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‘No Ordinary Family’ – No Ordinary Visitors

White lies and living with the consequences of those lies


This article may contain spoilers.

In parallel stories of different kinds of home invasions, the Powells got the easier kind to deal with. Instead of being attacked, beaten, held hostage, all the Powells had to endure were a few barbed comments and thinly-veiled insults from their visiting relatives.

While the Staffords were left brutalized and traumatized, the Powells actually gained some insight on their home “invasion.” They learned they have to live with the consequences of the little white lies that they tell.

In this case, the Powells had to keep secret their special abilities — abilities which would have easily won over a measure of respect from Steph’s (Julie Benz) overly-critical parents — and that meant telling a series of white lies. It was difficult for the Powells to not flaunt their new abilities and have the automatic respect that comes with those abilities. But, in the end, they learned that it was better to let Steph’s parent believe what they wanted to believe; and, as awful as some of the comments were that Steph’s parents made, their hearts were in the right place. They only wanted what they thought was best for their daughter. It was only once they began to pay attention to what their daughter was saying and saw the clear evidence of love between Jim (Michael Chiklis) and Steph that they finally understood how lucky their daughter is. The Powells are not the fractured, dysfunctional family they once were. They have reached a place of love and respect through all that they have gone through. It was just time for Steph’s parents to realize that.

So while the Powells had strove so hard to emphasize the value of honesty, it was show that even a few lies can bring about some good.

What Worked

Trent Stafford (Jackson Rathbone), as a guest star, was surprisingly a bright spot in this episode. He not only kept his mouth shut about seeing the intruder’s face, he also kept quiet about how Jim saved him. For a teenager, that is a lot of responsibility and yet he handled it much more gracefully and carefully than one may have expected. He also held it together each time when Daphne (Kay Panabaker) touched him and tried to pry information out of him. Most people would have been unduly suspicious and rude. Yet Trent’s calmness in the face of great stress was remarkable. If the Powells are recruiting into their super-hero club, Trent would be a good ally. He knows how to keep a secret and not over-react.

George (Romany Malco) also continues to delight as the undeterred super-hero sidekick that insists that if crime is not taking the night off, neither will he. It was cool to see him patrolling alone in his car and doing the solo stake-out on the rooftop. But it high time they get him a bullet-proof vest and better communication equipment. If he was willing to splurge on setting up a “Bat Cave” in his garage, George definitely has earned some protective gear and cool communication gadgets to help keep him out of harm’s way.

Also showing real growth is Daphne. In the space of just a few episodes, she went from being the most shell-shocked with her new ability to the most enthusiastic — even her attempt to read the thoughts of a lost dog was completely endearing. Daphne’s desire to help and to find ways to help is exactly the kind of proactive stance that the Powells need. When Daphne angrily said, “How am I supposed to live with myself, knowing I could have helped somebody and chose not to?” it emphasized that this was no longer a simple teenage girl preoccupied with boy-troubles and the latest fashion. Daphne and Jim quickly becoming a nice crime-fighting team and it would behoove Jim and George to welcome Daphne into their super-hero club and allow her to join them on the crime-fighting adventures. It could be really cool!

It was also fun to see how J.J. (Jimmy Bennett) delicately handled his overly competitive grandfather. He actually let Allan (Bruce McGill) win up until the point he actually got permission from Jim to use his abilities to win the pool match. It showed mature behavior from someone who recently could not resist showing off on his tests at school or on the football field.

Then, while Barbara Crane’s (Cybill Shepherd) snooping did not reveal any real dirt in Jim and Steph’s marriage, it was sure funny seeing her reaction to Steph’s closet full of tennis shoes and stash of snacks. In her mind, she probably thought these were signs of a troubled-marriage, but as the viewer knows what all that means, it was hysterical watching her reaction.

In addition, Katie’s (Autumn Reeser) advice to Steph to simply talk to her mom more was good advice. Keeping her mother at a distance does not help calm a suspicious mind who suspects the worst. By simply saying she had taken up competitive running and liked to snack while reading her work notes in bed would have allayed her mother’s out of proportion fears.

Finally, while Barbara and Allan’s initial reaction was quite funny when they thought Jim was having an affair, it was even more funny when they mistakenly thought that Jim was sneaking out to do “good deeds” like feeding and clothing the homeless — it was a little white lie that everyone could live with.

What Didn’t Work

What kind of grandparent actually bets money against their grandchildren at pool — and in public no less? Plus, betting an antique car seems a bit much. While the car bonding scene at the end was heart-warming and fun, it still felt ludicrous that Allan would have bet his car in the first place.

Do the cops have to be the bad guys on this show? First, Detective Cho (Christina Chang), then it has been Detective Cordero (Guillermo Diaz), and finally Officer Hartwick (Sean Douglas) who gave George undue grief tonight. It is time for the show to let the villains be the most hated characters on the show, not Jim’s fellow law enforcement comrades. Bring back the real villains!

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“No Ordinary Visitor” was written by Zack Estrin and Ali Adler, and directed by David Paymer. “No Ordinary Family” stars Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett, Autumn Reeser, Romany Malco, and Stephen Collins.

“No Ordinary Family” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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