Remember last week when I said there were things from the pilot I was genuinely curious to see where Ringer would take next? If this episode is an indication of the direction the series is going in, consider my curiosity thoroughly squelched because that was terrible. Not only was it terrible; it was boring, which is an even greater sin for a show of this ilk.
Second episodes are often as tricky as pilots in that they’re the first time you truly get to make a series, rather than just one self-contained episode. They have smaller budgets, are more time-constrained, and also must gracefully get out from under the weight of all the exposition heaved upon the pilot and forge a series identity of their own, all while keeping the elements that distinguished the pilot in the first place. All that being said, I just can’t imagine the thought process that decided the big narrative thrust for episode two was going to revolve around hiding a body in a trunk during a fancy fundraising event.
Yes, the man Bridget shot in the pilot still looms large, and she spends the entire hour either attempting to dispose of the body (too heavy, too many blood trails), attempting to run away from the body (too many complications), or attempting to hide the body (in the aforementioned trunk). It’s a relatable issue—if I had just shot a rather large man with a weapon that could be traced back to my missing sister a.k.a. me, I’d be pretty concerned—but the execution was downright wacky. Bridget calls her sponsor/flame Malcolm and confesses to her crime, but her attempts to run away with him keep being foiled by her odd insistence upon not upsetting the balance of anything in Siobhan's live as she flees.
A convenient complication arises when Andrew is forced to move the location of his company fundraiser to the empty loft, where the man with a hole in his body is currently residing. There’s plenty of time for Bridget to grab all of Siobhan’s cash and rush out of town before the party, but for some inexplicable reason, she stays to help organize the event. This is where she brainstorms putting the body in the trunk, which from that point on becomes the Chekov’s gun of antique travel packing options. The trunk "goes off" during the most solemn part of the fundraiser, via the dead guy’s cell phone ringing in his pocket. Bridget handles the situation, but something completely shocking happens—when she goes back to get him after the party, he’s gone! I’m sure none of you saw it coming. Who has the body? Wow, could I not care less!
Other than the plotting mechanics being absolutely dismal, any sense of dread established by the pilot was completely squandered here, muddling the tone of the series even more. Last week, it was a messy pseudo-noir full of suspense and twists. Tonight? It was simply your standard nighttime soap. There’s nothing wrong with being a nighttime soap (if you do it well), but simple soap wasn’t the promise made in the pilot, so to have it so quickly revert to being so mundane was jarring.
This episode also established a new element: the flashback. Using stepdaughter Juliet’s troubles with addiction as a jumping off point, we went back to nine years ago when both Bridget and Siobhan were living in Lake Tahoe and Siobhan spent a lot of time taking care of her ne’er do well sister. Not only were the flashbacks stylistically uninteresting, but they were substantively useless, as no new character information was presented beyond “these two sisters used to talk to each other.” Flashbacks are the perfect device to do a bit of character-building here, but they only seemed to be time filler disguised as something more.
Most troubling of all is the continuation of a problem from the pilot: Bridget’s motivations. Here, she wants nothing more than to flee, and the only logical thing for her to do is flee. Yet one tender moment from Juliet and an allusion she is needed from Andrew and she decides to forget all of the very real troubles surrounding her and stays. The episode attempted to support Bridget’s slow dawning of revelation that she enjoys being needed via flashback, but it never fully emotionally connected, and therefore made Bridget staying look pretty stupid. Sure, we know Siobhan is actually alive, and she doesn’t, but it’s hard to justify bringing all of the chaos and danger of her situation into these people’s lives if she truly feels they’re in some way fragile.
The Ringer of the pilot wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t very good in a way I could see growing into a bit of a fun lark as the mystery unraveled. The Ringer of the second episode wasn’t very good in a way that gives me no hope for the future at all. (For the show, and maybe for life as we know it? That might be hyperbole.) I’m choosing to look at it this way: At least now the series has nowhere to go but up. Maybe.
- The only vaguely noir things left in this episode were a few strangely placed Dutch angles and one very minor music sting. I’m calling it now: Next week, there will be nothing resembling the pilot's tone at all.
- The premise-establishing intro reminds me of season one Alias, except bad.
- Are there any two people less likely to be on Facebook than Siobhan and Andrew? Or is Facebook big with the thirtysomething social elite? (Also, if Siobhan’s favorite movie is The Notebook, I’ll eat my hat.)
- The one bright spot in the series so far is Ioan Gruffudd, who is attempting to do something with the nothing he’s been given. He’s remarkably sympathetic for someone who was so cold in the pilot.
- It seems like Siobhan is still interested in offing Bridget in order to fake her own death. Also, the Native American mob boss is still after Bridget. For a girl who is in so much danger, she sure is dull.