When Howard Silk is turned down for a promotion at the company for which he's worked for 30 years, another surprise awaits him that's far more exciting.
All Howard had to do that he's aware of to become a part of the excitement that awaits him on Counterpart Season 1 Episode 1 was to be born.
As you can imagine, there is going to be a lot more to the story and the new world Howard Silk has just entered, but if the beginning didn't pique your interest, there's nothing I can do for you.
Hopefully, you read my Counterpart series review when this episode aired as a preview on December 16. Maybe some of you are already ahead of the pack and had a chance to watch Counterpart online and enjoyed this second showing as much as I did.
To quote Marilyn Monroe's character The Girl from The Seven Year Itch, here's how I feel about any programming featuring alternate universes: It shakes me! It quakes me! It makes me feel goose-pimply all over!
So many questions arise from such a simple premise. How can two people, virtually the same, be so very different under similar circumstances?
The Flash has toyed with selves from alternate earths, and two characters got time to shine: Dr. Harry Wells and Laurel Lance after she moved to Arrow. In the first instance, Wells didn't get a lot of material to explain why his incarnations were the way they were, while it seems the latest Ms. Lance is getting the chance.
On "The Crossing," the first thing Howard Silk wanted to do was when he was in the room with what I'm going to call OHoward (short for Other Howard, even though he's technically called Howard Prime), is talk about how they can be so different.
Counterpart is different because the world split at a certain point due to technology. It allows the doppelgangers to share far more than the average alternate universe characters we run across. The Howards have a whole history that is the same until one moment it stops.
The concept is so fascinating I would be willing to watch J.K. Simmons locked in a room with himself doing nothing but talking about it. Their chats in Howard's homey, comfortable apartment (that probably made bile rise in OHoward's throat) were some of my favorite moments of the premiere.
Howard: There are so many things I want to ask about. Feeling I've had my whole life that only belong to me, but now it's us. We share genetics. Childhood.
Howard: So how did we get to be so different?
OHoward: You'll drive yourself crazy trying to chart it out. Seriously, people have.
Of course, there's little that beats watching Simmons act, and he's not been a meek fellow on screen recently. His reactions as both Howards are genuinely moving and comical at the same time.
It's already evident they see in each other more than they care to admit. The man with the kind eyes appreciated the way his other treated Emily's brother at a time he didn't dare to do it.
And for all of OHoward's grumbling about Howard's lack of motivation, staying in one job for 30 years, and not having the clearance to work on a mission to save his wife, the smile when he found his once-favorite tie in his jacket pocket and the way he touched his Emily's hand proved he remembers his softer side.
Aldrich: Which one are you?
OHoward: Fuck off.
Aldrich: It's time.
And the last scene announced we couldn't fully trust OHoward. Why did he lie about his Emily being dead of cancer? I'll assume with all the talk of the mess on the "fourth floor" that he's worried if this side finds out about her living, they might try to take her out, too.
Everything about the way the "sides" are governed is fascinating. OHoward mentioned there are uprisings over there and people coming here with the hope of defecting because of how bad things have gotten.
Yet here, Howard has worked in the building containing The Crossing and had no idea there was another side. Nobody on his side knows there is another side except possibly those with the highest clearance in world governments.
I want to know what side was the original. Why the story is told from Germany as opposed to the United States, England, or some other English speaking country. If OHoward's world knows of it, do they often try to communicate with the other side? These things will be haunting me.
If a guy like Peter Quayle can gain access, shouldn't everybody have it?
He's a bit of a goof. He wants to be in charge, but instead, he's in utter disbelief that a man like Howard Silk had the audacity to have an other who got involved in espionage bringing Howard into things without all the necessary clearance. He mentioned it several times. Jealous much?
There has to be a reason he's running the operation.
Although quite dour, Aldrich seems far more fit for the job, and when OHoward deferred to Quayle's leadership, Quayle deferred to Aldrich because Quayle had no idea what he was doing.
It's no wonder someone almost got killed upon their first attempt at saving Emily.
As I said, there is certainly a lot more to the story of OHoward dashing between worlds to save the wife of his other. Baldwin knew a lot about Howard's routine and killing his wife can't be just a dig at OHoward, especially since we now know his wife is alive.
Watching her do her assassin thing, though, was a lot of fun. She's so beautiful with those big doe eyes; it seems impossible she'd be a cold-blooded killer. That is probably why she is so good at it.
Expect the unexpected. OHoward's team failed to do that, and they paid the price.
There was one aspect of the operation that didn't sit well with me. We learned a lot about both Howards in a relatively short amount of time. Unless Howard was trying to keep himself in the game to ensure his promotion, I cannot understand how he failed to tell OHoward about giving the nurses' station a flower every day.
Granted, it was a big week for Howard, telling a man to wipe ketchup off of his tie. A non-sanctioned communication at work for the first time in 30 years. He was denied a promotion. He learned there was a split world full of others and met his, who told him his beloved Emily's life was in danger.
The oversight could have happened. I don't think so, though. It would have been more realistic if he had told OHoward, and OHoward hadn't given it a second thought, striding by on his way to Emily's room. He did that, in essence, when he failed to greet the nurse by name or greet her at all.
That little oversight niggled at me quite a bit.
But then Howard gained a bit of confidence from being out of the office and watching another version of him act as he never had, and I wondered if it could have been an unintentional intentional oversight on the part of his subconscious.
In addition to the questions I've already posted above, I want to know what happens when someone defects. How would they get through the crossing? Is there more than one crossing in the world? Are governments of the worlds often in touch?
How has the government of Howard Silk's world managed to keep the other world a secret for all these years? If some have defected, have they never spoken about it again?
If this were a video game, I'd be online playing it all night to get to know the other side, the players, the world. What about you? Are you hooked? Hit me up in the comments and share your thoughts!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.