This has got to be one of the better episodes – if not the best episode – of No Ordinary Family.
Stephanie’s (Julie Benz) powers increase as she can now skip through time, a la the Flash, the Silver Surfer, or Doc Brown’s DeLorean in the Back to the Future movies per Katie’s (Autumn Reaser) pop culture analogies. Usually, these pop culture references of hers fall flat, but they worked here as Stephanie only understood the Back to the Future reference. It is surprising, though, that no references were made to the classic X-Men story “Days of Future Past,” given that Stephanie sees a very grim future for her family just days away.
As Stephanie skips through time, she learns that her family’s super-powers have been exposed to the public, and that they’re being hunted by the government. She realizes that something will happen to set these events in motion later on that day when George (Romany Malco) is eulogizing Det. Cordero (Guillermo Diaz). So the family must prevent George’s death without revealing their super-powers.
What hurt the episode is the amount of disbelief that the creators expect the audience to suspend. When the dirty cop O’Bannon (Raphael Sbarge) is making a play for George, Daphne (Kay Panabaker) uses her telepathic powers to make him turn over his weapon to him. You can accept that, given her abilities.
However, what is hard to accept is that a crowd of cops doesn’t see what’s happening between the two? That even one cop who glances their way won’t find it the least bit suspicious that an officer is giving his gun to a civilian – a teenager, no less – in plain sight? That’s hard to believe.
The crisis averted, Jim (Michael Chiklis) and Stephanie learn that Daphne can “mind-push” people. They ask her to telepathically coerce her boyfriend Chris (Luke Kleintank) to forget about their powers. She obeys, but her powers work too well – Chris forgets that they’re a couple and wants nothing to do with her. You actually feel a lot of sympathy for Daphne as Panabaker nails this scene.
Other developments: Mrs. X (Lucy Lawless) brings the shape-shifting Victoria (Rebecca Mader) back to life. Victoria knocks out Dr. Klein (John Rubinstein), Katie’s OB-GYN, and takes his place, getting all the info on Katie’s “super-baby” for her boss.
FUN FACT: Veteran actor Rubinstein played Linwood Murrow, a lawyer for Wolfram & Hart on Angel, a show where Benz had a recurring role as Darla. In several episodes, Rubinstein’s character had an interest in Connor, the infant son of vampires Darla (Benz) and Angel (David Boreanaz).
With this episode, the first season of No Ordinary Family concludes. It is unclear if this episode is the season finale or the series finale. ABC will not be announcing if this show will be returning for a second season until mid-May.
The main plot has Helen Burton (Lucy Lawless) – the true name of Mrs. X – kidnap J.J. (Jimmy Bennett) to figure out why his family’s super-powers are permanent. The explanation given is very plausible – adrenal levels have to be very high in order for the trilsettum formula to be permanent, which they were when the Powells took that fateful flight back in the very first episode.
J.J.’s family – Jim (Michael Chiklis), Stephanie (Julie Benz), and Daphne (Kay Panabaker) – join forces and set out to rescue him. They have help from an unlikely ally, Dr. King (Stephen Collins). It’s revealed that Dr. King has been using the trilsettum formula to keep himself alive for 18 years from when he was first diagnosed with cancer.
The Powells rescue J.J. but not before Mrs. X learns the secrets of the permanency of their super-powers, which she plans on giving to 80 criminals via a deliberate plane-crash and then selling out their services to the highest bidder. Stephanie is too late to stop her from taking off in a chopper.
However, they have bigger things to worry about – Dr. King. He double-crosses Jim and shoots him, which you half-expected, revealing his love for Stephanie to him. Next, Dr. King lies to her and says the guards shot Jim while he was powerless, but Jim arrives, alive and well. His duplicity exposed, Dr. King tells Stephanie he did it for her because he loves her. Cliché.
Jim and Dr. King then fight. It turns out Dr. King is like the Super-Skrull of the No Ordinary Family set because he injected himself with a serum that gives him all of the Powells’ super-powers, only augmented.
That is so cliché.
After defeating Jim and Stephanie, Dr. King’s victory is short-lived as J.J. manages to inject him with the cure and the cancer he’s held at bay accelerates, killing him within seconds. Good riddance.
Chiklis was really believable, playing an enraged father who was willing to go great lengths to protect his family. He should win an Emmy for Best Actor in a Series With Poor Writing, which has been the bane of this show’s existence. Collins also did a good job because he was unpredictable and has his own agenda but he became a clichéd comic book villain in his final scene.
Subplots are also resolved this episode: Katie (Autumn Reeser), who is in her first trimester, gives birth to a healthy baby boy and reunites with her lover Joshua (Josh Stewart), now cured of his powers. Also, Mrs. X has math teacher Mr. Lichtfield (Jason Antoon) murdered by some Electro wannabe, who can control electricity.
One subplot that is not resolved is the fate of George (Romany Malco), who ends up on the plane with the 80 criminals. They survive the crash and manifest super-powers in the process – George included. What his super-powers are weren’t revealed, but he appeared unharmed.
At the very end, an NSA operative recruits the Powells into the fold, leaving it open for a second season. The operatives knows of their powers and that they’re “no ordinary family,” finally mentioning the show’s title within the show, but it felt so ham-handed.
As far as season finales go, yes, it ended on a cliffhanger, but many subplots were resolved. At least, George is safe and you’re not left to wonder if he made it out alive or not. That was smart on the creators’ part.
What has hurt this show throughout its run is that it’s often-times been very awkward, uneven, clumsy, rushed, some bad dialogue, and full of clichés. Suspension of disbelief has been very hard to suspend on many occasions. Writing on a good chunk of episodes was weak. The family’s powers were used for the wrong reason a good part of the time when they tried not to use them. Characters, such as Amanda (Amy Acker), George’s potential love interest for two episodes, were forgotten.
It also was very unbalanced in the sense that it didn’t know whether to be a done-in-one family-friendly show or a Heroes-esque show that had dark elements and a serial storyline. No happy medium could be achieved. For instance, in the second episode, Det. Cho (Christina Chang) was murdered with her own gun. This murder occurred off-screen. In this episode, Dr. King gets it in the eye with a syringe and it’s shown in its graphic detail – pretty gruesome for an 8 p.m. timeslot.
Benz, Chiklis, Collins, and the rest of the main cast tried to make it work, but it’s hard to do when you’d get the impression that the creators didn’t know where to go with this show (a task probably made difficult due to ABC executives). It was mentioned in a recent article in Entertainment Weekly that Benz and Chiklis have already done pilots for CBS that may or may not get picked up for the fall season. Perhaps they knew they were on a sinking ship – who’s to say?
Does this show deserve another season? I don’t think it does. But if it comes back, perhaps the creators can learn from some of their mistakes and turn it around.
For those people out there who want to save the show, click on http://abc.go.com/site/contact-us to express your desire to see No Ordinary Family in the fall, directing your correspondence to Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment.