Season 1, Episode 1: “The Crossing”
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Written by Justin Marks
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Birds of a Feather” – click here
A man goes tumbling through a window into the streets. Police storm the building finding their hopeful target gone, though he’s left “currency from the Other Side” and other things. They’re looking for someone named Baldwin.
Only they don’t realise the Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco) they’re looking for is a woman. She cuts the throat of one officer, gunning down the other, then walks away with her bag, passports, and everything else in tow.
We meet Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) playing what looks like Go, with his friend Andrei (Bernhard Forcher). Afterwards, Howard heads for the train, then goes to his job where he works for the United Nations. There, he’s given a sealed briefcase. He and many others line up in a hallway. When a light goes off and a buzzer, they each step into a booth. Across from each of them on the other side is another person; they have a briefcase, too. In those briefcases are files, in the files are cryptic messages they each read in succession, marking notes on their papers respectively. When they’re finished, they head back out to their lockers, and they go about their days.
Well, Howard goes to another part of the UN’s building. He is brought down to a different level. He’s taken to see a Peter Quayle (Harry Lloyd). We figure out Mr. Silk’s been with the agency for decades, he works for Interface, but he’s looking to move up to Strategy. However, it seems they want to keep him where he is, and they use a “non–approved exchange” from his session earlier – when he told the man across the booth from him about a spot on his tie – to make it seem like he’s getting complacent. Poor fella. He also doesn’t really seem to understand his role there, what they even do. I get the feeling he’s soon going to find out.
Then there’s also Emily (Olivia Williams), his wife, who’s in the hospital from concussive trauma, hooked up to all sorts of machines. She needs long-term care, at this point. Her brother Eric (Jamie Bamber) has brought him papers, concerning what his mother wants re: Emily and her care, et cetera. It’s as if we’ve caught up with Howard right when his world has started crumbling around him.
Even worse, he gets to work the next day and his passcode won’t let him through the gates. Security takes him through to see Aldrich (Ulrich Thomsen), the Director of Operations at the UN agency of which Howard is a part. Before the man can say anything Peter turns up, explaining someone “walked in from the Other Side.” Apparently, whoever it is will only speak to Mr. Silk. So, they bring in a man with a bag over his head, revealing another scruffier Howard; doppelganger style! Two Howards sitting across from one another. Total confusion. Scruffy Howard has serious business to talk about, though he’s got other things to take care of while the UN boys bring the original Howard in on whatever the fuck is happening.
Quayle tells Howard about a passage opened during the Cold War, on the spot where their UN building stands; a place called “The Crossing.” This allowed separate branches, different areas of space and time. All very hush hush. Moments later, Aldrich’s gotten information about a kill list, including the name of Emily. Uh oh.
That night at a club, Marcel (Karim Saleh) from the agency is partying, celebrating getting the job in Strategy. Except he’s murdered by Baldwin.
“Who we are is none of our choice”
“You are who you are. I am what I am. And the game only ends one way.”
Scruffy Howard gets together with original Howard, Aldrich, and Quayle. They talk about Baldwin, the murders in the Prime World, as well as that of Marcel the night prior. All of it’s pretty shocking to plain ole Howard, he’s not used to all this mad, sci-fi espionage. Scruffy Howard tells of factions and takeovers and leadership squabbles on his side, even disappearing people, scarier things.
They’re preparing now for Baldwin to come for Emily. The Scruffy Howard goes through his doppelganger’s routine, when he goes to the hospital. They also do a little unintended bonding about their separate yet same life. Howard finds it interesting all the things different about the two of them, whereas the other one isn’t much concerned with anything other than the possible next murder by Baldwin.
They head to the hotel, and the Scruffy Howard – now clean shaven, we’ll call him 2nd Howard – goes inside. Of course e’s armed. And the other two keep the outside monitored, with original Howard stowed away, out of sight. 2nd Howard goes up to Emily’s room alone.
And that’s when Eric gets there, heading up to the room, as well. This puts 2nd Howard in a slightly awkward position. He does well, though. He acts, mostly, how original Howard would act, aside from being much more assertive. He tells Eric nobody will be taking Emily away from him.
Things escalate quickly when it looks like Baldwin may have turned up. 2nd Howard bluntly pulls his gun, telling Eric to shut up, someone is there to kill Emily. The UN team get ready, as Baldwin herself walks up the hallway towards the room. She notices something out of place: 2nd Howard didn’t put his flowers in the vase like original Howard always does. Fuck! You messed up doppelganger. This prompts Baldwin to take extra precautionary measures, right before 2nd Howard goes after her and a gunfight erupts.
When in a tight spot, Baldwin jumps from a window, landing right outside the car where original Howard is sitting. 2nd Howard scares her off before she can kill anybody. Quite the night for Mr. Silk and Mr. Silk.
2nd Howard’s on a 12-hour Visa from the Prime World, so he has to get another one as soon as possible then come back. Meanwhile, original Howard’s burnt out from all the madness. Quayle tries assuring him things will be fine, the first time discovering all this is a bit of a trip, but it is a huge opportunity. For what, exactly? Because Howard’s not entirely sold. He does know that they need him, so that means he can exploit them to get what he wants at the UN.
Skip to the Prime World, where 2nd Howard sits in a bar. The same song plays there as original Howard has on his record player – “The Dark End of the Street” by Percy Sledge. Two different worlds, parallel to one another, yet the same. And the 2nd Emily, she’s not dead like 2nd Howard told the original, either. She’s quite alive, and looks pretty healthy. Hmm. Very, very interesting. So many possibilities ahead!
“Birds of a Feather” comes next.