The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for “The Ringer,” the latest episode of the CBS show, “Moonlight.”
Coraline’s back, Mick is a mess, and all hell breaks loose!
“The Ringer” was possibly the best character development episode of “Moonlight” so far. Mind you, I’m still lowering my standards for this series, and don’t consider it appointment television, but it’s not bad as a way to pass a quiet Friday evening.
Central to this episode is photographer Morgan, who looks so much like Mick’s ex-wife and sire, Coraline, that Mick, upon seeing her, becomes crazed with the desire to reveal her for who he thinks she is.
The only problem is that Coraline is a dead vampire, supposedly killed by Mick, who years ago put a silver letter opener through her heart and set her on fire. Morgan is a living human woman, who seems to have a current history that includes employers and former employers, parents, friends, and siblings.
What ensues once Mick spots her is an elaborate cat-and-mouse game, with Mick the mouse stalking Coraline the cat. In between steps, we see flashbacks of human Mick in the early 1950’s being carefully seduced by vampire Coraline, to the point where he is obsessed with her. She rejects him, yet lures him in closer and closer.
Morgan seems busy working to usurp the relationship between Mick and Beth (Sophia Myles). Beth becomes visibly unsettled by Mick’s obsession with Morgan, even while denying she has any interest in him. Still, Beth could be a target if indeed Morgan is Coraline. Beth was the child Coraline wanted to turn so that she and Mick could “have a child” together. It was to protect young Beth that Mick killed Coraline.
Chances are, Beth is still Coraline’s target (for either killing or turning into a vampire – either of which would destroy Mick); but again, Morgan is so convincingly human, that she cant be Coraline.
Throughout the story, there are clues that Morgan’s uncanny resemblance to Coraline is more than just coincidence. Morgan’s cameras are stolen by a “thief” who turns out to be a guy who died three weeks before the murder. The thief also threatens her with a silver letter opener.
Morgan owned a book called “Remembrances of the Past” that was Coraline’s favorite. Morgan refers to a “fifties thing” she was “trying to shake.” Morgan gets a photo of a fire being investigated in the story, where there is an image of a woman being murdered who has a fleur-de-lis tattoo on her back — just as Coraline had.
Mick enlists the help of Josef, who also knew Coraline in the past. When Josef sees Morgan, he, too, sees a resemblance so strong, he resorted to smelling her to determine whether she was human or vampire. He too is confused, because she smells human but is a dead ringer for the vampire.
Then there is the issue of the missing tattoo. Coraline had that fleur-de-lis tattoo, and Morgan apparently did not. By the end, though, we see that indeed she does have one that she carefully covered up.
Did Coraline escape from death and find a way to turn back into being a human? Could her ultimate revenge be that she has found a “cure” for vampirism, and is using it to taunt Mick, who clearly doesn’t want to be a vampire?
Now begins the central conflict in “Moonlight” with Coraline establishing herself as Mick’s major antagonist.
One strong point in the episode is that the storytelling relies less on voice-over narration and more on action. Fifties Mick is so crazed with Coraline that he breaks her window down with a chair, which beats talking about breaking the window down.
Jason Dohring as Josef finally had more to do in this episode than in previous episodes, and his character fits more organically into the story. His rapport with Alex OLoughlin as Mick has gotten better, and their scenes together actually felt like buddy scenes.
Furthermore, his character is revealing more idiosyncrasies than before. His reluctance to jump to the balcony at Hank Mottola’s house after telling Mick to embrace his vampness was quirky and funny.
Shannyn Sossamon is great as the major big bad in the series. This episode raised the bar for storytelling in “Moonlight.”
What Didn’t Work
How did Mick ever allow himself to get married to Coraline after she treated him so shabbily — standing him up three times and entertaining other men – and think that she wasnt going to hurt him in some way? Of course, it’s understandable that he didn’t expect to be turned into a vampire, but I don’t see the connect between the seductive bitca Coraline and the newlywed wife Coraline. There were warning signs all over the place that this woman was trouble.
Beth didn’t have a terribly big part in this episode, which left it lacking. It seems there should have been more of her toward the close of the story. Instead she got lost somewhere in the middle and became almost a minor character. Considering that she is likely to be Coraline’s prime target in future episodes, something implying that toward the end may have made Coraline’s threat seem even more onerous.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“The Ringer” was written by Josh Pate (of “Surface” fame) and directed by Chris Fisher.
“Moonlight” airs on CBS, Fridays at 9 p.m. ET.