What was your initial reaction when the credits rolled?
Mine was, "F#@k me!"
That's because Counterpart Season 1 Episode 7 was a perfect hour. From start to finish it played out beautifully and gave Clare the history we desperately craved with a stunning finish to keep us guessing. What more could we possibly want?
Nazanin Boniadi was fantastic as Fera on Homeland, but her material as Clare is much juicer. It's a joy watching her control an entire storyline like she is here and if she seems to be locked into the spy category, her ability to train her emotions demands it.
I watched Clare be torn down as a human being, stripped of her individuality, turned into a person she didn't know to avenge a country based only on the word of a teacher and school she was taken to at the worst moment of her life.
It's time to shed the skin of your past, grow a new one, thick with anger.Teacher
She was a little girl who lost everything in a flu epidemic that swept the world in which she lived, but through all the pain, she still managed to find hope and happiness.
As we've been watching Counterpart together, we've been wondering why the other world hasn't recovered after 20 years a loss of (yes, I say only) 7% of their population, and now we have an idea.
They've been brainwashed not to forgive and forget. They aren't allowed to live. Their society since 1997 seems to have been built around fear.
I'm only guessing about that, of course, but for what other reasons would people still be so afraid to go outdoors? Why create the school? The masses buy into the fear mongering of their government despite the fact there hadn't been another outbreak in 20 years. They're keeping their world hostage through fear.
Whether they all know about the portal and the other world isn't known, but it might be built around hate, too.
Ten years ago something happened to the world, and very few people know about it. It copied itself, split in two. Think of it like a door you can walk through to another world with another me, another you.Teacher
At the very least, the school does it's best to perpetuate the notion that the other side tried to wipe out their world, but I never heard an explanation.
I enjoyed learning the differences, minor though they were. Tobacco usage differs, there are better cell phones on this side, and we still dare to eat pork. The swine!
Their epidemic sounds a lot like our H1N1 epidemic had gone wild. Maybe it broke early and without advances in medicine wiped out a large swath of the people. We've been bracing for it for a long time. There must be a reason the other side wants to place blame. Will we ever find out what it is?
As Clare grew up in that school, she never left. I wonder what she knew of her world. Did she know more of ours than her own? If her life consisted only of the school and our world, some of her more recent actions would make sense.
Peter Quayle is a very strange man. On the one hand, fell in love with a good girl, one who was saving herself for marriage. When they finally made love, he was kind and gentle, making the moment special for her. That surprised me.
But we also knew him to be a womanizer. We don't know if he was cheating on his Clare before marriage or if she imagined it, but the Clare we know went into the marriage with preconceptions. At that point, it was hard to make the most of a shitty situation regardless.
Nothing about Clare's life was pretty. She had to suffer every fate her "shadow" did just to keep up from having her legs broken to losing her virginity.
Claude: How anyone agrees to spend their life with someone they've never fucked, I'll never know. It's like buying a dress you've never tried on.
Clare: What am I supposed to do?
Claude: Are you a virgin? Huh. Well that'll have to change. If you want your replacement to be authentic, that is. Once cannot have their cherry popped twice. It's a crude phrase, I know, but it's quite illustrative. I could be of service...
But apparently, nothing prepared her for the freedom she would have as the highest placed other in this world.
Alexander Pope runs both sides of the operation and must take all of the information from OHoward and his Emily to give to the school before he places people. He gets his information from Claude Lambert who is right at the top of his own station, though we don't know when he ascended to Ambassador.
Clare has ties not only to her husband, but to her father, and even if he's not her real father, a little girl getting a second chance to have "daddy" dote on her would be a conundrum for anyone who lost their own at the age Clare did.
It's shocking Clare was allowed to have a child.
I'm at a disadvantage not having children of my own, but from what I understand, there is no tie like a mother/child relationship.
The only other tie Clare has had with such an impact since she was a child and lost her family was with her friend Spencer, who was also ripped from her, most likely because she cared for him.
It's almost a certainty that Clare looked for Spencer when she arrived in this world, and with her connections, she would have been able to find him. It would be then that she would discover him alive or dead. Do you think he was cleared for takeoff early? Yeah, me neither.
Teacher: You miss him? [slap] Those feelings are not use to have, do you understand me?! You are not some stupid little girl who gets to have friends and boyfriends and hopes and dreams! You are a soldier. If that makes you angry, think of who took it from you and focus on THAT. Congratulations.
Clare: For what?
Teacher: You are truly suffering now. It's beautiful. It means you're growing.
The school and that teacher mistook Clare and all the other students for complete idiots. I know all about Stockholm syndrome, but to come right out and tell a child you're happy they're suffering seems like it might, at some point, come back to haunt them.
Kids remember everything. I know I remember everything. Every tragedy, however small, from my childhood is branded on my brain. What Clare and the others like her have to do when they have new experiences is determine which tragedies were real and which were created.
I don't know if Clare has done that. I do know that Peter Quayle pushed the envelope by not following a tiny little request from OHoward to use his "other" wife to their advantage.
Quayle: Perfect night in the perfect life. You know everything about her, don't you? You know every little detail. Or has it been YOU, just playing me this whole time? Tell me, Clare, when did SHE end and YOU begin? Did I ever even fuck my real wife?
Clare: You want to fuck me?
Quayle: I said my WIFE!!!
He couldn't leave well enough alone, not even for a few hours. He is so self-absorbed that he chose to out Clare in the middle of his birthday party. Well, at least give her a heads up.
But after everything we had witnessed previously when they were together and grappled with the truth, and he shoved that cyanide capsule in her face, instead of getting angry or playing it dumb or any other choices, she fessed up and used the "it's all different now" card.
Peter: Take it, you fucking spy! I'm giving you a way out. Take it!
Clare: It won't do anything, Peter. I let it go bad. It expired. Don't you understand? All my life, I never had anything of my own. But things are different now. [baby wails in the background]
[Clare recalls having their daughter, who she named Spencer]
And damned if I didn't want to believe her.
I didn't want to believe her for Quayle's sake or because I don't want her to go through with her plan to destroy this world but because I want her to have really found some peace after having had her daughter who she lovingly named after the only friend she's had since she was 12 years old.
In less than one hour a character for whom I had very few feelings one way or another is suddenly important not only to the series overall but to me.
Clare isn't the person she is because she wanted to be but because she was forced. I want to believe when she connected with Baldwin that for a brief few minutes before she left to have her killed, we saw her true colors.
I want to believe that Baldwin is still alive because by coming over to a world not motivated by fear, Clare's feelings about it are changing, and she's able to make rational choices instead of letting the anger wash over her.
Is that the reality of what's happening on Counterpart? I have no idea. But it made me believe it could.
By God, if you haven't watched any of this series yet, please do yourself a favor and watch Counterpart online.
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.