The Lost Art of Diplomacy is the third episode of the Starz Original Series Counterpart. The episode is written by series executive producer Amy Berg.
This is the first of three Season 1 episodes directed by Jennifer Getzinger (Outlander, Mad Men, How to Get Away With Murder)
Both sides turn to diplomacy to resolve a conflict. D2 Emily obtains a special visa. Howard interrogates a suspect.
Executive Producer Amy Berg originally wrote the script for this episode in 2015. "We had all ten eps written prior to shooting a single frame. But they evolved significantly once we began prep. Not simply for budget and other production-related concerns but because once you hire your cast, it becomes a collaboration. You find the character voices together."
Text was added over the opening scene to make clear that it's a flashback because producers worried viewers would think it was D2 Emily instead of D1 Emily.
Originally the theater was to be Midnight Station and its projectionist an agent of the OI. This changed because the location was not suitable for what they wanted to do.
The voiceover on the health PSA is Counterpart line producer Phil Barnett who is German.
The film shown in the Dimension Two theater is a 2014 short called It’s Dark in the City by Russia-born writer/director Anna Avramenko. Creator Justin Marks tells Counterpart Starz Wiki that the film fits "the other side aesthetic and mood."
The Hotel Walcott Berlin (where Peter Quayle visits the sex worker) does not exist in any known dimension. The exterior shown is a slightly altered version of the Hotel de Rome at Bebelpatz in the heart of Berlin. This historic section of the city was the sight of Nazi book burnings in 1933. It is also home to the State Opera building, St. Hedwig’s Cathedral and portions of Humboldt University.
Berg says she approached Actor Richard Schiff to do the show via Twitter. "He and I were mutual fans of one another (both our work and our politics). We were friendly on Twitter but didn’t know each other. When casting the role, I immediately thought of him. Instead of going through official channels, I reached out to him over DM. Told him I had something I thought he should read. He said sure, I emailed him scripts over a weekend, and we made it happen."
The photo of a child on a tricycle on Bob Dwyer’s desk is Counterpart writer Maegan Houang as a kid.
Amy Berg says that when Guy Burnet was told he would have to do his first scene completely in his underwear, his only request was that he get to pick out the socks.
Customs and the Crossing Room are part of a "huge" set built on a Los Angeles soundstage, Berg says they've only shown a couple of feet of it so far on screen.
The masked man with the lighter who attacks the van is Counterpart Stunt Coordinator Kanin Howell. He does not speak German. The voice was added in post-production.
There is a real St. Christopher's Catholic Church in Berlin although it is not the church shown on screen.
Six weeks ago, Emily Burton Silk appears to be waiting for someone on a street corner outside the Cosima Theater on Sieglindestraße in Dimension One Berlin. As she turns to cross, there is a screech of tires and a crunch of metal as she is apparently struck by a speeding car.
Howard Silk is running through the hospital. He asks for his wife and is met by a nurse who has questions about her medical history. They give him forms to fill out but offer little in the way of solid information about her condition other than that she has swelling in her brain and is undergoing surgery.
In answer to the nurse’s questions, Howard explains that Emily had her appendix out when she was a kid and broke her arm three years ago. The injury required metal pins in her elbow.
Failure to Report Illness is PunishableEdit
Present day, after leaving his other back in his apartment, Howard Silk arrives at the hospital to visit Emily. He brings her a bouquet of what appear to be white roses, grabs a book of poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke, and sits down to read. Instead, he puts the book aside and tells her about his promotion at work and the fact that the whole world is changing while she sleeps.
In Dimension Two, Emily is at the movies. The trailer is a public service announcement urging residents to make sure their inoculations are updated.
- “With winter in the air, there’s never a more important time to update your inoculations. You can do it with your physician, or at the nearest clinic. Bring your friends, bring your family. And remember, when we let ourselves be vulnerable to disease, we put our loved ones at risk. If someone you know is showing symptoms of illness and isn’t seeking help, you must report them to your neighborhood clinic. Failure to report illness of your loved ones is punishable by fine, jail sentence, and possible quarantine. Personal health is public health.”
The PSA is illustrated with a group of children playing on a playground. When one of them begins to cough, the other children back away and don surgical masks. The ad is apparently presented by “Bürger und familien für ein gesundes Europa” or “Citizens and families for a healthy Europe”.
- EDITOR'S NOTE: This PSA and later references to an epidemic that wiped out much of Dimension Two is a reference to The Flu.
Emily has her handgun out as a plump man enters the theater with a bucket of popcorn. He stops at what is labeled a “hygiene station”. He places his hands in a small cubby, a blue light comes on for less than a second as he twists his hands once. Emily puts her gun away once she sees his face. He’s brought her information about who authorized the rendition on Howard Silk (See: Birds of a Feather). She doesn’t seem to believe the information.
He goes on to explain that a woman from their side was arrested after a shooting in Dimension One. He says management is furious and everyone is being called into the office. Emily asks the woman’s name and the man says, “They call her Baldwin.”
On her way out of the theater, Emily calls on the phone someone named Cara and asks for a favor saying she needs to get to the other side.
Time Almost UpEdit
The Berlin police in Dimension One are perplexed as to how both the victim and the suspect in a homicide happen to have the same fingerprints. They’re questioning Baldwin, but she says nothing.
Peter Quayle is with a sex worker at the Hotel Walcott. She seems bored just before Peter’s phone rings. It’s Roland Fancher Head of Diplomacy at the Office of Interchange. He is also Peter’s father in law. He extricates himself from the woman to take the call.
Fancher is calling to ask about Baldwin and to tell Peter that her siblings (meaning the other side) have already called to negotiate for her return. Fancher wants to know if Peter’s team was involved in the search for an “illegal”. They set to meet in Fancher’s office in an hour.
Peter immediately goes to D1 Howard Silk’s apartment where he is apprised of the events of the night before by D2 Howard and Aldrich who is now sporting a rather large cut and a bruise on his mouth where Howard punched him. D1 Howard delivers a bowl of ice to Aldrich for his swollen face before leaving the room.
D2 Howard seems a bit surprised that Diplomacy already knows about Baldwin. Peter says his father in law will want to trade her for information. If she returns, she’ll be erased to keep the plot a secret. Howard decides to forego his low profile and approach the Dimension Two embassy to stall the proceedings.
Aldrich has an asset working inside the police department, Peter orders him to go there and interrogate Baldwin. Howard insists that they take “the other me” along too. He says it’s a new condition that D1 Howard is promoted to Strategy with full clearance. He says from now on, he wants “me or other me” looking over Aldrich’s shoulder.
It’s a Total ClusterfuckEdit
In Dimension Two, printers fire off what appear to be coded messages. Using a code key, A man writes "URGENT RESPONSE NEEDED".
Bob Dwyer orders Ian Shaw to send an “inquiry team” over to the other side as soon as possible to get answers about Baldwin while Diplomacy negotiates for her return. Shaw says he’ll take care of it. Dwyer adds that he has to take Emily Burton. Shaw points out that she’s not cleared to pass and had never crossed to the other dimension. Dwyer says Emily went over their heads and a call came down from “upstairs” so they have no choice but to take her.
Shaw runs into Emily outside Dwyer’s office. He’s unhappy about her pulling in favors to cross over with him. She’s desperate and feels someone is scapegoating her because of some internal dispute she knows little about. She believes her Howard is the only one who can help clear her name. She says they’re all caught up in the middle of something whether they want to be or not. Ian seems a bit jealous and protective when he says he doesn’t want Howard (that bastard) anywhere near her.
In Dimension One, D2 Howard arrives at his embassy, a large house in a secluded wooded area. One of Aldrich’s men (Cyrus played by Mido Hamada) says he heard the ambassador was “a real character”. Howard admits he has no fucking idea how to slow down the negotiations beyond relying on his natural charm.
Howard is stopped at the gate and told to move along. He says he wants to speak to Claude Lambert and says “Tell him I’m a fellow traveler.” This prompts radio calls, and, after being searched, Howard is allowed inside. Surveillance cameras watch from every corner of every room.
D2 Ambassador Claude Lambert (Guy Burnet) stands in his underwear as a tailor (Annika Pampel) measures his inseam. She says, “32" still,” suggesting he’s had her measure it before. He says he feels taller. They flirt as Howard is brought in. He thanks her and sends her away.
Lambert wants to chat, but Howard wants to dispense with the pleasantries and get down to business.
