Starz Counterpart
Season 1, Episode 5: “Shaking the Tree”
Directed by Stephen Williams
Written by Zak Schwartz

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Both Sides Now” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Act Like You’ve Been Here Before” – click here
Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 2.23.20 AMAt the border of the two worlds through the United Nations, a man (Nolan Gerard Funk) passes across, supposedly to do “maintenance for the embassy.” He gets into a car, along with a woman and another man. They’re all dropped off at a seedy building, then someone takes them upstairs. There are “deliveries” waiting for them in an apartment. The trio are odd and dangerous; no loose ends-type of people. Whatever it is they’re planning on doing, they don’t want anybody talking about them.
Counterpart Howard (J.K. Simmons) has to do his best pretending he’s the regular Howard when he runs into Andrei (Bernhard Forcher). They play Go, and Howard’s suspiciously better than his friend. Then he purposefully plays a wrong move, so as not to arouse too much suspicion. Later, he goes to visit the comatose Emily (Olivia Williams), as his regular counterpart does daily. A weird scene to watch, seeing as how we know there’s more to this Emily than she let on to her husband. Really interesting moment between these two.
Elsewhere, Clare (Nazanin Boniadi) is visiting Heinrich (Bjorn Johnson) – friend of Howard’s counterpart. She has questions for the butcher playing pretend in his little shop. She wants to know more about why the other Silk came to visit recently. She accuses him of betraying his “own kind.” He knows that she’s involved with “the School” – Alexander Pope’s (Stephen Rhea) whole thing. And he knows that he’s in trouble, too.
There are no sides. We all go to the same hell.”
Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 2.25.49 AMOn the Other Side, Howard is looking for his daughter. This is when he runs into Pope, who knows instantaneously that he isn’t his Other. They have a casual, if not awkward talk, as Howard’s wholly unprepared. I’m curious about the naming of Rhea’s character, considering it’s a reference to one of the greatest poets to have ever lived and one of the most quoted writers in the English language. Nevertheless, Pope is what’s called “a runner.” He also tries to warn Howard that he shouldn’t listen to the counterpart Emily. But despite Howard’s doubts he begins wondering what else he doesn’t know.
At the UN, Peter Quayle (Harry Lloyd) is paranoid, having Aldrich (Ulrich Thomsen) scan his office for bugs, et cetera. He talks about the supposed mole, the people funding Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco), all that. Now, they’re both starting to question people around them. If the intel is correct, the mole’s been around “for years.” That’s a deep cover.
The real Howard goes to counterpart Emily, asking about Pope. She tells him about her job at the UN – she does counterintelligence for Strategy there. He tells her about his wife being hit in the road, and how an assassin came for her after that. This Emily says Pope’s the one who pulled the overdose stunt on her. And she understands the UN “embassys compromised.” All Howard wants to do is help her, as well as his own Emily.
All the while Baldwin is busy readying her weapons again, though she’s damaged; both physically and mentally, worse than ever. Not sure what will be her next step. Who knows what she’ll decide on doing.
Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 2.47.51 AMAldrich and Quayle head out to a house where a “defector” from the Other Side lives, a woman called Alice. She and Aldrich know each other well, they have a sweet sort of relationship, actually. They all sit for tea. Here, we find out more info on the state of this Prime World re: the arid soil which doesn’t support the growth of certain teas, red tea specifically. Afterwards, Aldrich asks her about a theory she had previously. Seems she suspected something long before; or rather, someONE.
We get more backstory on the Prime World. During the early ’90s there was an outbreak of flu, an epidemic starting as a fever. In 4 years, 7% of the Prime World’s population was dead. Counterparts Emily and Howard almost lost their daughter, which affected the parents horribly. Emily developed an addiction, and her husband hardened emotionally.
Speaking of Other Howard, he’s sneaking around looking into the life of his counterpart’s buddy Andrei. In the guy’s apartment Howard comes across a secret stash up in the roof, including tons of cash, a gun, and a dossier of information. Ah, yes – more of the original Howard’s life is not what it seems.
On the Other Side, Howard helps Emily by figuring out more about “pouches” delivered from the embassy, involving Ambassador Lambert. The young man  he speaks to – Edgar – isn’t totally honest. In fact, he leaves quickly in the middle of their meeting. Not quick enough, though. Because Emily and Howard corner him. Edgar eventually coughs up an address linked to the pouch deliveries.
Alice explains things for Quayle, about a dispute on the Other Side between directors at the UN. The whole thing involved a “black operation” named Indigo; aka the School, all of which involves Mr. Pope and a league of “fanatics.” The whole matter traces back to the flu outbreak, which many of those fanatics blame on those from the Original World. Alice suggests the code name of the mole is Shadow.
Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 3.02.44 AMIn his apartment Andrei is confronted violently by Other Howard. What we discover is that Andrei fell in love with Emily; the reason he goes to visit her in the hospital. They’d been together for 10 months before she had her accident. His friendship with Howard seems a bit devious at this point. So sad. Furthermore, the stash of money and the gun? Not Andrei’s – it belongs to the elusive Emily Silk.
As a lover of Ulrich Thomsen, I dig that we’re given more of Aldrich in this episode, as we see a more humanist side of his personality rather than the one-named, obsessively work-driven character that we knew previously. Can’t wait to see more, plus his involvement with the two Alices and the entire UN conspiracy.
Dont look for things that arent there
On the Other Side, Howard catches up with his daughter Anna (Sarah Bolger), who’s confused about the recent change in her father. It’s upsetting to her that he’s all of a sudden acting like a real dad. But he just begs to hear about her life, to know what he missed out on all those years.
Amazing episode. Becoming the norm to love every moment of Counterpart. I never expected to love it, honestly. Not usually my type of thing, even though I do dig science fiction. Just a fascinating series so far. “Act Like You’ve Been Here Before” is next week.

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