Shaking the Tree is the fifth episode of the Starz Original Series Counterpart. This episode is directed by Stephen Williams (Ray Donovan, Westworld).
Howard discovers another side of Emily. D1 Howard and D2 Emily search for answers about a mysterious drop site. Aldrich and Quayle seek intel from an old friend.
Creator Justin Marks tells Counterpart Starz Wiki that Emily and D1 Howard's meeting with the courier was filmed in the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles.
Heinrich's butcher shop is a real storefront in the Neukölln district of Berlin. The Blutwurstmanufaktur GmbH on Karl-Marx-Platz (#9-#11) specializes in blood sausage.
The Counterpart writers claim to have an secret backstory for why Alice calls Aldrich "Mausi". "But we'll never tell."
According to the writers, "After reading the scripts, director Stephen Williams and DP (director of photography) Martin Ruhe began regularly referring to each other as "Mausi" on set."
Three unidentified people (Nolan Gerard Funk, Lottee Verbeek, Junes Zahdi) head through The Crossing from Dimension Two to Dimension One. When questioned on the purpose of the visit, the first crosser (Funk) explains he is “maintenance for the embassy”.
All three get into the same car in the tunnel and are driven through Berlin to a rundown, graffiti-covered building (41 Wrangelstraße). They’re met by a man smoking a cigarette (Hendrik Heutmann). The third crosser (Zahdi) demands that he puts it out and then calls him disgusting.
The smoking man shows them the apartment, it is spacious with large windows. They’re covered in newspapers. He explains that their deliveries arrived “last night”, shows them a large wooden crate and says he doesn’t want to know what’s in it. He says they get 30 minutes of hot water every day and have a great view of the “high street” indicating the newspaper-covered windows.
As he continues explaining the rules of the apartment, third crosser (Zahdi) empties a water bottle and stuffs it with a rag. First crosser (Funk), finds a gun secreted under the mattress on a small cot and retrieves it.
Smoking man explains to second crosser (Verbeek) that he’s not interested in what they’re doing and wants them to find new lodgings within three days. He says no one will bother them or ask any questions, but warns that if they make problems for him, he’ll make problems for them. Third crosser (Zahdi) shoots the smoking man in the head using the rag-stuffed water bottle as a silencer.
- EDITOR’S NOTE: the three crossers are known by code names in production documentation. This is to avoid spoiling the identities of the individuals they are coming to replace. Funk is called “Angel Eyes”, Verbeek is “Ringleader”, and Zahdi is “Glasses”. Verbeek’s Dimension One counterpart already appeared on the show. She apparently works in Roland Fancher’s office at the OI. (See ‘’ The Lost Art of Diplomacy’’) The trio’s ill-fated landlord is known as Anton.
The Sequence is Right There
While fetching coffee from the waterfront café in Dimension One, D2 Howard encounters Andrei (Bernhard Forcher) and plays a game of GO. He is about to win. When Andrei points out this would be the first time and the final sequence is obvious, Howard makes an obviously wrong move and loses the game.
Howard goes to visit D1 Emily in the hospital. He orders her security out of the room, dumps a sad bunch of flowers into a vase without removing the wilted blooms already there, and then chides her for her method of communication with him. He says she should have used a drop with a simple cipher instead of writing letters. He compares these to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and says “I can’t make heads or tails of that guy.” He’s frustrated that after all the years he’s known her, or his version of her, “I’m still out in the cold.”
- EDITOR’S NOTE: One member of Clare’s security detail looks very much like Dimension Two Howard’s man Raash. Actor Marco Khan is not credited in this episode but the resemblance is very strong and fans immediately began to speculate on Reddit that this is Raash’s D1 counterpart.
They sit together and Clare questions him about his meeting with Howard and Peter Quayle (See ‘’Both Sides Now’’). She wants to know what he told them. Heinrich says he doesn’t remember. She accuses him of betraying his “own kind”. He realizes that she must be part of the group “Alexander Pope is consorting with.” He says he’s heard rumors about “the school”.
