Saturday, December 4, 2010

No Ordinary Family 1.06: "No Ordinary Visitors"

“As much as I’d like to believe sex is one of my superpowers, honey, I’m pretty sure this belongs in a different argument.”

“No Ordinary Visitors” was an interesting episode in the sense that it at least introduced some new characters, Stephanie’s parents, and gave us some background about Stephanie and Jim and their relationship. Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, as what we got was rather overblown and caricature-like. The crime of the week was especially frightening when it first happened, but that potential wasn’t really used once we got over the initial shock. In fact, the consequences of the crime weren’t even as severe as we were originally led to believe. It was kind of downplayed next to all the Powell family drama. I’m not really sure if that’s a good thing or not. I generally prefer character work and serialized storytelling to procedurals, but “No Ordinary Family” seems to be swinging back and forth, trying to figure out what it’s going to be.

The episode opens with a contrast between the Powells and the family that is going to become the victims of the crime of the week. Both are victims of a home invasion of sorts. The non-Powell family is confronted with a literal home invasion. The really scary kind. They are just going about their usual evening activities. The son, whose name we later learn is Trent, is happily engrossed in video games while his parents exasperatedly try to call him for dinner. The doorbell rings, and the mom goes to answer it. She’s met by a band of masked men who start to tie her up. Her husband tries to stop the crime and gets badly beaten for his trouble. Similarly, the Powells are bustling around their house when there’s a knock on the door. Stephanie nonchalantly says she’ll get it, and I half believed for a moment that she’d be greeted by robbers, too. It just turned out to be her parents, which I suppose, for Stephanie, was almost as bad. They’re stereotypically judgmental, especially about Stephanie’s decision to marry Jim. You’d think after all these years they’d be over it. The Powells make a quick family decision not to tell the grandparents about their powers. Jim’s not terribly thrilled about the decision, because he sees the powers as an opportunity to finally get his in-laws’ approval, but he goes with it.

Jim’s not really getting his way at work, either. He sees the mom and son from the family who were victims of the “real” home invasion at the police station. The dad is in the hospital from his injuries, but expected to survive. Taylor, the son, is in school with Daphne, so Jim feels comfortable just starting a conversation with them. Cordero, his boss, however, shoos Jim away, reminding him that since the robbers had masks on the entire time, the family can’t give him a description to sketch. Later, George tries to convince Jim to take the case despite Cordero’s disapproval and the in-law invasion. Jim holds fast and says he has to keep the crimefighting on the down low while Stephanie’s parents are in town. George has a hilarious little comment about the “terrorists” (aka Stephanie’s parents) winning. Daphne’s also been doing a little investigating on her own. She talks to Trent, and he claims he didn’t see the robbers because he was engrossed in his video game. Daphne can hear that he’s lying, though. She touches his arm to stop him from walking away, and she sees a vision of the robbery.

Jim and Stephanie are going to have to work harder than they thought to keep their family’s secret from the grandparents. Stephanie’s parents are quite the snoops, and they confront Stephanie and Jim about their findings. They want to know why Stephanie has so many pairs of cheap shoes and why her night table drawer is full of protein bars. They also want to know why Jim is taking phone calls and rushing off to “work” at all hours. The Powells hold a family meeting in response to all the snoopage. Jim is really enthusiastic about Daphne now having visions. The two start conspiring about how Daphne is going to try and talk to Trent again so she can get a detailed enough picture of one of the robbers for Jim to sketch, but Stephanie puts a stop to the discussion. Everybody switches gears to put a plan in place for the next day to make things seem as normal as possible to Stephanie’s parents.

Convincing Stephanie’s parents that everything is normal is made more difficult when George calls Jim in the middle of the night. George is going out patrolling for the robbers, and he wants Jim to join him. Jim hesitates at first, but George manages to guilt Jim into it. Unfortunately for Jim, Stephanie’s dad sees him sneak out of the house. Meanwhile, George gets pulled over by a local cop. It’s really an inconsequential scene, except for the fact that this cop shows up again. What made me include it here was that George totally lawyered the cop to get out of the situation, ranting about his fourth and fourteen amendment rights. As a constitutional law nerd and civil libertarian, I enjoyed that very much. It was both educational and funny!

