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Review of 'Counterpart' 1.7

Spying Across Dimensions

A truly masterful Counterpart 1.7 last night; a perfect spy science fiction story in many overlapping ways.

First, it occurred to me as we watched the young Clare in spy training on the other side that there's a strong something of The Americans in Counterpart. Except, whatever Elizabeth's original name was in The Soviet Union (I forget) as she trains to be the adult Elizabeth in America, passing as an American, the ante in Counterpart is much higher, because we get Clare training not to be some rival or enemy nationality but her alternate self. This, again, as I've said before, comes from this deft mix of spy story and science fiction story.

We also get more tidbits about what happened to the other side. It was some kind of swine flu that wiped out so much of its population — with the result that, in addition to being paranoid, they don't eat pork. What's still not clear or not even known is why they blame us for their pandemic — it will be an interesting show indeed when that is revealed.

But the last minutes of this episode revealed an outstanding twist, as any superior spy drama should. Peter's discovery that his wife is really her other, and our knowledge that the Clare who is his wife killed the Clare he intended to marry, is not the last word in this complex relationship. It turns out that Clare has let her cyanide pill outlive its effectiveness — because she wants now, above all else, to live. That's what having a baby did for her — it transformed her, turned her back into a more normal human being. She was still fine with spying on her husband, but is no longer fine with sacrificing her life if need be. Which makes eminent and healthy sense.

—If we can believe her, that is. But I think we can. That scene in the hospital looked pretty real and convincing. Good spy stories always have twists. But they're even better when the spying is across alternate dimensions of reality.

Paul Levinson
Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson's novels include The Silk Code (winner Locus Award, Best 1st Science Fiction Novel of 1999) & The Plot To Save Socrates. His nonfiction including Fake News in Real Context has been translated into 15 languages. 

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Review of 'Counterpart' 1.7
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