Before Ringer turned into a convoluted mess dangling perilously close to the edge of Mount Cancellation, there was actually a relatively simple idea at its heart. Way back in the pilot, Bridget took over her sister's identity in a shocking moment of ill-conceived craziness, a rash decision that quickly devolved into assassination attempts, marital intrigue and contrived mystery-solving that would make even Jessica Fletcher wince in embarrassment. But at the crux of the show was that initial decision, a chance of potential escape from Bridget's eternally rock-bottom existence that she instantly leaps at. Whores Don't Make That Much, the strongest episode in a long while, finally threw that decision into perspective, granting Sarah Michelle Gellar the emotionally-draining material that she's been crying out for.
The greatest element here involved the writers rooting Bridget's scheme in guilt, the character so devastated by her part in the tragic death of Siobhan's young son Sean that she's completely lost faith in her own life and appears desperate to end it all. With something like suicide presumably not an option (or, alternatively, an option that she hadn't yet thought about), she did the next best thing and completely sacrificed her own identity in favor of someone else's, allowing brief respite from the inner turmoil she was experiencing as Bridget.
Of course, this all comes to a head here. Misha Collins' baby-daddy Dylan is a character who has been able to move on from his involvement in Sean's death, a revelation that sends Bridget back down the destructive route she was once on. There's an interesting moment here where Bridget, impersonating Siobhan, screams at Dylan for saddling 'her sister' with so much guilt; it's also a feeling that's paralleled in Bridget's dinner with Andrew, in which she suggests Juliet leaving New York wouldn't be such a terrible thing, as if being around her would only endanger her in the long run. Watching these scenes, it became so clear that these are the central themes Ringer should regularly explore: identity, guilt, denial, pain. It's all there in the basic premise of the series, yet has been slowly drowned out by cliffhanger-driven plot twists and ridiculous characterization.
Speaking of, Juliet's subplot lurched to another inevitable twist ending. When it was made clear mid-way through the hour that neither Juliet nor Mr. Carpenter were calling the shots in this elaborate rape mess, it became incredibly obvious that Andrea Roth's twisted hell-mom was the real ring-leader of all this hooey. She's the only dispensable character even tangentially connected to this story, so there were no real surprises there. Similarly lacking in suspense was Tessa's attack, another bungled development straight out of the Wild Things playbook. Ugh.
But, away from the ever-lasting junk of that storyline, this was actually one of the most engaging Ringer hours in months. Sarah conveyed varying emotions of regret, devastation and bitterness, and certain scenes here (notably the funeral confrontation) proved, dare I say it... sort of affecting. There's no way this will prove to be a long-term game-changer for Ringer, but it made for a brief sojourn nonetheless. B
Guest stars Zoey Deutch (Juliet Martin); Misha Collins (Dylan Morrison); Jason Dohring (Mr. Carpenter); Gage Golightly (Tessa Banner); Brynn Thayer (Nancy Painter); Dendrie Taylor (Tessa's Foster Mom); Andrea Roth (Catherine Martin)
Writer Robert Doherty Director Janice Cooke