Counterpart – Birds of A Feather
By: Arlene Allen
“Counterpart” continues with more plot twists, more intrigue and more chills! Picking up right where the premiere left off, we see Emily Prime (Olivia Williams) seated in a restaurant booth with Howard Prime (henceforth called Prime). Emily demands to know why Prime (J.K. Simmons) is making so many trips to The Other Side. If he tells her, she says she’ll call off the “Rendition” order (also known as guys taking you off to be killed) issued for Prime. If he doesn’t tell her she advises him to please go quietly. Prime refuses to tell her and two men haul him out of the restaurant into a waiting car. Three gunshots later, Prime is back on the street again and looking for another pass into The Other Side.
Prime is visited by Raash (Marco Khan), who is taking care of Prime’s dog while he is on his mission. Raash tells him that Pope wants to see him and gives Prime the real name of Baldwin, which is Nadia (Sara Serraiocco). Prime goes into a church – no longer the religious institution it once was – and meets with Pope (Stephen Rea) who is in dreadful shape, as he is dying from prostate cancer. Pope dishes more information about Baldwin/Nadia and tells him that someone close to him (Prime), presumably Emily is trying to kill him, and warned Prime to watch his back. If the rendition was sanctioned then Prime is guilty of murder; if not, whoever set it up will try again to kill him. Pope also arranges for another 36-hour pass to our side.
Meanwhile, Emily is called into her superior’s office. There’s a psychiatrist in the room as well whose offer of help Emily repeatedly declines with vehemence. Emily is informed that three men are dead because of her and that the rendition notice she received for Prime was false – there was never a Rendition ordered for him. Someone wants Prime dead, this much has become obvious. Emily is ordered to provide blood and urine samples and it’s heavily implied Emily had/has a drug problem.
On our side, Prime seeks out Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) because he wants to work with him again. Howard is now in his new job in analysis, learning how to translate the code he once had been exchanging. Howard is pulled away from his training by Quayle (Harry Lloyd) who takes him to meet with Prime. He’s instructed not to tell Prime anything if he wants to find the woman who attempted to kill his Emily.
Cut to Baldwin hiding out in an abandoned house outside the city. She is pretty messed up from the fight and gun battle at the hospital and has a hideous wound on her face that makes her resemble Batman’s Joker. She is stitching herself up when she is interrupted by a strange woman (possibly Baldwin’s control from the other side). She informs Baldwin that her counterpart in this reality is called Nadia, a concert violinist, and orders her to kill Nadia. Despite a shared past, she assures the woman she can carry out the kill.
As it turns out, before the occurrence that split the realities, Nadia/Baldwin shared a controlling and abusive father who was hypercritical of his daughter. He was also a drunk and would thud on the table every time Nadia/Baldwin hit a wrong note. Prime and Howard watch and listen to Nadia perform and she is absolutely magnificent.
On the other side, we see Emily in bed with Ian Shaw (Nicholas Pinnock). We’re not exactly sure who Shaw is at this point, although we do know he is younger than Emily. She shares with him her concerns about being set up and her superiors. Shaw tells her about Baldwin and tells her to leave the Baldwin issue alone.
Meanwhile, Prime hatches a plot to get close to Nadia so that the organization can protect her. Prime fakes a phone call to draw her attention to a nearby bar, pretending to be a distraught father of another violinist. He also informs them that he has learned of Nadia’s childhood home and tells Quayle and his team, including Howard, they should go there because he suspects that’s where Baldwin is holed up. The team heads out to the house and it does turn out to be the abandoned dwelling that Baldwin has been tending to her wounds in. A fight breaks out, but wily Baldwin manages to escape again. The team then heads to Nadia’s apartment to see if they can find out any more about Nadia and the Nadia/Baldwin connection.
Howard, Quayle and Aldrich (still a compassionless, arrogant dick) search (i.e. trash) Nadia’s apartment. Quayle and Aldrich (Ulrich Thomsen) seem to want Nadia dead as much as Baldwin does. Baldwin is watching in the shadows as they do so, having followed the men from the old house. The men have unwittingly set Baldwin on Nadia’s trail. As she lurks, we see her tapping the strap of her messenger bag in the same rhythm her father used when he tapped on the table. (Does Baldwin play the violin too? Maybe we’ll find out in future episodes. Nothing happens in this story randomly.) After they leave the apartment, Baldwin breaks in and finds Nadia’s calendar, which lists the time and place of her rehearsal.
Nadia has met up with Prime in the bar. She tells him about her miserable and strict household and upbringing. As she talks we see her tapping the table the way her father used to. Prime has lured her in with the conjured story about his own (fictional) daughter who he claims is missing. Prime tells her he must be the typical stage dad and keeps her talking about her father. She describes her childhood home, which indeed is the house that Baldwin has been hiding in and where a fight is concurrently taking place. Baldwin, after escaping said fight and finishing her own search of Nadia’s apartment, has called the police and told them that three men are holding a girl hostage in a bar.
Nadia reveals that she/Baldwin was busking in a Metro station while her father pretended to look on. He was drunk out of his mind and falls off the bench he was sitting on and lands on the tracks. He calls out for help, but Nadia/Baldwin just stares at him. A train is coming and although he pleads with his daughter to help him, she does nothing and the train hits him. After that came a series of foster homes. Nadia says it was only her love of the violin that saved her.
The police eventually show up and bust Prime and the two agents who were assigned to him. As they are exiting the building, Baldwin shoots everyone – killing the officers and the agents while Prime manages to escape. Baldwin takes Nadia and runs into the maze that is the backstage of the concert hall. Quayle, Aldrich, Howard and several other agents have arrived on the scene, soon to be joined by Prime and more police. Baldwin can’t bring herself to shoot Nadia. She didn’t shoot her as she was escorted out of the bar and she couldn’t bring herself to shoot her while they are running backstage.
Howard is warning everyone to be careful. He knows that Nadia risks being hurt in the melee. Unfortunately, no one listens to meek Howard and one of the Prime’s agents shoots and kills Nadia as she is running from Baldwin. The police do capture Baldwin though. Howard ends up punching Quayle (who deserved it). Aldrich immediately wants Howard off the case and demands that Prime find other lodgings as Aldrich does not want the two men associating any longer. Prime rushes to Howard’s defense, saying that because of him Baldwin is in police custody and that someone from the Other Side is in the hands of the police is an unparalleled disaster. He calls Aldrich out on his stupidity and also holds him responsible for Nadia’s death.
On his part, Howard just wants to know the real reason he is involved with this issue and demands Prime tell him why he (Prime) needs his help. As Howard makes up a bed for Prime on Howard’s couch, he pumps Prime for more information.
Back on The Other Side, Emily is meeting with Pope in the old church. He wants to know if she knows Prime’s plan. Emily knows about Baldwin and tells Prime about the rendition set up. Emily Prime has been framed and wants to know why. She thinks Prime has disappeared and doesn’t know where or why, but thinks his disappearance is because of her. She doesn’t know that Pope is the one who arranged for Prime’s pass into our reality. She knows her days as a Peacekeeper are numbered because of this and her history of drug abuse.
The episode closes with Howard angrily exiting his apartment to go visit his Emily, who has been moved secretly to another hospital.