Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ringer 1.01: "Pilot"

"Mistakes aren't tragedies."

So the fall season is finally upon us. The new shows are going to start arriving fast and furious, and some old favorites are due to return as well. There are two new fall shows I’m going to cover here at MTVP: “Ringer” and “New Girl.” “Ringer” premiered this Tuesday, and let me tell you, it was very strange to tune my television to the CW. I generally don’t watch CW shows as a rule, but I made an exception for this one because it marks the return of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Sarah Michelle Gellar to series television. And she gets to play not only one character, but two! “Ringer” is soapy and a bit noir. Definitely more heavy on the soap. That could make it a fun watch each week, just to see what sorts of crazy plot twists the writers will come up with next. It also created an issue for the pilot episode, though. Pilots are a difficult creature to begin with. “Pushing Daisies” is really the only show I’ve fallen in love with from the pilot episode. Pilots have to do many jobs, such as introducing characters, building the world, and having some sort of story. Often, they do all those jobs but none of them well. The “Ringer” pilot wasn’t bad by any means, but it was very plot heavy. It felt a bit like we were getting the pieces all moved into place on the chess board before the real action starts happening. Most of the episode was devoted to setting up the series’ rather complicated premise.

The episode uses an in media res structure, which is acceptable in this case, although I think the technique is becoming a bit played out. We see one of the twins (we later find out it’s Bridget) hiding in a house. A masked man is looking for her. Bridget tries to run, and the masked man catches up to her and attacks her. As she is trying to fight him off, Bridget says, “you have the wrong girl.” Which is such terrible dialogue, but moving on. We next see Bridget nine days earlier at a substance abuse meeting (I couldn’t tell if it was AA or NA). She tells the group that her twin sister Siobhan wants her to visit. Siobhan lives in New York. After the meeting, we meet the two men in Bridget’s world, her sponsor Malcolm and her FBI handler, Victor. Victor is played by Nestor Carbonell from “Lost.” Bridget has an FBI handler because she is going to testify against a crime boss, and she’s in protective custody. She’s kind of doubtful that anybody can actually protect her, though. Victor drops Bridget off at the cheap motel where the FBI is putting her up, and when he returns the next day, her nighttime FBI handler is tied up in the shower, and Bridget is gone.

We next see one of the twins in the bar. At first, it seemed like Bridget because she leaves shadily when a police officer appears, but it’s actually Siobhan. Which should have been obvious considering she was drinking and Bridget seems pretty serious about her recovery. Siobhan meets up with Bridget outside of the bar, and then she takes her to her “weekend house,” which I think is out in the Hamptons or something. Her husband, Andrew, is in London visiting his daughter, and Siobhan hasn’t even told hi that Bridget exists. The twins wind up in a room with so.many.mirrors. It’s a little too strong on the symbolism for my taste. A bit anvilicious. Anyway, the two are kind of beating around the bush about something that happened to someone named Sean. It’s something Bridget did, and it must have been horrible. Siobhan says Bridget is forgiven, but I’m sure Bridget doesn’t quite buy that.

When we next see Bridget and Siobhan, they’re on a boat, having what seems to be a great time. Bridget mentions that she’s waitressing now instead of shipping. She’s really been going all in on the turning her life around thing. Bridget naps, and when she wakes up, Siobhan is gone. Bridget sees a pill bottle on the deck and starts to panic. She seems something floating and jumps in the water, thinking it might be Siobhan. There’s nobody there. Now it’s time for Bridget to get her brilliant idea. We see her get out of a car at a fancy home in New York City. Siobhan’s husband Andrew arrives home, and Bridget kisses him, thinking that’s how she should act. He just thinks it’s odd, because apparently they’ve been quite cold to each other for some time. Andrew remarks that she’s too thin, which I think is supposed to be a signal that he knows something isn’t right, he just doesn’t know what. Bridget can’t take the pressure of the charade, and she rushes off to call her sponsor. She tells Malcolm everything about what she’s done, but she doesn’t tell him where she is. Then Bridget sees someone watching her and ends the conversation.

