'Counterpart': What you should know about 'The Tin Drum' and its connection with Emily Alpha before the next episode?
Oskar was unreliable in his narration and didn't shy away from leading his reader in an unknown direction, just like Emily Alpha
The fifth episode of STARZ's 'Counterpart' which aired on December 30 left us with several questions but at the same time, it also hinted towards certain things that might help to decipher what is in store for the sixth episode. Starring J.K. Simmons as Howard Silk, Olivia Williams as Emily Burton Silk, Nazanin Boniadi as Clare, Harry Lloyd as Peter Quayle and Sara Serraiocco as Baldwin, the fifth episode of the second season dished out a major clue when we witnessed a brief interaction between Emily Alpha and Claude Lambert (played by Guy Burnett) over a book, 'The Tin Drum'.
Günter Grass's 1959 novel revolves around the scandalous story about a boy, Oskar, who embodies almost every characteristic of J. M. Barrie's free-spirited young boy, Peter Pan, who refused to grow up.
However, unlike Peter Pan, Oskar's refusal to grow up did not keep him away from all the lustful desires of adulthood, and the story, with all the diabolical and the boring elements of the 20th Century, wraps around Oskar, who is nothing more than an extremely unreliable and mischievous narrator to his own story. We see Emily Alpha carrying around 'The Tin Drum' with her for almost the first half of the second season until she is so agitated by the book that she decides on returning it to the library.
This is where the sheer genius of creator Justin Marks lies. The bald-faced parallelism between the book and Emily Alpha is not only a hint but almost an explanation as to why the woman has been under the suspicious radar of the diplomacies.
When Emily Alpha arrives at the library she is at once told that she is the only other person, besides a man, who has been a regular reader of 'The Tin Drum'. We soon find out that the other man is most expectedly, Claude Lambert, the sinister ambassador of the Prime World in the Alpha World. The two get into a vivid, yet brief conversation where it is revealed that the book has been a means for them to make contact away from enemy eyes.
But why specifically 'The Tin Drum'? A fan on Reddit has claimed in a theory, "In the tin drum the narrator is unreliable, am I being unreasonable to think the person who shows up upon its return to the library also is unreliable?"
That can be a clearly defined reason why 'The Tin Drum' has been chosen as a symbolizer for Lambert, but if only symbolizing an unreliable narrator was the case then probably Zoe Heller's 'Notes on a Scandal' would have done a better job. 'The Tin Drum' purpose might not be confined within the unreliability of Lambert's narration, but it certainly stretches out to the malicious condition of Emily Alpha who seems to be just as much of a sinner as Lambert.
Emily Alpha is the most unreliable character on the show at the moment.
With her failing memory and reluctance to converse with her pretentious husband (as Howard Prime is now posing as Howard Alpha), she is barely able to put the pieces together that might help understand the Management's conspiracy.
More than the unreliability, it is Emily's refusal to conform to Howard's command which is exactly like Oskar's refusal to his father's command who claimed that he would be a grocery store helper when he grows up. While Oskar had expressed his defiance by rejecting the idea of growing up and yet consuming all the desires, Emily's expression came in the form of her disbelief.
She is already suspecting that Howard Prime is not her real husband, because let's be honest, he was foolish enough to scream at her — the one trait that is completely lacking in Howard Alpha. She chose to pass on the information about Lambert to Naya, who is certainly a more reliable source that Howard Prime. However, Emily and her motives continue to be just as obscure as Oskar, and we will probably see an outburst of passion in the sixth episode when she manages to hit on her own tin drum as a sign of defiance to Howard Prime's dominance. 'Counterpart' Season 2 returns to STARZ with its sixth episode on January 6.