Ringer: I'm the Good Twin

"I have to get my old life back."

It had become more and more apparent over the last couple of weeks that Bridget and Siobhan were never going to meet in time for the finale. You can understand the logic. I assume the writers had thought we'd be so wrapped up in the Bodaway/Catherine stories that we wouldn't care all that much if our dueling protagonists ever had that elusive reunion. But, along with everything else on this show, things obviously didn't work out the way they had intended. This was a strange finale -- sort of drab and uninteresting, despite several half-resolutions to a couple of long-running stories. It also had one of the most flat endings I've ever seen. Even if a second season was guaranteed, that sure wasn't much of a cliffhanger.

Bridget's surrogate family was the one and only storyline that worked on an emotional level this year, something that was romantic and hopeful while craftily undermined by the lies that made up the foundation of the Martin household. To that effect, the revelations about Bridget's identity were the only truly affecting story on offer here: Andrew was devastated and threw her out of the apartment, and Juliet told her that she was worse than her mom. You know, the mom that developed fake rape schemes and tried to murder them all last week. Andrew's reaction was understandable, Bridget's lies hurting him on a deeply personal level, but it was sad to see Juliet abandon her like her father. I liked the budding relationship between Bridget and Juliet, and you would have thought the similarly flawed Juliet would forgive her for an elaborate charade.

The Bodaway Macawi story appropriately suffered from the same problems that killed this story right back at the start of the year. There was never any personality there, no real charisma -- just an absurdly-named caricature of a strip club gangster. It came as no surprise that this episode turned him into a speechless Michael Myers clone with a big knife. At least Catherine, in all her contrived glory, had a sparkle of personality that made last week's nutty siege hour so much fun. This subplot had always been weirdly uninteresting, no matter how much stock Bodaway apparently held in the Ringer universe.

Finally, there was that ending. Bridget found out that her sister is alive but, true to form, only after the truth was literally handed to her by somebody else. Oblivious to the end, that girl. But, man, can we address how flat her reaction was? She just read as really pissed, not somebody who's just discovered that she was involved in a lengthy fake-out contrived by her twin sister, the pawn in an elaborate game where she was victimized and tossed around like a puppet. No abject devastation, no shocked betrayal, no Emily Thorne-style declaration of "revenge!!" -- just a little mad. Ugh.

And then the credits rolled.

Ringer has never been a strong show. There were definitely moments when things perked up, but the far majority of the season was elusive vagueness disguised as mystery. Stories were dragged out so much that the already bland characters appeared stupider and stupider, and the show became so wrapped up in unexciting business dealings and Ponzi schemes that the original premise of the series seemed like a distant memory. Bridget was always a passive protagonist being chauffeured around to various red herrings, attached to her cell-phone like a fat kid to a candy bar. The writers always seemed to struggle with Siobhan, too, scared to make her a larger presence on the series while failing to give her much dimension on her own. The rest of the cast seemed to drift through personalities depending on the storyline.

It was a show that was all plot and little character. We barely knew any of these people, the writers allowing little time to contextualize the relationships or the foundations of so much resentment and anguish. They were always ciphers, leaving you wondering where they would go from here even if the show were to be inexplicably renewed. Siobhan's existence is public knowledge, Bodaway is dead, Machado's demons have been put to rest, Andrew and Juliet are angry, and Henry remains just as invisible as he's always been. Cliffhangers and shocking twists can entertain for five minutes, but can't sustain a long-running series. You need characters that inspire some sort of emotion, not dull chess-pieces with little discernible personality. And that's what Ringer was. Mostly bland, only passable when things perked up.

In the end, Ringer will be nothing but a footnote in Sarah Michelle Gellar's career, this wonderful, admired actress hopefully finding a vehicle that better utilizes her talents instead of suppressing them. I'm sure, in five years, that all we'll remember of Ringer will be that boat scene in the pilot. Wonky, distracting, shamelessly contrived -- maybe we should have considered it a sign?

Notables

- Poor Malcolm. Written out with two lines of vague exposition spoken by a random FBI agent, the character presumably washing up on a beach somewhere. What exactly happened there, show?

