Sunday, March 27, 2011

No Ordinary Family 1.18: "No Ordinary Animal"

“You have three degrees, Mr. Lichfield, and you’re teaching high school. Since when has knowledge helped you achieve anything?”
-Dr. King

“No Ordinary Animal” ratcheted up the stakes for the Powell clan and their friends for sure. What was essentially “No Ordinary Family’s” take on a werewolf movie put everyone in danger and almost cost Stephanie and Daphne their lives. On a lighter note, I’m amused and intrigued by the direction in which they’re taking Katie. Still, with the show overall, I feel like the movement we’ve been getting in the plot lines lately is too little, too late. I would have liked to have seen the Powells defeat one villain, Dr. King, before bringing in a new villain in the form of Mrs. X. I have a feeling that Dr. King is going to be the Benjamin Linus of “No Ordinary Family.” Now Ben is still my all time favorite TV villain, and his marginalization in favor of the Man in Black and all the machinations going on above his pay grade on “Lost” still makes me bitter. Dr. King hasn’t reached Ben levels, but he still was creepy and had some potential. Pushing him aside in favor of someone above his pay grade, Mrs. X, is just disappointing. In this episode we really get to start seeing the marginalization of Dr. King.

The episode opens with a scene that feels very much like a horror movie homage. A woman is jogging through the park, and she starts hearing rustling noises. Instead of jogging the hell away from the troubling noises, she pauses to investigate. And of course, she gets attacked for her trouble. We can hear growls and see the results of some really big claws. I immediately suspected that the culprit was probably Lucas, the Death Row prisoner Stephanie helped turn into a supe in the last episode. When they hear the story of what happened, George and Jim are instantly suspicious. This park isn’t really known for its wildlife at all, let alone vicious wildlife. They’re on the case, and they’re going to try to figure out what really happened. Jim has the exact same theory I did, that a supe did it, but Stephanie is skeptical. Jim finally wants Stephanie in on an investigation, probably because in this case, she’s in the best position to do the investigation. He wants her to look through Dr. King’s records to see if any supes could turn into an animal as their superpower.

The teen land stories in this episode are as vapid as ever, although they do actually have some ramifications for the mythology and the episode’s overall plot. Daphne is really excited because Sarah Bareilles, her favorite singer, is shooting a music video in Pacific Bay. She innocently tells Chris about it just because she thinks it’s really cool that Sarah Bareilles is going to be in town, but Chris thinks that means Daphne wants to ditch class to go to the shoot. Daphne is really reluctant to ditch class at first, but Chris encourages her, and she eventually agrees. Meanwhile, J.J. is very unhappy with academic decathlon. Mr. Lichfield is making him do more difficult practice problems than the rest of the team. When he is assigned a complex biochemical equation to balance, J.J. has had it. He complains to Mr. Lichfield, who predictably, shows him no sympathy whatsoever.

Stephanie talks to Dr. King about the potential werewolf supe, and Dr. King assures her that it wasn’t one of “theirs.” He’s wrong or lying, of course. Or maybe a bit of both. Mrs. X is making her limo appointments again, and this time she’s talking to Lucas. She’s extremely upset about the murder in the park, because Lucas left a body, and a body can be traced back to them. Lucas smarmily dismisses any chances of trouble, but that doesn’t placate Mrs. X. She commands Lucas to “go fetch.” Not surprisingly, when George and Jim arrive at the coroner’s office, the coroner is dead, the body is gone, and there’s lots of blood. I found this part of the episode frustrating, because we already know exactly what happened, but George and Jim are still fumbling to figure it out. When recapping the latest developments for Stephanie, Jim sees a story about yet another animal attack come on the TV news. Of course he has to hightail it to the crime scene. Again, there’s lots of blood and no body. Stephanie shows up pretty quickly too, and she takes a superspeed run through the place. She snatches a vial right out of a poor CSI’s hands, and not surprisingly, it’s a vial of the trilsettum serum.

