Did Sticking with Ringer Just Start to Pay Off?

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Ringer S01E12: “What Are You Doing Here, Ho-Bag?”

Seven words I never thought I’d write—Tuesday night’s episode of Ringer was great. I’m serious. It was engaging, fun, and legitimately exciting, which is more than I can say about any of the episodes preceding it. If Ringer can keep this up, I might be willing to call it a show that I like by season’s end. (Thought let’s not get carried away: There’s still a lot of badness it has to make up for.)

“What Are You Doing Here, Ho-Bag?” may not have won me over with its title, but the episode was exactly the kind of soap opera thriller we’ve been promised since the start. I could lament the fact that it’s taken Ringer so long to get to this point, but let’s just celebrate an enjoyable hour of television.

The main source of awesomeness? Bridget coming closer to discovering that Siobhan is still alive, and Siobhan doing everything in her power to keep that secret safe. I’ve mentioned this in my reviews of The Lying Game, but if you’ve got a show with two twins pretending to be each other, you have to give me plenty of awkward misunderstandings and near-misses. Now that Siobhan and Bridget are finally in the same city, Ringer has given them both a chance to shine—Siobhan continues to prove her role as master manipulator, and Bridget has stopped being annoyingly dense. These twins bring out the best/worst in each other!

Speaking of people pulling their heads out of their asses, it’s nice to see Agent Machado actually doing good investigative work for once. This is a character who needs to feel essential to the series, and up to this point, he’s mostly been a nuisance. But as Machado has gotten closer to the truth, he’s sharpened—maybe because he realizes this case is more complicated than it first seemed, or because the writers figured out one of their primary antagonists was too dull to take seriously.

Here’s hoping Malcolm can undergo the same personality adjustment and add something to this show. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed Tuesday’s episode so much was that he never made an appearance.

Now, the Juliet rape storyline. I’m still uncomfortable with it, and I remain dubious as to where it’s headed, but the way it was handled in this episode worked for me. The surveillance video planted doubt, and it also reflected a very real problem in accusations of sexual assault. Just because Juliet made a pass at Mr. Carpenter doesn’t mean she’s lying about him later raping her. And if this is a lie, it’s an elaborate one—as evidenced by the reveal that Tessa was also raped by her teacher. If Juliet and Tessa are both lying, this story is straight-up nabbed from Wild Things, but that’s one of my favorite trashy movies ever, and I wouldn’t mind if Ringer paid it homage.

And Juliet’s trauma did provide an excuse to introduce Andrew’s ex-wife Catherine, a delightfully hot mess who gave Ringer the burst of absurdity and bitchiness it needed. “Siobhan” and Catherine duking it out may have little bearing on the story, but holy crap it was fun to watch. The petty sniping and the verbal barbs made the episode feel like a guilty pleasure instead of a slog. And I love that Catherine’s parting words were a weak, “You know what, Siobhan? You can suck it.” This woman is too drunk to fight properly. She showed up naked in a bathtub! She burned photos of her own daughter! Please let Catherine stick around for the rest of the season, because she has already earned a spot in my heart.

The episode ended with a nice reveal, as Henry finally learned that Bridget has taken over Siobhan’s life. And since Kris Polaha is a series regular, I’m guessing this is going to stick. I’m not dying to see next week’s episode, but I’m a little bit excited—and I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I felt even this much enthusiasm for Ringer.

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