This Counterpart review contains spoilers.
Counterpart Season 1 Episode 10
As expected, Counterpart made it clear that last week’s attack on the Office of Interchange was not the end game (thank goodness), but is this the result the conspirators were hoping for? This finale left viewers so many mysteries to ponder that it’s a good thing season two has already begun filming, providing assurance that answers will eventually be coming. But whether wondering about the next steps for Howard, Baldwin, Clare, or anyone else with secrets in a world without an open Crossing, everything points to season one as merely a prologue to a much grander story to come.
Let’s tackle this one lingering question at a time, shall we? First of all, did those who put together Project Indigo know that the infiltrator whose goal it was to make it to the Crossing would die there? The delicate diplomatic situation that the conspirators no doubt sought to create would seem to dictate that the sleeper agent both be alive long enough to create tension and indecision on both sides and die unclaimed by those seeking to distance themselves from culpability. How interesting that only Emily Prime fought to unite the two sides against a common enemy! What does that say about her or about Management, for that matter, which disagreed with her assessment?
That leads us to question two, one of the most intriguing of the finale since it came out of nowhere: what is up with Management? We’ve only heard of the fourth floor in passing before now, but never did we picture a department so embedded in secrecy that they would communicate through an intermediary listening passively to a gurgling, chirping, strangely other-worldly teleconferencing device, blue in one world and red in the other. The realization that the entirety of season one has barely scratched the surface of how the parallel worlds sprang into being makes this very alien style of leadership enticingly and spine-chillingly inscrutable.
Speaking of inscrutable, is Management looking out for Quayle or is he just the luckiest SOB on the planet? Apparently, crashing his car was a desperate attempt to give himself and Clare an alibi, which endeared him to her, but those drunk driving charges didn’t just disappear on their own. It’s possible his father-in-law made the problem go away out of guilt for not listening to Quayle’s warning about Baldwin, but the fact that Quayle is also appointed to lead the investigation to hunt down traitors is almost too good to be true. Even after Clare is forced to kill Cyrus, Quayle’s new self-protective outlook has firmly taken hold enough for him to ignore the death of one of his own men and hug her close. Who’d have thought that would happen and that we would applaud his choice?
And is it fair that Howard Prime gets to roam free, growing closer to this world’s Emily, while Ian sends innocent, loyal Howard to solitary confinement on the other side? We may not shed any tears for Pope, who before dying at Ian’s hands correctly warns Howard, “If you don’t become him, he will become you” (one of the simplest yet most mind-blowing statements of this thematically brilliant show), but conversely Ian’s assertion that “you two are completely alike,” doesn’t ring true, especially since jealousy might be involved regarding Emily Prime’s “phantom limb,” as she calls it, when it comes to Howard.
But what exactly is Emily’s secret? For the second time this season, we hear mention of Howard Prime finding out who or what his Emily really was, and Pope reveals that it’s why his Howard Silk left Interface and went to work for him. Is her referring to her addictive or adulterous nature or something else? And is Howard Prime’s growing affection for his counterpart’s wife more about her being his contact in the attempt to stop the conspiracy from his side and his appreciation for her sacrifice, or is his environment truly influencing him to become the other, more compassionate Howard?
Whatever the case, Howard Prime’s cooperation with both Quayle, a man he should despise and mistrust, and Baldwin, who took out Aldrich, the only remaining person who knew about Clare’s duplicity, poses the most intriguing question of all leading into season two: what now? Did Baldwin lose Greta, or will she use the money Howard gave her to start fresh? Howard agreeing to leave Quayle and his wife alone as long as Emily is also protected provides an uneasy truce, but as he reads Rilke to Emily, ending with the phrase, “From you to you…” the season comes to a close with the symbolic punch of expressive duality.
What more need be said? Counterpart has been a literary journey not often seen on television, a cerebral but not overly complex tale filled with philosophical questions, enjoyably flawed characters, and layers of deception and intrigue to please both fans of spy thrillers and sci-fi geeks. It should be difficult to review a finale that doesn’t provide as much closure as viewers might have expected, but the implications set in motion by the closing of the Crossing, the deaths of major characters on both sides, the cryptic depiction of Management, and the much larger iceberg beneath season one’s tip make this five-star review a no-brainer. Bring on season two!