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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled iBionic Woman/i: Sisterhood
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Illustration for article titled iBionic Woman/i: Sisterhood

It's only the third episode and already Bionic Woman feels like it's repeating itself–not a good sign. From the training montages (this week set to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Noisettes last week…I'll put my money on The Gossip for next time) to the talky glower-offs between Jaime and Sarah, it seemed like we'd already seen everything in "Sisterhood", and it wasn't exactly compelling television the first time around. By now I empathize with Sarah's condition: I'm not actually able to feel like I hate this show, but intellectually I can imagine what that would feel like.

Within the frustrating concentric circles that passed for plot advancement, we at least got a little bit more information on how Sarah became the bionic bitch she is today–namely that she killed her own sister in a car wreck almost identical to the one that nearly killed Jaime. She also explains how Will was the one who revived Sarah after Jae supposedly killed her, but that in doing so he somehow erased her emotions, making her a remorseless killing machine unable to control herself. (Of course, this was already after she'd slaughtered several Berkut scientists in the massacre that kicked off the pilot, so did I misunderstand something, or is that another gaping plot hole?) Right now her only hope is to bring the more advanced Jaime back to Will's evil daddy Anthony–who, we finally found out, went to that Supermax prison for trying to sell bionics to the highest bidder–so he can isolate the anthrocites that make her different from Sarah and then somehow use them to put her right.

And if you like that kind of ridiculous pseudoscience, you'll absolutely love the fact that not only does Jaime have a GPS tracker in her cerebral cortex, she can also turn it off at will merely by concentrating on it–as both Jaime and Sarah groaningly observe, "It's like hacking into yourself." Too bad she can't visualize the camera in her brain, because this week we also found out that Jaime is broadcasting a live signal back to that roomful of pervs at the PCGDSROFECAWKI, who can watch Jaime take a shower anytime they please. (That should be fun for Nathan, the smartass tech sidekick who clearly wants to do a little uploading into Jaime of his own.)

All of this is just the background noise, of course, since it apparently isn't going to be a Bionic Woman episode without an easily resolvable subplot that involves little more than waiting around for some nameless bad guys to start trouble so Jaime can kick them in the face. This week the "mission" revolved around a spoiled rich girl with the very TV (or stripper) name of Heaven Von Fleet, whom Jaime was assigned to protect as her "bionic babysitter." While initially it seemed like Jaime was just there to keep her out of trouble–actually a difficult task, considering the second she had her back turned, Heaven was off to the tattoo parlor to piss off Daddy–before long a group of stock "Serbian gangsters" came gunning for her, giving Sarah the opportunity to prove she's still a good person behind all the black-clad bluster and aid Jaime in knocking them around. The whole experience somehow gives Heaven a wake-up call, as by episode's end she's all hugs and promises to take karate lessons. Some of that, too, may be due to the apparently ruthless (bionic pun alert!) psychological routing she was given by Ruth after being dragged into Berkut's supposedly top secret facility. Considering it spawned the episode's only slightly amusing line (after getting a look at Ruth's severe blonde bangs and boxy power suit, Heaven sneers, "Is she a lesbian?") and the one question we heard from the test ("Does your mother infantilize you too?") is a surprisingly astute one in this Age Of Paris, I would have liked to have seen more of that exchange…

…especially if it meant less Gilmore-lite scenes between Jaime and Becca, whose relationship is all chick-flick dancing-around-the-kitchen scenes and on-the-nose foreshadowing lines like, "I don't like secrets Jaime." I hear you, Becca. Hopefully this whole "double life" thing that Jaime's trying to pull off will end soon. It might be a smart idea, for example, to tell Becca not to allow strange Teutonic women into the apartment and let them make her tea. But as I've already pointed out, once Becca is in on the secret, we know it's only a matter of time before she starts putting her "hacker" skills to work, either by tinkering with Jaime's implants or insisting that she be allowed to join the PCGDSROFECAWKI, so right now ignorance–for the viewer at least–is still bliss.

So much for those very slight improvements made in the second episode; "Sisterhood" was just as hokey, self-serious, and full of hammy expository dialogue as the pilot. And what's worse, Miguel Ferrer was more or less relegated to the background this episode, only popping in to bark orders and issue tired Paleolithic-era jokes about how being married imbues you with the ability to lie convincingly (never mind the fact that it was already established how much he really did love his late wife). Even "special guest star" Isaiah Washington didn't have a whole lot to do other than spout awful lines like, "I'm about to get analog on your ass." (Although next week it looks like his character will reveal a dark side we didn't know about–despite the fact that we barely know him at all.) Bionic Woman has already slipped into a formulaic, Monster-Of-The-Week groove and its one overarching plotline–is Sarah Corvus evil, or is she just programmed that way?–has gone from mildly interesting to tedious and repetitive. Maybe if we concentrate really hard and focus, we can hack into this thing and turn it off.

Grade: D

Stray observations:

— Dear Bionic Woman writers: We get it. Jaime represents the ultimate empowered female. Now can you please stop hitting us over the head with it by having her say things like, "I'll call Hillary Clinton. She can get to the bottom of this!"

— And while we're at it: That scene where Jonas tells Jaime that whatever Sarah wants, "she'll tear through a wall to get it," followed by a scene of Sarah actually tearing through a wall? Bravo. I haven't seen a visual metaphor that subtle since Leslie Nielsen's last movie.

— Is anyone else totally confused by the Sarah Corvus timeline? So was she already bionic when her sister was killed? And when did Will strip her of her emotions–was it after Jae shot her? And if so, why did she kill all of those scientists if she hadn't yet been tampered with? And hey, what's the deal with airline food?

— Jaime still doesn't seem all that bothered by the fact that Will had been tracking her for two years and that her whole relationship with him was apparently a sham. Anyone else notice that this show's patented move is having Jaime ask a tough question followed by an uncomfortable silence and then a complete change of topic?

— Speaking of which: So, uh…is Ruth a lesbian?


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