Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ringer: You're Way Too Pretty to Go to Jail (1.16)

Have I entered the Twilight Zone? Is the sky green? Is water dry? Is Agent Machado suddenly interesting? Ringer has appropriately spent the last six months pulling the rug from under us at every opportunity, forsaking almost all character consistency in the process, and this episode fell into that pattern once more, only with a crazed hootenanny of exposition and stupid decisions. I think I liked this episode. It was kind of frantic and amusing in a really lightweight sense, and I was never exactly bored. It's only on closer inspection that literally every plot development falls to pieces.

After all this time, we've discovered that Andrew orchestrated a Ponzi scheme to get his company out of financial turmoil, while he seems to be open to all kinds of violent confrontation in order to keep his butt out of jail. At the same time, Bridget struggles with the concept of being repulsed by all of this, since she's not exactly in a position to be hurt. Girl's been lying all along, too! So I have no idea what we as an audience are supposed to feel anymore. There was a point where Bridget and Andrew seemed to be getting positioned as Ringer's 'endgame' couple, but with Bridget becoming increasingly delusional and Ioan Gruffudd perfecting that 'murder-face' glare, the various pieces on this crumbling chessboard are becoming even less recognizable than they were ten episodes ago.

It's also a little tiring to see the show constantly rely on contrivance instead of believable interaction between characters. It's a typical trope of bad mystery storytelling, in which characters only do things to service the plot, and choose to not do things purely because it's not thematically convenient for them to do said things at this point in time. Malcolm fell victim to this tonight, rushing to conclusions after a hilariously out-of-character phone-call from 'Bridget' in which she effectively ended their friendship and called his bluff. Did Malcolm give 'Bridget' time to cool off? Did he initiate a discussion where he asked her what she was talking about? Nope. Because that's not convenient for episode sixteen of the season. Instead, he ran to Agent Machado. Sure, it's all pretty noble of him to want to protect Bridget in spite of possible danger for himself, but it makes absolutely zero sense compared to how actual people would react in a situation like this.

Obviously, this is a soap opera. But you need to have some semblance of reality otherwise it becomes Passions. But at least that show knew it was ridiculous. There's sometimes an arrogance to Ringer wherein I wonder if they're even aware of how silly it actually is.

Insanely, Agent Machado's subplot was pretty affecting here. Like Siobhan's back-story with her dead son, it's another plot twist that luxuriates in sentimental clich├ęs but proves weirdly heart-warming. I think because it's all so horrific -- the thought of a pregnant woman being terribly murdered, and the man left behind who is pretty much responsible for her getting involved with the guy that ended up killing her. I give credit to Ringer for its consistent ability to play around with character dynamics and making good guys suddenly become bad guys and boring guys suddenly become heroes... but I just wish it didn't feel so much like the writers have made every inch of this up as they've gone along.

You're Way Too Pretty to Go to Jail had the requisite shiny plot twists (dead Tyler! Siobhan-being-bitchy-pretending-to-be-Bridget!) that distracted us from all the nonsensical, character-destroying hooey that has made Ringer just as disturbingly watchable as it has been offensively terrible. I only wish it was watchable because it was so strong a show, instead of merely being watchable because it's completely nuts. C+

Credits
Guest stars Justin Bruening (Tyler Barrett); Matthew Del Negro (Agent Grady Torrence); Nikki Deloach (Shaylene Briggs); Chad Michael Collins (Agent Conroy); Jaime Murray (Olivia Charles)
Writers Jay Faerber, Cathryn Humphris Director Joshua Butler

3 comments:

  1. Two lines I adored in your review:

    "There's sometimes an arrogance to Ringer wherein I wonder if they're even aware of how silly it actually is."

    Here here. This line could not be more accurate! It really feels like the writers think they have the most thrilling show on television. I don't know what it is about the show that radiates that feeling but it's so true. It's like they think they're producing some top notch cable show with high quality storytelling and mindblowing twists. UGH! I just wish someone would break it to them.

    "I only wish it was watchable because it was so strong a show, instead of merely being watchable because it's completely nuts."

    So true. Ringer is just so NOT strong as a show yet we keep watching because we can't believe the train-wreck happening before us. I've never felt like this towards a show ever before! Utterly insane!

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  2. Great review. I'm with Billie in that your reviews are almost more entertaining than the show itself at this point! I haven't had the chance to write my own review yet, but it'll probably be around the same lines as this.

    Its funny, I was so confused by this whole episode, and you actually pointed out exactly why. I just don't know what to make of it anymore. They started so many character stories that were never followed through, and now people are running around brainlessly and so many of the plots are all over the place. Its hard to discern any semblance of order to it.

    The superficial nature of it worked though, and I LOVED that Siobhan phone call, but like you said, it all just falls apart. But I'm just so entertained by it, I can't look away. I'll post my own up soon, so I won't bore you with the rest just yet!

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  3. Nad I'm assuming they believe just having plot twists and character duplicities makes it really interesting and shocking. But it only exposes how weak the entire show is...

    Panda I agree about the confusion. I just think this type of Ponzi scheme/financial thriller storytelling only works when we actually feel the heat rising within the characters themselves. Damages had a great arc involving a Madoff-type thing a couple of years ago, and it worked because you saw the horrifying breakdown of this family as they came to terms with what was happening to them. Ringer is all surface, and Andrew is such a cipher that you don't feel anything as a viewer.

    Gah! Should have saved that for next week's review, heh!

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