SCORE: 3 out of 4 Tennis Balls
March 24, 1976
Mood Ring: Blue
On the Bionic Woman tonight we got to see Jaime when she was a little girl and she had a pony and a dog who lives forever! She also has thousands of dollars in bank accounts from when she played tennis. Her mother who died a long time ago came back, but it turned out the lady lied. Jaime was really sad and cried a lot, but her other mother Helen still loves her.
THE BIONIC WOMAN 1X08
The one where Jaime’s mother comes back to life. (This zombie trend is kinda getting out of hand, don’t you think?)
November 11, 2012
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Blue
Jaime's Mother is one of those Bionic Woman episodes I never forgot, so when the DVD was released I could hardly wait to watch this one again to find out why—when I can't even flippin' remember what I had for lunch yesterday—this episode still remained burned on my brain all these decades later.
Especially the scene where Jaime lost her cool and broke the back of the dining room chair. It wasn't just the initial shock of seeing Jaime snap in a moment of despair. It was the realization that Lindsay Wagner could unleash a sudden wave of genuinely believable raw emotion that I am sure I had never seen an actress do before. I was stunned. Wow, welcome to the big leagues, kids.
All My Bionic Children: Tonight's episode is brought to you by Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid, yes we're soaking in it, because this plot line is pure soap opera fun, and I don't mind admitting I was enjoying the suds. Ye old character from the past that everybody thought was dead suddenly resurrects from the tomb, followed by a dramatic organ chord before the commercial break. But unlike typical soaps where the children mysteriously accelerate in age, this time it's a family dog that age-decelerates, in like a Benjamin Button kind of way.
Susan Lucci wasn't available, so the part of Jaime's mother this evening will be played by the legendary Barbara Rush, who In addition to having an illustrious career in film and television (none of which I ever saw before this), also happened to star in Peyton Place in the late1960s. Even actress Norma Connolly—who played the neighbor Miss Noah—went on to become Luke and Laura's famous Aunt Ruby on General Hospital. To our benefit, we have conveniently assembled a cast of drama queen soap veterans who know how to lather it up on screen.
But first, as is customary whenever we have an episode where the Bionic Woman is scheduled to become sad, we will need special necessary catastrophe supplies in preparation, so drag out the Bionic Blonde usuals: Several pounds of chocolate, extra martinis, and a box of tissues.
Ready, set, soap!
My Mother The Car: The Bionic Woman was 3 minutes late for her episode this evening. Right away we know she could not possibly have sprung from the loins of her alleged mother, who arrived promptly at the top of the hour—speeding down some road to Ojai, rubbing a gunshot wound in her arm while she was being tailed by some bad guys.
At 6:14 a.m. on the clock radio, we see Jaime pounding z's in her big brass bed, tossing and turning, while she is having dreams of her happy childhood where she was riding her pony, playing tennis with her mom and being given a silver, star of Davidish-looking pendant necklace* that she still wears today.
Newsflash: Jaime is not a sleep walker—she's a sleep bender, and during her slumber, she unwittingly mutilates the brass spindles on her headboard with her bionic hand. Of course she's probably not aware she even does this because—as we witnessed in reverse slow motion—she always bends them back perfectly before she wakes up.
On the bed stand, we see a family portrait with little girl Jaime, her parents, and their family dog. And then suddenly Jaime's phone rings, but stop everything because in the land of DVD pause, we get to see (and commit to memory this completely useless trivia) that Jaime's home phone number is 311-555-2368! Hey, do you realize that if she owned a mattress store, in her memorial day sale TV commercials she could tell viewers to call her at "555-BENT" ? <--- Sadly, I wasted several minutes of my life transposing these numbers into a catchy word, as if it were even remotely relevant to this episode.
