Ringer: Singular Sensation

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Ringer S01E21: "It's Called Improvising, Bitch!"

There are two approaches I could take to reviewing Tuesday’s penultimate episode of Ringer, "It's Called Improvising, Bitch!" I could either pretend it exists in a void, unrelated to the rest of the show's ridiculously scattered season. Or I could view it in the context of the story, in which case it’s another pile of head-scratching nonsense. But why decide when I can do both?

So, fine, taken as a standalone episode, “It’s Called Improvising, Bitch!” was pretty entertaining. I’m a fan of absurd stand-offs, hostage situations, and surprising same-sex relationships. It was basically a sub-par episode of Law & Order: SVU, a show that I enjoy even when it goes off the rails. I wouldn’t call SVU good television, but it's at least engaging, and there are moments of tension where I’m honestly not sure what’s going to happen next.

Some of you have accused me of taking Ringer too seriously. Believe me, I don’t. I am always down for an hour of trash, but Ringer hasn’t been enjoyable enough for me to appreciate it on an ironic level. When Catherine first appeared, I said I liked what she brought to the show. Little did I know how much she’d take over the main plot. But with that aside, she is still the right kind of character for a series like Ringer: She’s over-the-top, unbalanced, and sociopathic. In other words, she’s a delight to watch.

But let’s talk about the episode as it fits into the season as a whole. I mean, it doesn’t, really, right? It’s one thing for a show to go in unexpected directions, but it’s another for it to jump between wildly divergent plots as it sees fit. Ringer has skipped around more than any series I can remember, to the point that it’s not really worth concentrating on any one storyline. It looks like—spoiler alert for those who don’t watch the next-episode previews—Macawi is back next week, but half of the audience will probably be asking, “Macawi who?”

I compared Ringer to the movie Wild Things back when the rape accusation storyline was happening. (Yeah, remember that? Really key to the overall season, right?) And “It’s Called Improvising, Bitch!” reminded me again of the campy 1998 thriller, which hits you with reveal after reveal after reveal. It’s silly, but it’s fun: Just when you think you know whodunit, the rug gets pulled out from under you. By the end, you don’t even really care—you’re just going along for the ride.

Here’s the difference: Wild Things is a little under two hours long. It is a silly, soapy mess of a movie, and I’ve watched it countless times because it never stops being fun. Who in his or her right mind would sit down to watch Ringer’s entire first season again? The problem with stretching this “story” out over so many episodes is that it highlights just how much of our time has been wasted. Ringer forces our attention in one direction, drags us along for several weeks, then kicks us into an entirely different story. For the record, what began as a show about a woman on the run switching places with her twin sister has become a show about a man’s bitter ex-wife joining forces with his business partner to kill the man’s current wife. Who, as it happens, has switched places with her twin.

I know there are Ringer fans out there, some of whom will probably pick up the Season 1 (or, more likely, the Complete Series) box set and marathon the whole thing from start to finish. I just don’t see the re-watch value. Ringer has never given us complex characters or anything beyond surface-level thrills: Now that we know how it all turns out, what’s the point of revisiting any of the early episodes? And if the season finale ends with a cliffhanger—something tells me it will—I can’t imagine caring about what’s going to happen next. I’d rather just watch Wild Things.


QUESTIONS:

– Will Bridget come clean in the season finale?

– How does Macawi figure into this story?

– Is Olivia getting locked up, too?

– Who is the father of Siobhan’s twins?

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