Bridget wakes up to a phone call. It’s Siobhan’s friend Gemma, who is also an interior designer. She’s surprised Bridget missed their plans, because it should have been in her orange book. Isn’t that a convenient little device to help Bridget better impersonate Siobhan. Bridget ends up meeting up with Gemma after all, who is designing a new house for Siobhan and Andrew. Gemma reveals that she thinks her husband is having an affair, but she doesn’t have any proof yet, and she doesn’t know the identity of the other woman. The actual complexities of this soapy mess become clear when Bridget and Andrew are at an opera fundraiser. After the performance, when everyone is mingling, Bridget sees someone watching her again. As she tries to walk away, a random guy comes up to her and kisses her. This turns out to be Henry, Gemma’s husband. Turns out Siobhan is the “other woman.” Henry notices that “Siobhan” is acting differently, too, but they agree to meet at a hotel. After the benefit, Bridget tries to be extra nice to Andrew (I guess she feels bad that Siobhan has been cheating on him). Andrew thinks this is strange, and he likes it, but he’s not sure he believes it’s genuine.

Bridget goes to a meeting, where she talks about how she’s upset that she lost her sister so soon after finding her again. When she gets home, she finds Siobhan’s stepdaughter Juliet having sex on the couch. Bridget is most worried that Juliet may have found the gun Bridget hid in the house, so she runs of to her bedroom to make sure it’s still there. While Bridget is upstairs, Juliet answers the phone and tells Bridget that a guy is coming up to see her. It’s FBI handler Victor. He wants to talk to “Siobhan” about Bridget. They have a chat, and “Siobhan” says that she has no idea where Bridget is. Somehow, Victor buys the act. He tells “Siobhan” that Bridget is in serious danger. Because Bridget didn’t testify, there was a mistrial, and the crime boss she was supposed to help put in jail is now free. We quick cut to Wyoming, where Bridget’s AA sponsor is most definitely being watched.

Bridget sees a newspaper story about a woman’s body washing ashore, and thinking it’s Siobhan, she gets all angsty. She’s at the new apartment, and she’s startled by Gemma stopping by. They talk about the affair again, of course. Bridget feels horrible for betraying Gemma, so she goes to see Henry. She says she wants to lay low for a while and not really see him. Henry doesn’t really take this well. Bridget arrives at home to see that Andrew is pissed at Juliet about something. Before she has time to really investigate, though, she gets a call meant for Siobhan saying that she’s pregnant. And Andrew hears it.

Later, Bridget, Andrew, Henry, and Gemma are at a bar. And it looks like Bridget is going to use the “pregnancy” as an excuse to not drink. Pretty convenient, considering she’s a recovering alcoholic and all. Andrew is extremely angry, because he’s convinced that the baby is his. He wants her to leave Andrew for him, and he gives her an ultimatum. She says she chooses Andrew. Later back at the house, we see Andrew making a shady call, saying he “wants out.” He hangs up as soon as Bridget walks in the room, and he tells her that Juliet was kicked out of boarding school for using drugs. In other news, Victor the FBI handler finds a letter from Bridget to Siobhan. So he knows that “Siobhan” was lying when she said she hadn’t seen Bridget in years.

Gemma calls Bridget, and she says she wants to meet up to say who she thinks Henry is having an affair with. This makes Bridget a bit nervous, of course. Bridget gets to the new apartment, and nobody’s there. Now we’re up to the scene we saw at the beginning of the episode with the masked attacker. Bridget almost gets away from him, then they crash through a wall. Bridget grabs a gun and shoots, and she says “I’m not Bridget.” It doesn’t appear to be Bridget that the attacker was after, though. He’s carrying a picture of Siobhan. In probably the best twist of the episode, we then see Siobhan, who looks like she’s taking a rather relaxing vacation. She gets a phone call that says “we have a problem.”

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