Season 2, Episode 6: “Twin Cities”
Directed & Written
by Justin Marks
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Shadow Puppets” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “No Strings Attached” – click here
1987, East Berlin.
An American named Croft (Trevor White) meets with a young Yanek (Samuel Roukin). They have a deal: Yanek brings information, he gets to immigrate to the United States with his family. We discover that yes, the woman who grew up to be Indigo terrorist Mira (Christiane Paul) is actually Yanek’s daughter. He had a son named Rainer (Andreas Warmbrunn), as well. The Berlin Wall was still standing at the time. The family was divided even amongst themselves along political lines. Mira’s brother seemed sympathetic to government opposition. Meanwhile, their father worked for the government, where he would steal info for his mysterious friend. He waited until he was alone at the office, sneaking in to take pictures of equipment, including a Light Source Synchrotron. That’s when something started going wrong, but Yanek ignored it, leaving his post unattended: computers went into fatal error, a code red initiated, and the system literally melted.
And it’s through this event the Crossing opened. Yanek wandered inside and came face-to-face with himself, his Other. Both of them were startled, running away. But this is the moment the world spawned a Prime world, and nothing was ever the same again.
In the current day, Yanek (James Cromwell) is taken by Mira and the others. The father and daughter aren’t having a nice reunion. She’s bitter and resentful, for many reasons. Indigo was essentially borne of Yanek’s own writings. His daughter turned them into a kind of manifesto upon which the foundation of Indigo was built.
In ’87, Yanek went back into the Crossing where he and his Other spoke briefly. They each believe they’re the ones that spawned the other: “I created you.” Like a chicken or the egg-type situation, or maybe they’re both the egg. So, they head back up into the Alpha world to sit and talk.
The two Yaneks speak about what could’ve happened a “quantum entanglement.” All the original Yanek knew was he couldn’t accept Croft’s offer to move him to America, he had too much to study with his Other. They kept journals and studied themselves thoroughly. Eventually they decided it was time for each of them to experience the Other’s world themselves. This proved to them just how identically reproduced each world was of the other world. And that was kinda boring to Yanek. So the two began an experiment of deliberately manufacturing “a control and chaos” on either side to see what would happen. It all started with Mira— one Yanek gave his daughter a cassette tape as a gift after his trip, the other brought her nothing. Fitting, given in current day Mira’s planning to put an end to the whole experiment for good by wiping out the Alpha world. What exactly does she have planned?
Eventually Yanek brought other people into the fold, as his Other brought their doubles along. These are the people we saw in the last episode when Yanek showed Howard (J.K. Simmons) an old photograph of a group of doubles a.k.a Echoes. The meeting produced a pact between the pairs to study the “parallel universe” in secret. Not everybody was immediately sold, but they all quickly saw the endless possibilities of what had occurred.
“Whatever process had created us, it was meticulous.”
For a time, Yanek’s project went well. Until one day the police showed up looking for Yanek’s son, claiming he’s been engaging in anti-government activities. Only during the arrest the officer holding the boy down didn’t realise he was having an epileptic seizure. It was too late for them to do anything— Rainer died before they could get him help. Yanek’s wife blamed him for not getting them out of there before. He went back to his group, only to realise his Other’s son was still alive, and thus began a truly divided existence between them. His Other went on with a happy family, whereas Yanek went on mostly alone.
In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. Things were changing. They started thinking about expanding into the building, now that the party were no longer running things. They wanted to begin the Office of Interchange— we see the unfinished room where Management still conducts its sessions today. This meant dividing the place appropriately so nobody was able to tell what they were doing. While the rest of them were making plans, Yanek took a trip to the Prime world where he could spend time with his Other’s family in a place where his son remained alive.
In 1990, things got further underway for the O.I. offices. Yanek Prime was busy overseeing construction while Yanek Alpha was fleeing the “cold prison” of his world for the warmth of his Other’s home. One day, the Other discovered what Yanek had been doing, and this altered things even worse for the pair of Echoes.
And we see how Yanek started to wonder about disease and immunity, he was curious about a potential “biological weapon” as “just a precaution.” You see where this would lead someday, right? The paranoia of one side versus the other didn’t die with the Berlin Wall, it lived on in Yanek, whose mind kept going back to all he’s lost, and all he might be able to gain from his Other’s world. The two Yaneks got together for a frank talk about the state of their weird lives. Things devolved into violence between them, ultimately resulting in Yanek killing his Other, right before Mira Prime walked in on him. So he fled the apartment, back to his world. He felt one world would destroy the other, no matter what any of them did, but nobody else believed him. His group gave him over to the authorities in the Prime world to be imprisoned.
The two worlds became hugely divided. The München Virus was created and contained. Management was divided between the worlds— the Echoes would never be in the same place from then on, each carrying a briefcase to communicate between themselves. Yanek’s actions had ripple effects even he never could’ve anticipated.
Today, Mira explains the “two broken worlds” to her father, and Yanek sees the ruin he left behind for his daughter. She was seen as mad by others because she believed she saw her father kill her father. In current day, she sees it as a blessing that opened her eyes to reality. She wants to do what Yanek wanted to do back then and destroy the Prime world. She wants to meet all the Echoes together, then she and her father will surrender. A devious, dark plan.
Great episode! Justin Marks proves his weight in WHOA factor with this backstory episode that brings so many facets of Counterpart together. Fantastic writing and execution (editing was great here). “No Strings Attached” is next time.