Sunday, January 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Counterpart' - Quayle Is Pushed to the Breaking Point of Sanity Because of His Incompetence in 'Shadow Puppets'

Starz's Counterpart - Episode 2.05 "Shadow Puppets"

A new revelation puts Howard Prime and Quayle in jeopardy. Life at Echo is disrupted. Clare reconnects with her past.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Starz's Outlander.

"Shadow Puppets" was written by Maria Melnik and directed by Lukas Ettlin

This show depends on shocking plot twists in order to excite and surprise the audience. One of the most successful moments of the first season was when Clare was revealed to be Quayle's wife as well as the lead Indigo operative in the Alpha world. This season has seen the show try to replicate that success by doubling down on the spy thriller aspects. That makes sense given the closing of the borders which ignited an even more dangerous war between the two sides. There has barely been any communicating between the managements as well. There has been some that make it clear to the audience that we don't know everything that is going on in this world. However, the show also feels the importance of making everything connected in some way or another. It still aims to surprise the viewer with the connections between the characters and the depths of their backstories. This hour reveals that Shaw wasn't born in the Prime world. He is a refugee from the Alpha world who was given a new identity a decade ago in exchange for loyalty to Prime management. The mysterious leaders believe he hasn't lived up to his end of that arrangement. He may be getting even more compromised as well. He can't reign in Emily Prime. And yet, no one could reasonably do that. Prime management put her in charge because they believed she would be more forthcoming with information. And yet, that hasn't been true at all. She has been keeping her secrets just like her other did. At times, those secrets can lead to dangerous consequences. Other times though, it means she just happens to be at the right place to see something horrible go down. That's the case when it comes to the assault on Echo. This was only a location interested recently. This is the hour that confirms that Yanek is a prisoner here as well. He was sentenced to this fate because of crimes he committed decades ago. He was given freedom by management because they saw value to his research. It's a partnership that is beneficial to all. He operates with the understanding that nature will choose which side deserves to survive. He views a world that will only grow in its conflicts. There can't be two worlds that safely and peacefully coexist. They may be beneficial in some ways. But the stark differences will only become more profound until one eventually destroys the other. That's the pattern he followed with his other. It's what he sees happening right now with Howard. One is buried in a hole in the ground while the other has taken over his life. Howard sees himself as the better person. He's not a monster. And yet, the hour concludes with him picking up that gun and killing a man. That may fundamentally prove Yanek's point that all it took was the right kind of pushing for Howard to become just like his other. That thesis comes as Mira breaks Yanek out of this place. He is also revealed to be her father who was one of the scientists who made the discovery of two separate worlds thirty years ago. As such, his importance will only continue to grow as Mira now has a valued resource who can provide insight into the many different outcomes currently playing out on the Alpha side.

Things at the Office of Interchange in the Alpha world are just as intense as well. It follows a familiar pattern as of late with Howard Prime and Quayle needing to deal with their Lambert problem. They thought all of this was behind them by killing the Prime ambassador. Instead, his other showed up and was armed with the same amount of information. In fact, they have been wandering in and out of each other's lives for years. They were completely in sync. That makes them so deadly. Lambert Alpha is making a play for the most money in exchange for his loyalty. It's a plan that doesn't work in his favor at all. Quayle wants to kill him but Indigo gets to him first. They understand that he is a threat to the work that they are doing. However, the show takes responsibility of this action away from any of the main characters. Instead, it falls onto the reveal of who the secret Indigo asset in the building is. Now, this asset may have always been disappointing simply because there are only three characters of notable importance who work in this office setting. Howard Prime and Quayle are already part of a complicated coverup while Naya was the individual management brought in to oversee the investigation. As such, it was always going to be a minor player. As such, the impact of the reveal and death of Quayle's assistant is lackluster. It once again takes all of the pressure and responsibility off of Quayle. That may be disappointing to some. All of this seemed like it was building to his death in both worlds. During the attack on Echo, Quayle Prime is the one who starts the big fight. But his fate is left unknown with Emily Prime promptly getting Howard out of that environment. Meanwhile, Howard Prime comes to the decision that he can no longer protect Quayle because he is such a foolish operator in this world. He's really not skilled at the spy games. He believed he was being covert and clever. In the end though, he is only dealt with more devastation. Clare is reigniting her relationship with Spencer. The assistant destroyed the taped confession while also placing all of the blame on herself. She takes the fall as being Shadow. She even pulls the trigger on the gun so that Quayle doesn't have to carry that burden. He is so lucky. And yet, all of this is coming at an extreme cost to him because he is slowly losing his sanity. The audience sees just how desperate and obsessed Quayle Prime is because he doesn't have a leadership position. But Howard may actually be right in saying that he has the better life. Quayle may be in power but he's constantly looking over his shoulder in the hopes that he won't get caught for his actions. He does so even though he is trying to make it as obvious as possible that he's corrupt and needs to be brought to justice one way or another. But he also can't pull the trigger even though he is given the opportunity to do so by Howard Prime here.