Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No Ordinary Family 1.20: "No Ordinary Beginning"

“I’ll find Jim. You save the world.”
-Dr. King

Last week the season (and probably series) finale of “No Ordinary Family” aired on ABC. I feel slightly more sad about the likelihood of this series ending than I did about the demise of “FlashForward” last year, but not by all that much. I think the difference between the two is that “No Ordinary Beginning” set up some very intriguing paradigm shifts for a potential next season, while the finale of “FlashForward” was more frustrating sameness. Of course, because this is “No Ordinary Family,” some things were wrapped up too neatly too quickly for my taste, but overall, there was some good stuff. I like that it looks like on the off chance the show is renewed, we’ll have a formidable new villain for next season, and I like that the Powell’s relationship with the government seems to have fundamentally changed. I think the show would have been stronger if these plot points had been hit sooner, but hindsight is 20/20.

The episode begins with some in media res. I did not realize how much of a crutch that story structure is in TV writing until I started writing this blog. It seems like every show has to do an obligatory in media res episode now and then. We see George on what looks like a military aircraft. It’s very sparse, at least. It also appears to be in serious trouble. There are flames, and the oxygen masks come tumbling down. George grabs one of them and crouches by the wall of the plane. At the time, I couldn’t figure out how the episode could possibly get to this point, but by the end, it made good sense and set up a very interesting plot thread for (the probably nonexistent) next season.

Back in the present, J.J. is skateboarding, which is kind of random. I don’t think we’ve ever seen him do that before. Mr. Lichfield rudely stops him by opening his car door right in front of J.J. He really wants J.J. to solve that equation for power permanence. J.J. refuses and gives Mr. Lichfield a good telling off before continuing along his way. Jim is very upset to hear how Mr. Lichfield has been harassing J.J., so he takes J.J. back to the school to have a talk with Mr. Lichfield. Jim and J.J. are horrified to enter J.J.’s math classroom and find that Mr. Lichfield is dead. This likely has something to do with the fact that Mrs. X has just fired Dr. King, and even after only a few episodes, we already know that Mrs. X is ruthless. We also now know that her actual name is Helen, and she is the CEO of Global Tech.

It looks like Katie has moved, because George appears to be helping her unpack. For some reason I don’t quite understand, it appears the writers are trying to establish some George/Katie chemistry? Perhaps they want to get a love triangle going with George, Katie, and Joshua. Honestly, I’d rather they just bring back Amy Acker’s character for George. I thought she had potential, and I was disappointed that she pretty much just disappeared. Anyway, George gives this big speech about how he’ll help Katie out with whatever she needs during her pregnancy. Katie says George can start by picking up her prenatal vitamins from her OB/GYN. Just as George is about to do this errand, he gets a call from Jim. No sooner does George leave than Joshua shows up after being missing for quite a while. Needless to say, Katie is pretty shocked.

George works his contacts at the coroner’s office and finds out that Mr. Lichfield was electrocuted. George and Jim figure it was probably the work of yet another super. Jim tries to call Stephanie to warn her the family, especially J.J., could be in danger, but the power goes out before Jim can deliver the message. Predictably, J.J. goes outside to try to fix it, and he ends up getting kidnapped by a super named Ben with electric powers (pun not really intended). Having nowhere else to turn, Jim and Stephanie demand answers from Dr. King, who for some reason is still in his office at Global Tech despite being fired. He doesn’t look well, and he begs for some Trilsettum. Apparently he had very advanced cancer when he first developed Trilsettum, and he’s been injecting himself with the serum ever since because it has saved his life. I guess invulnerability is a superpower? Stephanie injects Dr. King with the serum as requested, and Dr. King says he’ll help find J.J.

J.J. is actually at Global Tech, in a room filled with video game arcade machines. When J.J. doesn’t give Helen the answers she wants to hear about power permanence, she gives a big evil speech of evil locks him in a small cell. J.J.’s new roommate in that cell is none other than Joshua, who offers to help J.J. figure out the power permanence equation. This brings up so many questions. I guess he didn’t get far after he took that bus ride out of Pacific Bay. Joshua apparently was in Brazil around the time of the Powell plane crash, and he knows details about what happened. He had loaded a shipment of trilsettum on the Global Tech plane the Powells chartered for their flight. As the plane crashed, they all inhaled a significant amount of trilsettum. J.J. mentions Katie’s pregnancy, and Joshua is extremely surprised to hear the news. I’m surprised that J.J., with his super brain and all, didn’t realize that this would be news to Joshua considering he’s been missing since before Katie discovered the pregnancy.

