Naomi: Enigma

With everything going on, you’re this concerned about the vending machines?

Naomi is an interesting new series, but they are starting to drag out a few things bit too much. Our titular hero has some weird kind of aura or something along those lines that makes everyone like her and want to please her, and, while she has powers, that one seems to be ignored. If it’s not a power, she’s just supposedly perfect and incredibly attractive and has a possible future ahead of her as a cult leader or something. Her mystery deepens, and she learns a few things about her past, in “Enigma.”

We start with an extended flashback, as Naomi’s parents narrate the events around them finding her, and their lives before her. I’m not sure I see the point of most of this sequence. After the intro, we jump back to the present where Naomi has a lot of questions and her parents few answers. They seem, as so many characters do, very eager to please her, and it seems odd coming from her parents. This dissolves into Naomi talking to her best friend (and apparently her only contemporary that doesn’t want to date her), Annabelle at school the next day. Annabelle offers various comments and continues her odd use of the MacDuffie’s first names. This, in turn, leads into Jacob coming by to complain about the new vending machine, a lot of people complaining about the class president, and Naomi getting talked into running against her, because, of course, no one else could possibly do that. These kids seem to be almost as passionately devoted to junk food as they are to Naomi.

After school, Naomi goes to another training session in Dee’s basement dojo (that sounds a bit creepier than it is). His talk about control isn’t working as she does one of the classic training mishaps with the equipment they’re using. In his calm, mentoring way, Dee asks her what has her upset. She talks about the recent revelations from her parents, and her oversharing habit, which has resulted in a dinner invitation that Dee doesn’t really react much to, but I’m guessing he’s not happy about. Also, Dee is another example of the weirdness around Naomi. While he doesn’t seem to want to date her, which is a relief, he’s taking a lot of time and effort to train her, and we have no idea why. He’s been living a quiet life, hiding the fact that he’s an alien, and now is risking a lot to help her for unclear reasons. He offers some cryptic comments about her and her powers being “special” but it doesn’t really explain a lot. Continuing her penchant for bad decisions, Naomi goes to confront Zumbado about the mysterious disc. He gets wrapped up in some long metaphor about waxing cars, but doesn’t end up parodying Mr. Miyagi. Then, inexplicably, after going to great lengths to keep it from her, Zumbado just hands it over, having been conveniently carrying it around in his coat pocket.

Back in her room, Naomi examines the disc and does what testing she can manage, which somehow leads to a major blackout. I’m guessing this means the disc really is connected to her, since her powers also frequently seem to be hostile to electronics, or at least lightbulbs. Back at school, Jacob and Naomi babble about ways to understand the disc and Annabelle looks on in affectionate bafflement. As the nerds techno-babble, Naomi’s dad goes to work. He and the mysterious Commander Steel (I still want to know why they chose that name) talk about the power outage from the previous night and some of the bad things that could spill out from it.

Naomi seems more or less indifferent to her run for class president, and Nathan finds her hiding out in a classroom, ignoring the event she’s supposed to be at to work on the disc’s code. Nathan offers some insightful advice, and it’s one of the few times he seems to be more focused on helping her than dating or impressing her. Annabelle and Jacob wander in, talk turns to karaoke and then back to the code, and they somehow (I really didn’t follow the logic here) decide they need a World War II Turing machine. Nathan has no idea what that is (which makes sense) and Annabelle explains it (which makes less sense). Next up is dinner with the MacDuffies and Dee. It’s a tense scene, with a lot of long pauses, and Dad clearly not quite trusting the man their daughter is spending so much time with. There’s some verbal fencing, we get a hint about some of Dee’s background, and he scores a pretty good point on the dad. Dee decides to suddenly go when dessert gets offered, and just walks out with no one going to the door with him, which was a bit of awkward staging. 

