Counterpart – Season 1, Episode 2: “Birds of a Feather”

Starz’s Counterpart
Season 1, Episode 2: “Birds of a Feather”
Directed by Stephen Williams
Written by Justin Marks

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 premiere, “The Crossing” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Lost Art of Diplomacy” – click here
Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 8.35.06 PMThe counterpart Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) talks with the counterpart Emily Burton Silk (Olivia Williams). We see they work for the same agency. She says there’s a “rendition order” in Howard’s name. There are also a couple guys there to retrieve him, unless he’ll tell Emily why he’s been crossing to the Prime World so much as of late. Of course he refuses. Howard heads outside where the men escort him into a vehicle; not before he puts in a couple ear plugs. They serve perfectly for close quarters in the car where he disarms and kills the men.
At home, Howard gets a visit from Raash (Marco Khan) with a bit of information on Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco), though not exactly all he’d asked for originally. He’s told that Mr. Alexander Pope (Stephen Rea) wants to see him. They chat about the rendition. After leaving, counterpart Howard gets another 36-hour pass to go over to the Prime World.
And Emily’s been called in to speak with Bob Dwyer (Kenneth Choi), director of strategy at the Officer of Interchange. Apparently there was no rendition sent from Midnight Station. She’s bewildered, and pissed.
Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 8.45.34 PMBack on the Other Side, in the regular world, counterpart Howard goes to see Peter Quayle (Harry Lloyd) and Aldrich (Ulrich Thomsen) about his terms for their collaboration. One of those terms is he wants the other Howard in on the deal, or else no deal. So, mild mannered Mr. Silk is drawn back into their arrangement.
They go to see an orchestra rehearsal. Because on the normal side, Baldwin is a woman called Nadia, she plays violin; “the other her.” Between seeing the differences between the two Howards, the men discuss where the “timeline diverged,” how Nadia and Baldwin share a past, just as do Howard and his counterpart. Although it isn’t so easy for Howard to just talk, he wants to understand the Prime World, how reality “duplicated” into another one all of a sudden about 30 years prior.
Later, when Nadia arrives she wows with her impressive skills on the violin as she plays along with the orchestra to Concerto No. 4 in F Minor, Op.8, No. 4, RV 297, “L’inverno” (Winter): I. Allegro Non Molto composed by the great Antonio Vivaldi; listen here. Whereas in the Prime World, Baldwin is stitching herself back up, paranoid and waiting for someone to find her. She has Clare (Nazanin Boniadi), a mysterious young woman who knows plenty about Silk, advising Baldwin to kill her counterpart before they use Nadia against her. Yikes, that’s unsettling. Not to mention they do share a past, fleeting memories in the back of their minds connecting them across time and space. Those memories are not pleasant, either.
Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 8.51.06 PMThings are certainly wild in the Prime world. We see that counterpart Emily is engaged in an intimate relationship with Ian Shaw (Nicholas Pinnock), also an operative at the OI. Very clear that she and Howard are worlds apart. Speaking of, counterpart Howard is at a bar where Nadia’s drinking, putting the next portion of their plan into motion. He starts using a personal approach, chatting the violinist up over some booze.
Howard goes with Aldrich to look through the woman’s apartment, trying to find clues. He doesn’t see it as useful, whereas he doesn’t realise the full extent to which he and his counterpart are the same man, just slightly divergent from one another. Meaning all counterparts, and vice versa, can somehow lead back to their other. But, this also means that Baldwin, as an assassin, has a direct link back to herself. If she does decide on killing Nadia, it could be a whole lot easier than if it were someone else.
This was the past they share,” Aldrich explains to Howard, taking him to the place where Nadia/Baldwin were raised in a little home with a wretched, angry, drunken father who failed as an artist himself and put pressure on his girl to be what he couldn’t on his own. This is likewise where they discover Baldwin is going after Nadia.
Meanwhile, the violinist is opening up to counterpart Howard at the bar, telling him about her father, her love of music or the lack thereof lately. Yet she will never abandon the violin. “We cannot escape who we are,” she says, and she remembers her father falling drunk onto the subway tracks where she leaves him to be run over. These are the memories shared by the violinist and the assassin.


At the bar, police come and take Nadia away. However, they’re too late. Baldwin guns two of them down, then has Nadia at her mercy. She doesn’t shoot the young violinist, but rather turns her gun on the other police. She drags her other away down the street, followed not far behind by counterpart Howard.
Aldrich meets up with counterpart Howard, tracking the women into a theatre. Sitting by, Howard isn’t content to let anyone get killed in the midst of it all, so he heads inside despite being ordered to stay put. Simultaneously, Nadia and Baldwin come face-to-face, all too literally, which is heavy for the half drunk violinist; in addition, the two women see each other’s hardships.
But the reunion isn’t long lived. Police are getting closer, gunfire erupting. The OI can only do so much when cops are involved. Then, right as Howard rushes in and Baldwin, too, one of the operatives shoots Nadia dead on the stage. Cops take Baldwin into custody as she surrenders without a fight.
When it’s all done, Howard punches Aldrich in the face, disgusted that someone “innocent” was caught in the crossfire. Worse still, counterpart Howard is angry that Aldrich and the OI have allowed “a crosser” to be taken into custody. There’s going to be plenty of fallout now. At least the Howards are on the same side, I guess. They’re not entirely seeing eye to eye, because Howard feels the Prime World’s burdens bearing down on him, burdens he didn’t ask for, not to mention the whole questioning of time, space, everything we know as reality being thrown into disarray, that sorta stuff.
On the Other Side, counterpart Emily goes to see Pope, she wants to keep the peace between their world and the other. It’s obvious Pope isn’t too keen on peace, he holds a grudge for what’s been done to their world; and what exactly does he mean? Oh, I’m sure we’ll find out soon. There’s far more about this world we’ve yet to discover.
Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 9.30.10 PMAlready dug the first episode, this one sold me on the series. There are potentially a few seasons worth of material if they manage the story and its various plots correctly.
“The Lost Art of Diplomacy” is next time.

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