Both Sides Now is the fourth episode of the Starz Original Series Counterpart. This is the first of three Season 1 episodes directed by Alik Sakharov (House of Cards, Black Sails). Both Sides Now is written by Erin Levy (Mindhunter, Mad Men)
Both Howards deepen their investigation of the conspiracy. Quayle meets one of Howard's sources. Clare must decide what to do about Baldwin.
In the message transfer scene, one of the customs agents is played by Counterpart unit production manager Philipp Barnett.
Most of the skyscrapers seen in Dimension Two are added by visual effects. One of the most striking additions to the Berlin skyline is the pyramid-shaped Memorial Arch which D1 Howard passes on the way to his D2 apartment. Creator Justin Marks explains "I don’t want to get into too many spoilers, but the Memorial Arch for the victims of The Flu which is this triangular thing that sits there. ... At no point does the show actually address the fact that it’s a Memorial Arch."
Writer Erin Levy is married to fellow Counterpart writer Gianna Sobol. They met on their first day in the writers' room back in 2015.
According to Levy, the writers debated which alcoholic beverage would be considered the "good stuff" that D1 Howard is saving to celebrate Emily's recovery. The decided it was Pappy Van Winkle.
This episode provides the best, albeit a very dark, look inside the crossing between the two dimensions. The set is by Dan Bishop and his production design team.
In Dimension One, D2 Howard takes out the trash from his counterpart’s apartment. He sees a man fall on the sidewalk, and, while helping him to his feet, slips him a small scroll of paper.
The man places the scroll in a magnetic key case and sticks it on a park bench.
A younger man in a cap retrieves the case and takes out the scroll. He works in customs at the Office of Interchange and secretly slips the scroll into the bag of man crossing over from D1 to D2.
A customs officer on the other side retrieves the note as he checks the man’s bag. He places it in a small tube and secures the tube under a park bench where Raash (Marco Khan) later retrieves it in Dimension Two. He reads what appears to be a set of random numbers.
Presumably following the instructions on the scroll from D2 Howard, Raash removes all personal items, books, pictures, and weapons, from Howard’s apartment. He also takes Howard’s dog with him.
Howards Playing Poker
D1 Howard is packing as he explains his daily routine to his counterpart. He gets to work every morning early, 8:20-something. He’s never late. D2 is frustrated by the packing, he wonders why the other him thinks he’ll need clothes on the other side since he already has clothes there. Howard continues explaining his routine saying that after work he grabs a quick dinner and gets to the hospital between 7:00 and 7:30 to read to Emily.
He explains that he gets his morning coffee at a café and plays GO on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Andrei (Bernhard Forcher). D2 Howard pontificates about how disappointing it is to meet one’s other. He suggests the build up prior and the let down after is similar to the first time one has sex, “like losing your virginity. You wait your whole life for it. 20 seconds later, you’re disappointed.”
D2 decides that, since they will become each other in six hours, they should get to know each other over a game of poker. He adds that to play the part of Howard he can “do whatever the fuck I want as long as it’s not too exciting or remotely interesting.”
On questioning from his other, Howard explains that he met Andrei the night Emily was injured six weeks earlier. Andrei’s sister suffers from diabetes and was admitted to the hospital at the same time. D2 asks if Howard cheats on Emily with other women. He does not because he is married and wonders if his counterpart did that kind of thing “when she was alive.”
- EDITOR’S NOTE: Howard is still working off the information his other told him in ‘’The Crossing (Episode)’’ and believes D2 Emily died of cancer.
D2 Howard doesn’t answer him and then mocks him for having only one friend in Berlin. Howard says he didn’t need friends before because he had Emily.
D1 Howard asks about his counterpart’s routines in Dimension Two, he doesn’t answer him. D1 Howard is frustrated by the lack of information and points out that he works a desk job and has no social life, which should be easy to imitate. D2 says Raash will take care of Howard on the other side so he doesn’t need to know anything about his routine.
D1 confronts his other about why he treats him (D1) so badly. D2 ignores the question and tells Howard to bet. He folds instead. They appear to be playing Texas Hold’em and D2 is incredulous that Howard “flopped top pair” and still folded. D1 claims it was “a good bluff”. D2 snaps at him to play one hand like he actually knows how to win. Howard folds again but, this time, with a bad hand. He ends the game.