Motherlode: Anyway, groggy Jaime (modeling another installment of her fabulous Jamie's Jammies) answers the ringing phone, and there is a woman's voice on the other end saying her parents graves had been vandalized at the cemetery last night. Abruptly, the voice starts echoing "Jaime" back to her, causing Jaime to grab her temples in pain. Oh no, it's like her bionic rejection Excedrin headache grimace all over again! But then Jaime looks over at her mother's photo, reassuring us this is merely Jaime's "OMG that lady sounded just like my nagging mother" headache. Whew! Crisis averted.
Jaime ventures to the graveyard and finds her parent's tombstones are just fine. Doing the headstone math, we learn her mother Ann Sommers was 36 and her father James Sommers was 39 when they both died on April 16, 1966. From previous episode story lines, Jaime was 16 at the time she was orphaned by their car accident, and close friends of her parents Helen and Jim Elgin (Steve's parents) became her legal guardians. So one of the great things about this episode is that we finally get a little more backstory on the Bionic Woman’s family tree.
Just as Jaime smiles in relief that their graves are fine, suddenly a Benji-looking dog bounds up wagging his tail. Jaime notices the name on his dog tag is PUZZLES and has a flashback where she's a girl (maybe 5-ish?) carrying this same dog down a slide. Which *punching calculator* means this childhood pet would be like 23 years old now. Ermahgerd. No. Way. That's like well over 100 in dog years! This pet should be using a walker and wearing a Doggie Depends™ diaper for bladder control. Or more accurately, given his age, Puzzles should really look like this:. ---->
(Apologies to Corpse Bride from whence this image was borrowed) Allrighty, so I did google world's oldest dogs, and Puzzle's advanced age here is not entirely impossible in the record books, but having buried some of my own geriatric pets around the age of 15, I'd love to see the zombiesque photos of these lucky little 20+ club geezers. (Does Willard Scott Smuckers-wish them a happy birthday on the Today Show?) At any rate, a woman in a car parked in the distance opens the door and calls for this amazingly arthritic-free Puzzles, and he obediently jumps in and they drive away. Jaime looks like she's just seen a soap-ghost. "Mother?"
I really liked this next scene in Jaime's apartment where she is trying to tell Helen she just saw her long-deceased mother, and Helen is trying to gently remind Jaime her parents are dead and that she's hallucinating. Helen is understandably worried that Jaime may still be fragile in her memory loss about Steve and other things, and could be losing her brain lobe marbles. Jaime's in tears because Helen doesn't believe her. When Helen admits that Puzzles may still be alive because he ran away years ago to live at his old Sommers homestead, Jaime decides to go investigate.
Flower Shop: Outside her childhood home, Jaime stops to sniff their old yellow rose bush, and has a flashback to when she got caught digging them up as a girl. It bears noting here that Steve also brought Jaime a bouquet of yellow roses in the hospital after her skydiving accident, so I love this little continuity crumb as a favorite flower of the Sommers women. Sigh. if only the writers had remembered this for the Bionic Ever After Ausommers wedding and had included a few yellow roses in Jaime's Lily-themed bridal bouquet.
It's Ripleys-believe-it-or-not true, Puzzles is indeed still "with us," and Miss Noah, the current property owner and de facto adopter of this dog, says he hasn't caught a jackrabbit in years and to the best of her knowledge, he never plays at the cemetery. Jaime reminisces as she pets him, "I can remember when I use to be his favorite toy." Sniff. It's like Woody in Toy Story all over again.
If Looks Could Kill: As Jaime is leaving she bionic hears a car start and witnesses it drive off. Hey, it's her Maybe!Mom in that same sedan from the cemetery earlier! So she takes off running but is unable to catch up. Jaime returns home all excited to tell Helen she wasn't imagining things, but Oscar has arrived forthwith to meddle, summoned by Helen because she was concerned for Jaime's mental state. Rut-ro, Jaime is livid with Helen's intervention, and the icy, evil eye she shoots her here made me want to crawl under my sofa cushions. Thankfully Jaime did not have one of those bionic laser eyes like Steve's son Michael, cuz I'm pretty sure Helen would have gone up in smoke here.