I Will Talk with the Other OneEdit
Aldrich tells D1 Howard to keep quiet and out of the way as they arrive at the police precinct. With a look of disgust at seeing the OI man, the police officer monitoring the cameras on Baldwin’s interrogation room switches the feed from Aufnahme to Bereithalten (from recording to stand by). Howard waits outside but can see through the window in the door.
Baldwin recognizes Aldrich and asks if it was one of his men that shot Nadia. She then says she’ll only talk to Howard.
Howard doesn’t’ know what to say. Baldwin recognizes that he is not “one of them”. She saw both Howards and recognized that Howard was trying to stop them from killing Nadia. She wonders why and he explains that Baldwin’s other was innocent and had no idea about any of the cross-dimensional stuff she was caught up in.
Howard says he can’t imagine what it was like for Baldwin to watch Nadia die. She points out that he is different from his other and wonders what Howard thinks of him. He wishes he’d never met him.
In his meeting with the ambassador, D2 Howard tries to explain that keeping Baldwin is in both their interests. He lays out that Baldwin is illegal and he’s trying to find out who sent her. Lambert plays coy and changes the subject to the fact that Howard has complete freedom on this side, while he, the ambassador, is under what amounts to house arrest and has to fill out forms to go out to eat. He calls Howard “a liberated child leaving the adults to clean up your mess.”
The ambassador says he’s heading to lunch and will leave Howard to the inquiry team.
We all Have to go Through AloneEdit
Peter arrives at his father in law’s office to find him in a meeting with his staff. They discuss what information they might get from D2 in exchange for returning Baldwin. According to the snippets of conversation, they believe Dimension Two has solved climate change, cured Hepatitis-C, and increased corn production significantly.
Fancher doesn’t think they’re thinking big enough. Peter explains that Baldwin is illegal and part of some internal dispute, which would mean she is very valuable. Fancher orders his staff to come up with “real asks” and gives them an hour.
Peter does his best to get Fancher to delay the proceedings, but he gets nowhere. To the diplomat, Baldwin is currency and he plans to use it to get something valuable from Dimension Two.
The Dimension Two OI forces Ian Shaw to get another inoculation before he’s allowed to cross. He explains that he was just there six months ago but the medical staff explains that the shots are now required every three months.
She then explains to Emily the rules of her visa.
- “This visa lasts for six hours. It grants you access to the embassy and the embassy alone. You are not to take any measures to observe their world beyond that. You will not make contact with anyone, familial or otherwise. This includes eye contact, physical contact, verbal contact, and written contact. Those who do not comply with these regulations will be subject to punishment beyond the domain of international law. Just remember this, you do not belong to that world. Nothing in it belongs to you. Do you understand these guidelines as they have been communicated to you?”
The process of passing through The Crossing involves a search of one’s person and belongings by personnel in military dress. There is some sort of blue-light scan of the hands as well. The customs crossing room appears to be in the basement, the walls are thick slabs of stone and the area is partitioned with fencing and sliding metal doors. Each individual is required to cross alone.
Persons walk through the sliding metal door and wait in a circle while a larger, thicker metal door cycles through what appears to be an airlock sequence. Once the light above the door goes from red to green, the door opens and the person is permitted through.
The door leads down a short flight of stairs, across a dark stone room and back up an identical set of stairs on the other side. In this room, there is the sound of tectonic plates shifting and unseen machines buzzing. Once up the stairs on the other side, the entire process then repeats in reverse with the door cycling open on the holding area with the sliding metal door leading to a fenced-in area and the customs crossing office.
Emily follows Shaw to a waiting car in the OI tunnel. The windows are completely blacked out offering no view at all as they make their way to the embassy.
Shaw asks to see Lambert but is told that the ambassador was called away for diplomatic business. They’re led into a room where D2 Howard is waiting. Ian tries to question him, but Howard doesn’t play. Instead, he insults Emily by saying she fucked Ian to get on the team.
Howard wants to know why Ian has so much information about Baldwin’s activities. He finds it strange how quickly people are reacting to the situation considering no one is supposed to know anything about the covert operation. Emily tries to question Howard, but he says he can’t answer because he trusts no one in the room.
Emily sends Shaw and the others out so she can talk to Howard alone.
