Watching Ringer is frustrating, because in many ways, the damage has already been done. I’m trying to keep an open mind, but the series has made such a bad first impression that it’s going to be difficult for it to recover. It would be one thing if Ringer was on a clear rise to greatness, but it continues to shuffle along, only occasionally offering an awesome scene or, more rarely, a solid episode. Tuesday’s “Maybe We Can Get a Dog Instead?” was not one of those episodes.

But let’s start with the positive, because there were certainly things I liked about it. Well, one thing at least: The plot is moving forward. And to its credit, Ringer has progressed pretty steadily from week to week. The story elements are finally coming together in a way that almost makes sense. I say “almost” because I’m still not sure where all of this is heading, and that’s okay. I’m fine with uncertainty as long as I’m confident the writers have a handle on things. Bridget sitting down to dinner with Tyler was a great “holy crap” moment. And I loved the final scene of her inadvertently turning Malcolm over to the enemy. I’m digging Charlie as a double agent.

And now onto the bad. Tuesday’s episode did its best to flesh out Malcolm as a character, which is something I’ve been wanting to see for weeks. The problem was, it didn’t really do anything to make him interesting or even unique from countless other addict characters we’ve seen on screen. In flashbacks, Malcolm was a boring sponsor, and in the present-day scenes, he was a boring junkie. The characters lacks the complexity of someone like Henry, who has at least shown two very different sides to his personality. Even Bridget, who often comes across as flat, offers a bit more internal conflict.

I want to like Malcolm because it’s clear how important he is to Bridget’s life, and to the story. But so far, I don’t get what he’s doing here. The addiction drama is played out: If you’re going to tell this story, find a new way to tell it. Here, it was painted in broad strokes—Malcolm shaking from withdrawal, Malcolm stealing money from a restaurant, Malcolm insisting that he can get clean on his own. These have become clichés, and frankly everything Ringer has said about addiction so far has felt too cut-and-dried. See also: the ridiculous “junkie” makeup they put on Sarah Michelle Gellar for those Narcotics Anonymous flashbacks.

And while I hate to say it, Juliet remains a weak link for me. (I have no problem with trashing Juliet. I just don’t like being a broken record.) I didn’t mind her scenes with “Siobhan,” because their relationship is starting to make sense to me, but everything that took place at school was a mess. We know Mr. Carpenter is going to be an important character because he’s played by Jason Dohring, but if the show is setting up a student-teacher romance, it’s doing an awful job. What student so blatantly hits on a teacher in a classroom? And what teacher, picking up on the obvious come-on, doesn’t react with the appropriate horror? Maybe this is a silly thing to say about a switched-identity twin thriller, but come on, that was really unbelievable.

Don’t even get me started on Machado. Who? Exactly.

While I can give Ringer credit for moving its story forward, I still can’t bring myself to care, and I place almost all of the blame on the weak characters. I don’t feel like I know these people at all, and the more glimpses I get into their backstories, the less invested I become. Go ahead and tell me why I’m watching Ringer wrong—seriously, I welcome your feedback. And I’ll do my best to approach next week’s episode with an open mind. I’m especially curious to see how Siobhan will recover now that Bridget has majorly screwed up her plans.

What did you think of “Maybe We Can Get a Dog Instead?”? Am I being too hard on this show, or are you as frustrated with it as I am?

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