Counterpart The Crossing Review
That plot gadget (a MacGuffin) to get the narrative to its present incarnation was not the centerpiece around which the plot of Counterpart spun. Instead, Counterpart spun around the effect of its cause, how that occurrence had altered the lives of select individuals that interacted with it and how those oblivious to the parallel dimension were affected as well.
When Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) meet his double in The Crossing, Counterpart became a character study: this stimuli will create this type of person, that decision will create that type of person.
Most of their conversations were trivial but the differences between each double exposed by them were staggering: one was an every man, an Average Joe while the other was a ruthless, no-nonsense single operator capable of carrying out an intelligence operation by himself.
The effect of the doubles’ interactions on each other made their conversations, upon retrospection, far more interesting than they would have been without said side effect. Spy Howard Silk never would have “reached out” and Interface Howard Silk would still have been stuck in a dead-end job if they had never met each another.
The doubles unintentional side-effect on each other during The Crossing was part of the murkiness of what transpired, what had happened in the past, and what was currently at stake in Counterpart. This intentional obsequiousness was sprinkled throughout the episode and ameliorated it. Successful mysteries were created during The Crossing, enough and at high enough quality to induce the viewer to want more.
One such mystery: how do parallel worlds work with duplicates of everything (men, women, children, buildings, etc)? The best and most extensive previous exploration of this scenario was the brilliant third season of Fringe. Like in that season of Fringe, a duplicate character in The Crossing eventually interacted with his identical self and agents from the parallel dimension crossed over on covert missions. One such covert mission in The Crossing created a set-piece action sequence that advantageously enhanced what was at risk and the quality of the episode.
There are very few action TV series premieres that have a standout scene that sticks with the viewer. Arrow‘s premiere episode had such a scene. Counterpart‘s premiere episode did as well but unlike Arrow, The Crossing‘s standout action scene worked on multiple levels, three to be exact: 1.) Spy Howard Silk, 2.) assassin Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco), and 3.) the bystanders primarily or secondarily involved in the shootout and subsequent chase.
As soon as Spy Howard Silk stepped onto the hospital floor and didn’t put the flower in the nurse station vase, the scene’s wonderful escalation began. When a script is written very well, little hints can become large and rewarding plot moments if exploited correctly. That was what happened with the casually dropped line that Baldwin was meticulous and fastidiously studied her targets and their habits. When Baldwin saw that the flower wasn’t in place and she began slipping out of her high heels, it was the moment when The Crossing shifted from engaging pilot episode to well-crafted action thriller.
The scene was so good in fact that a query, more like a wish, occurred at its conclusion.
I don’t believe this will ever happen because screenwriters are rarely interested in the background of the killing machines that they create but I would love to know: who Baldwin was (outside of her profession), why she joined the organization that she belonged to (or was chosen for), how she was trained, and for how long? Baldwin was vastly skilled, Le Femme Nikita-skilled, and one episode dedicated to her, like the All About Allison episode of Homeland, would raise the viewer’s investment in that character (if she in fact survived). Like I said, I don’t think it will happen. Villain character exploration rarely happens. Character exploration in Counterpart will most-likely be limited to Spy Howard Silk, Interface Howard Silk, and the conscious version of Emily Burton Silk (Olivia Williams).
Based on The Crossing, will Counterpart reach the heights of Orphan Black? Time will tell, though J.K. Simmons certainly has the talent necessary. The only other components necessary are the ambition and the writing from Counterpart‘s screenwriters.
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