Counterpart—The Part That Counters Intuition M23 Umchun60
Growing up, I’ve always wondered what my twin brother would be like if I ever had one. Would he be a dashing, easy-going genius just like his sibling or a wacky, brutal psychopath that was the exact opposite of his brother? It turns out to answer this question, I don’t need to a twin at all; all I got to do is something much easier—duplicate the whole entire world. In the world, or more accurately, worlds, that the acclaimed show “Counterpart” created, a clandestine experiment conducted by East German scientists accidentally replicated reality. The one we were living in, the Alpha world, and its clone, the Prime world, were both deeply sceptical of, but at the same time, highly relied on each other for valuable intel. The storyline took off at the modern time, some thirty years after the fateful experiment. Howard Silk, a lowly middle-aged employee at a Berlin-based UN agency, was ignorant about the whole parallel universe business like most of the public. Suddenly visited by his doppelgänger from the Prime world, he realised that his workplace actually housed the portal between the two worlds. Unlike the indecisive and timid Howard Alpha, his Prime version was a resourceful but ruthless operative who had risen to prominence in the agency. Howard Alpha was warned about an imminent attempt to stir up conflicts between the two worlds, and was persuaded into switching identities with Howard Prime so that the latter can foil the conspiracy in the Alpha world. Eventually, the attack was still executed and leaders on both sides of the portal decided to seal the only connection between the two universes. The first season concluded with the two Howards each stranded in a world they knew little about, and with a family that were both close and distant to them at the same time. The series touched on many intriguing concepts from spycraft across parallel realities to the butterfly effect, but they were by no means novel ideas. What the show really pioneered in was its exploration of how the characters of a person and his counterpart could diverge in the two worlds due to the minutely different environments. Every successful sci-fi should get its audience wondering a bunch of ‘what-if’ questions, and Counterpart did just that. The most disturbing question after I finished the finale was what kind of a person my counterpart would be. I had believed I would always be myself, i.e. even if you made a perfect replica of me and put it somewhere else, a decade later it would still be recognisably me. Perhaps it is high time I thought otherwise. The prospect of having a doppelgänger out there in another world was unnerving but intriguing at the same time. Would he be superior to me and belittle the accomplishments I held dear? Would he tease me and look down upon me like an underachieved little brother? Yet, wouldn’t it be good to see him succeed in things I had failed so horribly? Thinking about it, all my regrets and misdeeds in life, my counterpart might have avoided. It would be good to see myself for once being able to resist the apparent glamour of donning the white coat and instead put on the chef’s apron, just like my heart desired. Indeed, compared to an alter ego that had the potential of accomplishing all that I did not and could not, having a twin brother almost seems trivial. It provides the ultimate solace to fantasise that for every mistake, big or small, that Umchun Alpha made, in a distant reality, Umchun Prime would have averted it.

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