Episode Eight: “Maybe We Can Get a Dog Instead”

Three things happen in this episode.

  • The pregnancy is finally addressed.
  • Malcolm comes face-to-face with Bridget, and then Charlie.
  • Juliet starts trying to seduce her teacher.

How much drama is brought about? It should be an emotional workout, especially with Malcolm’s wrenching descent into addiction [brought about by Bodaway’s thugs injecting him with the pure stuff, remember]. But the lead actors each have a default facial expression that mutes the importance of everything. Sarah Michelle Gellar looks confused as Bridget and knowing as Siobhan. Kristoffer Polaha looks hurt. Zoey Deutch looks hurt. Tara Summers looked hearty and optimistic before she found out about the affair, then she looked miserable. Mike Colter looks grimly determined. There are only two whose face, in my mental image of them, is not frozen into a single expression. Ioan Gruffudd and Billy Miller.

Good for Billy, since he first appeared in Episode Five and already I can imagine him smiling, frowning, frustrated, confident, nervous, determined. He’s my one hope that the show will be saved from a morass of carefully-congealing plot developments forecast hours in advance. As for Ioan Gruffudd, he’s a film actor. Maybe I just don’t like TV drama acting. Maybe it requires different skills, maybe maintaining an immediately recognizable persona, including mood, is essential for the story to maintain coherence from month to month. But it’s making Ringer hard to approach with any prospect of excitement.

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So, Episode Seven ended with Bridget-as-Siobhan about to get a sonogram after her memorial-architectual-exhibition fainting spell. She’ll be revealed as not really pregnant, thus not really Siobhan! Now we see the results … nothing. Oh no. Awk.ward! Actually, all that ensues are outpourings of sympathy for a presumed ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. Everyone is shattered. It’s only been … three weeks since the pregnancy test? Even Juliet offers her some tea. And Bridget makes a real blooper by telling Andrew she doesn’t want to try again for a child soon — “just want to go back to the way things were.”

Andrew starts behaving like a jerk, pointing out that that’s the way things were. She cheers him up by arriving unexpected to his business lunch with … Tyler! Remember Tyler, the sculpted-torsoed youngster Siobhan’s been using for companionship and company secrets, over in Paris? Andrew’s going to promote him to replace the guy Andrew blames for losing the company secrets that Tyler lost. So, Bridget sits next to him. Imagine his confusion, especially since the few neurons in his skull seem entirely occupied by women and classy nightlife. Really, imagine the conversation. Bridget-as-Siobhan talks about the things she’s been doing lately, as Tyler gapes at her apparent skill at lying … Tyler tries to talk about Paris, and Andrew and Olivia are perplexed at why he won’t believe she hasn’t been there. It could be an interesting complication to the familiar switched-identity business. We don’t see that — we just see Tyler whisper to her that he didn’t realize he was sleeping with the boss’s wife. Tension fizzles, yet again.

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Malcolm’s story gathers momentum. Just in this episode Agent Machado finds Malcolm and forces Bridget-as-Siobhan to talk to him; she shrewdly and bravely passes Malcolm a note revealing her true identity; she cleverly gets mad at Machado after the aborted conversation [“What the hell was that? You didn’t tell me Bridget’s friend was a drug addict!”]; she brings Malcolm to meet Andrew; she mentions to Charlie that her old sponsor is in town; she tells Charlie his name [uh-oh]; and she brings Malcolm to meet Charlie. And stay with him. This story is racing forward. Something suspenseful could have happened in the period when Charlie knew her sponsor was in town, but knew nothing else. But that period lasted less than a minute.

Will there be Native American drug lords, George?

Anyway, Malcolm’s now at Charlie’s apartment and mercy. How long is Charlie going to keep doing what Siobhan wants? When will we find out what’s in it for him, with all this crazy criminality and betrayal? And what’s her plan?

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Juliet is very much in the background of Episode Eight, despite uttering the title once again. At the beginning she’s feeling betrayed by Mr. C’s recommendation to have her transferred to another class. She suggests that they should get together and watch “Of Mice and Men, the original with Burgess Meredith”. Which he owns on DVD. Truly, a “smart” character in a TV show can’t be smarter than the writers, and a character who supposedly owns old movies on DVD can’t have a better notion than the writers do of what old movies people watch. Then at the end she barges in on his “Young Samaritans Club” meeting. It would be really nice if we saw any other teachers at this school so we’d have some context for this obsession of hers. Is he a diamond in the rough, a gem in an ocean of slugs, a flower in a pot of dirt?

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Ancillary note: No noticeable songs until right at the end, when this quite nice High Highs song plays over the Malcolm-being-welcomed-by-all montage. Any other music was overshadowed by the Miss Dior ads featuring “Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus”. That song may be important and unique but it’s almost impossible to actually sit there and listen to. And to listen to thirty seconds of it five times in five unskippable commercial breaks? Please, bring back Audrina Patridge and her porkpie hat.