2018's most engaging spy drama was the high concept drama Counterpart. It took all of the great stuff we love from espionage stories (double agents, hidden agendas, secret message drops, etc) and took the idea to the next level. What if some of the spies you were working with, and against, were also your mirror doubles from another world who also have some of your psychological attributes. It's the ultimate spy chess game.
With so many twists and mysteries through the first season of the show, it has left us with a number of questions that have kept us up at night. These are the five biggest that we'd like to see answered:
What was the deal with the pandemic? Was it a bio-weapon?
The alternate worlds of Counterpart sounds like a fun idea initially until we learn of the tragic consequences of visitors slipping between the two worlds. In the mythology of the show, during the 1990s a pandemic wiped out a significant portion of the population. It appears their biological defenses were unable to cope with the disease. But, what was the cause of the disease? Was it an intentional biological weapon sent from the Alpha world as an attack against the people of Prime? Or was it a naturally occurring flu epidemic? The suggestion in the show seems to be that it may be the result of the people on the Prime world simply not having the same immunity to a disease that could have been brought over inadvertently by a traveller from Alpha.
But, this does remain an open-ended question that we are sure will be explored in season 2.
Could there be a third world manipulating the Alpha and Prime worlds?
One of the central mysteries of the show is: 'Who is management?'. The mystery was set up just a few episodes into the series run, with no clear indication given as to who the shadowy figures are. None of the characters in the show have a direct relationship with them, only communicating via a really intense Polycom-like conferencing system.
But the conferencing system, in itself, holds a clue that there is more going on than we realise. We know that as a result of the pandemic, the Prime world experienced a technological setback. As such, they don't have mobile phones, or online connections. And yet, the spy organisations in both the Prime world and the Alpha world use the exact same technology to communicate with Management. Surely, there should be a discrepancy in the sophistication of the tech being used?
How could the Prime spy agency be using technology that far outpaces everything in its own world? Why would the Alpha agency deliberately use technology that is outmoded by everything else? Could it be that the conference systems have been provided by a third party - that Management is a level of bureaucracy coming from a yet-to-be-revealed third world?
How committed to the relationship with Howard is Emily Burton-Silk?
Throughout the first season, Emily Burton-Silk (from the Alpha world - Prime world Emily doesn't hyphenate her name) is in a coma. But, as Howard learns more about her hidden life as a spy, he also learns she was carrying on an affair. So, when Howard meets the Prime world's Emily Burton, he naturally feels drawn to her and the knowledge that his Emily had cheated on him opens up the alternate world Emily as a potential romantic prospect.
But, we haven't really spent any real time with Emily Burton-Silk. We don't know what her agenda is. We don't know anything about her thoughts, feelings, and general attitude towards her marriage to Howard. Has Emily Burton-Silk ended the marriage in her mind?
The relationship that Howard has with the two Emilys is one of the most complex stories on TV about a marriage and we're desperate to see how this plays out.
What is the Alpha side Pope like? Is he in the 'business'?
It's difficult for an actor to stand out in Counterpart, with every character cast so well with actors each bringing their A-game. The indelible impact left on the show by Stephen Rea as the villainous Alexander Pope speaks to the strength of his performance.
Part of the fun of Counterpart is in watching the actors playing alternate versions of themselves. So, naturally, we're eager to see if Pope is active on the Alpha world. What sort of man would he be?
Why didn't JK Simmons win an Emmy for his dual-role on Counterpart?
We live in an unfair and unjust world in which sometimes the good guys don't win. Sorry to end this on such a down note, but this is a travesty. Simmons is incredible on this show in both roles as the two Howards. Frankly, the performance as each character is strong enough to be nominated as an Emmy, but watching him play opposite himself, exhibiting considerable nuance for both men, is one of the great screen acting performances.
Season one of Counterpart is streaming now at SBS On Demand, with season 2 debuting Thursday 21 February:
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