Howard Crosses Over
Clare takes Baldwin to a rundown hotel room saying “no one will notice you here”. She provides a backpack with fresh clothes. Baldwin searches it for a weapon but finds none and asks about it. Clare points out that the assassin was in custody for hours and wants to know what they asked. She then apologizes about what happened to Nadia (See ‘’Birds of a Feather’’) but Baldwin simply says, “She’s dead.”
She adds that she gave her interrogators nothing. Clare hesitates, but then provides Baldwin with a handgun. She checks the chamber. Clare says she’ll “talk to them about next steps” and urges her to get some rest.
D2 Howard watches Cyrus (Mido Hamada) pull up outside the apartment. He tells Howard that it’s time to go. D2 finds a good bottle of whisky on a shelf and says Howard’s been “saving the good stuff”. Howard says it’s for when Emily wakes up.
D2 assures his other that it’ll only be one week and that he’s doing the right thing. Howard worries they’re going to see through him, but D2 says that won’t happen if he keeps his mouth shut. Howard asks for assurances that his counterpart will read to Emily every day and keep her safe. He says he will. He then reminds Howard that he’s still wearing his wedding ring. He reluctantly takes it off and places it on a side table.
Peter Quayle meets Howard in the tunnel at the OI. They shake hands and Peter explains that they don’t shake hands on the other side. He says it’s a “germ thing”. He tells Howard that, if he’s caught, no one will be able to protect him. He also says he will deny any knowledge of the plan.
Howard passes through customs and into The Crossing. While in line at customs on the other side, he witnesses the search of another crosser. The agents find a pack of cigarettes in his pocket and lead the protesting man away. Howard meets no resistance and is only questioned about the reason for his trip to Dimension One, he says he was carrying the “embassy pouch”. The desk agent searches a drawer of polaroid pictures until she finds the one of Howard. He is photographed again and the agent says “Welcome home.”
Raash meets Howard in the OI lobby and drives him to D2 Howard’s apartment. The trip takes Howard past a number of unfamiliar landmarks including the pyramid-like Memorial Arch and several skyscrapers that do not exist in Dimension One. He also sees several people in surgical masks, a woman using a public Hygiene Station to sanitize her hands, and advertisements for home sanitizing services. A public service billboard warns that failure to report illness is a crime. The billboard uses the same imagery as the PSA seen in the D2 theater in ‘’The Lost Art of Diplomacy’’.
Raash lets Howard into his other’s apartment, leaves and locks him inside.
Aldrich tells Peter Quayle that he’ll put more escorts on Ambassador Claude Lambert to determine if, as D2 Howard suspects, he is involved in the Baldwin conspiracy. Peter suspects some of his men may not be trustworthy citing the fact that they’re always one step behind. He wants to make sure they’ve been meticulous in their vetting and that there’s no chance of a point of compromise in their office. Aldrich says the only point of weakness might be Howard Silk.
Aldrich is unaware that the Howard’s have switched places and is curious why Peter is still promoting Silk to Strategy. The director says D2 Howard has been more useful than Aldrich’s men lately and so they should stay on his good side.
D2 Howard reports for work late. It's almost 8:40 when he passes Aldrich on his way in. It turns out his promotion is to the Strategy payroll office. His new boss is under the impression that Howard has a degree in accounting, he does not. He’s handed a stack of timecards and told to file each one, mark it with codes, and send it back. Howard turns on his heel and leaves. When questioned, he simply says “personal day”. Peter watches as he exits the office.
Raash returns to the apartment in Dimension Two with groceries. Howard is angry at being locked in. A knock at the door interrupts them. A young woman shouts to be let in saying she knows “dad” is in there. Howard opens the door. The young woman says her mother is in the hospital and he must come right way. Howard is stunned into inaction. The woman grabs his coat and forces him into the hall.
On the phone in the car, the woman explains that she is Anna Burton-Silk (Sarah Bolger) and is calling to check on her mother Emily Burton. She tells the person on the phone that Emily is susceptible to malignant hyperthermia and is not to be given anesthesia under any circumstance.
