Counterpart season 2 episode 2 recap: Outside In


In this week’s episode of Counterpart, Outside In, we catch up with our friends in Dimension Two. We also learn that Indigo is alive and well. It’s much larger than a single school.

I’ve always liked the opening credits of Counterpart. The pieces from the game Go are moving all over a board that morphs into a 3D rendering of multiple Crossings. Howard comes face to face with himself a few times. It’s mysterious, fascinating, and mundane.

Jeff Russo’s theme for the show is perfect. It reflects the mysterious and fascinating aspects of the curtain being pulled. But in the middle of the theme, there’s a breakdown. Not like in a pop song.

The theme and its orchestration melt into simple piano flutters before its final crescendo. It acts almost like a sigh. Here we are with two dimensions and all the possibilities that come with them. Yet, here we are playing spy versus spy. I love the irony that.

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This week’s episode was written by Justin Britt-Gibson (Into the Badlands) and directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez (13 Reasons Why). It’s the second of half of what is really a two-part season premiere.

By the end of the episode, the Go board is set for Dimension One and Dimension Two. In fact, it seems that we joined the series towards the end of the game.

Grab Life by the What?

The stinger, or in this case, teaser, catches us up with Aldus (Jakob Diehl) and Mira (Christiane Paul). The last time we saw them they were on the run from the burning school in Potsdam. Aldus had just euthanized a bunch of children and was totally shocked that Mira was offering him a chance to make a getaway. He clearly thought his next step was to down his own cyanide pouch.

Aldus is clearly shaken by what he’s done. The two enter a large apartment that looks to be doubling as an Indigo drop site. He’s pacing and appears to start physically shaking just a bit. Mira, ever the teacher, literally takes matters into her own hands.

She pours the two of them a drink, makes sure Aldus drinks it, and then takes out her gun. Mira is only going to put it on the table, but she does it slowly enough to let Aldus, and the audience, know that she has a gun and can use it at any time on anyone. She leaves it on the table pointed at Aldus.

Once he sits down, Mira tells him that he needs to be strong “for the children.” That’s gross. Especially since her next move is to unzip Aldus’ pants and immediately start pleasuring him. I thought I was shocked. Aldus has no idea what’s happening.

There’s a mix of terror and pleasure on his face as he arches backward. Maybe he’s always wanted this? Maybe he just needs the release. Mira tells him to “look at me.” And then we get the opening credits.

New Day New You

We flashback to what is now eight weeks ago. It’s the night that Emily (Olivia Williams) Alpha was hit by the car that Alexander Pope (Stephen Rhea) had sent to kill her. Howard (J.K. Simmons) Alpha looks sweet and doting as he’s cleaning up after a dinner he cooked (take note Howard Prime).

When Howard Alpha asks if Emily Alpha really needs to go, she says she has to get the dry cleaning. Remember, dry cleaners was part of the signal plan Pope used to warn the school in Potsdam that OI Prime was coming for them in season one.

The flashback ends and we realize that this was Howard Alpha remembering that night from his cell in Dimension Two. His cot seems made out of not-soft things. Howard was never pudgy, but his ribcage is a little more pronounced than he’d like. He has a nice, scraggily beard going.

Howard Alpha is then taken to what seems to be daily interrogations by a man named Osman (Karan Oberoi). He’s playing games and trying to get Howard to admit various statements he hasn’t made. Osman also tells Howard Alpha that Management doesn’t trust his Emily. I took it to mean Emily Alpha and Prime.

Counterpart / Image by Starz

That’s the perfect time to see a very properly dressed Emily Prime walking to work. It highlights the mundaneness of it all. Amidst all the intrigue, there’s still the daily grind.

Dimension One Ambassador Sy (Ramon De Ocampo) wants to know when he, his husband, and all of the stranded Dimension Oners can go home.

The embassy feels like a prison. Head of Dimension Two Diplomacy Irina Markova (Vera Cherny) tells Sy that he’s out of luck. Dimension One closed their doors in an obvious attempt to blame the mass shooting on Dimension Two.

When Sy leaves, Emily Prime challenges this. She makes a good argument. If Dimension Two would admit they have an Indigo issue, they could ask for help from Dimension One and reestablish diplomacy. It’s nice to see Emily Prime have power and the confidence to use it as compared to last season’s plot to literally kill her in order to keep out of play.

Need to Know Basis

Mira shows up at a member of Dimension Two Management’s home. She’s looking for the Inception inspired radio box that Management uses to communicate with each other. When the poor member of Management shows up, he’s warned that Mira can make things very painful for him.

This is when the guy tells Mira that he was the member of Management that liked her the most. Hmm. He knew her. They were likely colleagues. At some point during the flu plague, her radical views became too much for management.

Since Mira and this man had some kind of working relationship, it makes sense she would be able to find him first. Also, the man admits his dog is deaf, has two cataracts, and a benign tumor under its ribcage. Is this representative of the state of Management?

Questions. Questions. Questions. Emily Prime has some for Howard Alpha, but she has been unable to visit him in holding since he was ceased two weeks prior by Ian (Nicholas Pinnock). She coincidentally crosses paths with him on the way out of work. It’s strained, yet cordial. And Ian is confused by it.

Everyone at the Dimension Two Crossing is confused when the doors to Dimension One suddenly open. Markova is quickly brought down with armed guards to great whoever is attempting to cross. It turns out to be a Silhouetted Figure (Alex Lane) who drops a thick folder at Markova’s feet.

