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Counterpart - No Man's Land - Part One - Review: "Just Keeps Getting Better"

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Counterpart 1.09 "No Man's Land" - Review:
Directed by Stephen Williams & Written by Erin Levy

The penultimate episode of Counterpart marked a big turning point for the show as things moved into place for a climatic finale. With the apparent knowledge that Howard Silk Alpha posing as Howard Silk Prime was the mole, Aldrich led a team to his apartment to track him down, however not before Quayle was able to tip him off. This had me wondering for a second about whether or not Quayle was actually on Howard's side and had come up with another plan to get his name and Clare's cleared in the process, but given Quayle's track record, I should have really known better. It was good of him to at least tip Howard off that his cover was blown, even if he didn't initially reveal that it was him that had blown it.

Quayle would have almost gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for Spencer, who promptly decided to burst into tears just after Howard had been told that Spencer and Clare were elsewhere, ruining his cover story almost instantly. Quayle should have known better, but given that he's been completely useless and manipulated up to this point, it isn't far fetched to believe that he would have tried to pull the gun on Howard Prime, someone who is far more experienced in combat than he will ever be. It's a tense confrontation to be sure, and it's Quayle who has to be told just how deep of a mess he is in, as putting the blame on Howard has only brought him a short amount of time, as it won't be long before Aldrich works out that Quayle was lying. Quayle plans to cross that bridge when it comes, but he doesn't sound too convincing and he might even be fully aware of that. But it's too late for him to back out now.

Howard eventually leaves after revealing to Quayle the intelligence of the fact that his side has been compromised, and Aldrich returns where Quayle sticks to the script and decides to play up the whole lack of promised protection argument in his defence, but it's wearing thin and Aldrich is growing suspicious. He suspects that there might be someone else behind the scenes that Quayle is hiding from them.

Meanwhile, on Earth Prime, Shaw decides to follow up a lead of his own and heads to Pope on a rash solo mission. Bringing Pope in was something that should have been done a lot sooner, but of course he's quick to have a solution and a guard points a gun at the back of his head. It seems however that Shaw doesn't need Pope to tell him that the Howard walking around with Emily Prime is Howard Alpha, not Howard Prime, but he was rather hoping to hear it from Emily herself rather than being told by Pope, and he wanted her to confess secrets to him. So far it seems, she hasn't done that, and Shaw is losing patience with the ruse. It was interesting to see that Shaw knew for longer than we suspected that he did, and it's another example of the show playing against our expectations.

Kaspar, Shaw's supposed friend who was the lie detection technician is the main objective for Shaw's team this week as he is trying to bring him in under the nose of Pope's, who have promised Kaspar safe passage to the other Earth so that Kaspar can see his son again, who never died on Earth Alpha. However, Pope is not always a man of his word and it's much more likely that Kaspar is just escaping to his death after informing them about the Potsdam raid. After a quick fight at the underground station, Shaw and Emily are able to capture Kaspar and take him back to their base of operations.

They did all of this without Howard Alpha, who Shaw didn't want on the mission, and Howard meanwhile is coming to terms with the fact that Emily Prime will never be "his" Emily and he doesn't belong in this world. It's clear that he wants to return home to his Earth so he can return to his normal life, unaware of the mess that awaited him on the other side that his counterpart has found himself in the middle of. It's going to be safe to assume that Howard Alpha isn't going to be able to return to his normal life anytime soon, especially with everything else that's going on behind the scenes.

Before he leaves Emily and Shaw, Howard Alpha is able to play the good cop to their bad cop during the interrogation with Kaspar where he learns about how Pope got to him. Kaspar also goes one step further and reveals that Emily Alpha - his Emily, was hit in an attempt to stop the secret from spreading about Pope's moles. Emily Alpha was onto something and as a result, she had to be taken out of the game. It's something that is another revelation that Howard has to deal with, finding out that there was another thing that his wife was keeping secret from him (even though we learnt from Andrei that Emily Alpha would have never left Howard Alpha for him), and I hope both parties live long enough to get that conversation that they need at the end of the day. Because the odds are quickly stacking up against them both, especially now that Baldwin is still out for Emily Prime, the reward on the death of the married couple being doubled by Clare in a quick conversation that she's able to have over the phone, still tied up by Quayle all the while.

Clare is also quick to remind Quayle that Spencer is all she cares about, because all her life, she had nothing. She's the first thing that was actually hers, and she will do anything to protect her. That's all she ever cared about, Spencer, and it looks that this at least, is genuine. She knows that the marriage between her and Quayle is a scam, especially given all the affairs that Quayle has been having, but it at the very least, she got someone who she could care for and love as one of her own out of it. Quayle then decides to take matters into his own hands and do something brave for once, escaping from his own house in the car with Clare and then proceeding to crash it with them both inside, as they head into an unknown fate ahead of next week's finale. Whatever fate awaits them, it looks as though they are going to face it together.

And then the Strategy and Diplomacy offices come under attack. It's a lethal blow as several of their agents are gunned down rather ruthlessly by Pope's moles, who have been preparing for the situation for a while. It's a brutal move that amounts essentially to what is a suicide mission, with Aldrich and Howard Prime on hand at the scene when it happens in the interrogation room. Howard Prime does his best to make Aldrich aware that Quayle is playing him, but before things can progress further, the attack happens separating them. I was half expecting to Aldrich to become one of the casualties at this point, it would certainly increase the tension even further if we knew Counterpart wasn't afraid to make a move as bold as that, that's for sure, but the fact that Aldrich remains alive doesn't make things any easier for Howard Prime, who will still have to face questions in the aftermath of the attack. And given the current status of Howard Alpha, that's not going to be made any easier.

And then there's Baldwin lurking in the shadows, who has to kill both Howard Alpha and Emily Alpha. This has brought back into question the very attack itself - was it merely a front for a more secretive operation behind the scenes planned by Pope? This can't be it - can it? There's got to be more to his plans. It's also interesting to note that Quayle's father-in-law wasn't among the casualties - when he easily could have been - was this a deliberate move? Or again, was there more to this attack than meets the eye?

Counterpart has got me questioning everything about the show that's happened so far, and given that the show just keeps getting better and better week in, week out, I'll be going into the finale with incredibly high expectations after everything that has happened so far. Hopefully the show doesn't dissapoint in its resolution.

What did you think of No Man's Land - Part One? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to stay tuned for next Sunday's finale on Starz.

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