Sunday, October 10, 2010

No Ordinary Family 1.02: "No Ordinary Marriage"

“It’s okay. You can say it. Best sidekick ever!”

So I think I’m really going to like this show. It’s not quite like the connection I felt to Pushing Daisies, and I still have some issues with characterization, especially with the kids, but “No Ordinary Marriage” was an enjoyable ride, and I look forward to following the Powells on more adventures. This episode mostly focused on the Powells continuing to adjust to their superpowers and trying to figure out when it’s appropriate to use those powers. Arguments over when to use their powers caused a lot of family drama in this episode, but I think by the end, the Powells were stronger as a family unit for having gone through that drama. We also learned that there is most definitely more to how they got their powers than we originally thought, which I think will keep things interesting for a while.

The episode opens with Jim doing his crime fighting thing. He’s trying to stop a bunch of bank robbers again. He’s not successful this time, but George pushes him to keep at it. George feels like Jim just needs more training. No superhero could do what they did from day one. Things overall at the Powell house are changing quite a bit. Jim is always “out jogging.” Stephanie is actually taking the time to make lunch for the kids. J.J. is actually studying and doing his homework. Daphne just looks at all this and notes how strange it is. Her problem doesn’t center around when to use her powers. Instead, she has to work to learn how to control them. Throughout the episode, she gets overwhelmed with hearing everyone’s thoughts. It really reminded me of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episode “Earshot”- one of my favorites.

Jim and Stephanie are both struggling to understand their powers in their own way. Stephanie is taking a scientific approach, of course. She and Katie discuss how, if they’re going to pin down the actual cause of the powers, they’re going to need a sample of water from Brazil. Katie’s already on it. Jim is still trying to pass tips along to Detective Cho by telling her an anonymous witness came forward and gave him a description to sketch. Cho isn’t buying it anymore, and Jim is forced to admit he was the witness. He doesn’t tell her about his powers though. Later, Jim continues his training/testing with George. They’re trying to figure out if Jim can stop a moving car. It turns out Jim’s strength isn’t quite what they were hoping, and George runs him over. George is pretty horrified until Jim gives him a rather pained thumbs-up to let Jim know he’s okay. Stephanie is pretty pissed when she finds out Jim is still continuing with his crime fighting. She’s upset that he broke his promise, and that he doesn’t really seem to care about the family. Crime fighting is a risky business, even for a guy with superpowers.

Stephanie can’t stay mad too long,though. She’s got other things to worry about. This really bitchy “supermom” at the kids’ school is goading Stephanie about the upcoming school fair. She basically accuses Stephanie of being a bad mom because she has a demanding job. As the daughter of a working mom who feels I am better off for it (never, ever growing up did I feel like there was something I couldn’t do because I’m female), this pushed all my buttons. Stephanie, empowered by her super speed giving her extra time, tells supermom that not only will she help with the school fair, she’ll chair a committee. The first school fair meeting doesn’t go well, to say the least. Stephanie’s got all sorts of amazing ideas, but she’s interrupted by a phone call from work. Supermom jumps all over her for that, of course. Katie is on the phone, and she tells Stephanie that Mr. King, Stephanie’s boss, wants to talk to Stephanie about her research right now because he has a meeting with the board of directors later that day.

Stephanie decides she’s going to get to her meeting by- what else- running. This doesn’t quite go how Stephanie expected, though. She’s running along when she gets a text from Jim. This distracts her, and she trips over a bicycle and goes skidding down the road at rather high speed. Jim patches her up, with an assist from Stephanie’s own super healing powers. Jim rightly points out that Stephanie’s use of her powers can be pretty dangerous, too. Stephanie gets Jim to say her three favorite words, “you were right.” Jim’s three favorite words are “I love you.” Yet another amusing reversal of gender stereotypes in the Powell household. They both agree that they will stop using their powers until they learn more about them. George is really upset when Jim gives him this news. It’s pretty obvious that George has been living vicariously through Jim. Jim sticks his foot in his mouth by telling George that if he had a family, he would understand why Jim had to call it quits.

Stephanie is actually the first to break the agreement. Katie has bad news. The very time sensitive water sample from Brazil was delivered to a scientist with a similar name in Flagstaff, Arizona, and a tropical storm has since hit Brazil and changed the chemistry of the water. Stephanie is desperate to find out an explanation for her powers, so she decides to run to Flagstaff to pick up the water sample. Meanwhile, J.J. has been accused of cheating because his super-smarts have led to a dramatic increase in his grades, and Jim gets a call from the school about it. Not only has J.J. been getting As, he’s been doing work that some post-docs can’t even do. Jim hasn’t figured out that J.J. has powers, though. Daphne is the only one who knows, because she saw him studying at the library. Jim immediately calls Stephanie to tell her what’s going on, and he is not at all happy when he finds out she’s in Flagstaff, because he gave up his crime fighting for her.

Jim and Stephanie do eventually make up from their argument, and they decide that the whole family will be going to the school fair. Daphne and J.J. protest, of course. George shows up just as they’re getting ready to leave, and to his chagrin, Jim doesn’t come with him on his latest crime fighting adventure. Without the knowledge of the Powells, George takes Jim’s sketch of the bank robbery suspect before leaving their house. There’s plenty of powers-talk between the Powells while at the fair. Daphne is a good big sister and gives J.J. some advice. She tells him not to get all A’s. His sudden academic improvement will be more believable that way. Daphne then gets overwhelmed by her telepathic powers again, and Stephanie sees this and tries to intervene. She takes Daphne on the Ferris wheel, where Daphne finally manages to start controlling her power. Jim is about to use his powers at the dunk tank on supermom’s husband, when Stephanie stops him. She goes to throw the ball instead, but after some more disparaging remarks by supermom and her idiotic husband, she gives the ball back to Jim and silently gives him permission to give it all he’s got. Supermom’s husband, of course, gets dunked.

George, predictably, shows up at the next bank that’s likely to be robbed. He’s showing Jim’s sketch of the suspect to the security guards when the robbers arrive. They spray some gunfire around, and everybody does what they’re told. George, hiding behind a pillar, manages to call Jim and tell him there’s trouble before the robbers find him and make him turn off the phone. Stephanie lets Jim go to try and save George. I’m not sure how I feel about the control Stephanie has over Jim. I like that she’s a successful, in charge woman, but I don’t like the implication that women can’t achieve something without emasculating their men. Anyway, when Jim arrives on the scene, the robbers are dragging George into their van. Jim gets in front of the van and finally manages to pull off his car flipping move, which he and George have dubbed the “Urlacher.” The move successfully stops the van, and George is amazingly not seriously injured. Detective Cho sees Jim running away from the scene, and later she confronts him about it. She tells him that if she ever sees him at a crime scene again, she’ll arrest him. Stephanie’s giving Jim a hard time, too. She says that one day she’s going to find a “cure” for their powers, and when that day comes, she’s going to make Jim give up crime fighting.

There’s a bit of wrapping up to do on the other ongoing plots of the episode. Daphne is feeling much more control, even in school. J.J. has scaled back and gets a B-, but his teacher is still very wary of him and thinks he’s still cheating. Stephanie and Katie look at the water and realize it’s completely normal and not the source of the powers. One of Dr. King’s minions has been kind of stalking Detective Cho throughout the episode. He sees her investigating the bank heist, and he shows up at the station to talk to her. When Cho gets home after her confrontation with Jim, the minion is there waiting for her. He uses telekinetic powers to take her gun. Then he lines up the gun, and as he leaves the apartment, we hear the gun fire.

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