Counterpart: The Sincerest Form of Flattery
March 5, 2018 12:53 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Quayle is just not a very good spy, is he.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:36 PM on March 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

No. He's the archetype of the privileged careerist, born on third base, etc. I kept hoping that adversity would reveal some sand in his character, but apparently there's no there, there. Everything we needed to know about the useless little prick was came out in his first conversation with Howard Alpha.
posted by mojohand at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Apparently, the Prime world has neither recovered demographically nor psychologically from its pandemic two decades ago. Its streets, malls, movie theaters, etc.. remain strikingly empty, and many of its citizens are in a barely suppressed rage.
posted by mojohand at 4:40 PM on March 5, 2018

I was thinking about the lack of recovery from a 20-year-old pandemic.
The disease was called Munchen disease I believe and the empty streets and malls may be more evident in Germany if that's where the disease first took hold and where the biggest impact occurred.
posted by fullerine at 5:34 PM on March 5, 2018

Well remember, he wouldn’t have been promoted in Strategy if the Director hadn’t wanted something better for his daughter. He was never a good spy.
posted by corb at 10:25 PM on March 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I didn't care for the childhood portion of the flashbacks. It was very trope-y. (As an example, I didn't like the line, "Where are you taking me?") And the schoolmistress we've seen from Jeanne Moreau in La Femme Nikita to Charlotte Rampling in Red Sparrow and numerous others besides. The Americans handled this thing much more believably, with no melodrama and much unease.

I didn't like Quayle's inability to play along with Claire, not because I don't believe he would be too self-involved and unprofessional, but because I don't think Howard would have expected anything else. I mean, Howard is supposedly (necessarily) a much better judge of character than I am, and I figured Quayle would fuck it up. It would have been more interesting and complicating for the character if he'd sucked it up and rose to the challenge.

Apparently, the writers decided to have Claire turn double, and, given what we've seen of her before, we would not have believed it without this episode. Alternatively, she's lying to Quayle, but to what end? Triple-agency is just dumb, in reality it never works because everyone is distrustful. To escape? Well, maybe, because Quayle can probably be fooled long enough to give her a shot at it. Not Howard. But I don't think she's lying because the show has given us the scene where Baldwin challenges her about her seeming comfort in this life.

I don't like this turn, but we'll see how it goes.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:41 PM on March 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

> It would have been more interesting and complicating for the character if he'd sucked it up and rose to the challenge.

Yeah, I was disappointed with that turn as well. Him being able to pull it off would have been much actual character development for him, and it would have been much more interesting.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:21 PM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

But I don't think she's lying because the show has given us the scene where Baldwin challenges her about her seeming comfort in this life.

I'm now very curious about how Baldwin and Clare became so intimately acquainted. Clare appeared to have a very controlled existence at spy indoctrination school. And then...she was on the other side, married. Did Baldwin build in time for a booty call whenever she crossed over for an assassination? That would definitely change the way I perceive her character.
posted by grandiloquiet at 1:09 PM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I thought Baldwin and Clare weren't intimately aquainted before Clare used Baldwin's attraction to her to set up the assassination attempt. Up to that point Clare had just been Baldwin's handler.
posted by fullerine at 8:53 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm confused, the childhood training flashbacks - how did they identify people who's counterpart are going to be in useful positions in the future?
posted by porpoise at 2:47 PM on March 24, 2018

I was wondering that too: how do they know which kids to train?

My guess: a lot of them are counterparts to young relatives -- children, nieces, nephews -- of spymasters on the other side, with the long-game assumption that insularity and nepotism would result in a lot of them either entering the spy trade or at least becoming usefully connected to it.

Although this raises a question: why haven't we seen more counterparts than we have? Are the worlds diverged enough now that it's become unusual for counterparts to be in similar positions?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:50 PM on March 25, 2018

On the 'which kids to train' question - I think they mentioned that Clare was one of the best placed agents they had, no? I think that the Alpha counterpart being in a useful position was only part of the equation, but the Prime-world kid being an orphan or otherwise easily disappeared was just as important to the plot, so that the school could indoctrinate them successfully.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:35 PM on March 25, 2018

Seriously is the entire theme of this show "women are lying to you"? Except of course when they are having lesbian sex and getting brutalized.
posted by Hypatia at 7:52 PM on April 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the amount of naked women is disproportionate. I also found it ludicrous that an assassin just coming home from a job wouldn't be wearing a bra (first episode), since that'd be sooo painful when you're fighting and running.

Harry Lloyd is doing a good job of playing a soft, privileged failson, though. Mostly I want to slap him, but then he gives a lovely goofy face at the birth of his child. I'd hoped his character would develop more, because I've never seen a character arc which *starts* with a guy realising he's had an easy ride and has to actually do some real work now. But if Clare doesn't kill him first chance she gets, she's not as tough as she seems.
posted by harriet vane at 7:22 AM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

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