'Counterpart': 3 times Naya Temple proved she is the ultimate Prime in an Alpha world
She is a woman of color who follows Islam, and works in a man's world, but none of that has kept her from being the excellent FBI agent she is
Muslim characters are often times stereotypically-portrayed on TV shows, but in 'Counterpart,' Betty Gabriel's Naya Temple is a breath of fresh air. Starring alongside J.K. Simmons as Howard Silk, Olivia Williams as Emily Silk, Harry Lloyd as Peter Quayle and Nazanin Boniadi as Clare, Temple's character serves as a bridge between the Alpha world and the Prime world on the STARZ show.
She was hired by the Management of the two worlds to keep a track of the functioning of the terrorist cell, Indigo. Her work at the Office of Interface brought her in direct contact with Peter Quayle, and soon Quayle's secret about his wife, Clare, fell under tremendous threat with Temple's arrival.
On her first day at the office, Temple commanded all of her subordinates to report anyone from the Alpha world who they suspected of being residents of the Prime world. Temple brought about a change in the way the office worked. She brought transparency and communication among the people who were, otherwise, mostly confined to their cubicles.
Temple's character rose to greater heights in Episode 7, titled 'No Strings Attached', which aired January 27. Not only had she managed to pull Quayle down from his position as the Strategic Director of the Office of Interface but also directly challenged her boss who, for a moment, favored Quayle above all the other suspects.
This new addition to the long cast of the original members has certainly turned out in the show's favor since Temple adds a whole new angle to it in the second season. Temple's beliefs and ideas are a direct contradiction to what the show stands for - two versions fighting to eliminate each other; given that, until now, she has been the only version of herself coming from the Prime world. Always true to her ideas and faith, here are the top three times Temple proved she is the ultimate prime in the alpha world:
1. "Two Meccas, One God"
Temple's identity in itself sets her apart. She is a person of color who is practicing Islam in Germany. She does not belong to the Alpha world, and for the longest time, she was not even aware there could be any other world other than the one she resides in. However, once she came to know about the two worlds her very belief in God as the One and the All was put into question.
However, Temple comes to terms with this as we saw in Episode 7. She believes with two worlds, there are two Meccas but ultimately, there is only one God. Gabriel said: "It definitely makes it more difficult for her. She does have those questions. Her form of that existential crisis has very much to do with her faith and which truth is the real truth?” Her ability to merge reason and faith gives her the upper hand above many else.
While speaking about her character to IndieWire, Gabriel explained she worked with the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) for her research on the religious beliefs of her character. MPAC has worked with several other shows such as 'God Friended Me', 'Jack Ryan' (Tom Clancy), and 'The Affair', all of which have seen prominent and authentic characters who lay their faith in Islam.
The credit of that certainly goes to MPAC, whose Hollywood bureau director, Sue Obeidi, has always been particular about the portrayal of the religion in any form of art. In fact, when Gabriel had to shoot for a scene where she would pray, Obeidi mentioned, "They actually tweaked it per our feedback to make it more authentic. The line [originally 'I’m going to pray to Mecca'] changed to, ‘I’m going to pray to God towards Mecca,’ because we don’t pray to a place. We pray to God, so we say towards Mecca. When we caught it on set, they, to their credit, changed it right away and re-shot it.”
2. A Woman in a Man's World
Temple's profession is not an ordinary one. She is an FBI agent renowned for exposing four spy rings including 22 Chinese and Russian agents, in the span of her career. She claims she can think like a criminal who sees the world with their "nose pressed against the glass". However, we do not find her ever reacting with indignation. Temple has always measured her steps carefully, and let's remember that it was only due to her patience that she could win over Emily Alpha.
After her coma, Emily Alpha had forgotten just about everything including how to write. She was unable to speak to her husband, who was reacting differently ever since she got home from the hospital. However, it was only Temple who was able to gain Emily's trust such that she once again began to recall her time at the Office of Interface. Not only that, we have witnessed these two women form a sort of secret alliance solely based on trust and respect.
3. A Rebel with a Cause
Temple's acquaintance with Emily Alpha, a former employee on the Fourth Floor of the Office of Interface, was kept behind the curtains until Episode 7. She knew well her work at the office, and the position she held, would not allow her to make acquaintances without taking permission from the Management.
However, she did go out of her way in order to convince Emily to work with her. She would also hold secret meetings with her everytime Emily remembered something, and would, in turn, deny everything when questioned by the people at the office. Temple was not being dishonest with the people working with her, she was only being careful. Her name, "Naya" means "new".
We do not know if Temple really has a counterpart, but it wouldn't be surprising at all if she turns out to be the only version of herself. It can be said in the upcoming episodes, Temple will turn the tables around, but her intentions will remain grounded to the cause and the responsibilities she has been charged with. 'Counterpart' returns with Episode 8 February 3 on STARZ.