Five Things the Characters on “Ringer” and The CW Need to Remember if They Want Us To Keep Watching
Episode 1-04 / Originally Aired 10/4/11
We know that even with the smartest of television shows, it’s only a matter of time before at least one story line is completely bungled. We’ve all witnessed it. Characters get written into a box that the writers can’t get them out of and suddenly….Boom! AMNESIA! Or maybe … Boom! FIVE YEARS LATER! Or God forbid… Atomic Boom! IT WAS ALL A DREAM!
Writers are only human, after all. And who hasn’t hit a creative wall at least once in their life while a deadline loomed? And often times, a show really can pick up the pieces from a mess of a plotline and regain its former glory.
But when a fumble like that happens only four episodes in to the run of a series, you’ve really got to question whether the people involved had any idea what they were gonna do if their show went past the pilot episode.
I’m still rooting for you, Ringer. I’ve been watching you since Day One. I like my night time soaps mixed with a little corporate shenanigans and foreign intrigue, and you seem to have all the elements necessary to become water cooler conversation.
And yet… I faintly remember reading a film review by Roger Ebert, where he said something along the lines of: “In order for me to believe the story, at minimum the characters on screen must be at least as smart as the stupidest real person I’ve ever met.”
So it’s with great hopefulness that I present the five major storytelling rules broken on last night’s episode. And out of kindness to the stupidest real people I’ve ever met, I’ll lay blame squarely at the feet of the fictional characters in the show.
Rule #1: Never discuss your biggest secret with the door behind you wide open.
Even maniacal super-villains who reveal their detailed evil plans for world domination to James Bond right before they completely fail at killing him and allow him to escape and return to foil their plans — even THEY would have the sense to at least close the door behind them before discussing the fact that they impregnated another woman while their own wife is around to possibly overhear.
Yet, here we have Henry, so frustratingly stupid at keeping his affair with Siobhan a secret even the producers of Cheaters wouldn’t know what to do with him.
Yep, Henry babbled his undying devotion to Bridget-as-Siobhan (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and then insisted that he was the father of her unborn baby, and neither one of them had enough sense to hold up the “hang on a sec” finger and tippy-toe over to close the door, the way real people do when discussing the truth about Santa or what they’re dressing up as for Halloween.
And sure enough, that was Henry’s wife Gemma hanging out on the other side of the door, soaking up the complete, heartbreaking story. What did Henry and Siobahn expect? When fifty percent of the dinner party suddenly goes missing, odds are unless there’s a deck of UNO cards around, the other fifty percent are gonna get up and go look for them.
Rule #2: Always clear your cell phone call log!
So Bridget wants everyone in the world to think she’s actually her twin sister Siobhan. Hmmm. Let’s all open our How to Successfully Assume Someone Else’s Identity textbooks, shall we? Oh… what’s this right here… at the very top of Page One? YOU MUST CUT OFF ALL CONNECTIONS TO YOUR PAST LIFE!
All of them! Every one! Don’t call your old AA sponsor and say, “I’m alive. Please don’t look for me!” Don’t send Christmas cards that read, “Happy holidays! Please don’t look for me!” Don’t e-mail your neighbor and ask, “Can you please feed my fish and then afterwards not look for me?”
Don’t keep paying your gas bill. Don’t return that library book. Resist that offer you got from Groupon. You’ve disappeared, see? Off the grid! One with the mist! Your goal is go so far underground that not only do people from your old life find it impossible to locate you, they actually start forgetting they ever cared about you in the first place. This is key.
However, if you must must, must, must make that call, as Bridget did to Malcolm, there’s a little option all cell phones come with these days known as CLEAR ALL. You hit it, and then ALL THE CALLS YOU’VE MADE ARE CLEARED FROM THE DISPLAY! This comes in handy just in case, oh I don’t know, you happen to put down your phone right before the FBI agent who’s on the verge of uncovering your secret has just snuck into your house to confront you, and then you forget to take it with you when you storm out of the room.
Rule #3 – When and FBI agent who’s on the verge of uncovering your secret just snuck into your house to confront you, make sure you escort them out of your house before anyone else sees him as soon as possible.
Did I fall asleep for a moment, or did Bridget literally just walk away from Nestor Carbonell after he told her he knew she’d been lying to him?