Despite her parents’ direct orders (because really, when has that ever stopped her before), Daphne talks to Trent again. This time she gets the full vision of what happened to Trent during the robbery. A robber who has his mask off due to an injury creeps up behind Trent with a gun. He’s about to shoot when another robber says that they don’t kill kids. The first robber warns Trent that if he gives the police a description, he’ll come back and kill Trent and the rest of his family. Daphne shows up at the police station while Jim’s working, and she manages to convince Jim to sketch what she saw. Jim takes the sketch to Cordero. Jim and Daphne were concerned that Daphne’s information could put Taylor in danger, so Jim begs Cordero to keep the sketch on the down low. He tells Cordero to think of the victim as much as the criminal for once, which doesn’t really go over well.

The rest of the Powells are spending the day trying to convince Stephanie’s parents that they’re all still normal. Stephanie brings her mom to the lab. Her mom seems to love Katie, so Stephanie invites Katie to dinner to act as a sort of buffer. Katie doesn’t see anything wrong with Stephanie’s mom, and she tells Stephanie that maybe she should try to rethink things. Katie has to eat her words just seconds later, though, when Stephanie’s mom makes a nasty comment about Stephanie spending time away from her kids for work. Meanwhile, J.J. and his grandfather are playing pool, and J.J. is letting grandpa win. Jim shows up just as they’re finishing their game, and of course Stephanie’s dad has to start talking smack about him. Jim then gives J.J. permission to go to town on him in the next pool game- J.J. doesn’t have to let grandpa win anymore. This especially good for J.J., because grandpa has bet his prize car on the game. J.J. wins it, of course.

The crime of the week plot kicks into high gear when the Powells are shocked t see that Cordero sent the sketch t the local news station, and it’s all over the television. Jim runs off to try to fix the situation, but it’s too late. The robber Trent saw unmasked has just seen his face on television. Even though Cordero has promised he has a uniform watching Trent’s house, Jim and George decide to try and stake out the house too. Stephanie sets out a beautiful dinner while Jim is out, hoping to impress her mother. Her mom likes it all right, but she of course has to fit in a zinger about how it will be cold by the time Jim gets home. Stephanie texts Jim to come home immediately. George assures Jim that going home is fine- George will take it from here. Jim probably would have been better off not going home, really. Stephanie’s dad ruins dinner by accusing Jim of heating on Stephanie. Poor Katie is stuck right in the middle of the awkward of it all. Stephaie sticks up for Jim, and she’s so upset that she leaves the house for a “run.”

Meanwhile, George is trying to get off the roof from which he’s been spying on Trent’s house. One of Jim’s powerful jumps got him up there in the first place, but he has no help getting down. He’s understandably distracted, and he misses the fact that the robber is approaching the house. The robber goes up to the police car (which is occupied by the cop George lawyered earlier) and knocks the cop out cold. Thankfully, not too much time passes before George manages to get himself off the roof, sees the passed out cop, and calls Jim. Meanwhile, the robber is already in Trent’s house. Trent hears a noise and tries to hide. The robber finds him, though. Trent swears up and down that he didn’t tell the police a thing, but the robber still is approaching like he’s going to kill him. Jim rushes in and saves Trent just in time by grabbing him and jumping out the window. Jim asks Trent to keep what happened on the down-low, and he rushes off before the cops arrive.

Back at the Powell house, Stephanie tells Jim that she wants to tell her parents about their powers. Stephanie talks about how she wants to be closer to her parents. Her dad happens to be eavesdropping (again), and he sees how loving Stephanie and Jim are with each other. Reconciliations happen between all generations of the Powell clan, really. Daphne talks to Trent again, and she once again touches his arm. This seems to be becoming a habit with her! Even though Trent assured her that nothing unusual contributed to his rescue, Daphne sees a vision of her dad saving Trent. As Stephanie’s parents are getting ready to leave, Stephanie starts to tell the truth. Her dad cuts her off, though. He thinks Jim’s been keeping a crazy schedule because he’s been doing volunteer work. Jim thinks they should leave it at that, and everybody’s happy. Grandpa even keeps up his end of the pool bet and lets J.J. keep the car. Stephanie says the car is J.J.’s, but Daphne can drive it until J.J. is old enough to drive. Everybody’s happy, and the younger two generations of Powells (well, Stephanie’s parents aren’t really Powells, but I don’t know their last name, so I’ll just group them in with the rest) go for a long, happy drive. The car breaks down and it doesn’t even phase them- they all use their superpowers to fix it. Clearly this family bliss can’t last long.

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