Previously on Counterpart, “The Crossing”
Howard Prime explains that prior to 30 years ago, there was one world; like holding up the palm of your hand. Then, there were two, each a reflection of the other; press your two palms together. Over time, they drifted further and further apart. What caused the gulf between the two worlds seems to be a bigger mystery than how the other world was created, and most likely lies at the heart of the violence and espionage we’ve witnessed thus far.
This week’s cold open reveals Emily’s intention to bring her ex-husband in to find out what he’s really been doing on his many trips to the other side. She’s come armed with three contractors meant to contain Howard with force if necessary. He goes quietly, but then kills the three men in their car just as stealthily and disappears into the night.
His contact, a man named Pope (Stephen Rea) who’s also part of Interchange and apparently dying of cancer, manages to get Prime another visa, this time for 36-hours. He also gives him the name of Baldwin’s other, Nadia Fierro, an Italian violinist. Prime hopes to use this info to locate Baldwin. At Prime’s insistence, Other Howard is pulled away from his new position in Analysis to assist in the operation.
The mission mainly serves as an opportunity for the audience to learn more about Baldwin and though it may have ended in a failure, it effectively added layers to the cold-blooded killer we met last week. As Prime goes undercover as a regretful stage dad and pries information out of a Nadia in a bar, Aldrich and his team toss her apartment. Prime hips them to the location of her childhood home, but they arrive too late to catch Baldwin, who’s already tended to her wounds there. She too has her other’s address and they realize she’s most likely on her way to the apartment they just left. Again, Baldwin is just a few steps ahead, and having spotted Nadia in the bar with Prime, she calls in a police emergency to draw her target (herself) out into the open.
When the time comes, though, she’s unable to kill her other self, and instead takes her hostage inside the nearby concert hall. She reveals herself to Nadia, and demands to know how Nadia overcame the tortured past they shared (watching their abusive father die and refusing to offer him help in his final moments) and became successful and well-adjusted. But it’s an illusion. Nadia’s arms bear the scar of her self-mutilation just as Baldwin bears the scars of her violent life. In the end, it’s Aldrich’s man Cyrus (Mido Hamada) who kills Nadia and Baldwin is apprehended.
Meanwhile, on the other side, Emily learns there was never an order to bring Prime in and now she looks like she got three men killed for no reason. Still, her superior doesn’t push as hard as one might expect when she doesn’t reveal the name of the person she was tasked with apprehending. She later mentions this to her lover, Ian Shaw (Nicholas Pinnock), who cautions that all matters concerning the mysterious Baldwin should be left alone. This doesn’t stop Emily from confronting Pope with why he’s been sending Prime over, but he’s not talking.
Just like last week’s premiere, this episode’s pacing was perfection. We’re given just enough information about the Nadias’ past to make us care and understand their actions later once they’re face-to-face. And the third act’s action — again, like last week’s hospital shootout — made for an intense and nerve-racking experience.
Other Mysteries and Questions
Is Prime’s world contaminated somehow? He and Pope (and later Emily and Pope) met in church, and Pope mentioned that people don’t use them as places of worship anymore. However, one of the people we saw leaving the church was wearing a surgical mask and Pope mentioned to Emily that there needed to be a reckoning for what Howard’s side did to theirs.
Who’s Clare (Nazanin Boniadi) and what’s her relationship to Baldwin? She mentioned that Howard Prime was from “back home,” so she’s crosser as well.
Is Prime rubbing off on Howard? All signs point to yes. Prime seems intent on helping Howard reach his full potential, which looks a whole lot like making him over into Prime’s image. When Prime offers to have Howard promoted once more to Strategy, Howard tells him to stop and says he has no interest in being like Prime. But after witnessing Nadia’s death, Howard sure hauled off and punched the hell out of Aldrich, which felt like a very non-Howard move.
It’s awfully suspicious that Aldrich would want Nadia dead. It’s not like he had confirmation that she’d seen Baldwin’s face; therefore, he’d want to keep her quiet.
If you’re a Premium podcast subscriber, head over to Patreon to leave your thoughts on this week’s episode and we’ll read them on the podcast Friday night.
Counterpart S1E2 Review Score
"Birds of a Feather"
Counterpart – S1E2 – “Birds of a Feather” | Starring: J.K. Simmons, Harry Lloyd, Olivia Williams, Sara Serraiocco, Ulrich Thomsen, Nicholas Pinnock