Monday, April 9, 2018

TV Show Review: Counterpart

One of my favorite shows of the year so far adds a sci-fi twist to classic espionage for an extraordinary first season. Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) works a dull yet mysterious job reading dialogue across a window at another person. He is not supposed to have any other interactions and finds himself in trouble after he mentions a stain to the man across the glass. He keeps to a routine playing a game with a man before visiting his wife in the hospital. His wife Emily Burton Silk (Olivia Williams) was injured in a car accident and her family wants to move her unconscious body back to their home away from Howard. His life is suddenly changed when an assassin Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco) crosses over from another dimension with a list of people to kill; on that list is Howard's wife.

Howard is brought into a room by Peter Quayle (Harry Lloyd) and Aldrich (Ulrich Thomsen). He comes face to face with himself from another dimension. Howard from the other dimension is a secret agent who has been running missions to keep things from spilling over. The two Howards switch places to protect Emily but Howard Prime, the secret agent, continuously lies and misleads Howard, who he sees as a bit of a disappointment. Baldwin does try to kill Emily but she escapes when they spring the trap on her because of a small mistake. Though Howard lies about it, Emily is still alive on the other side and she receives orders to take out Howard Prime, who uses his skill to kill them and get away. 

Alexander Pope (Stephen Rea) is a shadowy leader of the Prime spies and he arranges for Howard Prime to head back over to the other side. Howard works with Quayle and Aldrich to trap Baldwin who tries to kill her counterpart a violin player. The Howards agree to switch identities and have to discuss their identities but Howard goes over to the other side he finds that things are not as he was told. He has a daughter and is estranged from his family but his nice attitude starts him on the road to making amends after Emily is poisoned by agents. The biggest twist is discovered in the search for a mole when Aldrich's wife Clare (Nazanin Boniadi) turns out to be a plant from years before. The Prime dimension has a rogue group that was raising children up to replace others and causes leaks.

The Prime side sends over agents as they believe that the Alpha side caused epidemics on their side. The Prime citizens are afraid of disease and will ostracize anyone who doesn't have the correct inoculations. A lot of crazy stuff happens as each Howard adjusts to their life in the opposite world. Howard Alpha is disgusted when he finds out about the kids and he learns that his wife was a spy the whole time. Howard Prime tried to help Aldrich deal with the mole but he finds that there is not a lot of cooperation there. The Prime side agents stage a massive shootout that alters the course of the season as both sides seal the Howards in the other dimension. 

Counterpart is my favorite show of the year and I wish I had more time to study it and watch it again. This review does not do it justice and the twists and turns were truly shocking as they take entire episodes to play out with major consequences. I love the idea for this show and really want to see where the show goes from here as it never fails to have some shocking scenes. J.K. Simmons carries the whole show but I sometimes forgot that the two Howards were played by the same person but the supporting is also great so even the few scenes without a Howard are entertaining. I am impressed with this new Starz series and hope it continues for many seasons.  

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