Are you longing for another addictive series to fill the void while waiting for the return of Westworld and Game of Thrones? Thank the premium tv Gods, Starz is giving us Counterpart just in time to satisfy that ever elusive craving. Counterpart joins the ranks of Fringe and Lost as the new sci-fi/thriller show that starts in a world that we think we understand until we realize that things aren’t always the way they seem.
The show opens on Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons), a regular guy who has worked at the Office of Interchange in Berlin, a U.N. Agency for over 30 years with no real knowledge of what he does or why it’s important. He’s a man who doesn’t ask questions. His wife had just been hit by a car six weeks prior and is currently in a coma. He wants a promotion, but doesn’t really understand where he works so he doesn’t really get one. He’s the guy in the office that everyone gets along with but is always in the background. That is until one day, his keycode into the building doesn’t work. He’s brought into a secret room by two Directors of OI, Peter Quayle (Harry Lloyd) and Aldrich (Ulrich Thomsen). Howard had been summoned by someone that had come over from “the other side”, his double from an parallel dimension. This man, aside from some memories and their appearance, is different from him in almost every way. They have to find an assassin who has come from his dimension with the mission to kill certain people from our dimension, the first target being Howard’s comatose wife.
I have to say, the show was addictive from the start. It’s sort of like Fringe meets Looper meets James Bond. I can tell Counterpart will be a show that will explain just enough in each episode to make you realize new things about this parallel dimension, but just not enough to leave you thirsty for more revelations. After the first two episodes, we’ve learned that that both realities used to be one, until an event occurred 30 years ago by an effect that we are unsure of. It explores the butterfly effect, the thought that one small change in a persons life could change their future drastically. This is explained in the first episode by how one dimensions Howard doesn’t like music and has high cholesterol, while the opposite is true for the other. The first episode focuses on the differences between the Howards, where the second episode shows the differences in our assassin character Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco).
Portraying a dual role is one of the most challenging things you can do as an actor but J.K. Simmons is amazing (as always!), and proves that he deserves his Oscar. The other mains, Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones), Ulrich Thomsen (Festen), Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense) all play their parts superbly. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game, a film I reviewed before and gave high marks on) directed the pilot phenomenally and Stephen Williams (Lost) was tasked to directed the second episode, which does drag a bit nearing the end, but is also an all around great episode. Jennifer Getzinger (Mad Men) and Alik Sakharov (another from Game of Thrones) will direct future episodes in this season.
The series has already started with Starz ordering two seasons of ten episodes each, so don’t expect this show to go away anytime soon, and nor should it. If these first two episodes are any indication, we might be seeing Counterpart for many years to come.