Two of Clare’s security team enter the store and lock the door as she again asks what he told Howard. She says “If you somehow compromised me or my associates, there are things that must be made right.” He says he is going to tell her but wants to know what will happen to him. She says he’s already chosen his side. He explains that in 30 years in Dimension Two and 10 years in One, he knows there are no sides. They all go to the same hell.
Audience with Pope
In Dimension Two, D1 Howard goes to Anna Silk’s apartment. She’s not there and he’s confronted by her live-in boyfriend Marko. Howard questions the man about where Anna works. Marko tells him to leave her alone. Howard points out that he’s her father, but Marko says “That’s not what I hear.”
Howard goes to his regular waterfront café and is surprised to find it shuttered and deserted. He sits on a bench and is soon joined by Alexander Pope and his dog walker (showrunner Justin Marks). Pope knows immediately that Howard is not from this dimension and why D2 Howard sent him over. He introduces himself and says he is what’s known in the Office of Interface as a “runner”. This job apparently entails training people to be spies. In his words, “It means that some years ago I took a man like you and made him into a man like Howard Silk.”
Pope warns Howard not to trust Emily. He says while he doesn’t know what she’s like in D1, “this one ruined him (D2 Howard).” Howard says maybe Pope doesn’t really know Emily which garners a wry smile. He says the warning is in good faith and says Howard, if he ever needs anything, “should drop a letter on the lamppost”. This means nothing to Howard. Pope says D2 Howard was right to say that his D1 counterpart was “so plain”. Pope suggests he ask Emily about their signal plan.
In Dimension One, Peter Quayle and Aldrich arrive with a security team to search the 3rd Floor Strategy department. They turn up nothing but some contraband from Dimension Two. Aldrich says it would be easier to search if he knew what they were looking for. Couching it in the lie that D2 Howard told him about Heinrich before he left, Peter explains that he’s learned there’s a mole at a very high level on their floor. Aldrich is incredulous. Peter says the list of suspects is narrow, just him, Aldrich or any of his men.
This last bit reminds Aldrich of something. He questions how long the moles been in place. Peter says years. Aldrich asks him to come with him for a drive.
Andrei is Not Andrei
In Dimension One, Howard again arrives at the hospital. He hears raised voices down the hall and recognizes Andrei. The man is shouting to be let in to see Emily but the security detail refuses saying he’s not on the list. Howard stands unseen and watching. Andrei says he’s been to a number of hospitals searching for him and now that he’s found her he wants to know why he can’t go in. He is escorted off the floor.
Howard walks to the sign-in sheet and sees that Andrei signed in as Michel Lehner. Howard follows him home, watches him enter his apartment, then unscrews a light bulb to darken the stairwell and waits on the stairs for him to come out.
D1 Howard drops by Emily’s apartment in Dimension Two. He relates the Alexander Pope meeting and what he said about not trusting her. Howard believes things are not the same here as they are with his Emily. He says she is just a “clerk” whereas D2 Emily is much more. He wants to know how they became so different.
She explains that what she does is only slightly different from what her Howard does. She works in Strategy/Counterintelligence. Howard asks about when they met. She asks how long they’ve been married. He says 28 years and she says, while she doesn’t know all the ways their lives were different back then, the woman he married loved him very much.
Emily asks about her counterpart. Howard explains about the accident, her hospitalization, and Baldwin’s attempt on her life. Howard asks Emily if she was really hospitalized for drug overdose. Emily explains she wasn’t and Howard realizes that it was an attempt on her life. She says it was Alexander Pope who tried to kill her.
Howard brings up Ambassador Claude Lambert and says D2 Howard believes he’s involved with the conspiracy. Emily realizes that the embassy is compromised. Howard begs to help, he says someone is trying to kill his wife and he wants to help stop them.
The Soup of the Day
Baldwin has disassembled her gun and is cleaning it in a bathroom. She reassembles it and looks at her cheek wound in the mirror.
