Episode Three: “If You Ever Want A French Lesson…”

Episode Four: “It’s Gonna Kill Me, But I’ll Do It”

*Every week* there’s a new episode of this show? Even at its peak this blog only had six posts a month. We’ll have to compromise.

Episode Three starts with more of the violent, tormented life of Professor Malcolm Ward in the Rock Springs (WY) Community College parking facility, one of those gritty multi-level garages forced underground by the densely packed skyscrapers and sky-high real estate prices. One of the interesting elements of Ringer is Bodaway Macawi, the ruthless Native American crime lord, played by TV veteran Zahn McClarnon [other Native American roles on Medium, Saving Grace, The Shield, Into the West, Walker, Texas Ranger, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and Baywatch]. When he starts coming up in Bridget’s flashbacks, I’ll be interested.

We meet another male character, Tyler Barrett, who gets with Siobhan as soon as we’ve joined her in a gaudy Paris hotel bar. His inability to communicate with the bartender is not charming, and his expectation that he can get a drink with Four Loko in it [or the Ringerverse’s equivalent, “Five Shizzy”] is horrifying. Justin Bruening, star of the Knight Rider remake, perfected his Tom Cruise grin on 161 episodes of All My Children and makes a charmingly stubbled potential Siobhan boy-toy and easily angered youngster. Their meeting is contrived. It seems to be scripted as a random encounter. But he works for Andrew’s company. That cannot possibly be a coincidence. How big is Andrew’s company? It’s named after him and Olivia, and he and Olivia seem to do all the work. Siobhan is obviously scheming on something

As for her scheming, I have to admit, I want to know who she’s talking to on the phone. Could it be Henry? Has he fooled them all with a pretense of being emotionally fragile? And a pretense of wanting to be a writer? And a quarter-assed plan to get back at Andrew for de-alienating Bridget/Siobhan’s affections, by withdrawing his meager pittance from The Hedge Fund? The Hedge Fund, by the way, has “returned almost 20 percent last month”, according to Andrew, who says in the next sentence that “the market’s turning around”.

"Are you kidding me? I have Balthasar on speed dial. I can *always* get us in. Have you *had* their macaroni au gratin? It's to die for."

We learn now that Gemma is the one with all the money, as the heir to the Tim Arbogast fortune. I love the name Arbogast. So yes, Henry is a dilettante. He says he’s considering self-publishing. Do we know if he’s ever published a book before?

There are some good voices in this show. The menacing guy in the leather jacket [Jordan Marder] doesn’t sound exactly as you’d expect, although Marder is a voice actor specializing in menacing guys. There’s some Bubba Sparxxx in his way of speaking. Jaime Murray gets more and more fatale. Tara Summers’s brassy American accent is rock-solid, even saying things like “Hell yeah it is!”. Nestor Carbonell brings a nice coolness to the FBI investigator, always talking to Bridget/Siobhan with an undercurrent of “You know, it doesn’t matter that much to me if you tell me lies, but it should matter to you.” And Darryl Stephens gives an oddly hoarse rendition of Episode Three’s gay-coded bit part, the fashion designer/stylist Gregor.

And the songs continue to be well chosen. Episode Three ends with a tender but tenuous moment over Portishead’s “Glory Box” — a bit obvious, perhaps. This followed some tender moments over Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games”, a quite beautiful song that was new to me. Then in Episode Four during the emotionally fraught backpack-burning sequence we get the striking first verse of “Waves” by Deluka, fading out when it still sounds like it’s going to be a Neko Case song instead of the slick-electrofied-rock song it becomes.

* * *

In Episode Four we know straight away that someone is going to find out Siobhan is Bridget – we’re prepped for it by her nightmare about the Chinese place deception and the animated drowned corpse. I did hope, once she woke up, that she would start acting more like Siobhan. Because she must be tired of having people say “What’s with you, Siobhan? You’re doing that non-snobbish thing you never do!” Start talking like the snob you know Siobhan is! But then we got more scenes of Siobhan in Paris, and I realized that they sound exactly the same. What is there to impersonate? Siobhan looks smug all the time, and Bridget looks hurt all the time. They talk the same way, just about different things. IS this good? I guess so, since otherwise the idea of Bridget pulling off her impersonation would be immediately ridiculous, not just ridiculous once you think about it.

Don't apologize to me - apologize to her. Who? Eek!

Agent Machado continues his methodical pursuit of Bridget through occasional interviews of Bridget-as-Siobhan, and huge pieces of evidence like the coast guard recording. He seems cool and methodical with her, and that’s how he’s going to get results, but back at the FBI office, talking to the other FBI guy with the depressed nasal bridge and huge forehead, he alternates between obsessive and fatalistic.

Now he’s followed her to the Hamptons. In between stealing lobster traps and sampling the Hampton tomatoes, our merry band is celebrating Bridget-as-Siobhan’s birthday. The party includes so many “LOL, Siobhan, you’ve never said that before” moments that you know the tension is building to something. Henry doesn’t have the slightest suspicion that his lover has been replaced by an identical-looking one who’s different in every other way; he pours his heart out to her and says he’ll finally leave her alone if she really feels that way. But wait! Gemma was listening!

And why shouldn’t she be listening? How big can this beach house be? How is it that she didn’t find out before? Without Siobhan’s inherent sneakiness the affair wouldn’t last a week anyway without being detected. After a couple weeks getting accustomed to this new, compassionate Siobhan, Gemma is even more hurt than she would have been when Siobhan was just the haughty, bitchy one in her friend circle [note: extrapolation from limited evidence]. She’s so mad that when the camera shows us her point of view at the subsequent candle-laden midnight beach dinner, it’s slowed down and blurry.

So she confronts Bridget, of course, and Bridget has to tell her the truth. Check, that’s one person who knows!

* * *

Meanwhile, flashbacks to one year ago, six years ago, and 1988 or so [even then Bridget’s hair was down and Siobhan’s was up, in one of those halo braids] lead us through the saga of the one necklace. Amid all the melodramatic contrivances, here’s another thing I associate with programming for women: the aspirational friendship gimmick. Bridget and Siobhan have exchanged this necklace every birthday, back and forth, since 1988 or so [was it specified?]. Until that turbulent year at Lake Tahoe, when Siobhan didn’t want it back. Five years later, one year ago today, in the throes of passion with Henry, Siobhan got it back, and felt guilty. And now, what does it mean?

We can only hope this plot element, and others, especially the whole subplot about the quit-claim deed, don’t get forgotten. As always, thanks to Pixel 51 for the screencaps.

* * *

* * *