I Prefer the Shellfish on Our SideEdit
Roland Fancher and Peter Quayle arrive for lunch with Ambassador Lambert and his staff. Lambert passes on the seafood course saying he prefers the shellfish in Dimension Two because the oceans are cleaner. Fancher has heard this sort of cheerleading before and agrees that everything is better over there. Lambert says that’s not always true and points to genetic modification of fruits and vegetables as a back-handed compliment.
Lambert starts with an apology and says he has multiple assurances that Baldwin was not sanctioned by anyone on their side. He quotes the “1993 Accord” which says it’s illegal to conduct any undisclosed operations “across the fence”. He claims Baldwin acted on her own volition for unknown reasons. He asks for her return so that they can investigate.
He offers restitution in the form of Italian vaccination numbers and a seismic summary of the 2009 earthquake. Fancher is underwhelmed. He asks for the last three American census reports and geocoordinates to oil deposits the other side discovered near the Mariana Trench in the Pacific between Japan and the Philippines. Lambert says he’s asking for the world.
Peter’s phone rings. He takes it out without thinking. Aldrich is calling. Peter doesn't answer. Lambert and his staff look at the device hungrily as he places it on the table. Realizing this, Peter returns the phone to his pocket with an apology. Lambert says they’ve had their glimpses of the technology before. He says it’s amazing how all this innovation is possible with the luxury of time. He says his side were busy fighting back from the edge of extinction.
Fancher balks at this. Lambert pounces, asking if the topic is off limits. Fancher resents the implication that Dimension One bears any responsibility for that. Lambert says he knows D1 had no part in the pandemic that decimated their cities, just as his side had no part in Baldwin’s murder of a police officer. Fancher says they’ll keep the girl then. He gets up to leave. Lambert says he can do census reports but nothing after 2011 and not the oil reserves.
Emily tells Howard she now knows the rendition order she got for him wasn’t legit. She fills him in on how she came to know about the Baldwin plot despite Howard’s warning that the room is likely bugged. Two months ago, she was sent to retrieve a director who had run away to Istanbul. He told her his life was in danger because there was a faction in Management that was planning an illegal operation in Dimension One. He was dead by the next morning. She was blamed for his death.
Howard says they tried to take him out and might try to do the same to her. He refuses to tell her anything he knows, but she says she learned that Alexander Pope issued the rendition order for Howard. She suggests that as soon as Howard heard about the Baldwin plot, he went to his old confidant Pope as he always does.
She presses to learn his source. Howard says a few months earlier, he started getting coded letters from Dimension One. The letters detailed a dispute over methodology and ideology among Management on the “4th floor” at the OI in Dimension Two. Emily presses again for the source. He doesn’t answer.
She believes Howard is shutting her out because he’s still bitter that she kept him in the dark about what she really did at the OI for so long. He says it was a lifetime ago, water under the bridge. She wants to know if they’re still together and happy in this dimension. Howard doesn’t answer.
We Cannot Escape Who We AreEdit
Inside the police interrogation room, D1 Howard continues to chat with Baldwin. He asks who she works for, but she only says they won’t let her live much longer.
He explains that the woman she tried to kill in the hospital was his wife. He wants to know why. Baldwin says “I do not know her.” He wants to know if she’s just a ruthless killer. He points out that Nadia was not. He wonders if somewhere inside of her is a person who could have had a real life. Baldwin says it’s not possible. She says Howard believes himself to be better than his other and that someday he’ll find where they meet. She then echoes Nadia, “We cannot escape who we are.”
On the phone with Peter, Aldrich pushes for more time because Baldwin is talking. Peter says there is no more time because the deal is done. He tells Aldrich to keep working and again tries to convince his father in law to delay the handover.
In refusing, Fancher explains that the only reason they keep the doors open between dimension, all the effort and the expense, is because the knowledge they gain is more valuable to their collective way of life than “all the spy games you and your strategy boys will ever play.”
He says the differences between the world might be minor, but, when exploited, they’re priceless. He credits HIV treatments and mapping of the human genome to information from the other side. He says it all comes down to his department and the deals they make. He says the data is all that matters.
Peter scoffs because he let himself believe Fancher actually wanted his counsel. Turns out Fancher helped get Peter his job. Fancher says he’s a “good kid” who got everything handed to him. He says sitting at the table is a position he’ll have to earn.
