Counterpart season 2, episode 6 recap: Twin Cities


After a week off to recover from the revelation that Mira is Yanek’s daughter, Counterpart returns with “Twin Cities.” This is the episode that explains most of the major conflicts on the show. So, let’s recap.

As I discussed last week, the season two ratings for Counterpart are down by over 60%. The fifth episode, “Shadow Puppets,” saw a modest uptick in the numbers, but then the show took a week off. It returns to stiffer competition from HBO’s True Detective, which saw its own ratings’ drop in its premiere.

“Twin Cities” is the first episode of Counterpart to be in direct competition with True Detective, and it doesn’t even have its star, Oscar winner J.K. Simmons,  in the credits, let alone the episode. These are some healthy risks.

The episode was written and directed by show creator Justin Marks. In a season where each episode is better than the last, “Twin Cities” is easily the best episode of the entire series. It’s Peabody Award level material that’s as important as it is fun to watch.

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Did I Do That?

The teaser is one of the longest of the series, clocking in at over nine minutes. In it, young Yanek (Samuel Roukin) creates Dimension Two. But it’s not that simple.

As referenced in “Shadow Puppets,” Yanek and his family are trapped on the East side of the Berlin Wall. Yanek has made a deal with an agent named Croft (Trevor White) to get his family over to the West. But he must take pictures of all of his scientific research he’s conducted for the East.

It’s a huge risk, but Young Yanek is reminded that his son, Rainer (Andreas Warmbrunn), has been spotted posting leftist pamphlets in public. This puts him at risk to be arrested and jailed by the Communist Party.

Counterpart-Yanek Alpha-Courtesy of STARZ

Young Yanek complies. At breakfast, Rainer actually berates his father for rolling over for whatever the Party wants. Young Yanek’s wife, Isabell (Julia Koschitz), chastises her son a little more aggressively than it appears she normally would. She knows what Young Yanek is doing. She is desperate to get out of the East.

Meanwhile, Young Mira (Emilie Neumeister) loves her dad and is just happy to be blasting Alphaville in her headphones. Little does she know the major role that she will play in creating the tensions that have the Dimensions at war in the future.

At work, Young Yanek instructs a co-worker to recalibrate an X-Ray machine. It takes her most of the day. When the rest of the office leaves at quitting time, Young Yanek starts taking pictures of everything he can. He gets so engrossed in the espionage, that he doesn’t turn off the light emitting machine.

There’s a computer screen facing the audience. We start to see Matrix-like lines of code fill the screen. Many of them include a line that says there is a fatal error and provides the option to abort. After this line of code runs many times in succession, the option to abort disappears. Then the screen melts. It goes full Salvador Dali as the lines of code melt out of the monitor with the screen.

It sounds like an earthquake. The walls crack. There seems to be commotion coming from the base of steps that lead to a basement. Young Yanek goes to investigate and drops his flashlight down the stairs. Another flashlight appears and makes the same rolling motion. Young Yanek goes down the stairs of what will become known as The Crossing. Young Yanek Alpha comes face to face with Young Yanek Prime.


The German band Alphaville were a popular synth/new wave band in the 1980s. Afternoons in Utopia was their second album. It included sci-fi references. The first word of the album completed the sentence that ends the album, which made it sort of like an album that never stopped playing.

The band had also tried to learn the language of dolphins. For real. In the liner notes to the compilation album First Harvest, the band suggests that talking with dolphins is part of a mutual/shared experience that could change civilization.

The band also had a song called “Universal Daddy,” which talks about a new world being a step away with angels coming from ‘kingdom one.’ It’s also an old school love song that features the imagery of a dude throwing rocks at a girl’s window to get her attention in hopes of also getting her alone.

Alphaville-Afternoons in Utopia-Courtesy of Warner Music Group Germany

So, why do we need to know so much about Alphaville? Like the use of Xscape’s “Who Can I Run To?” in “Shadow Puppets,” music and its meaning plays a big role in Counterpart. Sometimes that role is bigger than others.

Yanek Alpha and Yanek Prime go full buddy-buddy in their scientific quest to see what opportunities the two dimensions can offer them. The novelty and proof that both dimensions are exact copies of each other, in motion, becomes monotonous. There needs to be a test performed. The Yanek’s refer to it as a major test. Is it the München Flu? No. It’s Alphaville.

Both Yanek’s buy Afternoons in Utopia for their Mira’s. Yanek Prime crushes his copy with an ax in front of Yanek Alpha. This is their controlled test. They are consciously changing the two dimensions. Later that night, the Party comes for Rainer in both dimensions. Both Rainers are knocked to the ground when they are arrested. Both have an epileptic seizure.

