Ringer: Andrew the Murdering Family Man

Ringer S01E17: "What We Have Is Worth the Pain"

Last week in my review of Ringer, I pointed out how hard it is to take the show's characters seriously when they’re so absurdly inconsistent. Little did I know last night’s episode, "What We Have Is Worth the Pain," was going to play ping pong with Andrew Martin: He went from evil, soulless monster to loving husband and back again. We’re past the point where I care about the outcome of Ringer’s disparate mysteries. Right now, all I want to know is, what the hell are they thinking?

“You conniving little bitch,” Andrew told Siobhan in a flashback. “I’ll kill you. I mean it, Siobhan. I’ll see you dead.” No mincing words there—somehow we’re supposed to reconcile this Andrew with the Andrew we’ve gotten to know over the course of Ringer's first season. I don’t care that he fell in love with Bridget, or that he was softened by her influence: In six months, you don’t go from threatening to murder your wife to renewing your vows. A person with that much anger and the ability to make such a realistic threat is not to be trusted. The moment we saw Andrew say that, I lost any respect I had for him. So what if he had a change of heart? Your husband threatens to kill you, you run.

And yet, Ringer wants us to believe that Andrew is misunderstood, that Siobhan’s—what, bitchiness?—is partially to blame for his aggressive behavior. Both of these people are awful, but the series can’t show us Andrew’s homicidal side and then ask us to believe that he’s come around. Whether or not Andrew killed Tyler or even sent the hit man after Siobhan, he’s a frightening, dangerous man. The power of love or whatever doesn’t trump someone saying, “I’ll see you dead.”

Ringer wants to present us with the idea that people are complicated, with ambiguous motivation and a sense of morality that changes depending on circumstance. I’m inclined to agree, but this series has cut corners to such a ridiculous extent that I don’t buy any of these characters. I believe that good people can do bad things, and that bad people have moments of conscience—but that is not what Ringer shows us. Instead, the show presents characters who are evil one week and pure the next, or sometimes both in the same episode. That’s not moral ambiguity: it’s bad storytelling.

Andrew isn’t the only problem. "What We Have Is Worth the Pain" also attempted to flesh out Siobhan. I’ll admit, I’ve been curious to find out why she would turn on her twin sister and plan this elaborate scheme to exact revenge on Andrew, but the explanation she provided was just as head-scratching as everything else Ringer has thrown at us.

“Bridget killed my son,” Siobhan explained to Henry. Except, uh, no she didn’t. Look, I buy that Siobhan blames Bridget for what happened to Sean, but when presented with the facts of the accident, I don’t see how she could come up with such a severe and misguided interpretation of the events. What’s worse, Siobhan told this story with tears in her eyes—are we suddenly supposed to give a crap about her? She’s a villain, and her motivation is laughable. “In order to prove my husband is willing to kill me, I have to make sure he kills my twin sister, who totally deserves it anyway.” That, if you’ll pardon my bluntness, is a whole new level of stupid.

And at the end of the episode, Andrew was shot saving Bridget. Cue the tears, because—don’t forget!—we like him again now. There was a way to tell this story and to make it compelling. I’m fine with the twists and the logical leaps, because Ringer is a trashy late-night soap and these things happen. But when nothing makes sense, from the plot to the backstory to the characters themselves, there’s no reason for me to care. And judging by the show’s dreadful ratings, I’m sure I’m not the only viewer who feels that way

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