- EDITOR’S NOTE: Malignant Hyperthermia is a rare genetic condition in which anesthesia drugs trigger a release of calcium ions in muscles causing them to contract. This results in rise in temperature and increased acid levels in the blood. If not treated promptly, MH is fatal in about 75% of cases.
Anna is using one of the translucent flip phones first seen in episode one. It’s been established that smartphone technology does not exist in Dimension Two.
On questioning from Howard, Anna explains that her mother had “another overdose”. Her neighbors found her on the floor with barely a pulse. Anna suspects she’d been there all night. She has a low opinion of her father telling Howard not to worry because he won’t have to actually do anything as she will deal with the doctors.
Claude Lambert is a Sneak
In Dimension One, Ambassador Claude Lambert arrives at a spa. He has a two o’clock appointment and is accompanied by two agents. He’s led into a private room and told to disrobe. As he’s removing his clothes, Clare joins him. She comments on the two escorts trailing him now. Lambert points out that they think he’s using his spa appointments for clandestine meetings.
He tells Clare that the folks in Dimension Two are not happy with the way things are developing. “They want to bring over our guests earlier than expected.” Clare points out that Baldwin “hasn’t removed the targets yet.” Lambert says their masters are suspicious of Baldwin. He wants Clare to take her out. He says he should use the fact that Baldwin is in love with her to get close enough to kill her.
He sympathizes with the amount of pressure Clare is under, but says “After all the work that they did to place you here, would you really risk this mission when we’re so close to the big day?” Clare says she’ll take care of it. He says she always does.
Howard and Anna arrive at the hospital. As Anna talks to the doctor, Howard finds Emily’s room. He enters and touches her hand. She wakes up thirsty. Much to her surprise, he pours her a glass of water.
Ian Shaw enters, asks Emily what happened and then asks Howard why he’s there. He has no answer and Ian all but tells him to leave. Emily tells them both to put their dicks away.
Ian takes Howard out into the hallway he wants to know what “Light a candle at St. Christopher’s” meant since this was D2 Howard’s last request before Emily was attacked and suggests it’s all his fault (See ‘’The Lost Art of Diplomacy’’). Howard has no clue since his other never mentioned the exchange. Ian warns Howard to stay the fuck away from Emily. The two then play nice when Anna walks up.
In Dimension One, Peter meets with D2 Howard by the water. After chastising him about walking out of work early, they discuss Ambassador Lambert. Peter says they have men on him all the time but due to his diplomatic status it’s difficult to really keep track.
Peter is distracted by a pretty woman walking down the street. Howard is incredulous and points out that Peter is married to a director’s daughter. Thinking Howard is suggesting that he got his job due to his wife’s connections, Peter defends himself saying he was on his own career trajectory prior to meeting Roland Fancher’s daughter. He says he resents the implication and that he’s fucking good at his job and nothing gets past him.
Howard says the fact that D1 Emily was his source got past him. He claims she told him months ago that things on Peter’s floor were compromised and she couldn’t trust anyone. This was just before her accident.
Peter tells Howard to get back to the fucking office, he refuses saying he’s meeting a friend. He refuses to elaborate and Peter says they need to establish some ground rules. He says both of their lives are on the line due to their secret arrangement. He says Howard can’t wander around his world like it’s “your fucking playground.” He says they’re in lockstep from now on and will accompany Howard to meet his friend.
What is Alexander Pope Doing?
Ian questions D2 Emily on what she remembers from the attack. She only a remembers a couple of pairs of feet, no faces. She promises she’ll tell him about it but it’s not safe to do so at the hospital. Ian says the office believes she failed another drug test. She says he knows better.
Bob Dwyer has apparently requested a full evaluation to see if she is fit to return. He also wants her supervised and followed. Ian claims he intervened to keep Dwyer from “burning” her completely. He again urges her to tell him what’s going on. She says she can’t talk about it now. Ian says they’ll fight it.
