“You have the wrong girl!”-An Analysis of “Ringer” (2011)

WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED

As a major fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” of course I was interested in checking out “Ringer” the new CW pilot starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Welsh Actor Ioan Gruffudd. From the get-go the premise is intriguing; focused on a young woman on the run from the mob who  poses as her rich twin sister in order to evade them only to later discover her sister also has a price to pay. “Ringer” appears to hold the possibilities of interesting character development as Sarah Michelle Gellar takes on the challenge of playing two roles; she is however more than capable of this after delivering a fantastic performance in the “Buffy” episode “Who Are You” (#4.16) as a very convincing Faith (normally played by Eliza Dushku). The concept of the “secret identity” holds out much prospect for a titillating thriller. So much is at stake and rides on the pilot episode of any television show so let’s look at what “Ringer” has to offer as well as how the episode is constructed.

The episode opens on a tracking shot of some hideous gargoyle-type figures overlooking a lit-up city; establishing a modern day busy setting. As an audience we are then pulled into the eyes of a young woman who appears both terrified and vulnerable; already we are aware who’s point of view the show is going to be from. Her character is embroiled in a cat and mouse game as she is being chased by a man draped in black; instantly the show throws the audience into the middle of the action resulting in intrigue as to who this woman is? and why is she in this predicament? At this point there is more to discover and I was already engrossed. The use of the song “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline slotted in nicely throughout the opening sequence emphasising the protagonist’s fear and vulnerability in the situation; with my inner “Buffy” fangirl coming out here I’d also like to add that the same song was used in the episode “Prophecy Girl” (#1.12)! Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character in an attempt to fend off her attacker insists he’s got the wrong person and at this moment we are taken into the story of how this young woman ended up there.

Within the first few minutes of the episode we learn a lot about Bridget Cafferty who we meet in a support group setting; she has many layers which makes her an engaging character; this is later vital as she takes on the role of someone else. As an audience we discover that she is battling addiction but has remained sober for six months, has had short-lived relationships, and has a sister. The impression is given that she is damaged but recovering. She also seems to posses a flirtatious quality demonstrated by the attraction between her and her sponsor (Played by Mike Colter). The next piece of character information provided is that Bridget is a witness to a crime and will have to appear in court in order to testify against an unsavoury character from her past. Along with her minder and FBI Agent Victor Machado (Played by Nestor Carbonell) she goes into a protection zone at a seedy looking motel, the atmosphere feels unsafe then adding to this notion is finding out the man she must testify against is involved in the adult industry. As previously stated Bridget’s character has many layers; she proves more than capable of looking after herself by turning the tables on the man following her.

Bridget’s identical twin sister Siobhan is introduced. Immediately there is a contrast between the two with Siobhan coming across as wealthy and sophisticated. The sisters have been estranged but still maintain a sense of closeness as they hug; but that is as far as it goes. Siobhan is evidently reserved towards her twin admitting her husband (played by Ioan Gruffudd) has no knowledge of her existence. There was a clever shot of the characters framed next to the mirror with a direct line between them, demonstrating their contrasting lifestyles and discussion of forgiveness. The drama really kicks in once Siobhan does a disappearing act; assumed she has taken her own life Bridget makes the rash decision to take over it! This is where the enigma really begins.

Bridget now embarks on a thrill ride of a journey as she unearths secrets and lies revolving around her sister. Following Bridget’s journey is fascinating leaving the audience wondering if she’ll adjust to her new life or whether she’ll unravel after she makes the transition from her harsh reality to a superficial world of wealth. The deeper and more enthralled she becomes in her sister’s life the more disturbing things become. She faces an over-critical, distant husband, and an affair with her best friend’s husband; making her realise she is so far away from her sister’s life. It is indicated that the possibility for Siobhan’s suicide was due to loneliness taking all these factors into consideration and the mystery surrounding a little boy called Sean. With the authorities and the mob believing Bridget to be on the run an intense moment occurs when she is faced with Victor; this scene was the most suspenseful emphasised by a close up focused on Bridget/”Siobhan”‘s face, dramatic music and a fade out; in placr to heighten the tension leaving the audience question will Victor be fooled by her pretence? I loved how Bridget got into character so coolly in that scene. Another clever “red-herring” used was a newspaper article regarding a body washed up on the shore. By the conclusion of the episode there are so many unanswered questions in order to lure the audience to keep watching; in which I won’t reveal!

 “Ringer” definitely holds out a lot of potential. Granted its not the most original idea however it is carried by a very interesting protagonist and displays a sense of edginess. A lot of information is provided in the pilot but there is still so much more to unravel. I’m unsure if “Ringer” will work successfully as a long running series and with its cinematic quality it possibly could be suited more to a two hour film or mini-series. I definitely enjoyed it more than another recent series with a similar premise ABC’s “The Lying Game” (2011) as its aimed at an adult audience and is maturer in comparison. So far; with plenty of twists, turns, secrets and lies my interest is held and I’m looking forward to seeing what else the show has in store.

“Ringer” is shown on the CW network on Tuesday Nights 9/8c.

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Hayley Alice Roberts.

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