In a world where thoughtful equals slow and existential equals boring, ‘Counterpart’ is a stunning revelation and maybe the most compelling show right now.
Ranked by Hollywood Reporter as Primetime TV’s No. 1 show since last March, Counterpart just finished its mind-boggling first season with 10 episodes of twists and turns, movie-like-quality editing and some impressive character work.
The series, created and written by Justin Marks, follows Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) who has worked for 29 years, as a low-level drone, in a highly secretive Berlin-based United Nations spy agency. He has been carrying out a series of mundane tasks without knowing what the division of his company — the Office of Interchange — really does.
He eventually finds out and his mind is blown.
He discovers that his employers are protecting an opening to a parallel dimension.
Turns out that, about 30 years ago, during the cold war, Germans accidentally stumbled on a parallel universe, where identical people on both sides – doppelgänger – are living vastly different lives as the two worlds are moving apart.
Howard’s counterpart, who is essentially an assassin and a spy, is light-years more badass than him.
However the spy-fi thriller is just a hook for a examination of concepts of identity, relationships (especially marriage) and life choices.
The so called ‘Crossing,’ a passage between two parallel dimensions, becomes a metaphysical metaphor for the Berlin Wall and for possible futures that result from our choices.
It’s no mystery that the show’s undeniable hook is J.K. Simmons who pulls off a dual role in a truly skillful and captivating manner and re-affirms himself as an incredible actor following his Oscar-winning work in Whiplash.
He plays the dual roles masterfully, changing his posture, facial expressions and tone in order to differentiate the worker Howard from bad-ass Howard.
Justin Marks, series creator, writer and executive producer gives Counterpart a strong cinematic feel with a dark, stylish and German atmosphere. He explained his detailed but absorbing vision in a interview earlier this week: ‘Unsexy is the new sexy.’
Starz just announced that production has already begun in Berlin on the second season.
- K. Simmons as Howard Silk
- Olivia Williams as Emily Burton Silk
- Harry Lloyd as Peter Quayle
- Ulrich Thomsen as Aldrich
- Nazanin Boniadi as Clare
- Nicholas Pinnock as Ian Shaw
- Sara Serraiocco as Baldwin
- Mido Hamada as Cyrus
- Jamie Bamber as Eric