The episode is written and directed by Counterpart Creator and Executive Producer Justin Marks. Twin Cities is Marks' directorial debut.
The origins of The Crossing are revealed.
In 1987 pre-Crossing East Berlin, Yanek meets with what appears to be an American agent. He gives Yanek a camera, a Minox C, to spy on the research Yanek does for East Germany’s communist government. In exchange for his cooperation, the agent promises to get Yanek and his family out of East Berlin. They plan to go out through Heiligensee in a car (a Trabi) with a false floor.
Yanek is torn about leaving the east. His father died to help establish the communist government in Germany, but now government threatens Yanek’s son for subversive political activities. Yanek still believes the failed communist “experiment” driven by the USSR was “perfect” and only failed because “it was corrupted by our pettiness”.
The agent gives Yanek 24 hours to bring them details of the “synchotron” including the “heat output, collated angles and trajectories”. The agent promises that if Yanek succeeds, he and his family will be in America in a month.
- EDITOR’S NOTE: While the closed captioning on this scene dubs the device a Synchotron, most of the internet wants us to spell it Synchrotron. Either way, the machine is a cyclic particle accelerator that accelerates a particle beam in a closed loop. You can use it as a collider, to generate Synchrotron radiation, and produce an intense light source.
Yanek informs his wife about the camera and says it will happen soon. Over dinner, Rainer complains that the food has no flavor and that his neighbor is a stooge for the secret police and asks if Yanek knows how to shit without the communist party telling him to. Isabel says her son has no idea the sacrifices Yanek makes to keep Rainer out of trouble due to “antisocial friends” the teen hangs with.
The Crossing OpensEdit
At Yanek’s office (what is now known as the Office of Interchange), a woman complains that her grocery store had nothing but pickles when she went shopping. Yanek orders her to recalibrate the X-Ray splitter. It will take her all day to complete.
Yanek waits until his fellow workers are done and leave for the day. He then enters a door at the end of the concrete room (what is now known as the Crossing entrance). Inside there are generators and, down a short hallway, there is a bank of computers with built-in monitor and keyboard. The screen shows “ZQP Light Source Synchrotron” and several menu options.
Yanek sets about snapping pictures of the various equipment in the room. He punches a few keys on the keyboard to start one of the protocols. The computer clicks and whirs as Yanek rushes to snap more pictures.
He hears something break behind him and sees a rat scurrying behind some pipes. Yanek exits the Synchrotron room and heads back into the main office where he snaps pictures of printers. Once he’s away, the computer monitor begins to malfunction. As rows of code stream down, the screen fritzed and jumped before throwing up line after line of “FATAL ERROR” warnings.
As Yanek photographs binders full of graphs and readouts, warning lights begin to flash and smoke rises from the back of the computer monitor. The monitor then begins to melt. It’s not like plastic melting, more like the reality of the monitor is melting. Words melt into rivulets, stream off the screen over the keyboard and puddle on the floor. The room vibrates, generators shake and steam. Tile walls crack and concrete falls from the ceiling.
Yanek begins to notice something is wrong when the file cabinets in the main office begin to vibrate wildly. He comes around the corner and finds the door to the Synchrotron full of smoke. He grabs a flashlight and goes to investigate.
The generators and the Synchrotron room are gone. Yanek sees the cracked concrete and rubble-strewn tunnel of The Crossing.
The concrete in the Crossing is still cracking as the room continues to expand. Yanek slips and falls down, dropping the flashlight. It rolls to the center of the Crossing where another flashlight is rolling down from the other side.
Seeing the second flashlight, Yanek calls out, his voice is doubled. He sees a shadow descending from the other side. Both Yanek and this other pick up a flashlight and, seeing someone who looks exactly like them, stumble back and drop the lights again. Yanek runs back the way he came.
In present-day Dimension Two, Mira and Yanek make it to a safehouse after the raid on Echo (See Shadow Puppets). Yanek knows the house, he used to bring his daughter there. D2 Mira points out that she is not this Yanek’s daughter. Yanek sees the large array of weapons Mira keeps in the house and laments at what his daughter has become. She again points out that she is not this Yanek’s daughter.
D2 Mira has learned of the earliest days of the Interchange experiments from Yanek’s own journals and claims this Yanek was experimenting on her. Apparently Yanek’s writings have inspired the Indigo terrorists. He opens one book to a pencil drawing of the door to the Crossing.
Back in 1987, Dimension One Yanek grabs a pickax and heads back into The Crossing. Both flashlights are still on the floor. He is met by D2 Yanek, also armed with a pickax. They argue over who created the other. D1 Yanek invites his other over to his side to talk.
They sit opposite each other and speculate over what might have caused the duplication.
- D2 Yanek – Something must have happened when the particles divided and went into superposition.
- D1 Yanek – A quantum mechanical entanglement.
They compare faces and play “what am I thinking”. They decide they are identical and there are now two identical worlds.
