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We’ve arrived at episode three of Ringer, and something is becoming increasingly clear: The show established in the pilot doesn’t seem to be the show the writers were interested in making at all. Last week, the pseudo-noir of the pilot was toned down considerably, leaving a boring mess of strange plots and what appeared to be failed camp in its wake. This week, the noir was practically non-existent, the camp gone, leaving only the conventions of a more traditional nighttime soap in its place. There’s nothing wrong with a little soap, but it feels less like a conscious choice on part of the Ringer creative team and more a case of them not having any idea how to sustain the (admittedly confusing) tone of the pilot. And although this episode isn't quite the disaster of last week, it certainly didn’t instill any hope the show might eventually right this sinking ship.

Not that the episode was all bad. Some of the only things working without reservation in the series so far are the marital scenes between Andrew and Bridget, and tonight’s scene added a needed extra layer of emotion to their interaction. Bridget discovers the assassin’s picture of Siobhan was a copy of one Andrew had on his desk and begins suspecting him of being involved. She is especially concerned when she learns Siobhan was seeking the counsel of a divorce lawyer and implied to the lawyer she was scared of Andrew. Andrew learns of Bridget’s trip to the lawyer, and it brings them to somewhat of a crossroads in their relationship, with them finally deciding to start over and trust each other again.
Gruffudd and Gellar have a nice rapport together, in both tender scenes and antagonistic ones, and this deepening of their relationship is probably the most interesting thing happening right now. It's certainly the most character-illuminating plot on the show. It’s sort of amazing how little we still know about these characters after three episodes, but if the writers aren’t going to give us insight into how this marriage got so broken in the first place, at least Gruffudd and Gellar are building their own connection so we as an audience have something to hold on to.

Less successful are the continued machinations of the main plots. Having eliminated Andrew as a suspect, Bridget still doesn’t know who hired Siobhan’s assassin and spends the episode taunting the assassin’s cohort by using the cell phone she pulled off the body last week. This leads to a decently tense scene where she realizes the cohort is following her on the streets and another when Bridget finally gets to flex a brain cell and use her connection to Agent Machado to put some fear in the assassins. Otherwise, though, it still feels like a bit of a narrative dud.

Also a dud is the saga of Malcolm the Sponsor. His kidnapping by the mob goons might be compelling or even interesting if we’d had any chance to know him beyond his three phone calls with Bridget, but as it’s been presented, do we really care if they inject him with drugs and force him off the wagon? Does it really feel like Bridget – the only character we’ve even sort of connected to so far – is in any more danger than she was last week, now that the goons have Malcolm? 

Finally, we got to spend a more significant amount of time with Siobhan in Paris, even if that time was ultimately more confusing than fulfilling. She seduces a handsome young banker at a Paris bar and invites him to her hotel room. Once she has him back in her room, she gets hit with a very inconveniently timed bout of morning sickness during their hookup and forces him out the door. Siobhan takes a pregnancy test and calls Henry upon seeing the positive results, but doesn’t say a word when he picks up. Siobhan appears to have real feelings for Henry, but this entire sequence elicits far more questions than answers about her motives. If she didn’t know about the pregnancy, why was she running? What was her ulterior motive with the banker? Who is she working with?

Questions are fine, and mysteries are a fun and welcome way to add intrigue to a soapy show like this. So far, however, Ringer has asked a lot of questions and failed to establish its characters enough to expect the audience to care about the answers. If Siobhan suddenly was gone forever, would the show even miss her? Certainly the other characters within the show wouldn’t, as they don’t know she’s alive. The audience certainly wouldn’t, because all we know about her can be summed up in a sentence or two. Siobhan is the axis all of the stories in this show are spinning around, so making the mysteries surrounding her compelling and relevant is absolutely essential. Getting to know her a bit would be a good start to making this mess come together. Maybe next week.

Stray observations:

  • Henry and the money felt completely like a shoehorned plot put in to give Kristoffer Polaha, Tara Summers and Jaime Murray something to do. Too bad it wasn’t something interesting.
  • After introducing a sliver of hope for an interesting new Bridget/Juliet relationship last week, this week Juliet is nowhere to be found. Of course.
  • As the assassin’s picture was Siobhan and Andrew’s holiday card picture, Bridget determined anyone could have hired the assassin. Are we all in agreement that Siobhan hired the assassin to take Bridget out? Or am I completely off base here?

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