“Siobhan wanted me dead?”
I’ve long been a proponent of the theory that television is about the journey and not the destination, meaning if a show doesn’t end its season or series perfectly, it in no way invalidates or negates any enjoyment felt along the way. This theory gets a little trickier when dealing with a less satisfying season of television, such as this season of Ringer. Although there have been scattered pleasures along the way, as a whole, the series has been a giant mess since the beginning, squandering narrative momentum and cohesive storytelling in an attempt to chase uninteresting and mostly dead-end mysteries. Still, the latter third of the season showed a serious uptick in quality (or at least fun), leaving the door wide open for a killer season finale to swoop in and paint the entire season in a much more favorable light.
Instead of continuing the momentum of last week’s positively giddy penultimate episode and going out with a gleeful bang, however, Ringer went out with the above-referenced momentum killer of a line from Bridget: “Siobhan wanted me dead?” This, effectively, leaves Bridget almost exactly as clueless as she was in the pilot. Sure, now she knows Siobhan faked her own death and is alive, but she still feels just as simple and naïve as she was way back when. I think this was meant to be a gut-punch character ending: the repentant Bridget realizing her sister still hasn’t forgiven her for what happened to Sean. The problem with going for a character-based ending here is the character development for both Bridget and Siobhan has been very poorly done, particularly considering their relationship as sisters. The flashbacks established the rift but never established the bond, ensuring any story about betrayal between the two would not have the requisite weight to work.
This ending (I hesitate to call it a cliffhanger because nothing is really left hanging except Bridget’s poor overworked brain hanging out of her skull) is particularly annoying because of forces I fear are out of the writers’ control. It’s no secret Ringer isn’t a ratings powerhouse—it pulls in barely over a million viewers at this point—but The CW is such an anemic network and Sarah Michelle Gellar such a coveted star “get” for the network that it is honestly hard to say if the show has a chance at getting renewed or not. This leaves the writers with a question: Do they wrap up all of the show’s loose ends in a little bow, or go out leaving the audience wanting a little more?
By not having Bridget and Siobhan meet face-to-face in what could very likely be the series finale, it’s obvious which way the writers decided to go, and I can honestly say I am not sure how I feel about this decision. As an invested viewer, my strong desire was to finally see the twins face off. As a more impartial reviewer, however, the urge to put it off until a hypothetical second season makes sense, even if it is an inevitably less viscerally satisfying choice. When you know your show might not get the opportunity, though, don’t you almost have to lay all of your cards out on the table and then, if the show gets picked up, figure out later how to keep momentum going even after pulling the trigger on a huge story moment? It's definitely a much safer choice, and the final product could surely have suffered for the writers making it.
As for the rest of the episode, it was narratively pleasing (and revealing), if considerably more dull than recent episodes. Last week wrapped up the mystery of who was trying to kill Siobhan, leaving Bridget and longtime pursuer Bodaway Macawi to deal with now. Conveniently, he finds her when Jimmy the cop conveniently breaks out of prison and conveniently shows up in New York looking for more money from Siobhan. Jimmy’s arrival, while conveniently convenient, does help facilitate the entire season’s mystery falling down like a house of cards: Jimmy blackmails Bridget, Bridget learns Siobhan and John worked together to get Jimmy to scare Bridget into coming to New York, Andrew finds out about Siobhan’s affair with Henry, and Bridget confesses her true identity to Andrew. The entire thing was fairly well coordinated to end up with Andrew and Juliet fleeing town, leaving the penthouse open for Macawi to show up there for the final showdown. That he first attacks Siobhan (there to steal back some of her jewelry) is a fun little bit of mistaken twin identity shenanigans.
This is where the question of whether Siobhan and Bridget should have met in the finale comes up again, and where it starts to feel more annoying it didn’t happen. Bridget shows up at the apartment just as Macawi is attacking Siobhan, yet although she ultimately rescues her (shooting and killing Macawi in kind of a gloriously badass way) she still never sees her face. It would have been the perfect moment for Bridget to realize the level of Siobhan’s deception. Instead, they play ships in the night once again, and Bridget instead learns her sister is still alive from a blurry security tape, one that could technically have been unearthed at any point in the series. While yes, I understand the writers’ reluctance to burn all of their story avenues in this finale in case the show does return, the story still has to pack a narrative punch. And coming face-to-face with the twin sister you thought was dead would have been far more interesting than seeing a grainy videotape. That’s just the way it is.
Since its inception, Ringer was a show people rooted for. When the show premiered and wasn’t everything people wanted it to be, they still stuck with it because of just how much they wanted Sarah Michelle Gellar to succeed. When looking at the season as a whole, it’s hard to see it as much more than a giant disappointment. There were definite highs—most of them involving the ever-entertaining Andrea Roth as Catherine—but far more lows. Still, it seems to have gained at least a little bit of footing in the latter third of the season, and although it probably will never be a legitimately great show, it has shown it knows how to have a little bit of fun once in a while. We don’t know if this episode was the season or series finale, but either way there just had to be a better way to go out than “Siobhan wanted me dead?” There just had to be.
- Bridget’s emotional scenes with Andrew and Juliet were pretty spot-on, I thought. As much as the relationships between the three have been the rock of the show (and the only character beats that have truly ever worked), Bridget really does deserve their scorn right now. I mean, can you imagine finding out that news? Yikes.
- Henry is still an idiot but at least he finally stood up for himself with Siobhan. If the twins aren’t his and he wants nothing to do with Siobhan, what would his place be in a hypothetical season two? I’m going to go with: on another show.
- Henry makes fun of the names Portia and Reagan, but his kids are named DASH and BECKS? Okay, Henry.
- The mystery of Siobhan’s hospitalization solved: It seems she was admitted under the alias Rebecca Sheldrake. Hopefully Rebecca’s health insurance has a low deductible.
- “I’ve been wanting to do that since the day I met you.” Andrew knew what a sad-sack Henry was all along.