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Counterpart - No Man's Land - Part 2 - Review: "The Best New Show of 2018 So Far?"

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Counterpart 1.10 "No Man's Land, Part 2" - Review:
Directed by Jennifer Getzinger, Written by Gianna Sobol & Justin Britt-Gibson

Counterpart has excelled week after week and I don't think it's much of a stretch to label it as the best new show of the year so far. Maybe even the best show of the year so far full stop - over the course of the ten-episode long first season I was drawn into this utterly compelling world (or should I say, worlds) - with everything coming to an exciting, nail-biting finale that opens up a whole new path for season two to follow. Can you imagine if this show hadn't been renewed already? I'm so happy Starz have the belief in it to give us another season, because the amount of unanswered questions that are still there are going to give me a whole year's worth of material to think about.

The finale itself is an ending as much as it is a beginning, embracing its strengths and really setting the tone for a new status quo. The shootout that ripped apart the OI left a big hole in the trust between both sides, Alpha and Prime, and even though it was caused by rogue insurgents the fact that Alpha lost plenty of casualties meant that they were not going to go easy on the Prime world, as long as the wounded shooter was left stranded in neutral territory - No Man's Land - bleeding to death. Both sides could have used him with Alpha wanting him for Interrogation purposes, but at the same time, they wanted Prime to show responsibility that the attackers came from their side, thus giving them a potential bargaining chip when it came to reparations which were being demanded from the word go. Despite the best attempts from Quayle and Emily Prime, who even brought up Indigo, doing her best to try and get her side to to admit that they were from a rogue faction so they could work together, things were never going to end peacefully, and now the line is drawn between the two sides.

Alpha has sealed their doors and any hope of diplomacy is dead. The fact that they've been in a Cold War has been kind of an open secret, but now it's a secret no longer. The attention to detail in the world building over the course of the first season has really helped everything feel right at home in this finale - and the audience is now familiar to how everything operates. It may not have meant that we had the most action packed first season ever - but given that Counterpart was never the most action packed show anyway, preferring a John le Carré approach to the brute force of someone like James Bond or Jason Bourne when it came to the spy tactics, at least until the finale, where it lured Howard Prime back into the game when Aldrich threatened to call off the protection on Emily Alpha.

Howard Prime, stranded on the Alpha world, had decided to leave the city and the country for good, wanting no part in this affair any longer. At least until he was called back into action by Aldrich who told him that the Crossing had been closed meaning that he was now pulling away protection form the hospital in a cold but effective move that ensured Howard Prime had to comply if he didn't want to leave his other stranded in a world that wasn't his own. So naturally, Howard Prime has to come to the rescue of the still unresponsive Emily Alpha, defending her from Baldwin in the process, who has left Greta, who discovered that she was in fact, Nadia. It's impossible to tell Greta who she really is of course in a way that she'll understand, and it's made even more complicated by the guns. So Baldwin is now alone again. This was one of the more emotional scenes of the episode for me, I felt - the side story between Baldwin and Greta has been handled so well that we can't help but feel sympathetic for them both.

Baldwin ends up being paid off by Howard Prime who covers her for the money to save her from killing Emily Alpha. It turns out that Aldrich is waiting for them both to arrive, but he and his team is no match for the sheer badassery of Baldwin - who quickly dispatches them before she can be killed, and even goes in for Aldrich in the process, purely for personal reasons. It's among the most action packed scenes that we've had so far - and I loved seeing Baldwin get her revenge here. She has easily been one of the best characters of the show and I hope this isn't the last we see of her, although I'm not sure now how she'll fit into the second season of this show now she has what she wanted - her money.

Meanwhile, in the Prime World, Howard Alpha finds himself in a greater predicament when he goes to bargain with Alexander Pope in exchange for a ticket home. He promises Pope that he'll get out of his spy game completely and take Emily Alpha with him - so they won't be in their way - but it was always an ambitious move and Pope decides to counter that by saying that he wants Howard Alpha to be a spy for him. Naturally, he turns it down, not wanting to be like Howard Prime. Pope in turn has one more revelation for Howard Alpha - that his Counterpart was in correspondence with Emily Alpha. It isn't long before the two come to blows, and Howard ends up emerging on top - in a way that from Shaw's perspective, views him as someone who is no better than his Counterpart. So naturally, sick of interfering Howard Silks, decides to lock him up, stranded alone in an unfamiliar world. It was kind of frustrating to see him take his anger out on Howard Alpha, as his comparisons to Howard Prime seem more of the fact that he can't get over that Emily Prime may have feelings for him, not completely buying her phantom limb comments.

Quayle's car crash turns out to be more than a spontaneous act of self-sacrifice which he believed he was doing something brave, and was in fact, planned to give him and Clare both alibis so they weren't suspected of being involved in the attack that crippled Diplomacy. He ends up returning home after the meeting with management to find Clare, who has had to kill Cyrus in self defence. Cyrus had been keeping an eye on her and her mother, and decided to act on his own, forcing Clare to lash out and take care of him. The two hug after this, showing that all their collective lies and deceit has now brought them together, and even Quayle is someone who has improved his lying ability as a result of all this. He may not be completely hopeless after all.

Quayle ends up rather ironically being put in the position of the head of the hunt for the mole when he's just done everything he can to cover up the fact that the mole is in fact his own wife, Clare. We see him and Howard Prime linking up at a bar where they discuss a truce and their renewed co-operation, and whilst their truce may be uneasy, it's interesting to see that he has now firmly embraced Howard Alpha's new life, reading to Emily Prime and bringing flowers whilst his other is stranded in prison. It doesn't give us a resolution this season to the events that have conspired so far - instead opting to take a different approach, laying the groundwork for Season Two.

It's just a shame that we have to wait until 2019 to see another episode, especially when there's so many mysteries out there. There's also more secrets to Emily Alpha who is hiding something - maybe she and Emily Prime could have switched places long ago, and the Emily that Howard Alpha has been speaking to all along is actually *his* Emily? There's always going to be more questions than there are answers to this show, and all we can do until the second season to find out their answers.

Either way, it's been an incredibly good season to watch. I'm really excited to see what showrunner Justin Marks and everyone involved on the show has in store for us next season.

What did you think of No Man's Land - Part Two? Do you have any possible theories for Season Two? What's your view on the series so far? Let me know in the comments section below.

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