Then, bizarrely, it turns out there’s an escape room that has one of the enigma machines, so it’s another team field trip with the whole Scooby gang. They find the machine (which the set designer/prop department clearly didn’t research), solve the room, and everyone escapes, having gotten some vague description of someone with some coordinates attached. Breakfast the next morning is a bit tense for no real clear reason, with mom offering special food, Naomi turning it down, and some talk about Dee and them being protective of her. They almost act like parents here, but once again are far too eager for her approval. I really hope the writers explain this effect Naomi has on everyone around her, or this will end up being some of the laziest and oddest writing I’ve seen in some time. Zumbado has been a creepy, stalkerish, brooding presence on the show so far, but now the tables are turned. A stranger shows up at his car dealership, and they have a weird, veiled conversation about looking for rare and dangerous things. It’s the first time Zumbado has seemed to not be in control and a few steps ahead of everything, so that was a nice change.

Off on her own again, Naomi decides to run down the coordinates she found on her own. She not only brings no one with her (maybe she needed a break or a few minutes to herself?) but I guess has lost her car privileges again, as she takes the bus to Portland. If the coordinates had led to a building or specific place, this might have made some sense. Instead, they bring Naomi to a café where a woman who fits the remarkably vague description just happens to be. This is the blonde we’ve seen talking to Zumbado a few times. We never get her name, but according to the credits and subtitles, she’s called Akira. In another disjointed series of scenes, Akira notices Naomi, runs, somehow keeps ahead of the teen on her skateboard but doesn’t seem to be using any kind of powers, and then stops when Naomi uses her vague powers to do some property damage to some nearby cars. Akira makes a few cryptic comments to Naomi, we learn a bit more about what they have in common, and that the bit they’ve decoded from the disc doesn’t mean what Naomi and company thought. Zumbado sounds like even more of a villain by the end of this, and Akira does one of those “Ha, you looked away so I can disappear now” exits.

For unknown reasons, Naomi decides she can’t take the bus home and calls Dee for a ride. Why Dee instead of any of her gang of loyal followers? No idea. I guess it was so he could give her another sage speech about the importance of being honest with yourself and knowing your own mind. At the school, there’s a town hall meeting for the candidates, which Esme the opponent is at, while Annabelle and Jacob worry about Naomi’s absence. Dad/Greg gets some weird energy readings at work and he and his boss try and figure out what’s happening now. Naomi, somehow, walks in at just the right moment to start taking questions about her run for office, and she gives a weird, vague speech about everything she’ll do if she’s elected and goes way out of her way to complement her opponent in the course of this. What she’s saying makes sense to the viewers, but a lot of her references I’d think would be lost on the people there.

While her dad starts keeping secrets at work, because that’s always a good plan, Naomi finishes her event and talks Annabelle into going for burgers at some special place they both like. Remember this in a bit: Annabelle didn’t want to go, and Naomi talked/bribed her into this. They split up to get ready and then the stranger we saw before at Zumbado’s shows up. He is clearly hunting for Naomi, and not particularly friendly. She uses her powers a bit and runs, ending up outside in the soccer fields. Out of her league, she gets saved by the timely arrival of Dee, who proves he really is a skilled warrior and uses his wings for a few clever effects. I was expecting the trope of “warrior can’t fight and needs to be saved by the novice,” but they managed to avoid that at least. After an impressive fight, Dee talks to Naomi some more about things changing because her powers are emerging. After the big fight, Naomi goes to find one of her numerous suitors and tell them she’s picked them, and there’s a fair amount of kissing. Remember her talking Annabelle into going out for burgers? Neither does she. The way this show goes, either this will never get mentioned in the next episode, or it’ll turn into some weird gossip fest.

What I liked: It was refreshing for Dee to turn out to actually be a skilled fighter who can win on his own. He also made a great point during that awkward dinner with the parents. I am not liking Zumbado (I swear I’m going to write that as Zamboni one of these days), so it was nice seeing him taken aback for once. Annabelle is still probably my favorite character on the show, although I’m not sure how she gets away with calling Naomi’s parents by their first names. The reveal about where Naomi is from was interesting.

What I didn’t: There’s a lot of coincidental timing and unexplained everyone deferring to Naomi. I mean, a character literally got down on his knees and begged her for something this episode. They really, really need to clear up what’s going on with that. How did Dee know when to show up for that big fight? Why does an Escape Room have a Turing machine? How did Naomi time her entrance perfectly for that first question when she’d been out of town?

The unexplained parts of this show are really starting to detract from, and overshadow, the rest of it. I’ll give this a low 3 out of 5. There’s a lot they need to explain going on here.