'Counterpart': The men in the show are reverential and dutiful, and not bad examples of the kind we need in the 21st century
None of these men have shown signs of discrimination, but they let their work define the characters they play
When it comes to STARZ's sci-fi thriller, 'Counterpart', you are your biggest enemy, and that means you basically cannot be judged more by anyone else other than yourself. This is what the men in the Justin Marks-created show convey.
Starring J.K. Simmons as Howard Silk, Harry Lloyd as Peter Quayle, Nicholas Pinnock as Ian Shaw, and James Cromwell as Yanek, the men in the show do not play a pivotal role in the story. Instead, the show has completely done away with the toxic male protagonists we are so familiar with and has presented to us these four men who, in a way, are probably a more suitable representation for the 21st century.
The credit probably goes to Justin Marks as not once do we hear these men indulge in degrading dialogue about people who are not as privileged as them on the social ladder. It is true that most of the leading male characters are white, but that does not mean that the only black male character is looked down upon. In fact, he is just as significant (sometimes even more) as the rest.
Considering the kind of roles the men have played on the show, and how it proves 'Counterpart' has given us rather exemplary men, let's take a look at the characters to understand them better:
1. Ian Shaw
Ian's story is yet to unfold but from the little we have known about this man, he has suffered some unforgettable losses. He watched his wife being murdered in the Alpha, and soon after he travels to the Prime world where he changes his identity and begins to call himself Ian Shaw.
We are introduced to Ian as Emily Prime's (played by Olivia Williams) lover, but it is soon revealed his character is a lot more than that. Other than Yanek, he is the only one who believes the existence of two worlds has resulted in nothing but chaos, but then again Ian continues to remain unaffected about it.
This is where his sense of dignity lies. Ian is well aware he does not belong to the world he is living in, and the people around him are just copies of the ones he knew in his world. However, he overlooks all the cons and focuses on the pros as he continues his duty as an agent of the Office of Interface by assisting Emily Prime in her errands. Let's just say Ian Shaw is a man of fewer words and more duty.
2. Peter Quayle
You cannot help but feel sorry for this character. As the Strategic Head of Interface, Peter has time and again proved his love for Clare by hiding her secret, even at times when he knew he had to give them away. Peter balanced his work and life for as long as he could. His secretive nature and his tendency to tell people what they want to hear have kept him on the top for a very long time.
However, we saw this character falter when, finally, in Episode 5, Shadow's identity was thrown into jeopardy. Peter was unable to hold his secret back, he only revealed it with Clare's permission. This is what might attract you the most about Peter, his sheer sense of respect for the other people's privacy.
At the core, Peter is a clever guy and he knows which strings are to be pulled and when. However, he does not shy away from confessing when he actually falls short and needs help from his wife. He is not ashamed of showing his vulnerability, and proves just how strong a man he is. So, about Peter, we can say he is a man of dignity and authority, in a good way.
We might be a little doubtful about this man since he is, after all, the one who started it all. We were introduced to Yanek as this genius scientist whose one wrong experiment led to a legendary discovery. He found out there is not just one world, but two, and held on to the possibility there might be several other versions of our world.
However, as the one who opened the "Crossing" between the two worlds, Yanek knew the advantages and disadvantages of the two worlds existing. Even when he was being taken to the prison, Echo, in the prime world, and the Management decided to take over his position as the Head of Interface, Yanek kept suggesting the Crossing must be closed.
Considering Yanek's story, he is a man of guilt. He has murdered his counterpart, left his daughter and wife alone, and betrayed his friends. However, the only good thing about Yanek that makes him so relatable is the fact that Yanek commits mistakes and does not lie about it. He has always confronted himself, both physically and mentally, and he knows the outcomes could only lead to destruction in the two worlds.
4. Howard Silk
We all love him for the adorable man he is, and we also hate him for his manipulative skills. Howard Prime and Howard Alpha are two very different people with the exact same faces but other than that, there is nothing common between the two men. Howard Alpha is a docile-natured man whose world revolves around Emily Alpha, but Howard Prime's world includes crime and punishment.
The most prominent point of difference is the way the two men treat their wives. They both know their wives are just as competitive as them, and none will leave a single stone unturned to outdo the other. However, Howard Alpha is not the ambitious one in his relationship with Emily Alpha, but Howard Prime and Emily Prime are often in conflict due to their ambitions.
The only thing that is common between the two men is the respect they have for their wives and the distances they would go to protect them. Howard Silk is a man who loves his wife, and he will upturn the world for the ones he loves.