We’re at the point of the Revenge season where all of Emily’s schemes have been set in motion and now everything is just sort of lying in wait until they can be fully deployed. Revealing to Nolan and Jack that she was planning on framing Victoria for her murder was a viscerally satisfying moment to cap the last episode, but it has a strange sort of mollifying effect on this episode, removing a good bit of urgency from the proceedings.
It doesn’t help that the revenge of the week, while emotionally satisfying, is one of the less dynamic ones the show has featured. The idea of giving Nolan someone to take down is a great one but the execution is far more subdued than Revenge’s usual horrific public humiliation, and that makes the whole thing just a tad bit disappointing. But what we do get—a big batch of Nolan backstory and a whole lot of Gabriel Mann being fantastic—almost makes up for that disappointment.
Nolan’s attachment to David Clarke as a father figure is something Revenge established early on as a smart way to give Emily an instant ally who would stand by her even when she was doing terrible things. Beyond a few brief glimpses into Nolan’s life, however, the show has rarely explored his relationship with his own father. Here it comes full circle when we learn that his father essentially disowned him when a publicist—the very publicist Conrad Grayson hired to scrub his image clean—outed him as gay in order to save the reputation of her married client. It s a resentment Nolan has carried around all these years, until she strolls into Emily’s life and Nolan finally has a chance to get some revenge.
It’s great to see Nolan take point position in one of the show’s revenge schemes, but considering the plot takes place at Victoria’s very fancy Fourth of July party, and involves spy glasses (spy glasses!) it ends up being almost deadly dull. The only thing that saves it is the joy of seeing Emily and Nolan work so closely together as friends and Gabriel Mann’s great performance throughout. This really is the season of Nolan, which after the rough year he had in season two, is a welcome return to form.
Other than Nolan, however, this episode had by far the least to offer since the premiere. Now that we know Emily’s plan hinges on her wedding to Daniel happening, all obstacles in her way involve that not happening. The biggest obstacle comes in the form of Sarah, whose return to Daniel’s life is causing him to fall back into old feelings just as Charlotte and Victoria are scheming to use these feelings to get Daniel away from Emily. Unfortunately, I find the return of Sarah to be dreadfully boring, such an obvious obstacle that it’s difficult to take it seriously. We’ve seen Emily get shot on the boat, in her wedding dress. Unless the show does a better job of using Sarah to explore Daniel’s character, the machinations of this particular complication seem a bit like stalling.
Not stalling but still not necessarily interesting was Jack’s story this week, as he finally lets go of Amanda and allows himself to start a real relationship with Margaux. Jack has been wearing his wedding ring this entire season, something that’s been a nice subtle nod to him not letting Amanda go and something the show hasn’t directly commented on until this episode. But while Jack’s emotional journey beyond Amanda is important for his character and potentially for the progression of his storyline this season, it’s just not that interesting to watch. By giving him his friendship back with Nolan (and their scene as friends in the Stowaway was excellent) and giving him a connection to another character with Margaux, the show is attempting to move Jack beyond the ball of anger he was at the beginning of the season into something else. It just remains to be seen whether or not this transition will be successful and what the show is hoping to accomplish here. Giving Margaux a story with Conrad right when she starts sleeping with Jack can’t be a coincidence, that’s for sure.
The one person this season who really hasn’t been quite herself, though, is Victoria. Other that her epic takeover of the art gallery and her big lie to Conrad about his brakes (which was undone very quickly), it seems like forever since Victoria has had a good win or even a decent jab, especially in her war with Emily. I almost want her to succeed in getting Daniel good and in love with Sarah again, just because it would be great to see Emily in full panic mode again. Emily in full panic mode on this show used to be a glorious thing to see, and after a bit of a snoozer episode like this, anything more urgent would be welcome.
- Emily is totally planning to pull a Sleeping With The Enemy in her big getaway from the boat in the flash forward.
- Conrad writing his memoirs is maybe the funniest thing this show has ever done. He is a perfect soap villain.
- Victoria Grayson calling Sarah “off the rack” is perfection. It’s almost a compliment to be insulted so wonderfully.
- Aiden’s purpose this season is to basically lurk around while shirtless and wet. At least Revenge knows its audience.
- Victoria: “It’s the Fourth of July. The day we Americans celebrate ridding ourselves of the British.”