This Counterpart review contains spoilers.
Counterpart Season 2 Episode 2
It really is remarkable how Counterpart can switch worlds, give characters completely different missions, and still keep everything cohesive and comprehensible in the pursuit of bringing down Indigo. Although some viewers may have had to remind themselves who some of the characters were, like Sy and Irina or Mira and Aldus, once the context was established, the conflict in Prime world all came flooding back. The key to the episode’s success, however, is in giving Emily Prime a central role in the investigation and tying her journey and the imprisoned Howard’s awakening to Emily Alpha’s mysterious origins that began unfolding in the premiere.
Like Howard, we want to believe the best of the Emily who has been in a coma, and Howard’s interrogator, who shows such interest in seeing his prisoner disavow his wife, clearly has close ties with Mira, who could be seen as Counterpart’s villain at this point. It’s obvious that Emily Alpha kept her husband out of the loop to protect him, and we can see the evidence that he might be morally better off than his counterpart, who learned the truth and divorced his Emily for stifling his advancement. But there’s got to be more to it than Emily keeping Howard from being promoted, and the unknown is what’s most intriguing.
The fact that Aldus says to Emily Prime, “Of course it was you,” before jumping from the roof shows that Emily Alpha was definitely more intimately involved with Indigo somehow, and the possibilities for the unraveling mystery are extremely enticing. Meanwhile, the idea that Mira and Basman, Howard’s captor, are the only ones left from Indigo on this side of the Crossing leaves open the question of how Clare and perhaps Baldwin will tie into things on the other side. And that’s not taking into account the multitude of parents who, like the Schmidts, gave up their children to the School those many years ago.
Perhaps the Indigo/Emily Alpha connection also explains why Management selected Emily Prime to take over Strategy and lead the investigation. Her disdain for Diplomacy’s posturing and finger-pointing may also resonate with those in Management who realize their mistake in keeping their knowledge of Indigo quiet. The decrepit state of the fourth floor only adds to Management’s air of secrecy and disconnectedness, but the cocky demeanor of their spokesman is deflated by Emily’s successful leveraging of her cooperation for Howard’s freedom. Things behind-the-scenes may be more desperate than they appear, but the uncertainty that lingers makes us insatiably curious to learn more.
Who knows what they have in “the case” or what power Mira thinks it will give her to continue her crusade to punish the Alpha world for the plague she believes they unleashed on her reality? The very fact that the Crossing is idle only until the offer is made to re-open diplomacy in return for Mira’s head on a platter shows how central she is to the story of Counterpart season 2. Oddly, she seems to register some guilt about the massacre at the School, and she certainly feels remorse when the old man regretfully admits that he was the only one in Management that believed in her. It will be interesting to see how her revenge plot transforms as the noose tightens.
In the meantime, with Howard headed to the black site at Mira’s behest and Basman’s recommendation, we have to wonder what it will take to pull him back into the game. Although on the one hand, he admits his suspicions about his wife even as he expresses his unwillingness to spy on her, he also reminds Emily Prime that she was the one who told him that true love was “seeing someone for who they’d rather be.” When Howard sends Emily on her way telling her never to come back, is it stubbornness that keeps him from taking the offered freedom or the still fresh pain of realizing why he was never promoted to Strategy? Either way, he’ll have to find his own method of escape moving forward.
It probably doesn’t help much that Emily is having to keep up the deception when dealing with her own daughter. Just as Anna was starting to welcome her father’s presence in her life, he disappears, leading her to believe that he’s “back to his old ways.” And no matter how much Emily may want to assure Anna that this version of Howard would want to be there to help his daughter, she can’t say anything. With Howard Alpha having insisted that he wouldn’t have left his Emily if he had been told the truth, she must be wondering what could have been different for Anna as well. Heartbreaking, really.
That’s the beauty of Counterpart. It constantly challenges us to question the choices different characters make and wonder what if things had been different. Whether you believe one world poisoned the other and deserves to be punished for it, the yet-to-be-revealed secrets of Management indicate that Indigo’s vengeful mission is the tip of the iceberg in the larger story. All of the troubles stem from the mysterious creation of the Crossing decades ago, and each episode brings us closer to seeing the bigger picture while still keeping us fascinated by the personal stories each and every week.
Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter. His interview with Counterpart creator Justin Marks can be heard on the Sci Fi Fidelity podcast.