Anna says her mother OD’d on “pills again, a dash of cocaine.” She’s disappointed because she thought Emily was better now and she didn’t have to worry. D1 Howard apologizes for not being there. She doesn’t believe him. She’s angry. She tells him that he doesn’t have to be there anymore and she doesn’t even know why she thought she needed his help. Howard says he wants to be there. She chalks this up to guilt saying he would have otherwise “buggered off” at the first sight of Ian.
They talk at cross purposes with Howard saying that he’ll go if she wants but that he’d like to stay. She thinks he’s acting weird. He says they’ll get her help, but Anna believes they won’t be able to convince her.
D2 Howard and Peter arrive at a butcher shop in the Neukölln district of Berlin (Blutwurstmanufaktur GmbH
Karl-Marx-Platz 9-11). The shop belongs to an immigrant from Dimension Two who now has a D1 identity. Heinrich (Bjorn Johnson) is happy to see Howard and they embrace. Heinrich recognizes Peter as a “local”, and Howard asks that he step outside.
Howard says he’s brought a gift for Heinrich and produces a bottle of Russian Standard Vodka from his bag. Heinrich fetches glasses saying he misses “this shit” because “it’s terrible over here” and there’s “nothing like home.” They toast to home.
Howard checks in on Heinrich’s life. He says his cover is decent. He’s married a local who actually loves him.
Howard gets down to business explaining that he’s having a problem with Alexander Pope and asking if Heinrich knows anything about group Pope is working with. Heinrich hesitates wondering if Howard really wants to know about it. He says the group is “fucked up” “fanatics” inside “our office.” He says Pope has been helping them move illegals for a long time. This hits Howard hard and he takes another shot of vodka. Heinrich says Pope is what he is.
Howard explains that Pope “pitched” him almost 20 years earlier. Heinrich points out that they helped build the D2 spy network in Dimension One and he shouldn’t be surprised that it’s being used for this kind of shit.
Heinrich’s wife comes out, looks disapprovingly at both men, sits down two glasses of water and marks the current level of vodka in the bottle with a sharpie. He points out that lunch is in five minutes.
Heinrich says Howard should not fight Pope because, whatever angle Howard might think he has, Pope already has it covered. Howard believes he is at least a step ahead for the time being. Heinrich isn’t so sure. He also tells Howard that there’s a mole over here within the Office of Interchange. He says this person has very high clearance and has been feeding Pope for years. Howard wonders if “high clearance” means director level. Heinrich doesn’t have a name.
He says something is about to happen, something big with people coming over. He warns Howard that if he goes up against Alexander Pope, he will lose.
This Isn't Usual Behavior
Howard brings Emily Home from the hospital and notices two cars watching the apartment. Raash is in one.
Once inside, Emily picks up the pills her attackers scattered on the floor while Howard looks around the Dimension Two version of his apartment. Emily reveals that she knows Howard isn’t her Howard because her ex-husband wouldn’t have come to the hospital little on brought her home. He also wouldn’t have lent her his coat. She makes to introduce themselves for the first time. Howard is stunned and stammering. Emily speculates that he and her ex are colluding and brought him to D2 so that he could spend more time on the other side.
Howard says they’re not colluding and explains that D2 had him locked in an empty apartment. She wants to know what her Howard is up to but D1 is not in the loop. She asks what department he works for and seems more than a little incredulous when he says Interface pointing out that “he hasn’t worked for them since …” Emily and Howard decide it’s best if they don’t talk about everything.
Emily wants him to leave because coming there isn’t usual behavior for him and will attract attention. Anna arrives, Howard invited her for dinner. She’s brought groceries.
In Dimension One, Baldwin is looking out the window in her room. Clare enters and asks how she’s doing. Baldwin immediately knows their bosses want her dead. Clare moves to pack Baldwin’s things saying it’s no longer safe at the “crash pad”. Baldwin gets in her face and demands that she be allowed to finish the remaining three contracts on the “kill list”.
Clare says her bosses don’t tolerate mistakes. Baldwin wants to know why the other woman is protecting her. Clare claims she cares about her. Baldwin says Clare only cares about her mission. Clare claims she wouldn’t drop her on the side of the road.
She then explains that, like Baldwin, when she first crossed over she watched her other in her “quaint little life. She had everything. She was free and happy, and I was alone.” Baldwin wants to know why she’s telling this story. Clare says because loneliness is a choice. She wants to help Baldwin because she’s the only one who knows who Clare really is “in this whole fucking world.”
