Last night was likely No Ordinary Family's final episode. So the show gave us everything we ever wanted: an absolutely bonkers showdown between the Powells and Dr. King, a sidekick getting powers, and, at long last, an actually interesting premise.
There are no words for just how batshit insane the Dr. King showdown really is. This show has done some ridiculous stuff before now, but I never in a million years thought they could pull out something this ludicrous. This is a show that, not ten minutes before, shied away from showing Dr. King actually shooting any of the guards, ostensibly because this is still supposed to be a family-friendly show. And then...they just go and do this. I don't think the show should have tried to be this crazy all the time - I'm pretty sure down that road Heroes lies - but as one glorious burst of concentrated lunacy? Oh yes please.
As to the rest of the episode, well...Lucy Lawless's Mrs. X, desperate to find out how to make powers permanent, decides to kidnap J.J. and put him to work solving the problem. In her holding cell, J.J. meets up with Joshua, who is being held prisoner because he refused to hurt the Powells. Meanwhile, the shapeshifter Victoria is pretending to be Joshua, who has apparently returned to reconnect with a now very pregnant Katie. While the Powells and Dr. King head into the Global Tech prison to free J.J. and Joshua, George pursues his own inquiries, which ultimately strands him on a plane with eighty convicts, all about to be dosed with the formula that gave the Powells their abilities.
"No Ordinary Beginning" feels like a pretty satisfactory ending to what has been a largely unsatisfactory season. We get to see the entire family showing off their powers - which seemed to include a surprising amount of lethal force, although maybe those soldiers Stephanie took down were just knocked out - and both Dr. King and Mrs. X make their final descent into supervillainy. For a show that's generally seemed tentative and unsure of what it wants to be, it was refreshing to watch something so completely no holds barred.
As is only fitting for No Ordinary Family's finale, a lot of the plot didn't make that much sense. It hinged on some seemingly unlikely contrivances - why was Joshua of all people handling Global Tech crates in South America, and why kill Mr. Litchfield in a crowded school? - and the characters all had their now trademark lapses in judgment, but overall...yeah, I'm willing to forgive this. I was entertained, which papers over a lot of these flaws.
But here's what really bums me out about all this. After an entire season of this show meandering, constantly finding then losing then refinding its way...I'm actually now convinced this show deserves a second season. I mean, let's be honest - from a ratings perspective, this show is firmly in the cancellation range, and I'd say the bad about this past season somewhat outweighs the good. It's not even remotely an injustice if this show gets the ax, as it seems likely to.
And yet, the final three minutes promise a bold new direction for the show, one that I seriously want to watch. Eighty evil supers are now on the loose! The government needs the Powells' help! Katie and Joshua have a super-baby! And George - sweet, wonderful George - now has superpowers! (Probably!) It's an intriguing new formula, and while I doubt it would allow No Ordinary Family to become a great show, this all seems like it would be an awful lot of fun. Well, except the super-baby. I'm guessing that'd get stupid real quick.
What I like about this ending is that it seems to address the show's basic flaw - that all of the supers are ultimately closely entwined with Global Tech, which means a lot of conspiratorial machinations and needlessly complex mythology when really we should just be having some fun with the superhero genre. With eighty rogue supers, there seems like a lot more variety to mix things up - some can be petty criminals, some can be freelancers, some can still be loyal foot soldiers for Lucy Lawless (I've heard of worse jobs), and some, hopefully, can be scheming, comic book style supervillains. It opens the show up from being trapped in a not particularly interesting conspiracy story to a much broader superhero show. Honestly, they probably should have gotten to this point by the midseason break, but oh well.
I think, if this is indeed the last episode, that "No Ordinary Beginning" is a fitting epitaph for the show. It's got all the strengths of No Ordinary Family at its best, along with a healthy dose of its nagging weaknesses. It's a rollicking adventure story with a lot of vaguely pointless mythology thrown in, and it features a few moments where the only sane response is to switch off the logic centers of your brain. But it's got some fun ideas, some cool moments, and some good performances. It's the epitome of decent television and not much more.
And, most importantly, it ends with a big promise that things will get better, one last tease that this show will finally live up to all the potential it has on paper, all prior evidence to the contrary be damned. If that isn't No Ordinary Family in a nutshell, I don't know what is.