“Bionic Woman” Recap: Episode 1.4

Well, here’s the silver lining of tonight’s episode: at least no one shouted, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Because really, what else can you take away from this subpar episode of Bionic Woman, a complete and utter step back from any and all advances made last week? This week’s theme was trust, or the lack thereof, with pretty much every character not being able to trust one or more of each other. So we, the patient audience, viewed scene upon scene in which some variation of the phrase, “I just don’t know who to trust,” was uttered at some point or another.

Know what I trust? My instinct that this show wanted to plant seeds for later plot development, but forgot to actually put together a decent hour of television in order to do so. At the primary foreground of tonight’s episode was the revelation that the bionics technology has a shelf life of around five years. Not bad for your average laptop, but plenty bad for a bionic woman.

normal_faceoff12.jpgJaime learns this fact, a fact obviously already known by Sarah Corvus, via a rescue mission in Paraguay to liberate an American doctor held prisoner by terrorists. What’s a rescue mission for Jaime is in fact an assassination mission for Antonio, who knows what the doctor has in his possession: Will Anthros’ Flash drive, complete with all the information about the bionics in Jaime’s system. This amazing plot coincidence led me to only one conclusion: I have GOT to find me a Flash drive with that type of memory capacity, because my current 1GB model just isn’t cutting it for me.

Antonio and the doctor exchange cryptic dialogue as Jaime tried to figure out the motivations of each, and while the show strove for a Mamet-esque hall of mirrors, it only achieved a splitting headache on my part. I get it, Bionic Woman, I get it: in this super-secret, super-shifty world of international espionage and super-advanced research and development, very few people can show their full hand. But I was left as exasperated as Jaime, and that’s not a good thing. (As to who provided the good doctor with said Flash drive: I can only assume it was Will’s father.)

normal_faceoff09.jpgAs for Sarah: as mentioned before, I’m pretty sure she’s clued into her life expectancy, which would explain her outlandish behavior and lack of fear in the face of death. I had hoped that her willingness to get captured would be revealed to be part of Anthony Anthros’ master plan, but alas, Anthony didn’t make so much as a brief appearance in tonight’s episode. So we’re left wondering exactly how much Sarah is working for him and how much she’s truly working for herself. And this wondering isn’t the byproduct of careful plotting on the show’s part: it’s more to due with the inability of the show to follow a particular plot for more than five minutes without losing interest and praying we don’t notice inconsistencies in characters’ actions and motivations.

What I am hoping the show ultimately achieves, over the course of a full season, is a strong balance between the action plot of the week and an overall continuity in which Jaime (and perhaps Sarah) seek to reclaim their bodies for their own. No other show on television can boast so strong an opportunity for an intelligent, feminist perspective on the action-adventure front, the science-fiction front, and heck, maybe even the dramatic front. The reclamation of the female, physical self is literally built into the show’s narrative. And while the introduction of a five-year end game is an encouraging first step, the show has a long way to go before earning the narrative payoffs that such a premise has established.

Did this week’s episode mark an improvement or a downgrade for you? Should Jaime feel grateful for the life extension or bitter at her fate? And how much information can you fit on YOUR flash drive?

One Comment

  1. Nick
    Posted October 18, 2007 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I did actually think this episode was somewhat better, but I still have the same problems with it. The show just can’t compare in terms of dramatic development with some other shows and the attempts at levity just fall horribly horribly flat.

    Actually, I think the biggest problem is the concept of the show is so stale. I mean this idea literally comes from the 70’s and I think TV has been able to advance in certain ways in terms of what structure a TV show can take and what can happen. This show is really conventional, even the scifi in it is kind of trite.

    I will give thumbs up though. To Kid Nation, on before Bionic Woman. It is really fascinating stuff if somewhat out of the CBS-Survivor format. Also thumbs up to that show Life, on after Bionic Woman. Really like the lead guy. Interesting cop show. A little different.