In a way that would make Ashley Joanna Williams (Bruce Campbell) proud, we know the parcel is top secret because its been duct taped several times over. The Silhouetted Figure explains that the parcel is Management only.

The Bureaucrat Behind the Curtain

Emily Prime is summoned to meet Management the next morning via armored guard escort. That’s not unnerving at all. She looks dapper AF in a gray business suit, but her crossed arms and not so hidden double takes betray that nervousness.

She’s shown to a shabby room with torn up floorboards. The kind that show up in coffee shops with a ‘reclaimed’ stamping on them. I got the feeling these boards were ready to be reclaimed. A mouthpiece for Management shows up and apologizes for being late. We learn several things.

First off, Emily is being promoted to Deputy Director of Strategy. Two weeks ago the whole office thought she was as dependable as flowers in the desert. But, Emily Prime discovered Indigo and lead the force to Potsdam. Clearly, the old ways of thinking needed to end.

Management doesn’t meet in the room often, anymore. They only meet on rare occasions for security reasons. I’m thinking those are related to Mira knowing who they are, maybe being one them once, and apparently actively hunting them down.

Indigo may have launched their campaign as early as 1996 when they bombed Dimension One’s Embassy. Wait. What? Yup. Management has known about Indigo from the beginning. Apparently, Mira was identified as a problem big enough to be terminated. Not just from Management. From Earth. She was reported dead but obviously wasn’t.

And now that Emily Prime knows all of this, Management want her to hunt Mira down and kill her with absolute certainty. Wow.

Emily Prime again flexes her power and demands that Howard Alpha be released. Management agrees. Or do they?

A Little Too Mundane

The first thing Emily does is to recruit Ian to be a part of her team. He already was a part of it in season one, so he doesn’t need to be brought up to speed. She tempts him with the line “we’ve always done our best work together.”

Emily Prime also admits that she thought she could handle meeting Howard Alpha. But, she couldn’t.

Also, remember dry cleaning? It’s associated with Pope, Indigo, and likely Mira. And Ian has a few shirts in dry cleaning sleeves hanging near his front door. Kind of odd placement for a show that does things so precisely. Unless this is a warning of things to come.

Counterpart / Image by Starz

Management gave Emily Prime a lead to catch Mira. A family known as the Schmidts had gicen their son to Mira’s school at Potsdam when he was a child in order to be part of the attack against Dimension One. The official story is that he died from the flu. Emily Prime goes to meet them under the guise of reuniting them with their son.

George (Ernst Stutzner), the father, wants to see his son again, so he contacts Emily Prime clandestinely. He sets up a ‘flu shot’ with Aldus. The idea is to have them meet and then have Aldus lead Emily Prime and Ian to Mira.

Well, Aldus was ready for this. When he returns to the drop site from the rendezvous with George, he opens and closes the blinds. It’s likely not a signal, but it’s a safety precaution. If someone is watching him, they may act as if it was a signal. They’ll close in before reinforcements arrive.

Although Emily Prime and Ian don’t fall for it, impatient operative Eli (Johannes Franke) does. He crashes the apartment on his own. Knowing he can’t risk Indigo, Aldus looks at Emily, says “of course, it was you,” and jumps off the roof to his death.

Based on the intel found, Indigo was watching OI counterparts in Dimension One. That includes Emily Alpha who seems to have been masquerading as Emily Prime in Dimension Two when the real Emily Prime was in the hospital. Um. Yikes. Who belongs in what dimension and who is plotting against who?

Do You Even Know Her?

With her promotion, Emily finally gains access to Howard Alpha. The first thing Howard Alpha tells her is that she shouldn’t be there. Even after two weeks of incarceration, he can’t help but take care of Emily.

We learn why Emily Prime found it so hard to meet Howard Alpha. Like Emily Alpha, she had made sure that Howard Prime would never get promoted passed being an Interface Man. It’s on tape. While Howard Alpha is hurt by this, Emily Prime argues that it was for his own protection.

Howard presses her and asks why she just never told him who she really was. Howards Prime found out that Emily Prime was holding him back, and it cracked him. He left her. And Emily Prime argues that this is why Emily Alpha kept it a secret from Howard Alpha.

Howard Alpha insists he wouldn’t have left because he doesn’t give up on people. And if that didn’t make you feel for the guy, nothing will. Love is seeing someone for who they’d rather be. Emily Prime presses right back at Howard Alpha by asking Howard Alpha if he ever had the courage to see Emily Alpha for who see was at all.

Howard Alpha asks Emily Prime to leave and not come back. Although Howard Alpha is free, there is no diplomatic connection or Crossing to get him back to Dimension One. Osman asks Howard Alpha if he will spy on Emily Alpha if they are able to get him back across. When he refuses, Osman recommends to Management that he is sent to a black site.

We then learn that Osman works for Mira. He meets up with her at the Schmidts, who she has just killed. George was killed for being a traitor. Andrea (Michaela Rosen) was killed by association. She was sheepishly shocked that the gun would be turned on her. Her last words were, “but I’ve always been loyal.” Silly rabbit. Tricks are for kids.

By the way that Osman creepily plays with the head wound of George, I wonder if these are his parents.

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Next week we finally meet Yanek (James Cromwell). We heard his voice last week. He is part of Management. It appears that they knew Howard would be recommended to the black site by Osman and they allowed it so they would have easier access to talk to him. Or, something completely different. This show is full of surprises.

Did you watch Counterpart this week? What did you think? Let’s discuss in the comments!