Chris, for some reason, is really set on getting Daphne to ditch class for the music video shoot (any excuse to get out of class, I guess), so he goes to J.J. for help. Daphne had said she would consider ditching if she finished her history paper, so Chris asks J.J. if he’ll write it for her. J.J.’s not enthused about the idea of doing his sister’s homework, so Chris, since Daphne told him about her family’s powers, resorts to blackmail. Why is J.J. always the one blackmailed on this show? He’s just a kid! Daphne, surprisingly, isn’t horrified when J.J. confronts her about knowing what she told Chris and how he knows it (ie the blackmail). The siblings end up striking a bargain. J.J. will write the paper if Daphne will read Mr. Lichfield’s mind to find out why he’s assigning J.J. such difficult problems. Oh the trials and tribulations of teen Powell life. The difficult problems are, of course, related to something Dr. King wants, and Mr. Lichfield gets a rather threatening phone call from Dr. King in this episode. Near the end of the episode, Daphne reads Mr. Lichfield’s thoughts and finds out he’s worried about what “he” will do if J.J. doesn’t figure out the equation that will make superpowers permanent. The promise of this formula is the only thing that is keeping Dr. King out of deep trouble with Mrs. X.

After doing some investigating, Jim, Stephanie, and George figure out that their killer is targeting fellow supes. The runner had trilsettum in her blood. George isn’t sure that’s an entirely bad thing, but he’s forced to retreat from that position pretty quickly following some looks of death from Jim and Stephanie. Meanwhile, we see that their theory is right. Lucas approaches Katie as she’s taking groceries out of the car, and he starts asking about Joshua. Katie insists that Joshua is long gone and never coming back, but Lucas sniffs the air and insists Katie is the person he needs to kill. Somehow, Katie is able to push Lucas away with telekinesis and sends him sprawling. Jim and Stephanie come over to help her with the situation, and Katie’s powers get more intense as she gets more agitated. By the end of the episode, we find out that these new powers are happening because Katie is pregnant. Jim and Stephanie aren’t really processing what’s happening to Katie, though. They’re more concerned about Daphne and J.J. now that they’ve confirmed the killer is targeting supes. Even though it seems heartless, their decision turns out to be pretty smart. Lucas calls Mrs. X to tell her there are supes out there who weren’t on her list, including the Powells. His new orders are that anyone with trilsettum in their blood dies.

Stephanie pulls J.J. out of school, and once he finds out the gravity of the situation, J.J. tells his mom about Daphne and Chris ditching. Chris has been goading Daphne into using her powers all afternoon, and he’s not endearing himself to me at all. First he gets her to mind push the vice principal, played by “Star Trek: Voyager’s” Robert Picardo, when he catches them trying to ditch. What is it with Star Trek actors playing high school administrators? Armin Shimmerman was Principal Snyder on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” after all. When they arrive at the video shoot, Daphne and Chris aren’t let in because they aren’t on the list. Chris gets Daphne to mind push the bouncer, and she not only gets the bouncer to let them in, she gets him to lead them to the front row, too. By the end of the episode, Chris tells Daphne he has a “wish list” of things she can do with her powers- he’s seriously bad news.

Jim draws a sketch of the killer with help from Katie, and when Stephanie sees it, she instantly recognizes Lucas. Lucas, meanwhile, is lurking around the Powell house. He goes into Daphne’s room and sees a Sarah Bareilles flyer. Stephanie confronts him, and he stabs her fairly severely with one of his claws. When Stephanie doesn’t make it back from her trip to the house, Jim goes after her. He finds her bleeding on the floor, but she refuses to go to the hospital, thinking her super healing will do the trick. Jim and J.J. really need to find Daphne before she gets stabbed too, so J.J. hacks Daphne’s cell phone. He finds a text that mentions “Sarah B.,” so now they know where she is. Unfortunately, Lucas makes it to the video shoot first and tries to trick Daphne into coming with him. He concocts this ridiculous story about how he’s from Daphne’s school, and he’s there to break the bad news about his mom’s attack. The whole thing makes no sense, and it makes even less sense that Daphne even buys it for a few seconds.

Jim arrives at the music video shoot just in time to save Daphne from Lucas. Lucas and Jim have a bit of a fight, but Jim is able to best Lucas pretty quickly. Jim starts just wailing on Lucas, and Daphne begs him to stop. She just wants Jim to call the police instead of doling out his own justice. Jim agrees, and they go to check on Stephanie. Her condition has seriously worsened. Jim decides to take her to the one doctor they can trust (since he’s involved in the whole superpower mess), Dr. King. It turns out that Stephanie has a drug resistant staph infection from her wound. Jim insists that Dr. King use the trilsettum serum on Stephanie because of its healing powers. Dr. King is reluctant because of the side effects, but he eventually gives in. When she recovers, thanks to the trilsettum, Stephanie decides to go for a run. She runs faster than she ever has before, and it looks like she’s starting to disintegrate.

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