Thursday, December 23, 2010

No Ordinary Family 1.07: "No Ordinary Mobster"

“I know you told me not to, but you can never tell me to not help you, George. Never.”

I actually really liked this episode of “No Ordinary Family.” I think I probably liked it because it focused less on the kids (although there was a little time devoted to the kids) and more on the adults and the greater conspiracy surrounding the powers. Despite that attempt I just made to sound really smart in my TV criticism, I think a huge reason why I liked this episode was that the wonderful Amy Acker, of “Angel” and “Dollhouse” fame, was guest starring. She was an ADA and a love interest for George, and the two of them were just plain adorable together. I’d like to see a lot more of her character on the show, although a quick check of IMDb has me doubting that my wish will come true. I’ll take what I can get, I suppose, because what we got was great.

The episode opens with Jim and Stephanie planning a surprise birthday party for George. Everybody but Stephanie knows George will figure it out beforehand, but they humor her anyway. There’s also some rather fun using superpowers to decorate business. While all the planning and decorating is going on, George is in court. He’s prosecuting an Albanian mobster named Luka, with Amy Acker, whose character is named Amanda, as co-counsel. Luka is found not guilty, which is pretty devastating to George and Amanda. George indulges in a moment of really seriously bad judgment and threatens Luka, telling him that he’ll be coming after his boss next. Smooth move, threatening a mobster.

George acts appropriately surprised when he gets to his party, and the Powells are all thrilled to meet Amanda. Stephanie says she call tell Amanda is into him, throwing out some scientific jargon to explain her opinion. It’s pretty funny when she stops herself, saying she’s been spending too much time around Katie. Jim tells George he ought to ask Amanda out. After the party, George and Amanda share some serious cuteness in George’s car before Amanda steps out to go inside her house. Although they haven’t committed completely to a date yet, they do kiss. Unfortunately, the happiness and cuteness doesn’t last for long. As Amanda turns towards the door of her house, she is shot. It’s clearly a hit by the Albanian mob. George rushes to her side and calls 911, but things aren’t looking good. As soon as this happened, I realized I should have known that something this violent would occur. It is Amy Acker, alum of multiple Joss Whedon shows, after all! Stuff like this has most definitely happened to her characters before.

Amanda survived the shooting, although she’s in the hospital and in a coma. Jim stops by the hospital to visit George, who is keeping vigil. George feels like the whole mess is his fault. The trial of Luka’s boss was one of George’s first case, and apparently, George messed it up pretty badly. Jim wants to go after the Albanian mob and clean up the town (as always), but George says “no.” It’s interesting that there’s a bit of role reversal here. Often, it’s George who pushes Jim to take on or pursue cases when Jim is feeling reluctant (usually because of Stephanie’s whining, of course). I think George liked the cool-factor of playing superhero until the whole thing hit a little too close to home.

In teen-land (my least favorite place to be on “No Ordinary Family”), Daphne makes a date to the art museum with a popular guy who just broke up with his horrid, screechy girlfriend. She uses the fact that her dad is an artist to impress him. Only problem with that is she doesn’t actually know much about art, and cramming the knowledge isn’t working. Daphne then gets a rather brilliant idea. She tells J.J. to start reading her art books so he can teach her. Then she takes it a step further. J.J. is, essentially, going to be her Cyrano, feeding her intelligent-sounding lines about the art as she and her date walk through the museum. The date goes very well, ends with a kiss, and Daphne is on cloud nine. Unfortunately, Daphne is later crushed when she sees that the popular boy is back together with his screechy ex. Near the end of the episode, the boy stops by the Powell house to talk to Daphne. He apologizes for not telling her he was getting back together with his ex, and he says he may have chosen the wrong girl. Which is such douche move and can’t end well.

Staying in teen-land so we can get it all over with, Stephanie and Katie decide that Katie is going to tutor J.J. He needs to be challenged more than he’s getting from school. J.J.’s got a little geek crush on Katie, so he’s fine with the idea. Katie seems a bit down during one of their study sessions, and she reveals she was stood up by a guy she met online. Later that day, J.J. tells Daphne he wants to help Katie somehow. Daphne replies that “you can’t invent the perfect guy,” which , of course, gives J.J. a really bad idea. He heads for the online dating site Katie uses and starts creating a fake profile. Katie is smitten with “Will,” the persona J.J. created, and Stephanie convinces her to ask him to meet for dinner. This has J.J. in quite a pickle, obviously.

Getting back to the more interesting stuff, Dr. King calls Stephanie into his office to warn her to stay away from the Volson research. He doesn’t want it to destroy her career too. So he says. Stephanie seems ready to take his advice, but Katie throws her off track. Katie has found Volson’s elusive widow. She lives in Mexico. Katie even has an armful of protein bars to get Stephanie through the trip. Stephanie just can’t resist the opportunity to finally figure out what has been going on with her family. Against her better judgment, she starts running to Mexico. It turns out Volson’s widow was expecting Stephanie to stop by at some point. She tells Stephanie that Volson was fired for bringing home injections of what he was working on from the lab. The injections helped Mrs. Volson, who is in a wheelchair when Stephanie meets her, to walk. Mrs. Volson also has unfortunate news, though. According to her, the effects of the compound were only temporary.

Despite George’s warnings, Jim goes after Luka. Jim finds Luka in the middle of trying to shake someone down for money owed. Jim manages to save the victim, and he starts attacking Luka. Luka gets one over on him though, and pulls off his mask. As sirens approach, Jim has to leave Luka on the ground and flee. To make matters worse, Dr. King’s Watcher has been observing the whole situation, too. Luka is arrested, and George tries to make a plea deal with him. This backfires, because Luka turns to blackmail. He’s convinced the police department has a “super cop,” and he threatens to use the police department database to ID the super cop unless George lets him completely off the hook. George is at a loss for what to do.

After a little heart to heart with Jim, George has another meeting with Luka and Luka’s attorney. George gives a big, fancy speech to convince Luka to take a plea deal that involves testifying against his boss. Luka finally agrees. It’s kind of a lame resolution to the plot, but you know what Aaron Sorkin says about great oratory. It can blow the doors of the place. Apparently. George then goes to the hospital, where Amanda is miraculously finally out of her coma. They’re very cute, yet again. They kiss, yet again. And they also commit to go on a date (finally) once Amanda has recovered.

At the police station, the Watcher manages to slip into the elevator in which Luka is being transported. When the elevator door opens again, Luka is dead. That’s yet another person who has discovered Jim’s powers who is now dead. I’m really, really curious about the Watcher’s loyalties and motives. The web of intrigue only gets more complicated in the final moments of the episode. We see that Mrs. Volson was paid by Dr. King to make up the story about her superpowers only being temporary, and she most definitely can still walk. Stephanie stops by Dr. King’s office to thank him for waiving her off the Volson research. As soon as Dr. King can shoo Stephanie out of his office, the Watcher appears. Dr. King wants him to start watching Stephanie, because clearly, she’s on to something. The Watcher warns that this could be complicated. Next thing we know, he’s pretending to be “Will,” the online persona J.J. created, and showing up for the date with Katie.

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