Counterpart Episode 9 Review: No Man’s Land, Part 1

With an exciting but puzzling attack by the fanatics from Project Indigo, Counterpart throws the fate of many characters up in the air.

This Counterpart review contains spoilers.

Counterpart Season 1 Episode 9

Could it be that Counterpart is trying to distract viewers from a deeper mission by focusing on the thwarted attack in this week’s episode? The cards may be out on the table between Peter and Clare, Howard and Emily Prime, and elsewhere, but it’s difficult to accept the idea that sleeper agents prepared for decades just to shoot up the Strategy and Diplomacy offices, shocking as it was to watch unfold. This show has made us mistrust its characters, and some of that suspicion is now directed at this turn of events.

Let’s not forget, for instance, that one of Baldwin’s targets was Emily in addition to the targets embedded inside this side’s intelligence organization. The assassin even mentions it to Clare during their phone conversation when Clare adds Howard Prime to the hit list. Yes, Pope had coma-Emily targeted because she was onto his plans, but how can we not suspect Emily Prime of duplicity under such circumstances? Just like we still don’t trust Greta with her shopping games or her ironic statement, “It’s like you grew up on a different planet.” It probably really is a coincidence, but Counterpart messes with our minds!

That’s why it’s such a head scratcher watching the replacements for Helen, Oskar, and Rashad take the credentials Baldwin delivers, infiltrate the offices of their counterparts where they could have done longterm damage the way Clare did, and instead take a clearly planned package of weapons and execute random office workers, blowing their cover immediately. One of them makes it to the border inside the Crossing, which will no doubt have repercussions in the finale, but there must be more to it, right? RIGHT?

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It’s Counterpart’s own fault for creating such high expectations. The spy game has been a thrill ride throughout the series, and this week’s episode is no exception with its chase to find Kaspar, the lie detector technician who blew the whistle on the Potsdam investigation. Everything from the code phrases involving oolong tea and the paper clips dropped on the escalator to warn Kaspar he was being watched was a joy to watch. Plus, the promise of a living son in the other world is becoming a familiar and understandable temptation.

In fact, Howard’s outburst at Kaspar telling him the ten-year-old in the other world doesn’t belong to him is a nice precursor to his determination to go back home to his wife in the hospital. The conversation between him and Emily Prime may be the final realization on his part that many of the memories he shares with his Emily never happened in this world, and thus he doesn’t really know her at all. That being said, the fact that he now knows his Emily’s supposed accident was Pope’s attempt to silence her will most certainly color his perception of his marriage.

Hopefully, he won’t feel as deceived as Quayle, who appears ready to go off the rails. His attempt to entrap Howard Prime failed; he has fallen out of favor with his father-in-law; and he botched Clare’s restraints by cuffing her ankle, allowing her to reach her hidden phone. Clare’s insistence that her life has taken on new meaning with the birth of her baby rings true even as she chastises Peter for his own lies and secret affairs. The most surprising element of their interaction, though, is obviously Quayle’s decision to deliberately crash his vehicle into a line of parked cars. It’s just about the most unpredictable move Quayle could have made, and its aftermath is equally mysterious.

As for Howard Prime, it’s uncertain whether or not he has learned anything. Andrei talked about seeing him as the loneliest man he’d ever seen when they first met, which we saw in the flashback at the beginning of the episode, and it almost seems to be more applicable to the crotchety Howard than to the milder version Andrei knows. Howard Prime may have convinced Aldrich that Clare is the real Shadow, but with his cover blown, he couldn’t possibly be more alone, especially since he took out the Ringleader himself during the attack from his side. Viewers will no doubt greatly anticipate the fallout for the Section 2 agent in the finale.

There are a few secrets left after all is said and done, and with this being the first of a two-part season ender, we can only hope for more revelations to be made next week. Hopefully, the oddly ineffective attack by Project Indigo will reveal a hidden depth; otherwise Counterpart will not feel truly complete nor will it have measured up to its wonderful setup in earlier parts of the season. Confidence is high, though, that with the compelling story that has captivated viewers from the very start will deliver satisfaction and perhaps even a few shocking twists.


3.5 out of 5