Counterpart starring J.K. Simmons needs to go right to the top of your TV “watch” list.
Starz takes spy games directly into the multiverse. It really doesn’t get much geekier than intrigue across parallel universes. However, this show isn’t trying to be Fringe part deux or paste some think gimmick over a stale spy story that’s been done to death.
This mystery revolves around Howard Silk, an unassuming man thrown into the deep end when his double shows up demanding to meet him.
A quick way to “record all episodes” status on my DVR is 1) be an anime, 2) be a superhero show, 3) star an actor I stan for, or 4) offer up intrigue with a side of sex and mayhem. Check more than one box and I’m likely to watch the show live and record it.
After binging the first six episodes, this show’s got my attention (and dedicated DVR space). Every time I think I’m cutting the cord, Starz comes up with a reason why I shouldn’t damn them.
Counterpart offers up a fresh and vital slow-burning thriller that’ll catch and keep your attention. The story’s told with an expert eye to story progression, character development, and world-building.
The Premise of ‘Counterpart’
Howard Silk ( J.K. Simmons) is a nobody going nowhere at work. His life is so boring it’s a wonder he doesn’t fall into catatonia and drool. After 30 years of being a “cog in a wheel”, Howard’s future doesn’t look very bright. He’s a sensitive, slightly blundering man dedicated to his wife and frighteningly naive.
If he ever had ambition (and the fire to see it through) it petered out long ago. At least, that’s until the day he goes to work and ends up in a basement with his boss sitting across from… himself.
After years of being so far out of the loop that he didn’t know there was one, Howard must learn quickly that not only is his company not what it seems, the world isn’t either. There’s a parallel world with an exact copy of each person and place, but that’s where the similarities end. These worlds (and inhabitants) diverged at some point in time and slowly ceased to bear any resemblance to each other. Howard works for the entity responsible for guarding the gateway between worlds and keeping its existence a secret – in both universes.
Howard Prime is sharp-witted, dangerous and edgy with more than a touch of asshole floating just under the surface. He’s fully dialed into both worlds and what’s going on behind the scenes. You see, Howard Prime is a spy in his world and he’s hunting an assassin who’s crossed over from his world into Howard’s. The assassin has a kill list that has Howard wife, Emily (Olivia Williams), at the top of it.
The Story’s Worth the Slower Pace
Counterpart builds dual worlds and unravels a mystery big enough to encompass them both. With each episode, you discover that things are ever-murky and increasingly dangerous. The story never falters – even as more than a few episodes are dedicated to subplots and character development – and always circles back to the main conspiracy at play.
J.K. Simmons as Howard and Howard Prime is impressive work – even for him. He’s brought each iteration of Howard together as fully developed characters with quirks and stark differences that make their similarities all the more uncanny. You always feel as though you’re watching two completely different actors, even when they’re not in the same frame.
The remainder of the ensemble cast all play essential roles in bringing this series to vivid life and anchoring the very different feel of the two worlds. There are few missteps detracting from the believability of any character, which makes for an immersive viewing experience all around.
The more you learn, the further down the rabbit hole you’re willing to travel. The twists and turns along the way make the journey more than worth the effort. This atmospheric thriller is geared to make you paranoid and prone to conspiracy theories.
There are equal parts action and emotion holding these worlds together. As they slowly come together, you’ll find yourself changing your mind about who’s on what side and where it’s all heading in the end.
I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to keep it together until episode seven airs.
Counterpart is on Starz Network, Sundays at 8PM.
Are spy thrillers your thing? Ever wondered what your doppelganger would be like? Give Counterpart a watch and let DHTG know what you think in the comments!