Last night's No Ordinary Family brought together one of its silliest plots yet with a full-on Battlestar Galactica reunion hour, complete with a pair of former Cylons, lots of cryptic discussions about murky conspiracies, and even a would-be suicide bombing.
"No Ordinary Love" was one Grace Park short of a complete set of ridiculously tall Cylon women, as Tricia Helfer and Lucy Lawless guest-starred as a pair of new villains. Helfer was Sophie, a supervillain with the ability to make men fall completely in love with her, giving her an endless supply of idiots who would do literally anything for her. She ensnared first George, then Jim, making the pair commit robberies for her and, in Jim's case, plant a bomb that would bring an end to Dr. King's experiments. You can see the pair of them cryptically plotting in the video above.
Why Sophie wants to destroy Dr. King and his latest experiment (Skyline's Eric Balfour, who ended the episode as a very poor man's Wolverine) wasn't exactly clear. She's apparently doing it on the orders of Lucy Lawless's big bad, who feels King has gotten sloppy and that there are too many supers running around town.
Anyway, Jim actually does the unthinkable and leaves his family to be with Sophie. It's a massively out-of-character moment for the consummate family man, and yet somehow nobody except a possibly concussed George even suspects Jim might be under some form of hypnosis or suggestion.
This is a necessary contrivance for No Ordinary Family to shift back into cheesy sitcom mode, a decision that's sort of redeemed by Michael Chiklis's wonderfully goofy performance as the brainwashed Jim. Still, when not one but two of the main supers that the Powells know about - Daphne and Joshua - are able to affect people's minds, it's really inexcusable that none of the family even considers that possibility. They must really not think much of Jim's commitment to his marriage, I guess.
Speaking of Daphne altering people's minds, her boyfriend Chris suspects the Powells have special ability. To protect the secret, Daphne wipes his mind. And then, when the thoughts come back, she has to do it again. And again. And again. It's a potentially serious moment, but the ethics of Daphne's actions are never even considered, and it becomes just another sitcom-esque setpiece, one that is again elevated by Kay Panabaker's increasingly frustrated performance.
But anyone who is still holding out hope No Ordinary Family is going to turn one of its main characters into a supervillain, this sequence should be ample proof why that's never going to happen. No matter how much J.J. or Daphne abuse their powers, the show never considers even addressing it. There's no moral arc to their characters - we're just meant to know that they're the good guys, so how can they ever do anything really bad?
I have no idea how the average person reacted to this episode, because I mostly just enjoyed all the Battlestar Galactica stuff. There weren't any explicit references to the show - although there was an incredibly forced Charlie Sheen reference that may or may not have been crowbarred in at the last minute - but Helfer and Lawless were very much playing the same types they did on Battlestar.
Helfer was again the femme fatale with the (now literal) ability to make men to abandon their morals and do whatever she desired, and Lawless was again the shadowy conspirator with a completely inability to speak in concrete statements. (Not to mention a deeply strange accent - I think she was doing a refined English accent, but a lot of her native New Zealand slipped through.) It's a little unclear whether Sophie's bombing required Jim to die - or, technically speaking, whether he even would be killed in such an explosion - but it's hard to watch a scene where Sophie hands a backpack full of explosives to Jim and not think of all the Cylons who sacrificed themselves to their cause.
So what are we left with? This is another one of those "shut your mind off and it's kinda fun" episodes, albeit way better executed than what this show was doing ten episodes ago. There weren't any themes here - at least, none that the episode cared to bring out, as there was no attempt to connect Sophie's mind control with Daphne's tampering - and a lot of the characters were aggressively dumb in service of the plot.
It's hard to both be a silly sitcom and evoke Battlestar Galactica in the same episode and have any real chance of meshing those themes together...and no, "No Ordinary Love" failed to pull that off. But once again, No Ordinary Family was decent enough. See you next week, I guess.