Ordinary Joe

Ordinary Joe season 1, episode 6: Ruminations on Always Do The Right Thing

Well, that episode of Ordinary Joe happened. “Always Do The Right Thing” took the NBC series and threw it off a cliff, although at least the hamster turned out to be okay.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the latest Ordinary Joe episode.

There were developments in all three storylines that profoundly altered the direction of the show, though what happened in Cop Joe and Rock Star Joe’s worlds clearly dominated the hour. The former saw Joe faced with one of his toughest choices yet when Amy (Natalie Martinez) informed him that Frank (David Warshofsky) showed up for a closed-door meeting with Congressman Diaz (Adam Rodriguez). Frank admitted to his nephew that he owed Diaz after the other man covered for him while serving as District Attorney. Confronted by both Amy and Jenny (Elizabeth Lail), Joe reluctantly went over Frank’s head and got a warrant for Diaz’s arrest.

Ordinary Joe rests on the tension between Joe and Frank, who feels that Joe chose his would-be girlfriend over his family. But the writers and Natalie Martinez deserve just as much credit for the storyline’s portrayal of Amy as a strong individual who isn’t malleable to the men around her. She didn’t just rely on Joe to handle things and merely react to his actions. She’s the one who found the check made out to Carrie Coleman and she alerted him when things weren’t right. Amy is not the damsel in distress needing to be saved.

There’s no better example of that than the scene between Amy and Diaz in this episode. He asks her why she didn’t come to him first and she counters with asking him why he lied. He accuses her of just trying to strong-arm him to end his marriage and she stands firm. He tries to sweet-talk her, and she doesn’t take the bait. It’s perfectly played in every way. Adam Rodriguez gets across exactly how a manipulator like Diaz would feel and react in that scene; he expects that Amy would be loyal to him, and tries to appeal to her emotions, which is how they got into this mess in the first place.

In countless other shows this guilt trip would have worked. The female character would’ve confronted her ex-lover rather than going right to the authorities. She would’ve believed his spiel or felt like she needed to give him the benefit of the doubt. Or she might even have ended up sleeping with him again. But in Ordinary Joe we’re given a heroine who is able to stand up not just for herself, but because it’s the right thing to do. She does what the hero has to be pushed to do. Natalie Martinez plays Amy with heart and grace, but also with integrity and a good dose of kick-ass.

Ordinary Joe
ORDINARY JOE — “Always Do The Right Thing” Episode 106 — Pictured: (l-r) Adam Rodriguez as Bobby Diaz, James Wolk as Joe Kimbreau — (Photo by: Fernando Decillis/NBC)

Rock Star Joe’s world presented a different version of Amy, one who had to confront her one-night stand with Diaz—and then nearly got killed standing next to him when Wayne Coleman’s assassination attempt happened at Amy’s campaign rally. Ordinary Joe took a big, flying leap by killing off Diaz in this universe (although it does have the side effect of making Adam Rodriguez’s workload a third easier).

We’re only a half-dozen episodes into the series and the show is axing a character. This isn’t 24 or Spooks where characters are liable to die. And the character who got the axe is the one whom a large portion of the drama has revolved around. Any way you look at this, it’s a challenge.

But the best shows challenge themselves. And in Rock Star Joe’s world Diaz has somewhat run his course. The affair with Amy was telegraphed from a mile away; keeping Diaz around would have probably just engendered a love triangle Ordinary Joe didn’t need. His death also shows the audience the flip side of what happened in Cop Joe’s world. Yes, Diaz was shot in Nurse Joe’s world, but he didn’t die; this outcome is the one that the writers hadn’t dug into yet.

And his absence allows more room for Amy to grow. Aside from exploring her trauma—between losing the twins and losing her mentor, she’s going to need help—there are now so many different story points on the table. Will her campaign be overshadowed by Diaz’s murder? Will their affair come out publicly, creating the scandal that everyone was so worried about with Joe and Jenny? Or will the Carrie Coleman story emerge out of this, too, and Amy will have to make a similar decision to the one she just made in Cop Joe’s world?

The possibilities are endless, and that’s what makes Ordinary Joe a success.

Ordinary Joe airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.

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