Baldwin grabs her and kisses her. Clare breaks away. Baldwin apologizes and sits on the bed. Clare seems shocked as she touches her hand to her lips. She sits on the bed next to Baldwin and strokes her face. They kiss and make love.
Anna pecks out Beethoven’s Für Elise on the piano as Howard and Emily set the table. Anna comes to the table and says she’s surprised Howard can do anything other than Barbecue. He brushes it off saying you learn things living alone. Emily takes a bite of the chicken and expresses surprise, “It’s actually really good.” Howard good-naturedly jabs at her that she always messes up a compliment with “actually”.
Howard says he learned to cook in a class a while back. He says the secret of the chicken is to leave it in the oven as it cools because it helps to bring out the flavor. Emily says “It’s wonderful actually.” Howard says it always was her favorite. They seem to be flirting.
Anna puts a halt to the pleasantries demanding to know what’s going on and why they’re acting like teenagers. She believes Howard is being selfish in not wanting to discuss the topic at hand, which is Emily’s overdose. Anna stands and declares that she is sick of being the parent to the both of them. She storms out and Emily retreats to her bedroom. Howard clears the table.
People Keep Underestimating Baldwin
As Baldwin sleeps in Dimension One, Clare creeps out of bed, gets dressed, and takes Baldwin’s gun. She passes and silently signals a man who is waiting in the hallway.
Baldwin snaps awake as someone touches the door to her room. She flips over and reaches for the gun in her backpack, but it is gone. The man from the hall bursts in. Baldwin flips over the bed and throws the half full backpack at him knocking off the aim of his handgun as he fires. She then knocks the gun from his hand. She kicks the back of his knee and then dives for the weapon, but he grabs her leg, gets her to her knees and into a chokehold.
She throws herself onto the floor in an attempt to break the hold. She frees herself, grabs a paper bag, gets to her feet, shoves the bag over his mouth and nose, and punches him hard. He grabs her around the neck again choking her. She manages to reach round for the knife he keeps in his belt, grabs it, and shoves it up under his chin and into his skull. She throws him to the floor.
D1 Howard washes the dishes. Emily steps in to help and says Anna’s outburst wasn’t his fault. Emily wonders if Anna is the same in Dimension One. Howard admits that, while Emily got pregnant and they picked out the name Anna too, she miscarried and there is no D1 Anna.
Howard says he doesn’t understand the relationship between Emily and her Howard, but, however bad it is, they’re both very lucky. Emily admits that she doesn’t know this Howard at all, but, whatever made him the way he is, he’s better than her Howard.
He offers to stay the night on the couch. She says she doesn’t need him to protect her. He says he knows. He stays the night.
In Dimension One, D2 Howard relates to Peter what he learned from Heinrich saying he has never been wrong. Peter tries to come to grips that there’s a mole under his nose on his floor. Howard points out that they got to Emily so who is to say they don’t know what he’s doing too. Howard feels he’s too exposed, and, until Peter can track down the mole, he plans to stay out of it by truly pretending to be his counterpart.
Peter marvels that D1 Howard never figured out that Emily was working for Counterintelligence at the OI. D2 says loyalty is his other’s biggest flaw and admits it’s his flaw too.
In both dimensions, the Howards open the door to the spare room in the apartment. In D2 it’s Anna’s childhood bedroom. In D1 it’s a storage room. Howard sits on Anna’s bed and absorbs the life he never got to experience. His counterpart finds a box marked “Anna” in the storage and opens it. He finds an ultrasound of the baby dated 18 Oktober 1997.
The next morning in Dimension Two, Howard dresses and prepares to leave. He’s writing a note to Emily when she comes out from the bedroom. She proposes that they help each other. The office is watching her but not him. Howard agrees and offers to do whatever he can to help. She wonders if it would be strange for them to work together. He says no. She says it will be strange for her. He thanks her and leaves.
Outside, he tells Raash that he plans to go wherever he wants and demands the keys to Howard’s apartment. He complies. Howard says the next time they’re in touch Raash should tell him that he loves the new “digs”.