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Counterpart - Both Sides Now & Shaking The Tree - Double Review: "Secrets and Lies"

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Counterpart 1.04 "Both Sides Now" - Review:
Directed by Alik Sakharov & Written by Erin Levy

Both Sides Now continued where the third episode left off with both Howards taking up two different roles in their own respective lives. Harold Alpha was settling into Harold Prime's life and dealing with all the new revelations that he had been kept in the dark about, whilst Harold Prime decided to do some investigating find out information from an old friend who had already crossed over.

The focus was very much back on both Harolds in this episode after the Baldwin-centric previous two episodes and this allowed both versions of Howard to shine in their different lives. Harold Alpha in particular found himself thrust into some family drama that was made all the more complex by how much he didn't know about Harold Prime's life, and it didn't take Emily Prime long at all to work out that Harold Prime was actually Harold Alpha, spotting him almost immediately, rendering his cover blown from the start.

The exchanges between the first two Harolds at the beginning was kept short and sweet. Harold Prime is most likely never going to keep up Harold Alpha's habit of playing Go with Andrei, as he's purely objective driven and wants results, something that was emphasised in the poker game, where it's clearly established that he has a winning mentality. He's not very likely to find himself turning up at Emily Alpha's bedside either, especially given that she's a different person to the Emily that he knows and the Emily he knows isn't even romantically involved with him anymore. He's not even that concerned for his counterpart, who he's quite happy to have him locked up in his own apartment for a week doing nothing. If Harold Prime could have found a way to complete the mission without the involvement of Harold Alpha, it's highly likely that he would have done.

Harold Prime's path took him to Heinrich, his old friend at a small store in Berlin where he was able to learn that there was a mole who had been in the embassy for years, collecting high intelligence and getting it back across to the other side under the nose of everyone. Whilst it's nobody's idea who the mole is, it's high up enough in the organization to put everything that they've worked for at risk. There were some lighter elements this week coming in the form of Howard Prime's rejection of his job at Strategy, walking out in under five minutes of his arrival, but there were few diversions from the main narrative in this week's episode as the show continues to be very carefully plotted.

Quayle is shocked to know that there's a spy in the organization, despite his confident appearance. He wants to be the guy who knows everything, but is clearly way in over his head, especially as the identity of the mole is likely to be someone who he trusts.

Meanwhile, Howard Alpha faces a more personal issue for him as he's thrust into the narration that deals with Emily Prime's suspected drug habit and her recovery from her attempted assassination(?) in the previous episode. We were left awaiting her fate and the show didn't wait long to resolve it for us. It's great to see that she's still alive as to kill her off this early would have been a major downer. It turns out her survival is what is enough to lure Howard Alpha out of his hole in Howard Prime's apartment, and his daughter Anna has come to get him to help deal with her mother's overdose. There's just one problem, however - the Anna on Howard Alpha's world was never born, a victim of a miscarriage, so he has to adapt and learn to this new environment as he is given little choice but to blend in with the new circumstances. He's clearly growing in confidence too, especially now that he's capable of standing up to Raash.

Emily Prime sees through Howard Alpha's cover almost immediately despite him being capable of bluffing his way through the others encounters with Anna and Ian. The two spend some time together and agree to help each other, but Anna ends up storming out at a less than successful family dinner. Another difference between both Howards is that Howard Alpha is a better cook, something that is appreciated by both Emily Prime and Anna in comparison to Howard Alpha, who apparently used to always cook barbecues.

Baldwin was not completely ignored this episode as she came under attack from her own employers and she was forced to escape as she could have been compromised, prompting a betrayal from Clare after the two sleep together. However, Clare should have known that taking her gun from her wouldn't have been enough to slow Baldwin down. This means that without allegiance from either side and with the lack of a duplicate on this side, Baldwin is now completely alone, a wildcard in this high-stakes conflict, and is on the run, wanted by both sides.

And in the shadows, Alexander Pope is gaining notoriety on both sides as a mysterious manipulator. Something big is in the works by the side on Earth Prime, and the people on this Earth are only now starting to learn about it. It's going to be an interesting next few weeks as the pieces are put together, that's for sure.

Counterpart 1.05 "Shaking the Tree" - Review:
Directed by Stephen Williams & Written by Zak Schwartz

If anything, Shaking the Tree was an episode of revelations, that continued to pull back the curtain between what we knew about both worlds whilst following four respective characters on various missions, hitting us with the biggest gamechanger yet, the Emily of this world was not only a spy, but she was also cheating on Harold Alpha. Of course, Harold Alpha doesn't know this as he's with Emily Prime on an alien world, but it's something that Harold Prime takes an issue with, especially as he would have liked to believe that Emily Prime was nicer here.