Oscar wants to talk to irritable Jaime alone, who accuses him, "Are you afraid I might have blown a fuse, literally?" Followed by my personal favorite—especially since she bounced off these later in the series— wondering if she might need "a room with mattress wallpaper?" Haha.
But unamused Oscar hands her a top-secret file about her parents and the revelation that, in addition to being cold war, baby boom parents and university professors, her mom was also an undercover agent for the government, and that instead of an accident, her parents were presumably murdered.
"Oh my god," Jaime says, in an age before we lazily text-abbreviated it, "I never knew any of this." Oscar suggests her mommy apparition exists only in her dreams. Jaime's all confused and starts to cry, Oscar leaves her alone to read the file and says he'll check back in a couple hours. Then Jaime gets an alert call from Miss Noah, who says a deadly ringer for her mother just stopped by her house to ask questions about Jaime, stole a bunch of yellow roses from her bushes and said she was going to pay her last respects. Yup, back to the graveyard.
Jaime bionic runs to the cemetery and finally catches this mystery woman in the act, laying flowers on her parents’ graves. Jamie grabs the woman and stares at her face with a mix of confusion and recognition. "Mother? " At first the woman denies it, but then Jaime shakes her by the shoulders and demands, …"are you my Mother!?" The woman finally smiles and bursts into tears at the sight of Jaime, confessing. "Oh Jaime, oh… yes." Oh my!
(Insert Organ stinger outro here. Followed by a commercial for floor wax that will change your life. We now return you to Days of our Bionic Lives)
Oscar's in his nearby Air Base office arguing with Oscar Jr. (aka Mark Russell) about a file and shouts in all caps "SO WHY ISN'T THIS INFORMATION IN OUR FILES?" Blimey, turns out the woman buried in that cemetery plot may NOT be Jaime's mother after all. Oscar declares, "It seems there were two Anns."
How I Met Your Mother: In the following scenes that start in the cemetery, move to a traveling car and end in a barn, Jaime and her Maybe!Mom continue their back story conversations, where she tells Jaime there was a woman named Chris Stewart, an actress who looked just like her (with a little plastic surgery) who was helping to cover for her secret agent activities, and that she was the one in the car with her father that day it crashed. Jaime smartly asks, "So how do I know you're not Chris?"
Jaime continues with her questioning, pointing out the mother she knew never possessed self-pity (Although methinks Jaime inherited it just a wee-tad in On The Run). And also insists her mother loved her enough to come back for her. But Maybe!Mom says she did come back several times. She claims she watched Jaime's high school graduation, her first tennis match that she won 6 love-6 love, and speaking of love, she also saw her with Steve, too when they were "building a life." (Um… just how much private Ausommers surveillance did you do lady, and can you please share it with the rest of the class?)
She continues that the government had all but erased her existence and she was afraid that if the people who killed Chris and her father knew she were still alive, they would not have hesitated to come after her daughter Jaime, too. Well, I suppose that desire to protect her is a plausible excuse for abandonment. But poor Jaime is still confused on whether to believe her, so they decide to litmus test her identity with her old friend Helen.
Mom, I’m Home With My Other Mom: Of course Helen practically goes into shock when she sees Ann Sommers come through her front door with Jaime. By now Oscar has called Helen with the breaking news Ann could still be alive. While Maybe!Mom looks around the room and remarks about being familiar with Helen's ugly furniture (hey!) and recognizes Jaime's first tennis racket proudly displayed on a shelf next to Steve's dinky little trophies, poor Jaime is standing in the dining room with her hands resting on the back of a chair, and when the plot pressure is too much, she bionically blows.
Helen, who by now is used to Jaime bionic-damaging valuables around the house and hotel rooms, quickly tries to cover for her. But Jaime skips to the point and very desperately pleads with Helen, "is she my mother?" Helen doesn't know the answer, so Jaime walks over and very directly asks this lady in a trembling voice to tell her something only her real mother would know. She points to the necklace Jaime's wearing and recalls she gave that to her the same day she died.
