Episode Nine: “Shut Up and Eat Your Bologna”

This week we have three developments. One is the introduction of another new character who knew Siobhan well and helpfully tells Bridget-as-Siobhan how she should be behaving. [That hasn’t happened in a few weeks.] The second is the welcome appearance of a suspenseful sequence that lasts more than five seconds. The third is OH MY GOD GEMMA IS TIED UP IN CHARLIE’S BASEMENT.

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Bridget finds out that Siobhan was visiting a therapist, so she makes an appointment. Dr. Anabel Morris [Merle Dandridge] kicks it off by saying “Now, before we begin, I just have to ask – why are you calling yourself Siobhan Martin?” Commercial break! It turns out that Siobhan normally uses the same pseudonym here that she’s using with her boy-toy in Paris. Over the course of their hour, Dr. Anabel Morris tells her “You usually sit in the armchair,” “You never use your real name,” “Discretion has always been very important to you,” and “Siobhan. You know I didn’t prescribe those anti-depressants for depression.” All this while showing no curiosity about her patient’s apparent amnesia.

Later she catches Bridget sneaking back into the office to look for clues to who might be trying to kill Siobhan. REMEMBER THAT? The guy who tried to shoot Bridget early in her impersonating career? And the tall blond guy who followed her around menacingly for a bit? What happened to him? Bridget reminds Malcolm, and us, that the real reason she’s kept up living Siobhan’s life is to figure out what these assassination attempts are all about.

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"Wouldn't be rehab without an 8-cup-a-day habit."

Malcolm’s been busy thinking. There are clues that Charlie and his apartment are not what they seem. The fact that he has alcohol-containing Listerine in the house means it’s probably a Potemkin house and/or he’s not a real recovering alcoholic. Malcolm presumably thinks Charlie is in with Bodaway because otherwise these suspicions would be quite paranoid. [Paranoia is what Siobhan was getting the medicine for, BTW.] Apparently Charlie gets mail at this address [9600 Colonial Road, Brooklyn] addressed to a John Delario, who also lives at 8440 Louise Terrace, Brooklyn. Bridget goes to The Rectory, a bar where Charlie might be, and he’s there.

Charlie: I haven’t had a drink in 5 days. Stop judging, and start pouring.
Barmaid: Anything you say, John.

Zounds! She asks another employee “Have you ever seen him here with … me?” I like that line. “No. He’s always drinking whiskey, he’s always on his cell.” Charlie gets back in touch with Siobhan to say that Malcolm’s under control for now and doesn’t have to be TIED UP IN THE BASEMENT LIKE GEMMA HOLY CRAP.

It would be hard to hit us faster than this with these Charlie/John discoveries. But what does take a little while to develop is Malcolm poking around Charlie’s other place to try to retrieve Bridget’s gun. Gemma is in the basement and detects that someone other than C/J might be upstairs. She thrashes around. Malcolm walks through the kitchen at five inches per minute, almost unlocks the basement, and leaves with nothing in particular. But Bridget didn’t warn him soon enough. Charlie knows he was there.

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Finally, the marriage and family.

Marriage: Andrew is becoming an old softy [“I guess I want to be the man she thinks I am”], and Olivia doesn’t like it. She doesn’t believe now is the wrong time to hit up Gemma’s old man Arbogast for his millions of investable monies. She rips up Henry’s dividend reinvestment thing and goes to his house to have a chat and make him sign some other thing. This might be Ringer‘s first scene in which two of Siobhan’s longtime associates talk ABOUT Bridget/Siobhan. Henry ducks out to check on the kids, and Olivia snoops into his cell phone. I assumed she was looking for Arbogast’s contact info, and maybe she is, but she gets distracted by a photo of Henry and Siobhan in love. She hadn’t suspected that. And just when Andrew is losing his edge and screwing up Olivia’s business by falling for Siobhan’s womanly distractions. This is valuable knowledge.

Family: We see Henry and Gemma’s kids! They exist! Two adorable redheaded boys. Does this mean we’re to believe Gemma’s hair is naturally that color? Dear lord. We don’t see Juliet or her hot English teacher at all this week.

Let’s take a step back and assess Ringer in general. Frankly I don’t look forward to the episodes, despite the fine musical selections [this week The Raveonettes, “Apparitions” and Adeline, “Stereo”] and the show’s ability to keep multiple balls in the air without seeming frantic. And I don’t think I’ll stick with it in the new year. Why is this?

Maybe it’s that the show isn’t melodramatic enough. The characters spend very little time arguing. And there’s a heavy emphasis on presenting a realistic and nuanced portrait of drug addiction, which intersects with everything else, meaning everything else has to be somewhat grounded and reflective.  The ridiculousness of the Gemma disappearance has now been resolved. The ridiculous fun-ness of the body-switch plot is made un-ridiculous by the fact that Bridget, Siobhan, and Bridget-as-Siobhan look, talk, and act the same. Back in the fall we were looking forward to Ringer and Revenge as equally likely to be trashy, fascinating entertainments. It’s clear now that only Revenge qualifies.

And the characters aren’t plausible enough for us to be satisfied by watching them in these non-ridiculous situations. Major plot elements are ignored for week after week — it’s not just that they don’t figure in the plot, they pass out of the characters’ heads completely. And the biggest one of all – what is Siobhan doing? Why is she manipulating everyone? Who is she TRYING to manipulate, and who just happened to stumble into the web? This is all a mystery. But the thing is, it’s just as much of a mystery now as when we first realized Siobhan was alive. No potential motives have been suggested.  Are we ever going to see her for more than a minute per episode? Is Gellar ever going to get a chance to make Siobhan a separate character from Bridget? I’ll give them one more chance.