The future of "No Ordinary Family" is in doubt, with both of its stars having lined up pilots should the show not be picked up, so it's hard to know exactly what to do with an episode like this. If "NOF" were definitely coming back for another season, I could point to "No Ordinary Animal" as the transition episode from the introduction of the characters and premise to the point where the show settles in to what it's becoming, but instead it feels like this could be a case of "too little, too late".
The episode's title comes from the former death row inmate that Stephanie injected with the serum in a previous episode, who's now been enlisted by Dr. King's boss (the manipulative Lucy Lawless) to hunt down and kill the "victims" of Dr. King's experiments who are now on the loose. However, as he makes his way through the list, he encounters supers that Mrs. X was previously unaware of, including Katie and the Powells. Katie, you ask? Well, we'll get to that.
In the real turning point moment for the episode, and again possibly the series, the killer (who I keep wanting to call "Jesse", since that was Eric Balfour's name on "Buffy", and that's all I could think of when he was doing scenes with Julie Benz, aka "Darla") attacked Stephanie, leaving her seriously wounded and infected. She couldn't go to a regular hospital, so Jim, against all logic, brought her to Dr. King. THIS was the key moment in the episode. We're now past this big "mystery" between the two sides, though the Powells still don't know about King's boss. The last few episodes, with both sides sort of half-knowing what was going on, had become tedious, so this was a nice jump forward.
Dr. King and Jim ended up injecting Stephanie with the serum, which Dr. King warned Jim could have side effects. Interestingly, he also failed to tell his boss about it during her surprise visit, instead telling her about getting closer to stabilizing the formula (thanks to some forced assistance from JJ in the episode's weakest subplot). Stephanie recovered, and went for a run, which led to a new special effect, and -- honestly, kind of predictably -- a jump through a hole in space-time (and in the preview for next week's episode, we learn she literally "ran" into the future).
Speaking of predictable, aside from the strong main plot, this episode's developments were painfully telegraphed, at least for those who watch enough television. When Katie showed signs of having powers (first when she was attacked, then later in her house when Jim and Stephanie checked on her), it was made out to be this big question of how she got them, but immediately I said, "she's pregnant with Joshua's baby", and that's exactly what it was. Daphne's subplot involved her boyfriend Chris encouraging her to use her mind-pushing power to just have a little fun, and just as predictably, by the end of the episode, he was on the brink of going out of control with it. I wouldn't be surprised if that led to some of the issues we saw in the preview for next week.
Because of the major plot development with the over-arcing story for the series, this was a better episode of "NOF" than most, but it still had many of the same flaws that the show has displayed throughout its run. And, sadly, because of those flaws, that run may be ending sooner rather than later.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.