She sits down at the bar in a restaurant and looks longingly at a plate of fried potatoes another person is having. When the bartender (Liv Lisa Fries) asks for her order, Baldwin asks for “toast and espresso”. The person eating the potatoes gets up and she again stares hungrily at the plate of half-eaten food.
The bartender returns with her espresso and toast and an order of the soup of the day. When Baldwin points out she didn’t order the soup, the bartender doesn’t bother to feign surprise and simply says she made mistake and Baldwin should keep the soup. The two women look into each other’s eyes for a moment. Baldwin eats the soup.
Go Ask Alice
Aldrich and Peter Quayle drive out to the countryside. They arrive at a home surrounded by armed security. Aldrich explains that the security is to protect Alice. She was a secretary in the Strategy Department of the Office of Interchange in Dimension Two.
She defected to Dimension One and brought information deemed valuable to counterintelligence. As a result, Aldrich provides a round-the-clock security detail. Alice greets Aldrich warmly, kissing him on both cheeks and calling him Mausi (little mouse), which is a common German term of endearment usually reserved for children.
He gives her a gift of Red Tea, a variety that is apparently not available in Dimension One. Alice says they tried to grow it but the D1 soil is "so arid".
On questioning, Alice reveals that there is a black operation in Dimension Two called Indigo. Privately funded by those who blame the other side for The Flu epidemic, Indigo is off the books and only known to the Board of Directors within Strategy.
Indigo apparently takes children and trains them to be soldiers at a special school before bringing them to Dimension One as sleeper agents. She apparently told one of Aldrich’s men this when she arrived years earlier and believes someone named “Shadow” has put the plan in motion to replace D1 people with D2 sleeper agents.
Peter Quayle is a bit taken aback when Alice’s other walks into the house. As Aldrich explains later, she wanted to meet her counterpart when she arrived in Dimension One so he obliged. They hit it off and now live together in what appears to be a polyamorous relationship.
Once they’re away, Peter confronts the security chief that his men have known about this Indigo business the whole time and just sat on it. Aldrich promises that if Shadow exists, he’ll find him.
Emily Explains the Flu
Emily takes D1 Howard to meet with the agent responsible for bringing the embassy pouch from D2 to D1 and back again. As they wait in an all but deserted shopping complex, Howard asks why there are so few people out and about in Dimension Two.
Emily explains about The Flu. She says it started in the early 1990s. The epidemic wiped out 7% of the human population – almost half a billion people - over a period of four years. The illness is described as a fever that escalates quickly. It resulted in those stricken either dying or spending months in hospital.
Emily and Howard’s daughter Anna was among the victims who survived. Emily blames the stress of dealing with Anna’s illness for her initial foray into prescription drug abuse. She says that she can tell by the way he looks at her that he holds his Emily in high regard. He says she had her rough times too. D2 Emily says “Edinburgh, I remember some of it.”
Emily says she plans to keep Ian Shaw in the dark about her and D1 Howard’s clandestine activities because he’s not the type who would understand. He asks if they’re happy, but the man they are meeting arrives at that moment. Howard seems nervous as Emily tells him to find out where the embassy pouch is actually going. She tells him he’ll be fine and that she’ll be nearby.
Howard has a drink with the Embassy Courier Edgar (Rafi Gavron) who is eager to discuss his sex life with counterparts on each side. He gets nervous though when Howard starts asking questions about where he takes the pouch when he gets back from Dimension One. He says the people they’re discussing are connected on every floor on both sides of The Crossing. The man excuses himself to get another drink, but he bolts toward an exit instead.
Emily and Howard follow and corner the man in a back hallway. He says he doesn’t know who the pouch goes to, just that it’s to a mansion that is two hours out of town. But, after polite questioning with a pistol-toting Emily, he admits it’s “Potsdam, five kilometers past town, 47 Linsestraße”. Emily allows him to leave.
