Well, that was the best episode of Ringer so far by a country mile. Granted, it was still structurally scattershot and focused way too long on the very tired rebellious teenager subplot, but for the most part, it moved briskly, featured actual plot advancement, and all built up to a cliffhanger that, while a bit frustrating in its unnecessary obtuseness, at least was interesting enough to make me want to tune in next week. After three consecutive weeks of disappointment and frustration, this is at least a step in the right direction.
It helps that my big concern from last week was wiped out very early in the episode when, although disbelieving her at first, Gemma finally finds absolute proof Bridget isn’t actually Siobhan (via a very convenient burn scar). Once she absorbs all of that information, she immediately starts in on Bridget about all of the selfish decisions she’s made since deciding to impersonate Siobhan, which means Gemma is obviously the best person in this entire show. Gemma’s superiority is confirmed when she then decides to use Bridget’s secret to get something she needs: proof Henry was cheating in order to trigger the infidelity clause in their prenuptial agreement. Gemma’s ultimatum? Sleep with Henry, or else she’ll tell Andrew everything.
Bridget, who for a total liar is still interestingly obsessed with “fixing” things in her sister’s life, refuses to go through with it and instead tells Henry what Gemma is up to, hoping to get him to finally agree to give up on her and recommit to his family. Henry, who between his tragic romantic notions about love with Siobhan and self-involved obsession with his novel has become perhaps the most insufferable character on the show, refuses to do this because it would be living a lie. He then follows this up with a call to Gemma spilling everything Bridget just told him. The story culminates with Gemma frantically begging Andrew to come over to her house, only for him to be greeted by a very jumpy Henry at the door claiming she’s not home. As Andrew leaves, the inside of Henry’s apartment looks like a crime scene, leaving us with just one question: Who was the victim?
Ringer obviously wants us to believe Henry killed Gemma in some sort of crazy rage. Hell, I want to believe Henry killed Gemma in some sort of crazy rage, because that would be legitimately shocking and all sorts of soapy fun. In fact, if the show had featured Gemma’s lifeless body at the end instead of going to a cliffhanger, I might have even given this episode an A for sheer batshit audaciousness. Alas, this all feels like a bit too much of an elaborate misdirect to be true. I might eat my words next week, and Gemma might indeed be slowly rotting in a pool of her own blood, but I fear the explanation is far more mundane than that. Still, it was plenty of fun as presented and a welcome change from the more staid plots of the last few episodes.
Finally, we have the return of wild child stepdaughter Juliet. Juliet’s story is conflicting because while it is completely unoriginal, boring, and somewhat trite, it’s been a very effective showcase for the relationship building between Andrew and Bridget. Juliet is a brat of the highest magnitude, one so bratty it seems impossible to connect to her as an actual character, but every time one of her misdeeds leads to another great scene between Ioan Gruffudd and Sarah Michelle Gellar, I find myself minding her less and less. The closer they become, the more complicated the show’s narrative becomes and the more moral issues compound for Bridget, and if Juliet is the only way the writers can see growing that relationship, I am reluctantly on board, no matter how many times I want to punch Juliet square in the jaw. Now that Juliet and Bridget have formed a somewhat uneasy truce, it’s harder to see where she fits into the picture, but anything is better than the “I am acting out because I want my mommy and daddy to get back together” drivel she’s been saddled with so far.
All week long, there was buzz in the media about this episode being a “game changer” (and Gemma herself even storms into Bridget’s house muttering about game changers—meta!), and although I think that is a bit strong, it was still the most solid outing to date with a legitimately surprising ending. I’ll just kindly leave you with this thought: Why is a show only in its fifth episode touting something being a game changer? What game do they even have to change at this point in their history? If anything, this episode was more of a game establisher. We’ll see how the game goes from here.
- It’s only been two weeks in Ringer time, so I guess we can explain away things like Bridget not showing in her pregnancy or not worrying about sleeping with Andrew yet. Those are questions I hope they get to sooner rather than later, though.
- Drugged-up Malcolm is back! It’s nice to see he’s not forgotten, I suppose, but he is still very disconnected from the main narrative. Either bring him back into Bridget’s life soon, show, or push a little extra heroin into those veins. Otherwise, he’s just a boring way to remind us the mob storyline still exists.
- Gemma’s delight at the “WHORE” scrolled across Siobhan’s face was lovely. In fact, seeing that ridiculous thing defaced was my favorite part of the episode.
- Oh, hi, Billy Miller from The Young and the Restless. Did you smoke three packs of cigarettes before filming your scenes? You’re sounding a bit hoarse, there.
- “I guess you are Siobhan’s sister. Somehow, you’ve made this all about you.”
- “I want you to sleep with my husband, or I’ll tell everyone who you really are.”
- “How is Andrew going to feel when he realizes his real wife is dead and he’s been sharing a bed with a drug addict stripper whore?”