TV: _Counterpart_

I apparently haven’t posted here about the TV show Counterpart.

I watched the first episode just under a year ago. (I no longer remember how I heard about it.) I liked the first ep quite a bit, so I rewatched it with Kam, and she liked it too, and we ended up watching both 10-episode seasons.

It’s a fascinating, well-done science fiction series with (sort of) a modern-real-world setting, and kind of a Cold-War-spy-movie vibe even though it’s not set in the Cold War.

(I should note that in particular, there are assassin characters, and several violent deaths, and a lot of other deaths that are part of the backstory. And quite a lot of deception and betrayal. I should probably give more content warnings than that; if there’s particular stuff in that sort of milieu that you find distressing and you want to know whether it’s in this show, feel free to ask me about it.)

The show stars J.K. Simmons (who played J. Jonah Jameson in some of the Spider-Man movies) as Howard Silk, an American working for the United Nations in Berlin; his job involves speaking coded messages to another worker, in a mysterious office setting, but he doesn’t know what the messages mean or much of anything else about what his job really involves.

And if you like sfnal shows with excellent acting and writing and a spy-ish vibe, and very gradual revelation of backstory, then I recommend not finding out anything more than that about the show before watching the first episode; the way that they reveal things in that first ep is really effective and well done.

And I had no idea , before this show, how good an actor Simmons is. He plays two roles on this show, and he does an excellent job with both of them; very impressive.

I also like the other actors, especially Olivia Williams as Howard’s wife Emily. (Who’s in a coma at the beginning of the series.)

Sadly, the show was canceled after two seasons, and it’s arguable whether it has a satisfying conclusion. But even though I strongly prefer shows to have satisfying conclusions, I liked this one so much that I wasn’t particularly bothered or upset by the ambiguity of the ending.

Anyway, good stuff. It’s on my top-20 favorite shows list.

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