A very important episode 1.3 of Counterpart premiered last night, in which we get an answer to a central question, or at least a question which I've seen as fundamental since the first episode:
The world with the nice Howard—the mild-mannered Howard Silk—is our world. The alternate with tough Howard, aka Howard Prime, is the reality that was created some decades ago. How do we know this? We're told it suffered a major pandemic in its cities which wiped out a lot of its population. That didn't happen in our reality, the home of nice Howard. Hence, that reality is ours. To be clear, that doesn't exactly mean that the tough reality split off from ours. Before the split, there was only one reality, ours. But since the split, ours is the one with nice Howard and no pandemic. And the other reality, not ours, was hardened by the pandemic, with the result (among who knows how many other results) that Howard is a much more violent character.
We also learn more about both Emilies, but I won't say more, lest I reveal some big spoilers. But, clearly, there are a lot of secrets and surprises in this story.
Two other points about the general setting: Someone who doesn't like the relationship between two realities says he wishes they (the tough side) would just build a "wall," and forget about our side. The mention of a wall shows that putting Counterpart in Germany is no accident. Berlin, after all, was separated by a wall, until the end of the Cold War.
But that wall in our off-screen reality was big and forbidding. In Counterpart—and this is the second point—the two realities are separated by a tunnel—which actually reminds me of a tunnel under the City College of New York, that connected Shepard and Harris Halls. I used to use it when I was a student there in the 1960s, and I was late to class on cold rainy days. A not particularly cosy, but not forbidding, kind of tunnel.
Counterpart continues to be a good, special kind of spy/science fiction amalgam, with especially great acting by J. K. Simmons as both Howards.