Counterpart series finale recap: Better Angels


Counterpart’s two-season run on STARZ ends with the series finale “Better Angels.” Debts are paid, alliances are forged, and Mira’s plan is made clear.

“Better Angels” was written by series creator Justin Marks (Top Gun: Maverick) and Megan Houang (In Full Bloom). It was directed by Charlotte Brändström (Madam Secretary).

While this is easily a solid series finale, if Counterpart can find life on a streaming service, there is plenty of story left to tell. Since this is a series finale and there’s sensitive information to cover, there will be some spoilers.

This is the most important teaser in the twenty episode run of Counterpart. It’s also one of the shortest. Yanek Alpha (James Cromwell), who was spared by Mira Prime (Christiane Paul) in “You to You,” lumbers up the street of his old neighborhood. He’s walked all the way from the Office of Interchange Alpha. He’s passed countless children and adults.

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Yanek Alpha stops at the apartment he shared with his family and finds none other than his real daughter, Mira Alpha, backing out of the door with a stroller and two children.

She immediately recognizes him. They embrace. Yanek Alpha sheepishly apologizes for not having better clothes. It’s a family reunion that he really didn’t deserve but gets anyway.

Closing Time

At the end of “You to You,” Mira Prime starts to make an announcement to the communicators for each dimension’s Office of Interchange. She does this by using one comm case from each dimension which she acquired after murdering both dimension’s Management.

Counterpart-Season Two-Courtesy of STARZ

Her voice distorted by design, she announces that Management has decided to close The Crossing from both sides permanently. Both sides will have exactly 24 hours to arrange the exchange of prisoners or crossers currently in the dimensions.

This made me think about the ultimate flaw of Management. They were so afraid of each other and their employees that they went into hiding. Many people no longer knew what they looked like. This made it relatively easy for Mira to swoop in and act on their behalf. All she needed was the comm cases. For a group of people that took security so seriously, it’s odd. They left the back door wide open.

Meanwhile, the sudden announcement leads to last-minute negations between Diplomacy Alpha representative Roland Fancher (Richard Schiff) and Prime Representative Irina Markova (Vera Cherny). While Roland tries to get a blood processing procedure that would make the success rate on transplants near flawless, he settles for a desalinization process that yields zero carbon emissions.

What does he have to give up? A physical copy of a one terabyte flash drive. It’s another illustration of Dimension Two’s medical technological supremacy versus Dimension One’s gadget supremacy.

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Howard Prime (J.K. Simmons) makes a deal of his own. At the end of “You to You,” he had kidnapped Clare Prime (Nazanin Boniadi) and Spencer Prime (Ken Duken) with the help of Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco). Howard Prime contacts Quayle Alpha (Harry Lloyd) and Naya Temple (Betty Gabriel). He wants freedom for himself and Baldwin in Dimension One in exchange for information and prevention of Indigo’s next terrorist act.

Counterpart-Clare-Courtesy of STARZ

Clare Prime must get the plan out Spencer Prime. This is difficult. Not only do Spencer Prime and Clare Prime have emotional, sexual, and unbreakable connections, Spencer Prime knows how to use the connection against her. He tells Clare Prime that the reason everyone respected her so much is that she killed her own Alpha with her bare hands for the mission.

While this cuts Clare to the bone, she comes back with an impassioned argument for the entire series. Simply put, instead of considering that the Alpha world is some abomination that must be maimed, consider that maybe the existence of both dimensions is natural law. The point is not to destroy, but to learn to coexist. Spencer gives up the house where the cell was injecting themselves in “You to You.”

The Real Counterpart

Howard Alpha and Emily Alpha (Olivia Willams) are finally home. But, with the truth out there between them, Howard Alpha has a hard time being happy. He admits that he always knew who Emily Alpha was and what she was doing to him.

Howard Alpha never confronted Emily Alpha because he was afraid that he would lose her. What would he be without her? And now Howard Alpha realizes that by saying nothing for 30 years, he’s allowed Emily Alpha to define him as something that he’s not: a kept, docile drone.

They’re interrupted by OI Security who tell them they have a visitor. It’s Howard Prime. He comes to alert Emily Alpha to the location given up by Spencer Prime. He asks if she can locate it and when she says that she can, they’re off.

Howard Alpha tags along. He looks distressed. Howard Prime asks if he’s been hurt. When Howard Alpha tells him that he’s been shot, beaten, tortured, sleep deprived, and imprisoned, Howard Prime actually smiles. He knows that Howard Alpha has been awakened.

At the remote location, Team Howard meets up with Naya Temple and OI forces. The structure is riddled with explosives. Ethel (Fanny Altenburger) emerges from the building with a gun in hand. This is the higher calling the cell had told her she had in “You to You.”

Counterpart-Shadow Puppets-Courtesy of STARZ

Emily Alpha convinces Naya Temple to allow her to negotiate with Ethel. There are too many smiles shared between Emily Alpha and Howard Alpha. Something is not right. Ethel seems uncontrollably emotional, which is not like the rest of her cell, or her, for that matter.