Confirmation: Jaime emotionally loses it and begins to smile and nod in acceptance. "You're my mother..." Jaime is not just sobbing here. She regresses into a lip quivering, lung heaving, shoulder trembling, give me back my binkie now! baby cry. *sucks down 2 martinis* This is like deadlier than the fetal position of effective actor meltdowns. Awww, and then they reunion-hug. Okay lady, you better be Jaime's real binkie, or else!
This was just an absolutely incredible performance here by Ms. Wagner and Barbara Rush. Reminds me of the joke about former daytime soap actress and multi-Emmy winner Judith Light—who is so talented in the art of weeping that whenever a director requests for her to cry, she asks, "which eye?"
Guiding Bionic Light will return after this commercial with important laundry solutions for ring around the collar! Followed by a preview for "The Coward" episode on The Six Million Dollar Man in which Steve bumps into his (also deceased) Maybe!Dad in the Himalayas, or someplace on the Universal backlot.
Oh happy day! Jaime is no longer little orphan Annie. No wonder she ditched her dog. Her mommy has come home! As they go for a loving, mother-daughter stroll, Jaime points out that just like her ma, she also came back to life, then demonstrates her bionics to her mother by jumping up a tree, bionic running around and lifting a tractor. This scene contains one of my all time favorite lines from the Bionic Woman series when Jaime states: " Well, here i am, your little girl… with a 4 on the floor and a 3.7 *hip swing* differential." Haha, this still cracks me up every time.
Meanwhile, Oscar has contacted the cast of CSI to come over and dig up mommy's grave to see if they can positively I.D. whether it was Chris or Ann buried there. Ewwwww, this is kinda morbid for young audiences. Can't they just wait and see if she turns up on The Walking Dead instead?
Necessity is the Mother of Invention: Jaime's mother confesses that to earn a living in her post mortuary years, she took a job with the bad guys, sold them false information and now they want her dead. But she refuses to let Jaime tell Oscar, because the government will imprison her for being a double agent. Jaime decides to help orchestrate her escape, and in her apartment, rifles through her messy desk and pulls out several bank savings account books.
The Bionic Woman offers to withdraw all this leftover cash she has lying around in various bank accounts from her professional tennis years and give it to her fugitive mother. *Choke* Jaime why do you have to get all Suzi Orman on us with sound financial investment advice when you could totally go shopping with this money?! Sigh. Besides, here’s a little warning tip: you have about ten years before the Savings and Loan Crisis hits. Get out now.
Mummy Dearest: At the cemetery the body is exhumed, the gravedigger hands Oscar Jr. a clipboard and he rushes it over and presents the immediate results from dental chart comparisons. Wow, that was even faster than they do it on CSI. He hands the clipboard to Oscar who is waiting in a limo. (Or is this a hearse?)
Drat, the woman in that grave is absolutely, positively Ann Sommers. So Jaime's mother is really and truly dead. Chris Stewart, you are dead to me now. How dare you lie to Jaime and all us gullible viewers like this?!
After Jaime beat off the bad guys outside her coach house apartment with hay bales and broke a wheel off their car, Jaime and her once Maybe!Mom then Real!Mom now Lying!Lady!Chris flee in her car and swing by the Ojai Valley Federal Savings and Loan, close out an account and Jaime hands her an envelope with $2624.15 in cash. Chris declines to accept it, saying that's not why she came back into Jaime's life. At Jaime’s insistence as payback for her tennis lessons, she finally agrees to take it. Then they head for the airport, but the bad guys follow them in a car chase and run them off the road.
Mother's Day: Chris orders Jaime to stay in the car and confronts the bad guys alone. Of course Jaime's bionic hearing—which she failed to disclose earlier—enables her to listen in on their conversation and she unfortunately overhears the truth this woman really is Chris Stewart and not her mom. The look on Jaime's face is positively heartbreaking here, and my mood ring on her behalf is the color of crushed disappointment, otherwise known as b*tch red.
