Tonight's No Ordinary Family episode was another strong entry for the show. We got failing powers, deceitful romances, and some rather clever thoughts on the nature of responsibility. This show really might be getting good after all.
I was a big fan of last week's episode, and my biggest concern heading into "No Ordinary Accident" was that the show's quality would slide right back to where it used to be. Thankfully, that didn't happen. This episode wasn't quite the success "No Ordinary Mobster" was, but it delivered another solidly entertaining hour of television that did a lot more right than it did wrong.
In "No Ordinary Accident", we find Jim suddenly losing his powers, Daphne romancing a boy using telepathy to turn herself into the perfect girl, J.J. hacking the school computer to help out a friend, and Katie getting closer to the devious Watcher. Jim finds himself without his powers while trying to foil a gang of violent carjackers, and Stephanie has to try to figure out what's going on. Jim quickly proves it's not his powers that make him a hero, as he tries his hand at some unpowered vigilantism...with decidedly mixed results.
J.J.'s latest caper gets him into serious trouble with his hateful math teacher, who curtly informs Jim that he'll be calling the police about his son's actions. In a shocking, if rather contrived, coincidence, the teacher's car is then hit by one of the carjackers, landing him in the hospital with an inoperable pipe through his chest. J.J. soon realizes his mother is the only surgeon fast enough to remove the pipe and repair the damage before he bleeds out, but Jim forbids this idea.
Meanwhile, Daphne and Katie are both embarking on relationships under false pretenses, although their respective roles are very different. Desperate to impress her hot friend, Daphne pretends she loves sushi and speaks fluent Japanese, which ends with her eating live prawns. Katie, on the other hand, is romanced by the Watcher, who is only doing this because Evil Stephen Collins ordered him to - or at least, that's the only reason at first.
I enjoyed this episode quite a bit - the show seems to have removed a lot of the initial awkwardness, obviousness, and unpleasantness, and that's a pretty damn good upgrade. That said, No Ordinary Family might well be the proverbial show you have to switch your brain off to enjoy. I had a hard time suspending my disbelief with the hospital scenes - that place has the most liberal visiting hours policies on the planet, no nurses on staff, and entire surgical theaters that can easily be hijacked for unauthorized procedures. That...seems unlikely.
The thing is, though, the show has gotten a lot more stylish and fun than its earlier episodes, and I'm a lot more willing to forget this rampant illogic. The show often used to be both nonsensical and not entertaining. If it had to choose only one of those two to fix, I'm glad they chose the latter, and these last two episodes give me enough renewed hope in the show's improvement that it can eventually start telling stories that make a little more sense. Sure, that's a pretty low hurdle to clear, but I'm willing to take things slow with a potentially decent show that clearly needs time to figure itself out.
It helps that the show continues to throw around some legitimately interesting ideas. The whole notion of proximate causes and whether it was Jim, J.J., or the criminal who was really responsible for lodging that pipe in the teacher's chest - and ultimately whether it would be Stephanie's fault if she didn't save him when she could - is a fun little spin on ideas superhero stories have been exploring for decades. It's nothing revolutionary, to be sure, but it's not just a rote recitation of something I've heard a hundred times before. It's all very pleasant, really. I know pleasant may not sound like much, but there's a ton of TV shows that can't even manage that.
I also enjoyed the interactions between Katie and the Watcher. There were some indications that the Watcher is developing genuine feelings for...something. It's not Katie, exactly, but he seems to be genuinely drawn to her lack of guile and basic decency, and there are indications he's not entirely committed to his facade. His cryptic comments about his childhood and his mentoring by Evil Stephen Collins seemed to be motivated by a genuine desire to open up to her. I'll admit I wasn't exactly wowed by Josh Stewart's performance, so I had some trouble reading some of the intents of his lines, but this all seems like an interesting development.
If last week was the proof that the show really could offer up an excellent episode, then "No Ordinary Accident" shows that wasn't just a fluke, that the show can make consecutive solid episodes. I'll admit I've been grading this show so far on a very generous curve, but if this is the new baseline for the show, if this is what your basic good No Ordinary Family episode is like, then I really can't complain. If this is as good as the show will consistently be, then this is definitely a show I'll enjoy watching.