The Experiment BeginsEdit
The Yaneks decide they can’t leave East Berlin now. They each meet with the American agent again. He is incensed that Yanek wants to delay. The agent points out that Rainer was photographed at Zionskirche handing out “subversive leaflets” which the agent calls “treason against the state”. He presses Yanek to carry through with the plan to leave the country. Yanek says he needs more time. They agent says Yanek has 72 hours or the plan is off.
The Yaneks lock down the lab and begin comparing objects from their worlds. In The Crossing they find “a lot of radiation”. They both start journals to document the similarities. They share everything. D1 Yanek describes the process that duplicated the world as “meticulous” they find that they themselves are identical in every way.
The objects from each world are also identical. They hook up two radios, one with an antenna in the other world, and find identical broadcasts. There are also now duplicates of the rats in the lab.
The Yaneks decide to explore each other’s worlds. They find them impossible to differentiate. D1 Yanek decides to buy an Alphaville cassette for Mira. Back in the crossing, D2 Yanek has the same purchase but he decides to smash his cassette to introduce a difference between the worlds. D1 Mira got the cassette, her other did not.
In present day Dimension Two, D1 Yanek wakes to find D2 Mira watching him. She shows him the Management case and explains that the two dimensions are at war. She claims together, she and Yanek will end it. She wants Management to all get together in order to put in motion the final Indigo plan and end the experiment between the dimensions.
In 1987, Dimension One Isabell is frustrated that Yanek’s plan to leave East Berlin has stalled. She confronts him on the street, but they are being watched by two men in a kombi van. He says their departure is delayed and he doesn’t know for how long. She says he’s acting strangely. He flashes to anger claiming that he’s had not purpose in his life up until now. She questions his “purpose” but Yanek discloses nothing.
D1 Yanek brings four other researchers into the office. He explains that “this building housed an experimental synchrotron, used various light sources to divide particles” but that the experiment has now changed. The door to The Crossing opens and D2 Yanek and counterparts for each of the other researchers enter. There is initial shock and disbelief all around.
The Yaneks chose each of the researchers because of their areas of study. Martin studies economics. Juma is in immunology. Ilse is an environmental scientist and Volker studies human behavior. D2 The Yaneks lay out the terms of the project.
- The secret comes before our lives.
- Don’t meddle in the lives of “our echo” and remain discreet to ourselves.
One of the Volkers points out that it’s a living petri dish in which they can study the “baseline of human psychology.” Juma is unsure if it’s a good idea because, for all they know, the parallel universe was never meant to be detected. Ilse says the opportunities outweigh the risks. Despite some back and forth, they decide unanimously to move forward with the “interchange”.
They convince the state to close off the building and begin their world comparison project in earnest. They studied “microscopic adjustments in our biology, history, environment”. This included biological studies of identical plants from each world and how world events played out in each.
Months after The Crossing opened, police come knocking on Dimension One Yanek’s door. They’re looking for Rainer. He’s accused of handing out anti-government leaflets. Mira is in her room listening to the Alphaville cassette and doesn’t hear the commotion in the apartment. One of the police holds Rainer down on the floor as his parents plead with and attempt to pressure the officers. Rainer begins to have a seizure.
Through the loud music in her headphones, Mira hears her father’s raised voice and comes out to investigate. She is the only one to notice Rainer is having a seizure. She points this out and his parents rush to help him but it’s gone on too long at this point and they can’t find his medication. D1 Rainer dies.
Isabell blames Yanek claiming they should have already been in the west but Yanek delayed. She says he murdered their son.
At the office, the Yaneks realize that only one version of their son died. D2 Mira did not have a new cassette and therfore heard the commotion earlier changing the outcome. D1 Yanek breaks down. His other tries to comfort him.
D1 Yanek’s life is misery, he is estranged from his wife and his daughter. D2 Yanek continues on as before.
At the office, D2 explains that Rainer was released and would stop associating with the bad friends. D2 offers to share his family with D1 Yanek, but D1 refuses the offer.
In 1989, a news report plays on two TVs in the office. The audio in the report about the fall of the Berlin wall is identical on both, but the TV hooked to an antenna in Dimension Two shows different pictures.
The Fourth FloorEdit
In Dimension One, Martin leads most of the team on a tour of the previously abandoned Fourth Floor.
Downstairs, the Yaneks have an awkward exchange before D2 Yanek leaves to join the others.
They gather in what was once a dining room during the earliest days of the East German communist government. Martin thinks, with the wall down between the two Berlins, the could start expanding their operation. Juma is skeptical. Martin says they could have more researchers, staff, and security. He wants to create “a new institute for the study of this interchange”.
To keep their secret, Ilse suggests they separate the floors with different clearance levels. No one would know the whole story of what they were studying. Martin envisions the fourth floor would be theirs alone. They could fill the halls with their own research.
Downstairs, D1 Yanek is distracted from his work. He takes D2 Yanek’s coat and crosses over to the other world.
D1 Yanek goes to D2 Yanek’s apartment. He speaks with Isabell, Mira, and hugs Rainer tightly. Yanek views this transgression as a betrayal of self, but he knows he’ll continue doing it.
