Science fiction thriller TV shows will always have a place in people’s hearts, and that’s probably why shows like Counterpart always have some form of success. This particular series, which Justin Marks created, was initially aired on Starz in 2017.
Counterpart is essentially a spy thriller series that follows Howard Silk, a man who discovers that the top-secret organization he works for (similar to the UN) is protecting a passageway that leads to a completely different version of Earth, and both universes are trying desperately to exploit the other for its advantages.
Because of what the show is all about, it attracted a considerable number of fans, which only continued to increase with every season released. Even critics had good things to say about Counterpart, saying that the show was “an absorbing thrill-fest.”
Thanks to its multiverse premise, Counterpart was able to show to its viewers just how complex human nature is and how each of our lives can change for the better or worse depending on the decisions we make. However, it’s not just one single choice that changes things—it’s more like a chain of choices.
Counterpart’s main cast of characters may look familiar to many, as it stars J.K. Simmons, popularly known for Whiplash. He plays the character Howard Silk (Alpha), who works as an Interface employee at the Office of Interchange (OI). This company, which is based in Berlin, is more than meets the eye because it’s also a UN spy agency.
At the same time, Simmons also plays the role of Howard Silk (Prime), an accomplished secret agent who works for Section 2 of the Prime World version of the OI. We also have Olivia Williams, who plays Emily Burton-Silk (Alpha), the wife of Howard Silk. However, she is his ex-wife in the Prime World and the mother of their daughter, Anna. She has the same occupation in both worlds, though, as she’s one of Housekeeping’s employees, OI’s counterintelligence function.
The Alpha and Prime worlds’ spy agencies also feature other main characters. Some of the more notable names include James Cromwell from Green Mile and L.A. Confidential as he portrays the character Yanek, who works as a warden in the Prime World’s underground facility.
We also have guest stars and recurring characters, such as The Borgias’ Lotte Verbeek, who is the leader of some infiltrators from the Prime World, as well as Deadpool’s Stefan Kapicic. Overall, these various characters co-exist and create a complex and expansive cast.
What’s the Show About?
As mentioned, Counterpart follows Howard Silk, a man who has been working for a Berlin-based agency called the Office of Interchange or OI. Even though Howard has been employed in this company for 30 years already, he still has a low rank within the company, which means he’s still no allowed to know what his work is actually all about.
In reality, OI actually protects a passageway that leads to a parallel world known as Prime World. Later on, a scientist named Yanek makes the seemingly harmless decision to make an exchange between the two parallel worlds. However, this causes a domino effect to take place and the two worlds diverge from one another. Not only that, a lethal virus is released into the Prime World, killing millions of people who live there.
Now, it seems that people from the Prime World have gone rogue, and Howard’s Prime counterpart is an OI agent who regularly crosses the path to the Alpha World to take back those who have gone rogue in an effort to maintain the status quo.
However, it appears that peace won’t come anytime soon. In the Prime World, there’s an ongoing factional infighting among the people because many believe that virus was caused by the Alpha World. The violence and antagonism is on the verge of spilling over and changing the life of Howard and his comatose wife.
What makes Counterpart stand out from all the other TV shows broadcasted on Starz—and any other television network, for that matter—is that it’s such a well-done and well-crafted espionage show. Of course, it can’t be helped that some parts are completely unbelievable and that if you were an actual scientist, you’d probably raise your eyebrow at some parts of the show’s science.
However, if you ignore all those things and simply focus on the show’s narrative and what it’s all about, Counterpart is a fantastic series that’s capable of providing a gripping experience to its viewers. We can’t help but commend Simmons for his fantastic performance in this series, as he was able to channel two very different characters with almost no effort at all.
Counterpart is the kind of show that makes you wonder how life would be like if things were done differently.
Why Was Counterpart Canceled?
Seeing as Counterpart received incredibly reviews even by critics, why did Starz choose to cancel it despite its popularity? In reality, Counterpart’s cancelation had nothing to do with the show’s ratings or TV quality. Instead, Starz was working on pushing out a new brand strategy at the time, and the network wanted to release more content that had a more female audience.
Counterpart, unfortunately, did not fit into that requirement, as it had a heavily male audience. It was noted then that some episodes of Counterpart were only able to rake in a few hundred thousand viewers, while other shows on Starz and other networks were capable of bringing in millions of viewers every week. For instance, Starz’ historical drama entitled Outlanders had millions of viewers on average.
After the announcement, the show’s creator still hoped that Counterpart would be able to find a new network to call home so that the series could continue. Unfortunately, Media Rights Capital wasn’t able to do so, and it was confirmed in April 2019 that there would no longer be a third season for Counterpart, as the show is officially canceled.
Every now and then, we lose a fantastic show due to various reasons—it could be due to a decreased viewership, a low rating, or any other reason. As for Counterpart, the show just didn’t fit the network’s new brand strategy, and had to be kicked out. While it’s unfortunate, you can still watch the show’s first two seasons if you haven’t yet or if you want to relive the thrill.