Counterpart: Better Angels
February 18, 2019 7:20 AM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Mira's looming threat forges some unlikely alliances. (Series Finale)
posted by oh yeah! (10 comments total)
Now that it's "all over," here's what I still don't understand.
1) The flu virus developed by alpha was supposedly a precaution; a defensive weapon. Who actually released it and how was it done?
2) How did management get all that power, control and money to establish and maintain the "Office of Interchange?"
3) Howard alpha was offered a job in Strategy at the end. With a permanent shutdown of the crossing, why would there still be a "Strategy?"
4) Where are the missing Others? E.g. Pope's other, Naya's other. No one seemed interested enough to ask. We only got to see Mira's other in the end. Seems odd that this would be ignored by those pursuing Mira.
5) Was Mira's plan to continue to pretend being management? Didn't she think the bodies would ever be found?
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:33 AM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Probably Management should have had two-factor authentication on their Oversized Communications Devices.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:57 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

Incredible premise. Strong cast, top notch acting, stylish dialogue. I really enjoyed the anachronistic sets/ settings. Williams and Simmons both got incredible scenes where they act against themselves.

Confusing as heck, generally.

After some grumpiness from me, I accept that this is fiction and how the project managed to get funded in the first place (by East Berlin of all places) is no more fantastical than that an unattended particle accelerator created a rift between two (and only two) instances of possibilities. Maybe some of its DNA came from old science fiction from communist regimes where "the state simply makes it so" was a morbid bit of flavour.

I got a feels when Naya Temple gives 'good Howard' a nod, "You must be the real Howard."

The conclusion was frustrating, but could have been far far worse.

re: 3) You don't just abandon large institutions - there's definitely wind-down activities, long-term surveillance of unaccounted-for crossers. If "Strategy" was smart, they'd start to slow down and re-examine the other-tech they acquired; instead of gobbling up new tech, they can examine and infer other new tech by looking at processes and whatnot.

You also kind want to slowly release staff, retrain and reassign perhaps. Institutions also have a lot of inertia, I'm sure it does a lot of other stuff not directly related with crossings, or can easily be repurposed. There must be a crapload of real estate holdings; managing that alone is going to be tricky.

A *lot* of graft could come out of this, personal armies both bureaucratic and militant. There's probably a lot of small arms floating around out there - re: Howard holding onto the piece he was handed for the raid. But likely a lot less than just "ok, everyone go home."
posted by porpoise at 7:13 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've always felt like Counterpart was two separate shows.

On the one hand it's this wonderful SciFi show about parallel universes. They take that setup and beautifully explore nature vs. nurture, the impact of our choices on ourselves and those we love, and look pretty deeply at the eternal "Who am I? Why am I here?" This show features some amazing actors doing unbelievably good work, arguably some of the best acting on TV in recent memory. Seeing both Howards and Emilies grow and learn has been a fantastic ride, and watching Claire and Peter's relationship seem to break, and then heal and grow stronger has been a pure delight. Ivan Fyodorovich, your lengthy comment on the previous episode speaks exactly to what I've been loving. Thank you for that, it really deepened my enjoyment of these last few episodes.

The other show is a spy thriller, a cheap knock off of le Carre. This show features a poorly thought out premise, clunky plotting, incomplete plans from our villains and heroes, murky motivations, and just generally doesn't hold together very well. Plot holes and coincidences abound. The chief villain has a supernatural ability to guess what her enemies are going to do, and lucky for her those same enemies generally act like dopes. I find this show infuriating, and it tries my patients and constantly supersedes my ability to suspend disbelief.

That second show kept me from watching Season 2 as it aired. I binged the whole thing over the last couple of weeks, and I'm glad I did. I don't think I would have made it if I went week to week. Too frustrating, too pointless.

But, boy oh boy, I'm really REALLY gonna miss that first show.
posted by Frayed Knot at 5:02 PM on February 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

The strong suits in the show made me overlook the myriad weak points in the writing. As others have pointed out above, there are a LOT of story elements that make you scratch your head. As in the total control that Management has over the lives of everybody in the Interface Department, and yet they had no security or assets other than their communication suitcases.

Also, how is just welding the doors shut "closing the portal permanently"? Wouldn't a small nuclear bomb have been more effective?

I was let down by the fate of Howard Prime, whom we last see crossing back into Prime-World with Baldwin. He deserved more, and I bristled when he seemed to be regarded as a terrible human being by everyone around him. For cryin' out loud, he killed all the flu-carriers without hurting a single bystander.

Maybe this is a credit to JK Simmons' nuanced portrayal, but he seemed more of a brusque person who was excellent at his job. So I did not get how Howard Alpha was supposed to hate him so much. I would have liked a scenario in which HP let HA go back to the world in which the other Emily was still living, so that he could be with her.

Also, I was confused about which world the flu was being released in. Was that Prime or Alpha?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:21 PM on February 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Also, I was confused about which world the flu was being released in. Was that Prime or Alpha?

Mira Prime released the virus on Alpha world via Yanek Alpha.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:08 PM on February 19, 2019

Wouldn't a small nuclear bomb have been more effective?

This could have been hand-waved away with "an energy release of that magnitude near the crossing could destroy both universes" or something, but welding the doors shut sure seems like a minimal effort.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:18 PM on February 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was let down by the fate of Howard Prime, whom we last see crossing back into Prime-World with Baldwin.
I’m guessing the two Howards switched places again. The Howard talking to Temple seemed much more jocular and self-assured than the one she thought he was, and Howard Prime’s comment about his new deal left a lot open.
posted by migurski at 10:18 PM on February 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

I assumed welding was on purpose- you can't open it accidentally, but you've left the option of changing your mind later on. "Permanent" is just a bureaucrat word for "a long time".
posted by harriet vane at 7:31 PM on February 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

welding was on purpose

Which brings to mind - also not precluding the potential to keep telling stories in this setting (ie., season 3+).

The obvious S03 or reboot is if they gave themselves institutional amnesia, and sometime a generation or few later, someone re-discovers the crossing. Not sure what kind of story to tell, but it's highly fertile ground to plant seeds in.

"Permanent" is just a bureaucrat word for "a long time".

I both like and am horrified. Record retentions in government (in Canada) are alllll over the board, and a lot of regs regarding 25 year+ retentions have zero teeth to enforce (or enforcing is moot).
posted by porpoise at 8:23 PM on February 26, 2019

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