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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled iRinger/i: “Oh Gawd, There’s Two Of Them?”
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Hello, Ringer viewers, and welcome back from that strange one-week hiatus! Although if you were missing the show The CW practically aired reruns on a loop for the past ten days, so I’m sure you were able to get your fix. Has the show drastically changed since we last saw it (implied tone: for the better)? Well, no, that would be highly unlikely. But it hasn’t come back any worse, and that’s something, right?

Things start off fairly strong, with Gemma’s mysterious disappearance taking center stage for the episode, and the show using the circumstances surrounding this disappearance to actually pull off a twist with relative ease. Remember when Bridget purposely planted her fingerprints on Gemma’s things and tipped the police off to their location, effectively framing herself for the disappearance? The rest of her plan was even more interesting, taking the framing to a whole new level by telling both Henry and Andrew of the existence of Siobhan’s long-lost-and-never-mentioned twin sister and suggesting her potential involvement. Andrew and Henry knowing of her existence created a fairly effective surprise going out of the teaser, but it ends up only being a mild shock considering how quickly they answer the mystery. The sequence where she tells them both was very well done, however, and the men learning about the existence of a twin is a satisfying turn of events.

All of Bridget’s subterfuge puts her in a bit of a quandary, though. She is effectively cutting the NYPD and FBI off at their knees in their search to find Gemma, so now she has to go about finding her herself. She enlists NA sponsor (and shady Siobhan affiliate) Charlie to help her track Gemma down, which is how we find out he is the one who attacked Gemma in the first place, on Siobhan’s orders. This isn’t a huge surprise, and the flashback fight was laughably terrible, so to have the episode end with us not knowing Gemma’s fate is a little frustrating, mostly because there is just no honest way she’s actually dead. Ringer hasn’t proved itself to be that kind of show, and if she was dead I think we would have been tipped off on it by now. Since she likely isn’t dead, the mystery just ends up feeling more like a place holder and less like an active plot. Yes, Bridget made some interesting decisions in service of this mystery, but the mystery itself is simply the show’s most recent MacGuffin.

These issues definitely aren’t affecting what is quickly becoming the most interesting part of the show, the growing relationship between Andrew and Bridget. The newfound closeness they feel from Bridget’s confession and the trauma of Gemma’s disappearance is impacting this relationship in a good way. The emotional intricacies of this situation are something the show has shied away from until now, and it was nice to see them finally get their chance to shine. Andrew and Siobhan’s marriage was a mess before Bridget came. The acknowledgement of this and the mutual pledge to get closer in light of the pregnancy—followed by a kiss that felt a long time coming—is exactly where these characters need to go. In classic soap strategy, they become closer just as Bridget is forced to have an ultrasound that will undoubtedly reveal her empty womb. It’s a legitimate problem I am genuinely interested to see how Bridget manages to solve. For a show so often content on not being interesting, this is at least something.

Despite having no horrendously egregious things to say about this particular episode, I am still troubled by the lack of involvement I have with this show or the characters after seven episodes, especially because I like some of the performers a great deal. The other day while cleaning out my overstuffed DVR, I started thinking about why other new shows are successful while Ringer is struggling. Homeland, Revenge, and hell, even Hart of Dixie to an extent are all telling compelling stories and building worlds viewers want to keep visiting. After watching a particularly harrowing episode of Homeland (in which very little, plot-wise, actually happened) I realized it all boils down to intent, or in Ringer’s case, the lack of intent. In the aforementioned shows, while we don’t know everything about the characters, their general intent is very clear: Carrie Mathison is driven to catch terrorists, Emily Thorne is entirely fueled by the desire for vengeance, and Zoe Hart wants to serve her time in Nowheresville until she can get back to her high-powered doctor life in New York City. Of all of the characters in Ringer, none besides law enforcement seem to have an easily defined intent the audience can use as a touchstone to gaining a better understanding of the character as a whole.

Intent doesn’t need to be simply about quantifiable character traits used to propel plot. Emotional intent is just as important, and Ringer is also lagging behind in that respect as well. We’re seven episodes in now, and Bridget is just as much of a cipher as she was in the pilot. They sort of established why she would make the (absolutely insane) decisions she makes in the pilot, but since then Bridget seems to have been floating through a cloud of nothing, simply going along with everything because it’s easier than making any other kind of decision. There have been hints she wants to do this because she has a compulsion to fix Siobhan’s life, but it has been vague and not fleshed out enough. Also problematic is how the audience has even less idea what is happening with Siobhan’s emotional life. Without these touchstones, all we’re left with is one big ball of story mush, and no way to shape it into any identifiable form in our minds.

Things made a bit of progress tonight on the Bridget front with her making clear, concrete decisions and emotionally connecting with Andrew, but there is still so little understanding from the audience as per the reasons behind these decisions it still feels so much less impactful than it should. Most of all, without this clarity of intent, the biggest things being damaged are the mysteries. With no identifiable characters to filter the information through, the mysteries presented become less and less intriguing as the weeks go on. It’s hard to care about central mysteries involving characters you don’t even understand, let alone root for. Ringer seems to be sacrificing one as to not damage the other, which has instead crippled them both.

Stray observations:

  • Nice job, using Gemma’s stunt double for every bit of the flashback fight. And by “nice job” I mean “how horribly stupid looking.”
  • If this was The Lying Game, the man who truly loved Siobhan would be able to tell they were switched the second Bridget told them about the existence of a twin. True love is a fake twin detector! (Of course, then that guy on The Lying Game fell in true-true love with the twin, so maybe that method has flaws.)
  • Was that not the Most Insensitive Building Grand Opening Ever? It’s like the culmination of all that’s horrible in society, as the rich show up to dedicate some soulless building while the person who slaved over it has possibly met a gruesome death, all while paparazzi surround the place and take pictures of the carnage. It was kind of amazing, actually, and a tone I wish the show would embrace a bit more.
  • Juliet’s Random TV Teenager Trope of the Week: Girl decides to go straight and narrow, girl helps drunken friend from drunk driving, girl gets blamed and her trust fund taken away. Also, girl calls hot teacher. Hello, hot teacher. (In summary: yawn.)
  • Since Juliet knows about the twin thing, too, I predict she’ll be the first person to figure it out. Perhaps then she’ll blackmail Bridget into getting Andrew to give her trust fund back in return for silence?
  • “You owe me, bitch. Like ten million dollars.”

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