Shaking the Tree
D2 Howard is still waiting in the darkened stairway when Andrei/Michel exits his apartment in Dimension One. Howard picks the lock and allows himself inside. He finds a book - “Life and Death” by James Davies – an elementary-level book on how to play GO.
He spots an access point to the attic crawl space and opens it. Inside there is a large black bag, it’s packed with cash, a handgun, and several Office of Interchange files.
He is still reading through the files when Andrei/Michel returns. Howard confronts the man with the gun and demands to know what he knows. It turns out he knows nothing because he is a civilian and literally pisses himself during Howard’s questioning.
He admits that he and Emily were having an affair for 10 months before her accident. He came to the hospital to see her, met Howard, and made up a story about his sister being ill to cover.
He says he is despicable and he’s sorry and begs Howard not to hurt him. Howard realizes they were in love with each other. He takes the bag and leaves.
Clare Meets the Sleepers
The sleeper agents are packing guns in cardboard boxes when they hear someone entering their Dimension One apartment. The one described as “Angel Eyes” draws a weapon as the door opens and closes. Clare rounds the corner. She exchanges a pleasantry and gives them files containing the relevant details of their orders. The files are labeled “XI . 582, XI . 472, XI . 241”. The latter file goes to “Glasses” while the top file goes to AE and “Ringleader” keeps the center file.
AE’s Auskunftsbericht or “Information Report” file includes a photograph of his other, “Oskar Wolfe”, and includes a detailed floor plan from the Office of Interchange with a red line marking the way to his office and other important areas.
The others don’t show their files, but they seem to hold similar information about their others. Glasses asks about the personal items and belongings of their others. Clare points out that they’re not dead yet. Glasses is not pleased. Clare explains that there have been complications with their assassin and that they’ll have to be patient.
Glasses starts complaining in German, but Ringleader shuts him down pointing out that Clare is a legend at the school. She’s apparently very honored to meet Clare, and, in reference to someone at the school says “she talks about you all the time.” Clare doesn’t acknowledge the adoration, she says she’ll be in touch and exits.
Baldwin is watching from across the street as Clare leaves the apartment. She’s smoking a cigarette and a young man (Bela Gabor Lenz) asks if he can bum one. She doesn’t reply. He tells her he should smile because it would make her look more pretty. She turns to face him full on, showing the wound in her cheek as swirls of smoke escape from between her stiches. The man and his friends beat a hasty retreat.
Aldrich keeps a foldout sofa bed in his office at the OI. He opens a safe and retrieves a pair of slippers. He sits on the bed and puts them on over his black socks. He then pads through a deserted file room, picks up some files, and then wanders through the Strategy Bulpen checking what seems to be a spreadsheet of coded entries with an employee photograph clipped to the top.
Tell Me What I Missed
D1 Howard escorts Emily to her Dimension Two apartment and she says it’s probably best that he not stay the night. He agrees but she senses something and warns him that she is not the same as his Emily and he should not look for things that aren’t there. Howard wonders if it’s possible to love someone without ever knowing who they really are. Emily says maybe love is seeing them for who they’d rather be. She goes inside and Howard leaves.
In Dimension One, D2 Howard talks to a comatose Emily about how he found her stash hidden with “the nerdy professor.” Howard seems genuinely disappointed that Emily wasn’t just using Andrei/Michal and there were real feelings between them. He says he thought she was better, thanks her for the intel, and leaves.
D1 Howard returns to his counterpart’s apartment in Dimension Two to find Anna Burton-Silk waiting. Her visit is in response to his stopping by her apartment. Howard explains that he wanted to check on her. She is suspicious. He thinks he’s acting all nice because he’s dying or something. She wants to know why he’s back “after all these years.” Howard says he knows he’s made mistakes and regrets so much.
She gets up to leave, but he asks her to wait. “For a few minutes, can you pretend you don’t know me, and I’m not your negligent father, the guy who left and hurt you and ruined everything? Can we start over? Just tell me everything about you. I’ll just listen. I won’t say a word. Please, tell me what I’ve missed.”