A simple “Please show yourself out!” or “This conversation is over!” would at least have provided the guy with the socially graceful clue that his presence was no longer welcome. Instead, Bridget just left him there, free to continue milling about, meet up with her husband and spill the beans about her having a twin, and potentially walk away with any teacups, wax flowers or canned goods he may find to his liking.
Rule #4 – Keep your secret documents a secret!
This lesson goes out to Tyler, world’s youngest and stupidest international banker, who apparently skipped the class on “Concealing Highly Classified Records From Your New Sex Partner” when it was offered at Wharton. It sure didn’t take Siobhan long to find exactly what she was looking for in Tyler’s briefcase while he flossed her Parisian birthday croissant out of his teeth (and by “birthday croissant” I actually mean “birthday croissant”). And why should it have been tough for her when Tyler is so gosh-darn detail-oriented with that labeling system of his?
“Let’s see here… ‘Map to Bones of Missing Link’… nope… ‘Lost Works of Bethoven’… huh-uh…‘Obama’s Nigerian birth certificate’… pass… ah, ‘Account Transfers’… perhaps this is the file that has the information on account transfers for which I am seeking!”
What kind of world would this be if everyone was this explicitly OCD in their private affairs? How different 1995 would have been for all of us if OJ’s day planner had simply read as follows:
June 12 – Do murder today
June 11 – Finalize murder for tomorrow
June 10 – Select shoes and knit cap for murder
June 9 – Buy big knife
June 8 – Return Lion King by midnight
By a means found clever only by characters from Saved by the Bell, Siobhan now has the critical financial information she has been seducing Tyler this whole time in order to secure. Whomever or whatever she needs it for is still anyone’s guess, but I’m sure she’ll be revealing it loudly while standing directly outside SEC World Headquarters in next week’s episode.
Rule #5: When caught in a lie… don’t readily admit to it. LIE BIGGER!
So Gemma finally confronted Bridget at the end of the episode with a smack to the face and a hearty, “Thanks for sleeping with my husband, whore!” with a delivery that rivaled Morgan Fairchild’s entire IMDB profile. But rather than look for another way out, Bridget immediately, almost frantically, spilled all the beans to Gemma about not actually being Siobhan.
After only four episodes, this is all it took for Bridget to give up the entire jig? Remind me to never go grifting at the local horse track with this chick!
Let’s think about it for a second. What exactly is Bridget trying to hold on to here? What’s most important to her? She’s not actually in love with Siobhan’s husband. She has no interest in Gemma’s husband. She’s not actually pregnant. She could lose this whole wealthy lifestyle, get sued for divorce, and have everything taken from her, and would it matter? No! Because she is only concerned that NO ONE FIND OUT SHE’S BRIDGET!
So this knee-jerk confession made absolutely no sense at all. Besides, everyone knows that when someone confronts you with an uncomfortable truth, the most sensible option is to just keep lying! Lie bigger and bigger and bigger! Lie until the person either finally believes your new story, or is so exhausted from listening they forget what they thought to be true in the first place. This is known as “The Shaggy Theory,” brought to the public consciousness in 2001 by reggae artist Shaggy and his song, “It Wasn’t Me,” in which he denies to his girlfriend that it was him she saw cheating on her, despite all evidence to the contrary. For Bridget, it would have gone something like this:
Gemma: “You slept with my husband!”
Bridget: “It wasn’t me.”
Gemma: “But I heard him tell you that you’re pregnant with his baby!”
Bridget: “It wasn’t me.”
Gemma: “But I saw you screwing each other on my kitchen floor! He was calling out your name!”
Bridget: “It wasn’t me.”
Gemma: “Hmmm. Well… maybe it wasn’t you.”
Boom! Crisis resolved. It would have worked. Gemma doesn’t seem all that bright anyway.
And to be honest, let’s face it, for Bridget to have even gotten this far with her flimsy mistake-riddled presentation of Siobhan, this whole Park Avenue crew she’s running with must be collectively as bright as a box of hair.
But I’ll keep watching. At least for now. I’m still hoping that Ringer gets a little smarter, a little murkier, and a little trickier in the weeks to come.
After all, it looks like the show was smart enough to dump the bratty step-daughter character. That’s never a bad thing.