Sunday, January 20, 2019

REVIEW: 'Counterpart' - A Detour Into Yanek's Past Provides Many Answers About Management in 'Twin Cities'

Starz's Counterpart - Episode 2.06 "Twin Cities"

The origins of the Crossing are revealed.

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 Counterpart.

"Twin Cities" was written by Justin Marks and directed by Justin Marks

Yanek always ascribed to the theory that the parallel worlds could never coexist because evolution would always demand that one kill the other. It's the pattern that followed his relationship with his other. He sees one as strong and willing to survive. He happened to be that version of himself. However, this episode actually goes back in time to see how all of this happened in the first place. This is such an illuminating hour of television. It's almost a complete standalone episode as well. It barely follows any of the familiar characters. Sure, James Cromwell and Christiane Paul still appear as Yanek and Mira in the present day. However, this episode mostly informs the audience of the choices that were made at the very beginning for the Office of Interchange. The show has spent two seasons showing how these two worlds came to be at war with one another. It also teased that no one knew the true scope of this operation either. There was always some level that was higher with more classified information. Even the people in charge of the various departments didn't know the full extent of the truth. And now, it becomes clear that management are the only people trusted with the secrets of how the two worlds were created in the first place. They were the people Yanek brought in on this major discovery. All of this was created because he was a simple scientist in East Berlin trying to get his family to safety in America. He feared for their lives. As such, he was willing to betray his country in order to hand over secrets to the American government. In doing so, he created a chain reaction that led to the breakdown of the entire system. It proves that he truly was the man in charge of all of this. He deals with no consequences for creating this disaster either. Everyone else just goes home on furlough without thinking any more into it. They never come back to this work either. The building is completely redeveloped on both sides. Yanek and his other interact with each other and immediately assume that they are thinking the same thing in any given moment. It's eery to watch as they both trip and drop their flashlights when exploring the room that connects the two worlds for the first time. It's a marvelous discovery. It's one that quickly proves that they aren't mirror images of each other either. One does get the drop on the other. They then have a conversation about what has happened here and what they should do with this information. It's so meticulous. And yet, it's so informative as well.

Of course, there has to be a difference between the show giving the audience all of these answers about how the premise came to be and it being a dramatically satisfying episode of television. There have been all of these hints that Yanek has lived a tragic and destructive life. He too was imprisoned in Echo for a decision he made years ago. This system was always bound to break down at some point given the current state of things between the offices. In the beginning, Yanek brought together both sides of management. It was a small group of people and their others. That kept the circle of information small but they were very open with one another. They set out to experiment with their respective realities to see what minor differences can have huge impacts on their lives. In the present, Yanek has been trying to understand the points of divergence in Howard's life. He wants to understand how he became so different from his other. Here, the show presents a scenario that is so simple and yet so transformative as well. One Yanek gives Mira a music tape. That's the only action that distinguishes the two realities. However, it's enough to ensure that Mira is distracted in the Alpha world when the local police come to arrest her brother, Rainer, and he dies as a result. No one notices that he is having a seizure until it's too late. That became a huge point of divergence for the two worlds. In the Prime reality, the family is just as happy and stable as ever before. Yanek Prime is willing and able to do the work at the Office of Interchange. He can build the facility up and contribute to the ideas that his peers are suggesting for the operation. Meanwhile, Yanek pushes everyone else away. He can no longer tolerate any of this because his life has been completely ruined. He doesn't know how to cope with any of this. And so, he escapes to his other's life. He believes he can be happy once more when he actually has a family to surround him. It does seem beneficial as well because he is able to be with the people he loves. It's just twisted because this isn't actually his family. He is living a cold life for something that isn't his at all. That too puts Yanek and his other on their trajectories to becoming different people.

However, Yanek and his other aren't all that different in the end either. The show has always explained that the worlds were quite similar in the first decade of existence. It was only after the virus infected the Prime world that things started becoming radically different. Here, it seems like Yanek is the one filled with rage who is willing to kill his other in order to survive this cruel experiment they started. And yet, Yanek Prime is also capable of those thoughts and willing to take action. He sees the corruption that Yanek now embodies. He notes that it's a problem that needs to be dealt with. And so, it's ultimately a brawl to see who can overpower the other. Yanek ultimately prevails. It's just tragic that Mira happens to see it but can't make any sense of a man looking just like her father killing her father. The office keeps a tight lid on all of this as well. A deal is struck for Yanek to be transferred to a prison in the Prime world for his crimes. He will no longer have a role in the future of the office. And yet, his policies and ideas continue to inform the actions by management for the foreseeable future. He was called a madman for suggesting that his side create a biological weapon that can be used against the Prime world should their relationship ever break down. He wants them to be ready for any scenario because he's certain that his other is having the exact same conversation on the other side. Of course, that is never confirmed. Yanek appears to be the paranoid one. But he still gets in the heads of the other people who comprise management. They ultimately do create that biological virus. It is eventually released onto the Prime world. That put everything into motion for the next twenty years of this reality. That informs Mira's actions in the present day. It turns out that she isn't the daughter Yanek has always known. Her father was the one killed. However, she still sees Yanek as a valuable asset because he understands the minds that make up management. She may be offering to surrender if management assembles once more. But that is bound to be a perilous meeting that could be filled with danger. Yanek and Mira can rationalize that the bridge needs to be destroyed before both sides end up killing each other. And yet, things are only bound to get further complicated because of all the other players in the present-day aspect of the story.