And the “Joshua” who is with Katie is clearly an imposter. And there’s no better imposter on “No Ordinary Family” than the shapeshifter, Victoria. Luckily, it doesn’t take Katie all that long to figure out that she’s not dealing with the real Joshua. She asks him a question about the proposal that only the real Joshua would know, and he fails miserably. I don’t know why Victoria and her handlers thought this could possibly work. She was going to slip up on some detail sooner or later. George figures it out pretty quickly, too. He starts to suspect something’s up when he goes to Katie’s OB/GYN for the vitamins, and she’s not in their system and the OB/GYN doesn’t remember her. George’s suspicions are confirmed when he watches CCTV from the doctor’s office parking garage and sees Dr. Klein attacked by Victoria. Surprisingly, Katie plays it very cool when George calls with the news.

Dr. King tells Jim, Stephanie, and Daphne that they’re going to need to work together and use all their powers to get J.J. out of the Global Tech holding facility. Jim and Stephanie are a little reluctant to let Daphne join in, but they realize just how useful her Jedi mind trick might be. They do indeed work fairly well together, and they manage to get through two layers of guards (one thanks to a Daphne Jedi mind trick and another thanks to Stephanie’s super speed), but Helen watches all this on CCTV and sends Ben the electro-super after them. Jim manages to reflect Ben’s powers, and Ben ends up electrocuting himself. The Powells happily get in an elevator, hoping to be on their way to J.J., but Helen wasn’t going to let that happen. She turns on some gas in the elevator, and Jim, Stephanie, and Daphne all fall unconscious.

Stephanie and Daphne awake in a holding cell. Helen breezes in to give an evil speech of evil and let them know that Jim is locked up in a separate room. Then, she brings in J.J. She still really wants him to work on that power permanence equation, and she threatens to kill Daphne (who is under a mild sedative) if he doesn’t make it happen. This encourages J.J. to have a breakthrough. He thinks the secret to power permanence is real adrenaline. All their brains were soaked with it when they inhaled the trilsettum during the crash. Helen leaves the room, and during a hallway walk-and-talk with her guards, says that all the Powells are to be shot. Within seconds, shots ring out. It’s not the guards, though. It’s Dr. King, trying to save Stephanie and the kids. Dr. King tells Stephanie, Daphne, and J.J. to stop Helen from getting on a helicopter while he goes and frees Jim. Of course, Dr. King isn’t being entirely truthful. He lets Joshua out of his cell, but he shoots Jim. Mostly because of his creepy crush on Stephanie. Guess he thought Stephanie would think his killing her husband was cool.

Helen manages to escape in her helicopter just as the Powells (minus Jim) arrive. Such a great set-up for another season! Anyway, J.J. tells Stephanie that her antidote worked- Joshua no longer has powers. At that moment, Dr. King appears and tells Stephanie hat Jim is dead. Stephanie breaks down in hysterics, but not for long before Jim reappears. He’s ready to fight Dr. King, who thinks that, considering his special power is immortality, it will be no contest. Just to make things even more in his favor, Dr. King then injects himself with a very large amount of serum. Stephanie zoops off to go get the antidote, hoping it could take away the scary powers Dr. King has developed thanks to the trilsettum overdose. He’s certainly giving Jim a run for his money in the super strength department. Stephanie tries to flirt to get close enough to inject Dr. King with the antidote, but he bats the syringe away. Realizing Stephanie will never love him, Dr. King tries to strangle her. J.J. uses his super brain at that moment to throw the syringe perfectly into Dr. King’s eye, and his body, which should have died a long time ago, starts to decompose.

Meanwhile, Katie confronts “Joshua” about the fact that she knows he’s really Victoria. This starts a fight between Katie and Victoria, and Katie falls. Joshua arrives and saves Katie from any further injury from Victoria, but Katie’s water broke in all the commotion. Quickest TV pregnancy ever? Katie ends up having her extremely premature baby, which survives, thanks to trilsettum, no doubt. George sees Victoria leave Katie’s house, and he follows her to where Helen is putting 80 prisoners on a plane (hoping to recreate the plane crash that gave the Powells permanent super powers). A guard finds George sneaking around the plane, and he puts George on board with the prisoners. This is why we saw him in the middle of a plane crash at the beginning of the episode. After the crash, he gets up, sees newly minted supers around him, and looks at his hands, wondering what sorts of powers he might have developed. One final bit of news, the NSA stops by the Powell house and an agent announces they know what the Powells are. And they need their help to take down Helen.

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