Season 1, Episode 3: “The Lost Art of Diplomacy”
Directed by Jennifer Getzinger
Written by Amy Berg
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Birds of a Feather” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Both Sides Now” – click here
Emily Burton Silk (Olivia Williams) is hit by a car. Rushing to the hospital Howard (J.K. Simmons) fills the doctors in on her medical history. But otherwise the husband is left to wait, wonder.
Skip ahead to current day, as Howard goes back daily to bring his wife flowers. Now there are guards posted at the door, of course, considering his latest changes at work for the United Nations. He sits next to Emily, reading to her usually, and today he can’t do it. Instead he speaks of the “whole world changing” while she’s in her coma.
Emily Prime is watching a film in the theatre, It’s Dark in the City. She’s actually meeting a connection there for info; this leads back to when Howard was nearly killed recently. This is also when Emily finds out about the assassin Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco). And this prompts her to begin the process of going over to the Prime World.
Speaking of Baldwin, she’s in German police custody in the Prime World, in the original world. Roland Fancher (Richard Schiff) calls his son-in-law Peter Quayle (Harry Lloyd) about the whole mess from the other night. This sends Peter angry over to the two Howards and Aldrich (Ulrich Thomsen), they’ve got to figure out how to sew it all up with the least amount of damage. On top of it they’re all at odds. Counterpart Howard demands Original Howard get upgraded security clearance; he’s the only one he trusts.
We see counterpart Howard go visit Claude Lambert (Guy Burnet). At the police station, Aldrich and Howard go call in a favour, getting them in to see Baldwin. Inside the interrogation room, Aldrich questions the assassin, but she refuses; she’ll only speak with Mr. Silk. The two sit down for a chat. She asks Howard why he tried stopping the people he was with, to which he replies: “It was wrong.” He knew her counterpart, Nadia, was innocent.
Emily’s getting herself across to the Prime World. Although it involves sort of nudging in on Ian Shaw’s (Nicholas Pinnock) team, and y’know, they’re intimate together, so that’s putting a wrench into things. He doesn’t want anything to happen to her. She just wants to start clearing her name. She gets a 6-hour crossing, only permitted to be at the UN embassy. There are contact restrictions while she’s there, too.
On the Other Side, Ian and Emily go Lambert’s home where they come upon Howard. Perfect! They’re the enquiry team, there to ask him about what happened involving the illegal crossing, the assassin. Quite the antagonistic conversation, to say the least. Emily speaks with Howard alone. Eventually she reveals to Howard that it was none other than Alexander Pope (Stephen Rhea) who ordered the hit on him.
Fancher and his son-in-law have dinner with Lambert to speak about the “undisclosed operations” in the Prime World. It’s all a bit of diplomacy, in order to keep from erupting into a war between the worlds, that could get pretty rough. Lambert gives his offer, Fancher refuses and then counter-offers. In the middle of it all comes up a conversation about the “pandemic” in the second world, as well as the dead law enforcement officer tied to the first world – both touchy subjects – and the whole thing becomes messy. Later, Fancher explains to Peter that they have to do this little dance simply to use the info gained in their diplomatic trades, if not they wouldn’t cure diseases, learn to create new technologies, so much more.
In the interrogation room, Mr. Silk questions Baldwin about herself, why she is a ruthless assassin. He doesn’t understand why she’d become so heartless. She believes that someday he will discover where he and his counterpart “meet” – where the paths branch, and where, she believes, they’ll eventually branch in the same direction. Can’t escape who you are in the end.
Howard and Emily lament a bit that their relationship fell apart. She wonders if they’re happy on that side, in the original world. At the same time, Lambert gets back, keeping Silk for a while; Howard seems to pass a bit of a secret code between them before she leaves, about St. Christopher’s, mentioning to “light a candle.” Hmm. She certainly doesn’t mention that bit to Ian when they talk after the fact.
As Baldwin is being transported the vehicle is attacked. Bullets spray, though it’s bullet proof. Then the armed men try lighting it on fire. Before they do Aldrich gives them the assassin, off she goes into the night. One of the masked men is not a man: it’s Clare (Nazanin Boniadi).
Back at home, the Howards and Peter talk things over. Counterpart Howard is sure that Ambassador Lambert is a part of the whole mess, now he has to deal with his travel privileges being revoked. What does he suggest? Sending Howard back in his place, so he can work on their mission from that side. Oh, my. Not only would Howard have to leave Emily at the hospital, on that side, he’s not entirely equipped to deal with other situations his counterpart could get into while he’s there. Although it’d make for lots of interesting plot.
Emily goes to St. Christopher’s. By the candles she finds something wedged below the pictures. She unfolds the paper to find a letter from herself, Emily, revealing that Howard’s wife is not who he thought, and that there’s far more to these various stories than we’ve come to figure out thus far. When Emily gets home that night she immediately gets woozy, falling to the floor. There’s someone waiting for her there, they’ve drugged her secretly. They extract the note from her pocket, scatter a bunch of pills on the ground, and go. Hopefully it’s just a knockout, not death. Lord.
This series picks up momentum with each episode, as any good series should. Counterpart is exceeding my expectations, great storytelling.
“Both Sides Now” is next.