The D2 Ambassador returns to the embassy interrupting Howard and Emily. He says he wanted to join them for the inquiry, but his lunch didn’t sit quite as well as he’d like. Emily and Shaw head for the door. Howard makes as if to follow, but the ambassador stops him. Howard calls out to Emily “Will you light a candle by my mom’s picture at St. Christopher’s for me please, in case I’m delayed?” She says she will and leaves the embassy.
Aldrich interrupts Baldwin and D1 Howard to explain that it’s over. They’ve made a deal for Baldwin’s return.
D2 Howard is fighting a losing battle trying to convince the ambassador to keep Baldwin saying they’ll lose the intelligence if she returns. The ambassador says he can’t allow anyone to upset the delicate diplomacy they’ve created and warns that consequences exist for those who cause trouble. He says Howard will no longer be allowed to return to Dimension One after his visa expires.
Build a Wall and Never Come BackEdit
Emily lies to Shaw and tells him Howard didn’t tell her anything. Shaw says the knowledge and temptation that another world exists breaks people down. He suggests they should build a wall and never come back.
The van transporting Baldwin, D1 Howard and Aldrich is surrounded by four black SUVs. Agents in balaclava get out with automatic rifles and begin firing at the van. It is bulletproof. They douse the vehicle with gasoline and then threaten to light it up unless Aldrich opens the door. Howard begins to panic and tells Aldrich to open the door before they kill them all. Aldrich reluctantly complies. One of the masked agents steps in and retrieves Baldwin who stops them from setting the van on fire. Baldwin’s “handler” Clare is among the armed party.
As the car speeds away, Clare demands to know why Baldwin stopped them killing Howard and Aldrich. She says it “wasn’t right.” Clare asks if Baldwin gave them anything. She doesn’t answer.
Peter arrives at Howard’s apartment and sees that he’s still shaken by the attack. D2 Howard arrives. Howard has come to believe that the ambassador, or whoever is pulling his strings, is involved with the faction that sent Baldwin in the first place. He says all they wanted was for the OI to bring Baldwin out in the open so they could take her.
He says that by revoking his visa, the ambassador “played his hand a little too hard”.
D2 Howard asks to hold his counterpart’s watch. It apparently belonged to their father. He explains that in 12 hours his side will expect him back. Once there, he won’t be able to return. He wants to send D1 Howard back in his place so he can keep working. He says it won’t be for more than a week, thinking that, by then, he’ll have cleared up his travel problems.
D1 Howard is stunned and appalled by the idea. Peter suggests that D2 Howard go on home and they’ll investigate the ambassador themselves. Howard scoffs at this saying Peter doesn’t get what’s going on. He believes Dimension One is compromised as just bad as the other side because somebody knows every move they’re going to make before they make it.
D1 Howard says he can’t leave Emily. D2 points out that she would be dead already if he hadn’t intervened. He thinks she won’t stay alive for long if he goes home.
Howard’s Source RevealedEdit
Emily returns to Dimension Two and makes her way to St. Christopher’s Church. There she finds the picture of Howard’s mother, lights a candle, and then begins feeling around under the small wooden platform on which the picture sits. She finds a letter, pockets it, and quickly leaves the church.
D1 Howard goes to his favorite riverside café. It is busy despite the late hour. He sits at a table by the water and sighs.
In Dimension Two, Emily goes to the same location. It is deserted. She sits on a bench and reads the letter.
- I trust my last letters have reached you safely. I don’t know if there’ll be any more. I think they know I’m your source, so my time is short. If something should happen, there’s something I need you to do. You’re the only one I can trust.
- If I am to be harmed, I need you to reach out to the other Howard, to protect him no matter what happens next. He knows nothing about this or me. I beg you that he never learn who I really was. I do regret having held him away all these years. I’ve always done it for his protection as I’m sure your Emily probably did for you.
- I’d do anything to keep him safe. Please watch over him in any way you can.
D2 Emily is in tears after reading the letter. She returns to her apartment (it is the same one where Howard lives in the other dimension). The light switch doesn’t work. She reaches down to flip on the table lamp and pricks her finger on the switch. She walks a few steps and is hit by a dizzy spell. She’s been drugged and falls to the floor near the door. Two men step out, retrieve the letter and a needle from the lamp switch. They scatter pills and a bottle around Emily. She is still conscious but apparently cannot move.