Episode Five: “A Whole New Kind of Bitch”
Episode Six: “The Poor Kids Do It Everyday”
Both these titles are lines said by Juliet, which I really really hope does not herald Ringer’s transformation into a half-high-school, half-adult show. Zoey Deutch may stand out among CW starlets for rarely having a totally blank look on her face, but her character is not fascinating. In episode 5 we catch her in the apartment ingesting narcotics with a friend named Erica, we follow her to a dance club named Barfield’s where her reaction to her dad barging in is adorably immature, and she follows Bridget/Siobhan to B/S’s first NYC NA meeting, leading to a very tense dinner-table scene [she tells her dad that his wife is secretly going to NA meetings, blindsiding Bridget[ whose shattering consequences are immediately nullified [Bridget tells Andrew she was doing research on addiction or something].
You know, this show has quite a lot of moments of incredible tension leading to what appear to be shattering results for interpersonal relationships, which are then cleared up and never referred to again. Juliet points out that she hates Siobhan because “she’s a whore who sleeps with married men”. What? She knows about Siobhan and Henry? No, she’s referring to when Andrew cheated on Juliet’s mother with Siobhan seven years ago. Gemma refuses quite rightly to believe that Bridget is a twin sister who Siobhan had kept completely secret? Five minutes later she notices that Bridget doesn’t have Siobhan’s wrist scar. Problem solved. And then there’s all the visual fake-outs. Henry scrubbing up blood with a thousand-yard stare in the preview of Episode 6? No, he actually didn’t know where the blood came from and was just being nice. The word “WHORE” scrawled across the giant white Siobhan portrait? Written by Gemma, no doubt? No, by Juliet. Why would Juliet write that? See above.
The way this show is set up, the underlying impersonation plot can’t move too fast or else we’ll have Bridget on the lam again (or a pile of people who died right after finding out her identity) by Episode 12. There’s a traditional-tragedy element to that, so I welcome all these fake-outs and misdirections and strategic information withholdings as diversions to delay the inevitable.
In Episode 5 Janice Cooke becomes the series’s first director to make her presence felt, using swooping camera, fragments of a phone conversation, rhythmic cuts that evoke blinking, and a weird techno song in the scene where Juliet is blinded by rage at Bridget’s searching her room for drugs and reverse-ransacks Siobhan’s wedding dress. The rest of the episode is standard Ringer, with a striking juxtaposition of red hair and a red wall around minute 33.
This episode’s new actor is Billy Miller as Charlie, Bridget’s new friend from Narcotics Anonymous. I haven’t seen any of his 559 Young and the Restless and All My Children episodes, but here he does a good job in what may be a very easy role, a guy with the zeal of the convert who recites the friendly rote aphorisms he was taught to believe in. Noah Watts is unsubtle as Bodaway’s henchman in the worlds-away scenes set in the Wyoming community college/parking garage/strip club complex. Did Mike Colter ever meet any of the other leads in this show? He could have filmed all his scenes while actually being kidnapped by thugs and tantalized by heroin in a parking garage, while the rest of the production carried on.
Henry continues to threaten to spaz out and stop being so rational and patient. Polaha may not be a great actor but his character is written terribly. [Sample line: “I know what your plan is, all right, and I am one step ahead of you.”] If Siobhan would let him get a word in edgewise in the flashbacks, we could see how he behaves normally. Because really, in the first four episodes he shouldn’t be perceiving his situation as fraught, because he doesn’t know anything about the Bridget/Siobhan switch! And yet he always seems like he’s about to have a nervous breakdown, and that’s not just Polaha’s default hurt facial expression, it’s the writing. And speaking of writing, Henry’s writing career is not going well. Still no word on whether he actually had a writing career in the past, or if he is an unusually boring dim-boy-toy-hipster who pursues fiction instead of visual art or style or other hobbies.
Oh, and Henry and Gemma have children! Did you know that? It must have been mentioned before. Where do they live? How old are they? Presumably old enough for boarding school, because they play no part in Henry and Gemma’s daily lives.
In Episode Six we enter public school. Within the first minute of Juliet’s first class, her nightmare occurs. This is not an exaggeration. She sits down, and a girl styled for the grunge nostalgia issue of Elle calls her “rich girl”, telegraphs eagerness for class war, and literally demands money. They have a violent altercation after, again, what appears to be Juliet’s very first hour of class at this school. The rest of the sullen plebes back Tessa’s word against Juliet’s. Andrew gets called in to the principal’s office, where Juliet’s teacher saves her bacon by lying that he saw Tessa start the fight.
Andrew’s parenting style is severely inconsistent. Last week he was outraged that his wife would accuse Juliet of lying about drugs, and particularly outraged at the idea of invading Juliet’s privacy by searching her room. Now he’s rejecting out of hand any attempt by Juliet to explain the fracas. And she does make a good point [“You do understand that today is my first day here, right? You understand why I wouldn’t have anyone rushing to my defense?”].
So the road is rocky at this ethnically heterogeneous high school that seems clean and new but has no other rich students. But from Juliet’s uncharacteristically nice behavior at the start of this week’s episode, I now think she’s being presented to us as a protagonist, so either she’ll make new friends and be enriched by the experience, or she’ll continue to have no friends and will try doing well in school instead of being vapid and thrill-seeking. Of course, both scenarios I envisioned at the beginning of this episode [becomes popular through the club-drug trade, or seduces a teacher] are still in play.
In the Bridget story, things are falling apart. There hasn’t been a bit part for a coded-gay guy in two weeks, because there’s no time for frivolity. Henry apparently came home to find Gemma missing and blood all over the place, spent a few hours incriminating himself, and now, just because Siobhan used to say she wished they could kill Gemma, he thinks Siobhan had something to do with it. Bridget/Siobhan fails to convince him either that she had nothing to do with it or that she doesn’t remember any of those conversations, and her emotionless denials look like nothing other than a series of statements that she intends to frame him for the murder. The next day an intruder sneaks into her room, wearing a hemp bracelet, and seizes her. After the commercial break it turns out to be Henry, and this time he’s in more of a mind to believe her. He must be, because she hasn’t come up with any more convincing arguments since yesterday. Polaha is once again done no favors by the script, having to suddenly trust Bridget/Siobhan while still seemingly being framed by her. Who the hell else could have killed/abducted his wife?
Speaking of the script, two characters in this episode make conversational use of the phrase “foul play”. I’ll be keeping an eye on that.
Back in the wine bars of Montmartre, the real Siobhan apparently is responsible for killing/abducting Siobhan. Her motives remain unclear, but her plan seems to be working. Not only does Henry do all that work to incriminate himself to protect her, Bridget then goes to the bloody dumpster and rifles through the evidence therein — first wearing Asami’s black gloves from Audition, then ostentatiously taking them off to fondle a broken vase, then calling 911 so Detective Saldano and Detective Towers can get her fingerprints. It’s also unclear whether the show knows identical twins don’t have identical fingerprints.
Meanwhile, Detective Kemper has isolated Noah Watts’s DNA from a pile of cigarette butts. How will the FBI ever solve any crimes when hitman no longer stand in one place smoking for hours as they wait for their quarry?
This episode has two more good songs, both of the moody and romantically torn variety [Mates of State, “Unless I’m Led” and Lindbergh Palace, “Scary”]. I also like the soulless dance song in the Audrina Patridge for Bongo by Kmart ads. With Professor Malcolm Ward about to show up in New York, I’m looking forward to seeing if any obscure hip-hop songs will be chosen for inclusion in Ringer.