s hoping because we’re basically desperate to see how this all came about!
Our one quibble with this whole thing is how massively stupid Quayle seems for falling for all of it. Could Quayle be the most ineffective bureaucrat on TV right now? And there are so many questions we still have we could populate an entire chapter with them. Will Aldrich go after Quayle with all of his might? What will Quayle do with all of his powerful deductive reasoning skills? Will Baldwin’s relationship continue and will she succeed in finishing her assassination list?
Clare is stone cold and we desperately need more of her backstory. Does she have anything to do with Alexander Pope’s mysterious house with its burning letters? We’re definitely sticking around to find out!
Counterpart airs Sunday nights at 8 EST on Starz.
Our acting skills felt really poor as we couldn’t lift our jaws off the floor after that finale in Counterpart 1x06!Ride the roller coaster of twists with us and continue the conversation with roundtables, reviews, and live tweeting!