In 1990, work on the Office of Interchange begins in earnest. New computers and machinery are brought in, the Crossing is swept and a yellow line is painted on the floor between the two worlds.
D1 Yanek is absent for most of this. He’s visiting D2 Isabel for sex.
D1 Yanek claims he could not resist the compulsion to flee his broken world for his other’s. As it turns out, D2 Yanek was doing something similar. One night, D1 comes home and Mira wonders aloud why he’s back so soon. Apparently D2 was there just moments before.
D1 Yanek rushes down to the street but his counterpart is nowhere to be found.
Later at the OI, D1 Yanek casts a bitter glance at his other as the Ilses and one of the Volkers share a drink in the Strategy bullpen.
Later in the lab near The Crossing, D1 Yanek hears rats screeching. In The Crossing he finds a mass of rats crawling over each other excitedly. One of the animals is dead and others are tearing at its flesh with their teeth.
D1 Yanek meets with D1 Juma in a restaurant. Juma says they have found some irregularity between the D1 and D2 at the cellular level. Yanek sees this on a broader scale, “one system collides with the other, the environment changes”. Yanek believes this means the immune systems of the people in each world are growing apart. Juma says maybe on a microcellular level, but not in the broader sense.
Yanek suggests the two worlds are on an inevitable path to war with each other. Juma quotes Marx and suggests that the collective good will win out. Yanek dismisses this and says, since communism is dead, the animalistic instincts have won out and one side will always be tempted to eradicate the other.
Yanek believes they could make a bio-weapon that would harm one world but not the other. He says they must do this because, if these two are having this conversation in D1 then their others are also having it in D2.
Later everyone leaves the lab for the night. D1 Yanek follows D2 Yanek to his world and confronts him in his empty apartment. Each knows the other has been visiting between dimensions. D1 complains that his home is so empty now. D2 claims he visited D1 only to check on the family since their Yanek abandoned them. D1 blames his other for not giving the cassette tape to his daughter. He believes this caused D1 Rainer’s death and destroyed his family and claims D2 Yanek was experimenting and is now meddling in D1’s life. D2 responds that he knows D1 was sleeping with D2 Isabel.
D2 Yanek says his counterpart is giving into base animal instincts. D1 Yanek is angered by his other’s since of superiority. D2 demands that D1 leave his home. They shove each other. D2 Yanek hits his head and attacks and his other. In the fight, D2 Yanek is stunned and then D1 Yanek beats him to death with a telephone. Mira comes home to find D1 Yanek standing over D2 Yanek’s bloody body. She runs away screaming for help and D1 Yanek flees.
In the office, D1 Juma is preparing to leave when he hears footsteps coming through The Crossing. A bloody Yanek emerges.
Martin and Juma meet with D1 Yanek and explain that the police are investigating and Mira is reporting that her father was killed by a man who looked exactly like her father. Yanek says he and his other had both fallen and given into their base instincts. He claims what happened to him will happen to all of them and one world will destroy the other. Martin pushes back but weakly.
In an effort to restore trust between the worlds, D1 hands Yanek over to the group from D2 as a prisoner. Yanek is dragged away by security officers. He protests and screams that they have to close the doors.
In the crossing they’re met by D2 security. While D1 officers wear red berets, their counterparts in D2 wear black berets.
Juma lies to D1 Isabel that Janek ran off to Switzerland and may be with another woman. D2 Mira continues to protest that she saw her father kill her father, but no one seems to believe her.
The Office of Interchange comes under United Nations control and the experiment between the two worlds continues, but now the members of management fear their others.
D1 Juma develops the bioweapon but claims it will never be used. It’s kept in vials and locked in a case labeled “München Virus”.
The bioweapon, was later released into D2 either accidentally or on purpose. This broke management’s trust with their others completely. They scattered within their own worlds and never came together again “for our own protection”. They talk to each other only through the communication cases. In their final meeting, D1 Juma attempts to shake D2 Juma’s hand but is rebuffed.
In present day D2, Mira says she’s going to fix the two broken worlds. Yanek laments that he’s ruined Mira, but she says seeing him standing over her father’s dead body made her see everything more clearly.
Yanek believes Management will never close the crossing permanently. He believes they will never admit failure and will cling to the experiment until their dying breath. Comparing it to the 40-year failed experiment of socialism, Mira says communist leaders eventually accepted that they had failed.
Yanek’s time in Echo was part of the experiment. He produced studies on the other prisoners there that he claims proved what happened to him was universal, counterparts will always turn on each other. Mira agrees and says they are the only two who know the truth. She says she’s grown up in Yanek’s image despite not being his “real daughter”.
Mira believes she and Yanek can end the war. She asks his help in gathering Management together. She turns on the equipment in the case and speaks into the microphone.
“I know you are out there, and you’re listening to me now. You are so blind. The blood of millions is on your hands, and I won’t stand by any longer. My terms are simple. Shut down The Crossing forever. I want you to invite our neighbors for a meeting. Tomorrow, I will surrender myself and my father to your custody. I want to meet all of you. Together. The choice is yours.”