Counterpart season 2, episode 7 recap: No Strings Attached


The last Four episodes of Counterpart have been raising the tension on its characters and leaving them in mini-cliffhangers. Tonight’s episode, “No Strings Attached,” starts to pay some of these storylines off. Let’s recap.

All of our main cast is back for this week’s episode of Counterpart. The meaning of “No Strings Attached” is fairly literal. We see Howard Alpha (J.K. Simmons) and Quayle Alpha (Harry Lloyd) make sudden moves to walk away from the hot burning mess of their current lives. Emily Prime (Olivia Williams) and Ian (Nicholas Pinnock) sever their ties with Management.

But, this wouldn’t be an episode of Counterpart without another view. Naya Temple (Betty Gabriel) knows she’s being misled. She decides to play things out in order to find the source of the deception. And Clare Prime (Nazanin Boniadi) has strings attached all over the place.

This is a solid episode. It was written by Maegan Houang (Red Light, Green Light) and directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper (Gotham). The visuals and acting were some of the best of the season. But, “No Strings Attached” doesn’t have the same push as the episodes leading up to it. That’s due in large part to the fact that, as mentioned, some of the storylines need to start taking turns and paying off. It’s a minor issue.

Related Story. Counterpart season 2, episode 6 recap. light

A Calculated Risk

In “Twin Cities,” one of the main takeaways was that Management was fearful of its counterparts. The Alpha’s were considering developed a biological weapon as a safeguard. They knew that the Prime’s may be doing the same thing.

Counterpart-Shadow Puppets-Courtesy of STARZ

I think it’s important to note that Young Yanek Alpha (Samuel Roukin) and Dimension One are the people who have committed the gravest crimes that we know of. Young Yanek Alpha made a fateful decision to withhold a gift and it cost him his son’s life. This created jealousy which led him to be the first person to consider a biological weapon. It was Dimension One that seems to have used that weapon, the München Flu, on Dimension Two. It was Young Yanek Alpha who killed his Prime.

The road to disaster has a clear starting point. But, how we got so far down that road is still unclear. The true group behind the München Flu deployment may be unknown at this point. But the person affected the most by both of these infractions was Mira (Christiane Paul).

After last week’s teaser that went on for almost ten minutes, we get an extremely brief one this week. Mira, using Old Juma Alpha’s comm case, contacts Alpha Management and requests a meet in Dimension Two. They agree.

The Fog of War

Due to the break, it’s been three weeks since Howard Prime told Quayle Alpha to kill himself in the last act of “Shadow Puppets.” Quayle Alpha weighed his options and tearfully went to a quiet place to kill himself. That’s when Milla (Mirela Burke), Quayle Alpha’s secretary, found him, stopped him, and made it look like she was the mole. In a tearful, yet hardcore, move she aims the gun in Quayle Alpha’s hands at her own head and pulls the trigger. Milla was dedicated to Indigo.

The official story is that Quayle Alpha was having an affair with Milla and she used the relationship to become a key spy for Indigo. Roland Fancher (Richard Schiff), head of diplomacy and Clare’s dad, is incensed. He wants Quayle Alpha to leave Clare because his cheating has changed her.

Counterpart-Peter Quayle-Courtesy of STARZ

That plea was preceded by the best moment of the episode. Roland comes to Quayle Alpha and Clare Prime’s home to pick up Quayle Alpha. He berates Quayle Alpha who bows in sheepish silence. But it’s not for the cheating. He never did that. Quayle Alpha is devastated that Roland is trying to defend his daughter, Clare Alpha, who’s been dead for years. If Roland only knew that the woman before him was Clare Prime aka Shadow aka Interdimensional Terrorist.

Roland gets a taste of that when he turns to Clare Prime in a fit of rage. He tells her that he raised to be stronger and to not accept a man that disrespects her as Quayle Alpha has. Clare Prime gets in Roland’s grill and tells him to back off. She is honest and tells Roland that he has no idea who she is and can’t dictate her character to her. Wow. That was intense.

What the Fudge?

When Roland brings Quayle Alpha to a meeting that will discuss Management’s decision to visit their counterparts in Dimension Two, Naya Temple is not impressed. She sees Quayle Alpha as a massive liability. And, she is completely right. Quayle gets up and agrees with her. Then, he quits his job. My first thought? If Quayle Alpha is no longer in a position to provide intelligence, there is no reason to keep his string attached. Indigo can eliminate him.

When Quayle Alpha comes home and breaks the news to Clare Prime, she gets a blank stare and says “What the ****?” It was one of the most honest, relatable moments of the entire series. I giggled because it was clear that Clare Prime, me, and likely most of the audience had come to the same conclusion in an instant. Quayle Alpha and Clare Prime must flee for their lives immediately.

Barefoot in the Storage Container

Earlier in the day, Clare Prime had spent time with a lot of her old crew at the request of Spencer (Ken Duken). He sensed she wasn’t feeling particularly motivated. Plus, the two had hot sex the night before. Terrorist or not, you’ve got to keep those sparks sparking. They bond while loading what looks to be something like the boxes that Young Yanek Alpha used to accidentally create The Crossing. It’s nice to see plot points slipped in like that without massive exposition. “Hey! Here are some green boxes. I bet they do some pretty bad stuff, bro! Am I right? Am I right?!”

It’s clear that the two could have been happy without Indigo taking over their lives. Spencer is particularly motivated against the evil Alphas. Clare Prime is not so sure. She’s still in deep cover and her feelings for Quayle Alpha, although he’s a magnificent disaster, are real.

Two Truths

Howard Alpha and Emily Prime have a very expositional episode. Howard Alpha basically walks Emily Prime through episode recaps of the last few weeks. Osman is outted as a terrorist, which is concerning, but moot. Howard Alpha killed him in “Shadow Puppets.” We see no effects of that killing one way or another on Howard Alpha. That was odd.

Counterpart-Naya Temple-Courtesy of STARZ

We flashback to when Ian was Wendell Pierce. We learn that Ian could not take over the life of his Prime because Wendell Prime died of the München Flu. We also learn the consequences of Ian trying to cross back without permission. When he made contact with Nomi, Management had her killed. Is that what Management’s plans for Emily Prime are?

It sure looks like it. There is a showdown outside of Echo. The traitor who helped Mira gain access was shot and left dead outside. Inside, Quayle Prime is as shell shocked as Quayle Alpha, but for different reasons. In a catatonic state, he drags his television to a place with an outlet and no dead bodies. He begins to watch the tapes from his childhood, again.

When it appears that Management is going to execute Emily Prime, Howard Alpha steps in front of her. Not only is he shielding her. He wants everyone to know that he will no longer be anyone’s prisoner. I think he’s just standing up for himself. But is this part of his path to becoming more like his Prime?

A Reservoir Dogs style gun battle erupts. It’s a cool wide shot of everyone firing their guns basically once. That’s because everyone is targeted by someone else. Ian survives but doesn’t catch up with Emily Prime, who flees with Howard Alpha who has been shot in the stomach. Um, also like Reservoir Dogs.

Meanwhile, Naya Temple discusses prayer. She believes that even though there are multiple dimensions, there is only one god. She doesn’t pray for anything other than clarity. Naya Temple knows that there is something bigger at play. She doesn’t have enough information to figure that out right now. So, Naya Temple is going to let things play out until an opportunity to act presents itself. She is one of my favorite characters on television right now.

Did you watch “No Strings Attached?” Are you enjoying this season of Counterpart? Let’s discuss in the comments!