Thursday, 10 February 2011

No Ordinary Family - S1 E14 - No Ordinary Double Standards

Jim and Stephanie compete to solve a home invasion case before the other does, while Daphne and JJ each go on a first date.

Recap after the jump.

This show has been been pretty terrible since returning in the new year, so I wasn't expecting a lot. What I ended up with still wasn't great but at least it was an improvement over previous weeks. Stephanie (Julie Benz) is out to dinner with an ex-colleague Lina but when they part ways and Lina returns home, she is attacked by a mystery assailant. Stephanie is determined to help her but Jim (Michael Chiklis) tells her to leave it with him, after all he is apparently the hero in this family. Steph reminds him that they teamed up once before to take down the fire guy (episode 9, "No Ordinary Anniversary") but he remains firm. She resolves to solve it before he does and prove herself.

Based on a sketch of the victim by Jim, they're able to track down a suspect, the valet at the restaurant Steph and Lina dined at, but he has an airtight alibi (parking cars the whole night) which means Lina is lying - to protect someone perhaps? Katie (Autumn Reeser) sneaks into the boys lair and engages in some very out of character feminine wiles exploitation to distract George (Romany Malco) while she somehow (it's not really clear how and I'm still not sure actually) figures out a way to hack into his super computer and relay the same information Jim is getting to Stephanie. They both get the call when there's another home invasion, and race to the scene. Stephanie gets there first of course but isn't quite sure what to do next when confronted with the assailant - it would sure help to have super strength, right? After Jim gets there, the guy turns into smoke steam and floats away through a vent - another super villain!

Well it's clear after all these comedy hi-jinks, including a feeble attempt at a sketch by Stephanie, the Powells would do a much better job working together. They are able to find a connection between the victims, they were both scientists working at a correctional facility whose inmates include the Fire Guy, the Earthquake Gal (e5 "No Ordinary Quake") and this new smoke goddammit steam guy. Perhaps he'll target another scientist next? Like oh say, Stephanie. Yep that's exactly what he does, while she's taking a shower no less - he actually wafts out of the shower head while her eyes are closed. Holy crap. Stephanie starts screaming and Jim comes running but the guy just wants to talk! That's why he came out of the shower head, to talk. Seriously. This guy, played by the worst actor of all time, tells the couple that he was experimented on at the facility by the scientists he attacked - he was trying to find information they might have had because it seems his memory has been stripped away and he's mostly made of gas now of course which perturbs him.

He spots a picture of Stephanie's boss, Dr. King (Stephen Collins) and figures out that's who was supervising the whole operation. Dr. King earlier in this episode paid a visit to Will Josh Saffron the Watcher trying to convince him to return to his employment, but Watcher refuses. King suggests he might inform Katie of Watcher's murderous background and Watcher threatens to kill King. King makes a cryptic remark about how he "can't". Can't harm King specifically I suppose that means. Curious. The smoke guy shows up at the lab and attacks King there, and is apparently faced with the same conundrum. Dr King tells him that the operation was to cure him of something, that he doesn't remember because it was so traumatic and they just wanted to help him, but Smokey doesn't believe him and knocks him the crap out. Just then Jim and Stephanie show up and working together are able to drive him away. They leave before King wakes up, but he has surveillance footage, stupid! He watches it later and sees the whole thing - the Powell's secret is finally revealed.

The kids on the show are portrayed fairly inconsistently and while I kinda like them I suppose, I've never really been able to buy into them fully. Last week, Daphne (Kay Faraday Panabaker) and misunderstood bad boy Chris for together and their romance blossoms despite Jim's disapproval. Powell Sr doesn't seem nearly so distressed when JJ (Jimmy Bennett) reveals that hot blonde upperclassman Bailey (28 year old Katrina Begin for the record, Jimmy Bennett turned 15 yesterday) but that's understandable because it's awesome. Suspicious Daphne reads Bailey's mind and find she actually does like JJ and isn't just using him for his mind. They each go on a first date with their respective partners, JJ's being Jim-sanctioned, Daphne's not so much.

When Jim calls her to apologize about his initial reaction to her dating Chris, she lies and tells him she is at Megan', studying. Chris doesn't think she should lie to her father, and they have an argument which ends with Daphne storming off in a huff. She's attacked by some random homeless dude with a gun (If you were wondering, yes, this part was utterly ridiculous) but a new power for her surfaces - she can perform Jedi mind tricks! She's able to suggest to the guy that he just leave. She continues to grow in power unlike the rest of the family. What's next for her, Watcher-style telepathy? When she returns home, she is busted for lying by Jim and he grounds her... next time. She used her power on him, and the little smirk she gives suggests future super-villain to me.

Speaking of the Watcher and Jedi mind tricks, Dr. King followed through on his threat to present Katie with the truth about her boyfriend. When Watcher returns home, he finds Katie in the dark sobbing, terrified of him. He then MIND RAPES her and forces her to forget what she had just learnt. First Daphne, now Katie. Classy guy. JJ meanwhile is on his date with Bailey and they kiss - did I mention by the way how she is really 28 and at the time of filming, JJ was 14? - but JJ is reminded of his love for Natalie and he blows off Bailey. I'm sure this scenario makes sense to someone, but not really for me.

This episode just had too many logic gaps. If Smokey can just turn into smoke whenever he liked, he didn't have to assault the scientists (both of whom appeared to be killed off at the end of the episode, though it wasn't really clear exactly what happened) considering he didn't even interrogate them, he was just ransacking their papers. What exactly does the Watcher do all day? It's not like he has a real job. How does he still have his powers? Weren't they supposed to fade or was his last dose so big they're still going? The writing on this show is just bad. Nothing about any of the staging feels natural. Furthermore, just watching it, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they haven't planned any of their storyline out and are just making shit up on the fly. Clear evidence of this is that Autumn Reeser's pregnancy is going to be written into the show. Overall, it's a dumpster fire.

"No Ordinary Family" airs Tuesdays on ABC at 9:00 pm EST.

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