Ringer: Time Keeps on Slippin'

Ringer S01E19: "Let's Kill Bridget!"

I bitch about Ringer from week to week, occasionally stopping to remark on an inoffensive or even mildly entertaining episode. But for the most part, I have hated this show. I know some of you enjoy Ringer and I wonder why I can’t just snap out of it and learn to embrace the badness. Believe me, I’ve thought about it, and I’ve made some attempts, but Ringer is just not good enough or campy enough for me.

While watching this week's episode, "Let's Kill Bridget!," I struggled to think of what I would write that didn't just reiterate my complaints from last week (or the weeks before that). And then it struck me: This particular episode had some of the worst pacing and time jumps I’ve seen all season. Ringer: always giving me something new to harp on.

We began the episode in media res, a fancy way of saying the action was already going on. Henry was being interrogated for a murder, Andrew was kissing Catherine, and either Bridget or Siobhan had been hit by a sniper. Fine. Starting in the middle can be an effective way of building suspense: You watch the episode knowing that things are about to take a turn for the much worse. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, both excited to see what’s coming next and dreading the eventual outcome.

The problem with doing this in Ringer's case is that we already know the show traffics in fake-outs. It’s hard to get concerned about all the terrible things on the horizon when we can guess that they’re not quite as terrible as they seem. Case in point: Andrew kissing Catherine was a brief, drunken moment, and Bridget only pretended to get shot by the assassin. To be fair, Henry really was being interrogated for Tyler’s murder, but I’m long past the point of caring about him. All due respect to Kris Polaha—Ringer simply hasn’t given him anything good to work with.

But the episode didn’t just begin with a time jump: It played with non-linear storytelling throughout. There are shows that can pull this off well (Lost and Damages spring to mind), but Ringer just gave me whiplash. It’s telling that the most exciting scene in the episode, the confrontation between Bridget and Siobhan, was just dropped in there haphazardly. I’m assuming it’s going to happen in one of the next few episodes? Clearly it occurs after Bridget attempts to fake her death, but what was it doing in this episode at all? It’s such an exciting moment—the season has been building up to this. And we get a short, out-of-context scene? What a waste.

Ringer continues to flub its big moments. See also: Juliet confessing her role in the rape accusation plot to Andrew. This was an important, shocking turn—and it was reduced to a matter-of-fact flashback. Andrew casually dropped that he knew already, and then we saw that Juliet did, indeed, come clean to her father. That was a scene we should have arrived at organically, not something the show slipped in because the plot wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

And let’s talk about the episode’s biggest reveal: Catherine is the one with a hit out on Siobhan. Okay, surprising, neat, etc. My problem is that Catherine was introduced relatively late in the season. We’ve spent an awful lot of time on Macawi, with the belief that he was trying to have Bridget (or Siobhan) killed. Then we spent an awful lot of time suspecting Andrew of trying to have Siobhan killed. And for what? If it was Catherine all along, then so much of Ringer’s first season was a waste. I know that mysteries have to struggle to stretch themselves out over the course of a full TV season, but jerking the audience around with false lead after false lead is just cruel.

There are a manageable three episodes left. Also, the next two are called “If You’re Just an Evil Bitch Then Get Over It” and “It’s Called Improvising, Bitch!” So we’re obviously in for something special.

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