Monday, November 15, 2010

No Ordinary Family 1.05: "No Ordinary Quake"

“You can have superpowers and I can’t have sources? This is what I do.”

“No Ordinary Quake” wasn’t really a stand-out episode of television, although it certainly wasn’t horrible, either. It was really more of the same, as far as “No Ordinary Family” goes. There were more silly high school plots (which I really, really could do without), more crime fighting, and more conspiracy and intrigue surrounding superpowers. There was some resolution to J.J.’s plot, for which I was grateful, because if you’ve been reading this blog, you know how much J.J. acting all self-righteous when he was hiding the fact that he had powers was bugging me. As for the other plots, there wasn’t really anything new brought to the table. Jim’s still crimefighting, Stephanie still doesn’t like it, there are still people other than the Powells with superpowers, and Daphne is still dealing with teen after school special stuff.

The episode opens with the Powells out for an afternoon of shoping at a wholesale club store. Stephanie is getting a new pair of running shoes (her super speed eats through shoes quickly). Jim is helping J.J. pick out a pair of cleats and telling J.J. how proud he is. J.J., of course is feeling the guilt. All of a sudden, there’s an earthquake. Jim and Stephanie shield their children as shelves come tumbling down around them. When it’s over, the Powells are safe, but one of the store employees is pinned beneath a pile of rubble. Jim decides to use his super strength to free her. J.J. looks at the situation, and his super genius gold writing vision kicks in. He can see that the debris Jim is about to lift will cause more damage, and he quickly yells at his father to remove another item instead. It makes the pile collapse perfectly around the woman. It’s a bit too perfect.

After J.J.’s feat of engineering, Stephanie wants to test him for powers. Jim thinks this is a bad idea, because it will undermine any trust they have with J.J. Stephanie is bound and determined to find out if J.J. has powers, though, so she tries to soften the blow with a story that she needs J.J. as a control due to his lack of powers. J.J. doesn’t get offended, but the wheels start turning as to how he’s going to submit a clean urine test. He first tries to delay, and that’s somewhat successful. He needs to drop his sample off at Stephanie’s lab the next day. J.J. makes the typical TV move of having a friend help him get a fake sample. The friend provides him with a sample that is not his own, but the friend guarantees it’s clean. When J.J. takes the sample to the lab, he sees Katie working on decrypting a file on her computer. The file once belonged to the last scientist to research the chromosomal abnormality that leads to superpowers. While Katie takes the sample to be tested, J.J. decides to do her a favor and finish the extremely complicated decryption.

In other teenage Powell news, when Daphne suggests her parents should get her a car, Stephanie tells her she should get a job. Daphne and Megan go to a sort-of far away coffee shop so Daphne can put in her application, and they have quite surprise. Their English teacher, Mr. Robbins, is sitting at a table talking to their classmate, Olivia. Both Mr. Robbins and Olivia act very cagey when approached by Daphne and Megan, so the girls immediately start to suspect something’s up. The snippets of thoughts Daphne’s heard don’t exactly shout out their innocence, either. Megan is especially gung ho about investigating this, and she tries questioning Olivia in the locker room before gym. Again, Daphne hears some thoughts that could be taken to mean Olivia had a relationship with Mr. Robbins. Stephanie advises Daphne to tell someone about the situation if she’s absolutely sure an inappropriate relationship has been going on. In one last effort to be sure, Daphne talks to Mr. Robbins directly. Mr. Robins denies a relationship with Olivia, but Daphne hears him think about how he thought he wouldn’t have these problems once he stopped sleeping with “her.” That’s all Daphne needs to hear to put a note about the situation in the principal’s mail box.

