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The Bionic Woman (1976): Episode 2 Review

A man and a woman sit down, wearing smart clothes, in episode 2 of The Bionic Woman (1976)

The Bionic Woman episode 2 opens up the OSI case files, and reveals the details of Jaime Sommers’ first successful solo mission.

Creator: Kenneth Johnson
Genre: Adventure, Superhero
Number of seasons: 3
Ep. 2 Release Date: Jan 21, 1976
Where to watch: on digital & VOD

The Bionic Woman episode 2 (“Welcome Home, Jaime: Part Two”) picks up much where the previous episode left off – with Carlton Harris (Dennis Patrick), who Jaime (Lindsay Wagner) and Steve (Lee Majors) ticked off back in The Six Million Dollar Man (1973), seemingly out for revenge.

He stages a car accident, and films Jaime using her bionic powers to rescue a pretend victim from the wreckage, then he later cuts Jaime’s breaks, and films how she uses her bionic powers to avoid crashing into a felled tree. 

However, it quickly turns out that all this recording wasn’t in aid of finding a way to get back at Jaime, but actually just to make some films, viewed by Harris, to further convince himself that Jaime would be a great asset to his shady criminal endeavours, and that he ought to try to employ her. 

Hashing out this conclusion with Oscar (Richard Anderson), Jaime has the terrific idea of playing double agent, infiltrating Harris’ organisation, and finally collecting enough dirt on the fellow for the OSI to put him away. And why not? I’m sure she can handle it. It’s an opportunity to prove that Jaime Sommers doesn’t require the intervention of The Six Million Dollar Man, an opportunity to prove to Oscar (and to any ‘70s conservative American blokes, sat in front of the box with a beer after dinner) that Jaime is just as capable as Mr Steve Austin, and damn ready to get out there on some OSI-sanctioned missions. 

And, wouldn’t you know? That’s exactly what happens. As much as I was all for the drama in Jaime’s first appearances, and back in episode 1, using that drama, at will, to jump headfirst into your bionic-powered espionage show is, also, totally fine with me. I’m sitting, comfortable, jotting down notes, having a good time. All I need now is a sweat-tinged cardigan, and a better haircut, for my 1970s-unemployed-TV-critic-wannabe impression to be totally perfected.

A blonde woman in episode 2 of The Bionic Woman (1976)
A still from episode 2 of The Bionic Woman (1976) (ABC)

So, Harris “hires” Jaime to steal some stuff for him, but the OSI pretty quickly loses contact with her. The tension central to The Bionic Woman episode 2 is not, however, one of those more common (and more transparent) double agent plotlines: will Jaime become enamoured with Harris’ money, will she end up keeping more information from the OSI, or from Carlton? No. Instead, the tension lies with Harris’ kid, Donald (Kip Niven) – a recent law graduate. Will Donald, becoming aware that Jaime is a spy, rat her out to his dad and go full criminal, or will he team up with Jaime and go full good-guy? 

It then comes to light that the Harris boys have near-instantly developed individual infatuations with Jaime, which I whole-heartedly hope does not become a regular thing. As potentially realistic it may be for every new bloke to assume themselves a romantic interest, it’s partly as irritating to witness this in fiction, as I’m sure it is to experience in reality. 

The primary release of air from this “central tension”, as I called it, however, is knowing full-well that the inevitable episodic structure is already settling in here, and that nothing of consequence is going to happen, for it’s only episode 2. It’s an unavoidable problem. I mean, what’s the solution? There needs to be some stakes, but our protagonist is laden with plot armour. It’s far too soon to kill one of Jaime’s loved ones, or blow up her hometown, you know? 

But, to judge by what I’ve seen of Jaime Sommers so far, I reckon the writers figured it out. My guess is that they go more ‘television-drama’ with it than ‘female superhero’. Like, maybe one of the kids from Jaime’s school class is in need of a mother figure, or maybe the OSI ask Jaime to relocate, something like that. Regardless, that’s really my main reason to continue watching at the moment – I’m curious to find out what direction the creatives took back in ‘76, now that the wheels are turning.

Episode 2 of The Bionic Woman is now available to watch on digital and on demand.

The Bionic Woman (1976): Episode 3 Review – Loud And Clear Reviews
The Bionic Woman episode 3 sees Jaime heading into a warzone disguised as a nurse, at the behest of the OSI, to rescue a U.S. ambassador.
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