In Dimension Two, Mira Prime quickly comes out of her room and notices Rainer Prime is having a seizure. The family is able to stabilize him and get his emergency meds in him. He is taken into custody but will be released shortly. Shaken, Rainer Prime will decide to stop associating with the Leftists.

In Dimension One, Mira Alpha has her headphones on in her room. She’s blasting Alphaville and doesn’t hear the commotion in the hallway right away. She does come out and notice Rainer Alpha’s seizure, but it’s too late. Rainer Alpha dies.

The Sims for Real

Yanek Alpha is devastated. Isabell Alpha blames their son’s death him for delaying their exit to the West. He is broken and suspicious of everyone for the first time. Meanwhile, Yanek Prime and the group of people they have put together begin to build what will become known as the Office of Interchange.

The group will become known as Management. The most recognizable young face is that of Young Juma (Ivanno Jeremiah). He was the member of Management killed by Mira Prime in “Outside In.” His specialty is biology and immunology. Uh oh.

The work continues as the Berlin Wall falls. The end of the Cold War allows a massive expansion of OI that allows it to become what it is in the present day. The Crossing is formally set-up and regulations for controlled testing begin to develop.

Humans are Scary

But, Yanek Alpha is not so enthusiastic. He has become a shell of himself. He begins to visit Dimension Two without telling anyone. He spends time with Yanek Prime’s family. Everyone is still alive and he is loved. Eventually, Yanek Alpha has sex with Isabell Prime. Although we think that this is being done without Yanek Prime’s knowledge, he later reveals that he knew. Yanek Prime says that he “offered [Isabell] up to [Yanek Alpha].”

Counterpart-Season Two-Courtesy of STARZ

That’s gross. But it starts to reveal what the danger of two simultaneous dimensions existing at once is: human nature squared. Yanek Alpha is aware that his actions are depraved and based in grief. Instead of dealing with them, he takes the shockingly pragmatic approach of considering his other is capable of the same feelings. Yanek Alpha discusses the creation of a virus that could wipe out Dimension Two with Juma Alpha.

One night, Yanek Alpha realizes that Yanek Prime has been living in his place as well. This does not sit well with Yanek Alpha. He confronts Yanek Prime in his nicer version of home. Things get physical, and while both get equal blows in on each other, Yanek Alpha gets the upper hand and kills Yanek Prime.

Yanek Alpha is handed over to Dimension Two and placed in Echo. Management, who up until this point had worked as a harmonious unit, now fear each other. They are given the comm cases we know and love. Management is never to be together or seen by their others because the tendency to influence, destroy, and kill will be too much.

Juma Alpha has a talk with another member of Management about the viral weapon. As Juma Alpha did to Yanek Alpha, he is scoffed at. But the path to the München Flu is set. It is developed and placed in cryo-freeze. Who ultimately orders its use? We’ll have to wait to see.

Where Do We Go from Here?

In the present day, Mira Prime (Christiane Paul) and Yanek Alpha (James Cromwell) are together after she broke him out of Echo in “Shadow Puppets.” She hates him for killing her real father. Mira Prime does not accept Yanek Alpha’s assertion that he is still her father, or “Universal Daddy.”

Mira Prime opens up Juma Alpha’s comm case and activates it. Yanek Alpha does not know what it is. While that makes sense in the timeline of the episode, we did hear his voice coming from one at the end of “Inside Out.” So, either Yanek communicated with Management in a different way, or Yanek Prime may be alive. I know. That’s a wild turn for Counterpart. But I did hear James Cromwell’s voice in “Inside Out.”

Meanwhile, Mira Prime just wants Yanek Alpha to convince Management to close The Crossing for good. She warns that she has an army of Primes in Dimension One. Things could go bad for all involved if The Crossing is not closed.

That’s how this episode of Counterpart ends. It was beautiful, thoughtful, and rather scary. Given the chance to use a nuclear option to end an entire world is deemed necessary just because that world may be thinking the same thing.

Also, we know why Yanek Alpha selected Howard Prime (J.K. Simmons) to be his collector of sorts at Echo. Howard Prime is held back in life by OI and his wife Emily (Olivia Williams). Given the chance to be his own master, Howard Prime seizes the day.

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Howard Alpha experiences a similar fate, but is ultimately happy with his life and just wants to return to it. Howard Prime is Yanek Prime. Howard Alpha is Yanek Alpha. We should expect a confrontation of explosive proportions between the Howards in the weeks to come. I can’t wait.

Did you watch “Twin Cities?” do you think Counterpart is getting better with every episode? Let’s discuss in the comments!