Jim’s plot for this episode revolves around the earth quakes, of course. George’s source for information is the DA’s secretary, and after protesting a bit, she tells him that they’re investigating the earthquake because it wasn’t actually an earthquake. George brings the case to Jim, telling Jim that he suspects a concussion grenade was used. The motive for setting of the grenade was to create a diversion so someone could rob a pharmacy. There’s surveillance footage of the robbery, but it’s locked up in evidence, and neither George nor Jim can get to it. George thinks it would be a great idea if Stephanie took the video. Jim, obviously, disagrees, but he doesn’t stop George when George lies to get Stephanie to do the job. George tells her that the surveillance footage might possibly show Jim doing his crimefighting thing. Stephanie, amongst much hemming and hawing, gets the tape. Jim and George sit down to watch, and they see the robber clearly. In the lamest act break ever (because why should this be such a huge deal?), it turns out that the robber is a woman. She’s been stealing anti-epilepsy meds.

Jim and Stephanie are arguing, as they do, when George calls Jim about a robbery in progress. Jim tries to protest, but he ends up jumping his way to the scene anyway. He sees Rebecca, the girl from the video, fleeing the scene, and he stops her. He says he doesn’t want to hurt her, but she’s not buying it. She calls up some powers and starts sending these waves at him. I guess we’ve found another superhero. Jim withstands the waves for a little bit, but soon he’s sent crashing into some concrete. Meanwhile, Katie calls J.J. into the lab about the decryption. She’s figured everything out, especially because if the urine sample J.J. submitted is to be believed, J.J. is pregnant. J.J. asks his friend why he gave him a sample from a pregnant girl, and of course the girl is J.J.’s friend’s girlfriend. It’s television, we couldn’t have it any other way. Katie had told J.J. she would keep his secret, but it doesn’t last for long. Stephanie asks her to rerun the algorithm used to decrypt the file, and when Katie can’t do it, she has to let the cat out of the bag.

Stephanie is furious yet again, but this time with J.J. She screams at him about lying while Jim just looks on kind of helpless. She wants J.J. to quit football because she thinks playing with powers is cheating. There isn’t too much time to deal with the drama, though, because Jim and Stephanie are due for a reception at the lab to honor the board members who have flown in to see Stephanie’s plant research. I thought it was kind of lame that the reception was actually at a lab. Wouldn’t a huge, rich research facility like Global Tech line up someplace swanky for an event like this? I imagine the truth has something more to do with the budget for the show limiting shooting locations than anything else.

Right as the reception is starting, Rebecca shows up in Dr. King’s office. She’s pissed because Dr. King had been keeping her locked up. Actually, keeping her locked up doesn’t sound all that unreasonable considering she’s fond of starting small earthquakes. She starts trying to use her powers against Dr. King, but Dr. King seems to have some sort of powers, too. He goes all Darth Vader and cuts off her air supply. When she passes out, Dr. King has his goons place Rebecca in a van to be taken back to the holding facility. The plan turns out to be pretty stupid, though, because Rebecca comes to and uses her powers to get herself out of the van. Jim feels the earthquake and runs to the parking garage to confront her. When Jim withstands her attack yet again, Rebecca realizes that he has powers too. She thinks that someone “got” him. Having powers doesn’t make Rebecca trust him, though. She convinces herself that the people who had been holding her would send a fellow powers-possessing person to recapture her because she would trust such a person. She holds him back with her powers, and eventually Jim passes out. Dr. King’s chief goon, The Watcher, arrives on the scene and knocks out Rebecca. He sees Jim lying on the ground, which will certainly have some serious implications in the future.

We end the episode by wrapping up the teenage drama. Olivia stops by the Powell house to confront Daphne about what she told the school principal. It turns out Mr. Robbins had been dating Olivia’s mom, not Olivia. He had become a sort of father figure to her. He and her mom recently broke up, and the lunch Daphne and Megan saw was to say goodbye to Olivia. Daphne apologizes to Olivia, but it doesn’t do much good. Daphne also goes to apologize to Mr. Robbins. He’s nice about it, applauding Daphne for wanting to protect her classmate, but he makes it clear that she’s caused his career quite a bit of trouble. J.J. is allowed to continue to play football, but before the game, Jim stops by the locker room for a chat. He tells J.J. that he thinks J.J. can be the person he wants to be without the help of powers. At a critical point in the game, J.J. decides to run with the ball instead of pass, and he comes close to making a touchdown. Holy cheesy ending, Batman.

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