It's a pretty big revelation and you have to wonder how Harold Alpha will take it when he finds out the truth. Right now he's been kept in the dark with Harold Prime which is costing him vital intelligence, leading him into a potentially dangerous conversation with Alexander Pope who identifies him as the Harold from the Earth Alpha from the word go. Pope is trusted by Prime Harold but not by Emily Prime, and he asks Harold to question Emily Prime further trying to unsettle the relationship between them. He explains that he made Harold Prime into what he was, a cold-hearted assassin, and he is one of the main differences between both Harolds' lives. How different would Harold Prime's life had turned out to be if Alexander Pope hadn't played a factor in it? From what we're told, it would have been a pretty big difference.

We learn more information about The School this week, and how Earth Prime is training kids from a young age to act as double agents so they can send them into the other world, as the hardliners believe that Earth Alpha is responsible for the pandemic that at least Quayle is insistant they had nothing to do with it. Whether they actually had nothing to do with it remains to be seen, but one thing that should be taken into account here is how the writers didn't go with what would have been the easy route of making everyone on Earth Prime evil versions of the main characters. There's different shades of gray between everyone, and the show has so far made it clear that nobody is perfect, they all have their flaws, even the people you'd least expect.

I was under the suspicion that Aldrich may have even been the mole that Henrich was referring to but it would appear that he at least is in the clear right now, or maintaining a very deep cover. Quayle's confession to Aldrich leads him to Alice, who fled the Prime world, where they learn more about the mole and of The School, with Alice revealing what she knew before she left. Aldrich is still not completely in the clear as he's less quick to jump to conclusions than Quayle is, who is seemingly buying every word of Henrich and Howard Prime, but it's enough to pique both men's curiosity. Interestingly, Alice may live with her family, but it's heavily guarded and under protection at all times and you get the feeling that they're almost on house arrest. Another world teaser we're given here is the information about the difference in soil between both worlds.

Meanwhile, Emily Prime and Howard Alpha share more information about themselves. This was arguably the most info-dumping that we've had of any episode yet, but it was vital to learn more before we progressed further at least at this stage even if this made for a largely slow-paced episode, but then that's nothing new. Emily Prime confesses to Howard Alpha that their world's pandemic killed around half a billion people in a four year timespan, dramatically reducing the world's population and giving the hardline fanatics a reason to hate the Alpha Earth and its people. Working together, Emily and Howard are able to intercept a courier who reveals that the hardliners have infiltrated pretty much everywhere to the highest levels, and neither side is safe from their infiltration.

Back on Earth Alpha, Harold Prime does actually go to the game of Go with Andre, and he's clearly a better player than Howard, who we learn has never beaten Andre in several months. In order to maintain his cover and despite Andre's taunts and Harold Prime's desire to win at all costs, Howard Prime is careful enough to play the wrong move in order to allow Andre to come up on top, suspecting nothing in the process. He also runs into Andrei at the hospital who is posing under a false name, and after suspecting him as to be an operative, the revelation comes pretty hard that Emily Alpha was having an affair with him and had been for a while, and he was far more than just Harold Alpha's Go opponent. It's a devastating turn of events, especially as it's likely that the good and kind-hearted Harold Alpha clearly has no knowledge of this. It's also fascinating to see how much the show tells us about Emily Alpha without actually showing her walking around out of her coma yet, and you have to wonder what the consequences will be if she does ever wake up.

Back on Earth Prime, Howard is also doing his best to get closer and re-establish bonds with Anna, especially as he doesn't have a child back on his own world and wants to make amends for Harold Prime's mistakes. Anna wonders what's come over him and questions if he's sick, but Howard Alpha just wants her to consider him as a completely different person so they can start over. Presumably Anna will find out the ruse at some point, but it adds to an compelling twist to the narrative. Are the writers pushing Harold Prime in a direction to where he has to choose between Earth Alpha and Earth Prime at some point in the near future? It could well be headed that way.

Much of this episode was dedicated to answering questions, but we did get forward momentum in Baldwin's storyline. Whilst the standout here was JK Simmons' take as Harold Alpha this week, Sara Serraiocco certainly made an impression even though she said few words, coming across as incredibly intimidating and scary. It looks like Clare picked the wrong side, if Baldwin is indeed out for revenge. But it may have come too late for Henrichs, who was interrogated by Clare as she attempted to find out what he told Harold Prime and Quayle, with his fate left unknown for now. We also got to see more of Clare's Project Indigo students from The School, and presumably, it won't be long before we see more of them again.

Shaking the Tree continued to explore the characters of Counterpart and the world they inhabit, throwing us a significant plot twist to boot. After leading us to believe that Emily Prime had cheated on Harold Prime, it turned out that the cheater was in fact Emily Alpha. There are so many secrets thrown at us it feels like the show has already given us enough revelations for a season, but given the amount of material that we've had thrown at us so far, it feels like we're only just getting started.

What did you think of these two episodes of Counterpart? Let me know in the comments below and check out the next episode on Starz this Sunday.

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