- Should we throw together a list of lingering plotholes? Was Xerxes actually Catherine? What was with the body of the old lady mentioned in the pilot? Was Sean's death the one thing that made Siobhan crazy? Or did she have other issues? How did Siobhan handle the move from poverty to high society? Feel free to add your own.

- At least Sarah won't have to wear those unflattering coats anymore. Seriously, why are they dressing her in maternity wear constantly?

- Some rare black comedy in the moment where Siobhan names her babies -- since Regan was poisoned by her sister, both of whom were fighting over the same man.

- It feels nice knowing that I'll never have to write about this show ever again. Thanks to everybody who has stuck with these reviews over the last couple of months, and congratulations for getting through the season with me. I feel like we deserve some kind of award.

Quotage

Jimmy: Bridget, what are you doing here?
Siobhan: It's Siobhan. I'm the good twin.

Previously posted at Unwelcome Commentary.

8 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

Max, congratulations on finishing the entire season! Your reviews have been delightful to read, and I'm really impressed that you stuck with the show even after it became so silly.

I hope SMG does find a better show.

TheShadowKnows said...

"...leaving you wondering where they would go from here even if the show were to be inexplicably renewed."

I don't expect the show will be renewed, but if by some weird executive decision it is... I expect season two would be Siobahn pretending to be Bridget for most of the season, including a "reconciliation" with Andrew and Juliet. How anyone could possibly believe they would fall for those kind of shenanigans again is another question.

Anonymous said...

I´ve been a critic of this show and it has been a mess but I really liked this episode and it wasn´t cheesy or over-the-top. And I loved Bridget coming clean to Andrew, very emotional scene.
And I know I said I wanted the show cancelled or if renewed, I would never see again. But now my feelings are changed: I want a second season to focus on the characters.
Who knew, right?

Suzanne said...

Max, you didn't let us down! This was your funniest review yet even though you had so little to work with given this disappointing finale. In fact, it was so flat that my kids and I were shocked that it was the finale. We didn't know, so we were expecting scenes at the end. When we read online that it was the finale, we couldn't believe it.

I agree that the scene with Juliet and Andrew at the end was touching, but I also don't understand how she could act so moral to Bridget at the end given all the lying she has done, as you mention. Andrew, for that matter, too, shouldn't throw stones given the glass house he lived in once. That is the problem with these characters; they change with their outfits. There is no consistency. I am glad it is over, and I don't expect it to be renewed. I don't know if we deserve awards for sticking with it or if we should have our heads examined. ;)

Here are a few of my favorite parts of your hilarious review above: your reference to Bodoway Maccawi (sp?) as that "absurdly named caricature," your apt description of Bridget as "attached to a cell phone like a fat kid to a candy bar" (and you are so right that those horrible outfits did not suit SMG's figure in the least), and your wonderful reference back to that horrible boat scene that really should have been the point where we just gave up on the show!

Great reviews and I am glad to be able to read more your writing about a much better show, Mad Men, in the future.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful review as ever. What a disappointing finale..Macawi just happened and then unhappended just as quickly..Siobahn and Bridget were both thrown out by their men..Juliet's reaction was silly given what her mother had done.
So SMG is not pregnant just badly dressed..She's a lovely woman so that was some lousy costume choices.
I hope she'll find a show/movie more worthy of her great talent.
Sigh. At least it's over, if it's renewed I'm out. Now I'll stick with Revenge.
Anna

maxpower03 said...

Thanks for all the comments guys, and big thanks to Suzanne for those really kind words at the end.

I actually agree with one of you (Anonymous) that I'd like a second season driven more by character dynamics and personalities rather than plot twists. There's a lot to like when it comes to the show's initial premise, it was just executed so unsuccessfully.

Again, thanks to everybody who has read these things for the last couple of months. You definitely kept up my morale! Heh.

maxpower03 said...

So that's why she's wearing those unflattering coats! Congrats, Sarah and Freddie.

sunbunny said...

So I just watched every episode of this show in a monster Netflix marathon and I have to say it's sort of awesome. If you approach it as just a good old fashioned soap opera and do not expect any degree of realism or character development, it's a very good show. Well, maybe not good, but certainly enjoyable. :)