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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ringer: “What Are You Doing Here, Ho-Bag?”

Illustration for article titled Ringer: “What Are You Doing Here, Ho-Bag?”
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Well, I have to give Ringer credit for something: It’s getting a little better at doing nothing. The show has established a fairly regular pattern of placing a few very small reveals at the end of each episode, with the rest of the content of the episode being a series of misdirects and stalling tactics leading up to that point. If you can accept this rhythm, the glacial pace that goes along with it, and perhaps maybe go get a sandwich during the FBI bits, the show becomes much more enjoyable.

The reveal at the end of the excellently titled “What Are You Doing Here, Ho-Bag?” was one of the most significant ones of the series to date: Siobhan finally tells Henry Bridget has been posing as her, and that the miscarriage was a lie; she’s still pregnant with his baby. This is fantastic news for many reasons —most significantly, Siobhan will finally have someone to talk to, potentially deepening her character and Henry will finally have something to do in general  besides wear turtlenecks and pretend to have children—but although the final reveal was kind of fun, all of the stalling and nonsensical plotting leading up to it was maddening. There really was no reason Siobhan had to meet Henry twenty different times in the past few episodes without spilling the beans, other than that being what the plot required. I’m surprised poor strung-along Henry didn’t go insane.

But at least we’re finally in a place where someone in the main cast has some sort of idea what’s happening. It’s almost enough to give me hope that the story might pick up from here, that the purpose behind Siobhan’s whole plan might be slowly, meticulously revealed. Having seen twelve episodes of Ringer, however, I highly doubt this is the case. The sheer ineptitude of the narrative so far was exemplified tonight by the non-triumphant return of villain Bodaway and the long-forgotten threat he made on Bridget’s life. It’s almost impossible to remember fear of Bodaway was why Bridget decided to impersonate Siobhan in the first place, as her character’s arc has strayed so far away from these roots. But here Bodaway is again, reminding us of the sheer failure of the original premise and poor Agent Machado’s continued uselessness. Now that Bodaway appears to be a threat to Bridget again, it should be at least a little interesting to see how this reflects her relationship with Andrew and Juliet.

While Siobhan was torturing Henry and Machado was chasing shadows, Bridget was busy putting her detective hat on and tracing the tangled web that was Siobhan’s life. She finally tracks down the Hotel Pivoine in Paris, connecting it both to Siobhan’s alias Cora Ferrell and then to Siobhan’s plaything Tyler. This leads her to a secret private limousine service —so secret Siobhan wrote his name in her address book in code, in case Andrew decided to call everyone in her book one day or something —and finds out the last place the car took her was to the airport, where Siobhan was planning on visiting Wyoming. The new question: Why was Siobhan going to see Bridget, and why didn’t she actually, you know, see her? I’m sure the answers will be slow-coming and convoluted.

The final piece of the narrative jumble tonight was Juliet and the aftermath of her big confrontation with Mr. Carpenter last week. Her mother comes to help her through her hard times, and she’s exactly who you would expect from meeting Juliet: brash, selfish, snarky, alcoholic, and fun. Things get along with only a few minor bumps until Juliet’s principal shows up with a school security tape that clearly shows an earlier encounter she had with Mr. Carpenter where she was practically trying to mount him in the hall, with him resisting. This leads the story down an uncomfortable path of her mother not believing her, and potentially no one believing her, until her school rival Tessa shows up and says Mr. Carpenter did the exact same thing to her.

This story is problematic for so many reasons, but mostly because playing rape like a flippant mystery is maddening to me. I feel like we should resoundingly be on Juliet’s side. Even if they want to keep a few twists and turns in their back pocket, we should still have some sort of identifying moment with Juliet and her situation, whether via a flashback or some sort of comment by Mr. Carpenter that puts him more in doubt. As they’ve played it, it really feels like we are supposed to completely believe Juliet, but by not giving us any concrete evidence it is too easy for them to pull a last minute bait-and-switch on the story and make her a liar. Rape is a violation, it’s personal, it’s invasive, but everything about the way Ringer is approaching it is distant, uninvolving, and cold. If Juliet really was raped, no matter what her character has done in the past, she deserves better than to be a plot point.

Stray observations:

  • Although I think the FBI plot has been an absolute failure, having Machado arrest Siobhan (thinking she was Bridget) and fingerprint her against the Bridget prints on file was pretty clever. Sometimes stall tactics are fun.
  • They used “Riverside” by Agnes Obel in the Juliet/Bridget scene. This song was used in a very memorable way earlier this season in Revenge, which is a comparison Ringer should probably try to do everything possible to avoid. Poor Ringer.