On The Tube: Counterpart

Counterpart (TV series).jpg The premise of Counterpart attracted me. Two parallel worlds, each kept mostly secret from the ordinary people of the other. There’s that science fiction premise, but everything that follows is espionage.

I generally find modern espionage fiction, book or tv, to be too indulgent. Violence and sex, yes. 007 unleashed with a lot more potty language. By comparison, Jack Ryan’s first two seasons as an in-the-field agent caught my attention. Solid B tv. Maybe this is too. Some things are a bit better, some not.

Counterpart is now over, it seems. Two seasons, twenty episodes, and done. I’ve gotten up to episode 8. And I have two streams of commentary on it.

First, that one of the two parallel worlds suffered a catastrophic pandemic in 1996, wiping out a half-billion people. Mainly in Europe, it seems. This fiction was created a few years before covid-19, so it’s interesting how it goes down compared to today.

One world, not too surprisingly, blames the other. Therefore, a cold war of sorts going on between them. A careful exchange of information exists about technology and resources.
A secret diplomacy too, plus various spies, sleeper agents, and the like. Our real world seems to have dodged the suspicion that some government or other started our sickness. More is focused here on either the incompetence of leaders or the incompetence of people who insist on gathering and sharing disease. But who knows what’s up or down in the secret halls of government these days.

As often happens in war, the premise of the means justifying the ends is brought into play. The results of that make this series bleak and brutal viewing. One world is portrayed as mostly good, but their counterparts are much more vicious and violent. There’s some good interplay between the two. One group of characters wears more of a sneer on their faces at virtue, having suffered a loss of hundreds of millions of people. Fake news, indoctrination, brainwashing, conspiracy theories, and it makes you wonder if the creators here didn’t have a little window into 2020. They sure nailed the dark side of human nature, and it makes me wonder what kind of stuff is being generated behind the scenes in today’s real, single world.

As spy thriller streaming, the actual program is quality stuff. If you have the stomach for cruelty, betrayal, and being kept largely in the dark tracking two sets of characters, then go for it. There’s worse on tv. Worse in real life too, I suppose. And not anything to our credit, fact of fiction.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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