Review of NO ORDINARY FAMILY – No Ordinary Vigilante (2010)

In the tug of war between family and fate, which will end up being stronger?

Life is still spiraling out of control for the Powell family. Jim (Michael Chiklis) is obsessively trying to make a difference by stalking criminals. Steph (Julie Benz) is racing against the clock to figure out what happened to her family before someone else turns them into guinea pigs. And Daphne (Kay Panabaker) and J.J. (Jimmy Bennett) are indiscriminately using their powers to climb the social ladder in an effort to gain some respect in high school.

It is as if the Powells are living in their own little cocoon unaware that the rest of the world may not appreciate their egocentric view of life revolving around them.

Jim still does not understand that he is not really a super-hero. He is not even a police officer or detective. Just because he has a few unique abilities does not give him license to do as he pleases and perhaps endanger others or even himself in the process. Even once the helpful witnesses nearly ID’d him at the police station, that near brush with having his extracurricular activities did not deter him. It was only once the prime suspect called him on his dubious choice of pursuing vigilante justice at the expense of his family that Jim saw the price he was paying.

Steph is still walking a very dangerous line of investigating how they got their abilities and how it ties into her research with the Trisettum Coronis plant at Global Tech. But with her boss Dr. King (Stephen Collins) and now her new suspicious and ultra-competitive lab partner Dr. Chiles (Reggie Lee) skulking around, Steph will have to be extra careful.

Unattended and unsupervised, Daphne and J.J. started getting into all sorts of teenage trouble. J.J.’s sudden dramatic academic improvement raised suspicions of cheating and, after an unbelievable display of athleticism, Jim and Steph were alerted of possible drug abuse. Not believing that J.J. would be indulging in something so foolish, they came to the correct conclusion that he must have some powers that he had not disclosed. But J.J. not wanting to give up his carefully constructed facade of being gifted all on his own, refused to admit where his new-found mental prowess and athletic ability was actually coming from.

That left Daphne chafing on the sidelines as she was being held accountable for misuse of her abilities, while J.J. was getting away with exploiting his without repercussion.

Indeed, the Powell family is beginning to pay a price for their good fortune. Their powers were supposed to be bringing them together — a bonding experience. Yet, instead, their abilities are beginning to drive them farther apart.

As the season progresses, their ultimate challenge may not be from some outside supernatural villain, but from the widening chasm between them all as they greedily cling to their abilities and how those abilities make them feel special. Their powers are becoming their drug of choice. Shall fate win over family?

What Worked

It was good to see the boomerang-effect of how Jim’s attempts to stop crime in the park came back to haunt him when he was mistaken for the vigilante shooting criminals. It was also quite ironic that Jim had to use his powers to save the life of a mugger shot by a vigilante. Not exactly poetic justice. But it emphasized the blurred lines of who exactly is the bad guy? The mugger or the vigilante who shot him? And does Jim fit in the same category? It is an interesting dilemma.

So by forcing Jim to see himself through someone else’s eyes, he had to face a cold hard truth. He cannot just be a self-appointed hero. Heroes are defined by their actions. What actions are defining Jim? It was interesting to see that after nearly being beaten over the head with how he had been neglecting to be a parent to his own children, that Jim did ultimately choose to be with him family and to leave catching criminals up to the police.

Plus, it was good to see that Jim felt the repercussions of thinking that he can walk around and not be recognized. This is why superheroes wear masks after all. They need to protect their identities. They cannot afford to be recognized. Their careers and families could be put in jeopardy if they did not.

So while Jim was preoccupied with his life lessons, Steph got a cold dose of reality-check at work too. She was forced to share her lab with a competitor that may or may not want to steal her project and who may pose a threat to her secret as well. It is time for everyone to get their priorities straight and work on protecting themselves and not just playing with their new powers.

Moving things along nice was the revelation that there was an earlier scientist who may have discovered the same anomalies that are currently afflicting the Powells. Just what happened to the missing Dr. Douglas Vulson will be fascinating to discover.

What Didn’t Work

J.J.’s refusal to own up to his special abilities has become annoying. Why should he be rewarded while Daphne is punished? J.J.’s crime is deceit. He hides how he is getting his grades and how he is succeeding at football. He does not deserve praise and accolades. He deserves to be exposed for being a fraud. He may not be a cheater, but he is obtaining everything through fraudulent means. J.J. is learning all the wrong values — and is fast becoming the least liked person on the show. Time for some character rehabilitation.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“No Ordinary Vigilante” was written by Ali Adler and John Harmon Feldman, and directed by Ron Underwood. “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 8:00 pm ET on ABC.

Related article:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.