But Jaime also overhears Chris compassionately trying to spare Jaime's life as she negotiates a deal for them to haul her off somewhere and execute her in private, so that Jaime does not witness the crime. As sales-pitched by her obviously Not!Mother—who could frankly use a little coaching on positive parenting—Jaime is described to the bad guys as an insignificant "school teacher in a hick town."
Child Abandonment: Chris comes back to the car and tells Jaime that these nice men are with the FBI, and she has to go with them now—and oh by the way, there’s no Santa Claus either—then bids her goodbye. Sniff. Jaime is left sitting in the passenger seat with such a hurt, little girl look on her face. Yeah, I bet this means there's no Easter Bunny, too.
As soon as they drive away, Jaime takes off running after them, bionic-drops a tree in their path, and when they crash into it, one of the bad guy's guns accidentally goes off in a struggle and shoots Chris in the stomach. Jaime rips the car door off, grabs the bad guy and tosses him through the air. Yessss, 250 Angry Bird Points! While Jaime is comforting her Not!Mom, the woman confesses to her in a last rites kind of way that she's not really her mother. Jaime sobs, "I know, Chris." (But lady, just please don't tell Jaime about the Tooth Fairy, too because I think we can all agree she's suffered enough disappointment today.)
Speaking of the Tooth Fairy: Later at the hospital, Jaime brings her Failed!Dental!X-Rays!Mom some yellow roses, and the news that Oscar thinks she could get her sentence suspended if she cooperated with information. Chris explains she was with Ann Sommers the day she bought Jaime that pendant necklace, and that their friendship and her days in Ojai were some of the happiest of her life.
With the weepiness still on severe onion-chopping level 10, Chris said she relished in the idea that the bamboozled Jaime could be her "baby" even if just for a little while. Yeah but what about us? Some of us really did buy this plot story and were so happy for Jaime before she had to mourn the loss of her mother all over again. I mean, Jaime didn't even shed this many tears when she woke up in the hospital as the new bionic woman without a properly signed release form. For god sakes, we are running out of sympathy chocolate here, bionic producer people!
But in the end, once again, Jaime Sommers demonstrates her amazing capacity to forgive others, and teaches us that no matter our DNA, there can be a little Mother Theresa in all of us.
Pushing Up Daisies: In the final scene Jaime visits Helen who is planting daisies, her flower of preference. This is actually a really sweet scene where Helen admits she was jealous when she thought Jaime's mother had come back into her life. Jaime assures her "Mothers aren't like used cars—you don't just change models on a whim." Helen replies, "You mean I'm locked into the job?" Jaime says no, she's stuck with it, and reminds Helen of the time Jaime fender-bendered her car as a teenager—those parenting joys forever belong to Helen. (As do all the other things Jaime continues to break around Helen’s house) And then they walk off together arm in arm, with Helen carrying her basket of fresh daisies. (Which ironically makes a perfect segue for tonight's sponsor, Lysol air freshener.) Don't you just heart happy endings?
Not a huge wardrobe in this episode, but a couple of iconic ones. Yay, a new pair of Jaime’s Jammies! Her blue, cropped collar blouse had a unique Japanese flair that she wore with bell bottomed jeans. Her white smock-top blouse had some nice embroidery detail around the neckline and 3/4 sleeves, and her coordinating brown slacks also had tan stripes around the flare. (Same tennis shoes from A Thing of the Past, too) Jaime’s outfit at the end was a return of her white wool coat from Angel of Mercy, and the red dress underneath may have also appeared in Welcome Home Jaime Pt. 2.
* This pendant necklace is in the shape of an Enneagram, a nine-sided star polygon. Sometimes used as a system of knowledge or as a model of human personality. Thanks to Andrea for solving the mystery!
The Bionic Woman and the character of Jaime Sommers are © Universal Studios. This website is produced by a fan just for fun, and is in no way affiliated with, nor endorsed by, Universal Studios or the cast or crew of this series. No copyright infringement is intended.