Ethel tells Emily Alpha that the other cell members injected themselves with the München Flu Prime. They are going to depart by train at 23:00 hours to spread the disease and start a plague. She then surrenders her gun and starts to walk with Emily Alpha. But, they have to clear a trip wire. A trip wire that Ethel steps on with glee, killing herself and critically injuring Emily Alpha.

Before blowing herself up, Ethel had told Emily Alpha that she was afraid to kill herself along with blowing up the house. She was to have done it hours prior. But, this was a lie. Her job was to rig the house with explosives and wait.

Spencer Prime’s job was to give up the location as a bargaining chip if pressured. This would misdirect OI Alpha long enough for the rest of the cell to spread the München Flu Prime. It’s a brilliant plan that did not include Ethel giving up the location of the cell. Whoops. She got a little too cocky at the wrong time.

While Emily Alpha is unable to speak, she writes down the location and departing time of the cell and passes it to Howard Alpha. Emily Alpha dies in the hospital. When Howard Prime comes to visit, he is visibly shaken by the news. But he’s also been asked to get on his knees by Howard Alpha, who claims that Howard Prime helped to ensure Emily Alpha would die.

As Howard Alpha is about to pull the trigger, he laughs, hands the gun to Howard Prime, and passes him the location from Emily Alpha. The idea is for Howard Prime to go do his job and finish Indigo.

The Active Shooter

In a scene that’s going to be hard to watch for a growing cross-section of the American population, we see the Indigo cell passing out train tickets in the station. They are all headed to major European hubs. As they are ready to depart, Howard Prime walks up the stairs. He begins executing the Indigo cell one by one. His gun jams.

A police officer gets the drop on him, but a member of Indigo shoots the cop. Howard Prime uses the cop as a shield and pushes his arm backward. Using the gun still in the cop’s hand, Howard Prime shoots a few more cell members. He takes the gun into his own hands, kills the remaining cell members, and tosses the gun in a garbage can. He walks out of the station like he did nothing at all.

Counterpart-Inside Out-Courtesy of STARZ

The spread of the München Flu Prime is stopped, the area is quarantined, and Naya Temple is now in a higher position of power. She works out a deal with Clare Prime. There is no way all of Indigo was dispatched by Howard Prime.

They’ll need Clare Prime’s help to find the rest. In exchange, Clare Prime needs Quayle Alpha reinstated in order to give Clare Prime credibility and worth in the Indigo community. Also, Roland must never know her true identity. The deal is made.

Newly reinstated Quayle Alpha interrogates Spencer Prime. He tells Quayle Alpha that he would be nothing without Clare Prime. Quayle Alpha agrees. Spencer Alpha asks if he knows why Indigo respects Clare Prime so much.

We cut to Quayle Alpha drinking scotch on his couch. Clare Prime sits next to him. We’re not sure if Spencer Prime told him that Clare Prime used her bare hands to kill her Alpha. But, Quayle Alpha asks Clare Prime if it’s too late to change baby girl Spencer’s name. They start laughing over possible new names.

Hide, Murder, or Armageddon

Howard Prime makes a new deal for himself and Baldwin. There is no place for them in Dimension One. They cross over to Dimension Two before The Crossing is welded shut. This far from irreversible.

Naya Temple visits Howard Alpha. She offers him a Strategy post at OI. He refuses. He’s going to find his own way for the first time in his life. Naya Temple asks, what if Emily were alive. Howard Alpha replies, what if? So, did Emily Alpha fake her own death? I don’t think so. But Emily Prime is out there and she loves Howard Alpha the way he is. So, is there a future there? Or is Howard Alpha afraid of that future stifling him as Emily Alpha did for decades?

Counterpart-In from the Cold-Courtesy of STARZ

Meanwhile, Ian Shaw (Nicholas Pinnock) had secretly bugged Mira Prime after they parted ways. He disappears but leaves a note for Emily Prime. She acts on this and uses a pin-prick to poison Mira Prime as Indigo had poisoned her. Except Emily Prime uses a lethal dose. As Mira Prime dies, she seems surprised but accomplished. Why?

Remember the teaser? Well, Yanek Alpha is walking his granddaughter in the park. He tells her that he thought a day like this would never come. It was a like memory stuck in his head. Now, this memory belongs to his granddaughter, as well.

Yanek starts to cough unstoppably. He feels something in his left arm. He rolls up his sleeve and finds splotchy patches and blackness coloring his veins. We quickly flashback to when Mira Prime first apprehended Yanek Alpha.

She gave him a shot. Was it poison? I think it was the München Flu Prime. Yanek Alpha falls over and dies. The shot zooms out and fades over the trees. The failsafe in Mira Prime’s plan was Yanek Alpha. If Indigo was able to spread the virus, that would be a success.

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But if they were stopped, Yanek Alpha would transport the disease all over Dimension One before it became apparent. The number of tourists who returned home to their respective countries is likely enough to cause a plague. We. Need. Season. Three.

Counterpart is over. Did you enjoy the second season? Did you enjoy the series finale? Let’s discuss in the comments!