“It’s revenge. For David.”
Victoria Grayson has had her suspicions about Emily Thorne’s motives from their very first meeting in the pilot. She finally had some of those long-held suspicions confirmed when she learned of Emily’s fake pregnancy plot earlier this season, but those four words are the first time she’s put it all together; the big picture of Emily Thorne and why everything in the Hamptons has been so damn crazy since the moment she arrived.
It’s a moment the show has been building up to for three seasons, and although it inherently feels like it arrives a bit too late it is still very satisfying. One of the main reasons it works so well is how stealthily the realization is set up within the episode itself. Emily does a lot of good work to get one over on former Grayson Global crony Luke Gilliam (guest star Tim DeKay) so he’ll give her dirt on Conrad, but what Emily doesn’t know is that his entire presence in the Hamptons has been orchestrated by Victoria. Victoria, who in the shadows of this season has been inching ever closer to Emily’s secret, decides she wants to test a theory about Emily. As soon as Gilliam goes down, Victoria knows she’s right and she utters the words that have the potential to change the series for good. What does a Revenge where Victoria knows what Emily is up to look like? Does it evolve and change, or does the show find a way to get back to status quo as quickly as possible?
It also helps that the moment of realization is delivered with such visual panache. Emily’s red sharpie of doom is almost its own character at this point—a physical symbol of how much fun it is to watch her take someone down with one of her revenge schemes—so when she pulls it out at the end of the episode, it’s a moment of triumph. What’s genius is how this moment of triumph is immediately visually undercut by Victoria’s realization. Emily goes to cross out Gilliam with a red sharpie, but when we see the mark, it is in black, surrounded by other black marks. When Victoria is revealed to be the one making the marks, she almost doesn’t need to say the words. It’s the perfect visual symbol of a potential new world order in Revenge, one where the red sharpie of doom doesn’t hold quite so much power.
It’s also exciting because as this season three rolls on, more and more of it is focusing directly on the David Clarke case, automatically making it more compelling to watch. Emily is renewed in her quest to take Conrad and the Graysons down, but it’s not just Emily: Jack is “all in” after seeing how the Graysons destroyed his mother, Nolan is on a rampage against Daniel for stealing Javier’s website from under his nose, Victoria is onto Emily’s schemes, Pascal is cleaning up all his loose ends connected to the case, and Conrad is sitting back and pulling all the strings. Revenge is taking a lot of what seemed like disparate story threads from the season and using them to give each character a specific motivation in this fight, and it makes all the difference. Perhaps the best development here is the reveal that Conrad is the one secretly pulling Pascal’s strings, tipping him off to the location of a reporter in hiding who knew the true story of what happened to Aiden’s father (he didn’t commit suicide, he was killed after talking to a reporter) so Pascal can kill him. Conrad is now using this to get to Aiden, and although his motivations are as yet unclear, revenge is always better on Revenge when Conrad is in the mix.
The other thing that has promise is the newfound war between Nolan and Daniel. Daniel stole Javier’s website idea right out from under Nolan simply because he could, because he knew it would needle not only Nolan but Emily, cementing his place as a confirmed Grayson for sure. This Javier plot is pathologically uninteresting on its face—the relationship with Charlotte is pretty laughable and the social media/avatar thing Javier created is downright creepy—but by taking this story and tying it back into the overall feud with the Graysons there is a definite chance for it to be salvaged. Nolan appearing in the Graysons backyard, blowing all the lights and skulking around in a cat burglar black turtleneck, threatening to make Daniel’s life hell? Now that has some promise.
But the one aspect of this story I was most impressed with tonight was a small, almost insignificant thing, but speaks so much to how it pays to be patient when watching episodic television. Jack and Margaux’s relationship has seemed pointless at times, concocted almost out of nowhere and relegated to sort of boring background noise as the writers figured out what exactly to do with them. Their fighting last week that appeared to introduce something of a love triangle between Margaux, Jack, and Daniel was tiresome. Here, however, they got a much more subtle story that actually worked, and that likely wouldn’t have worked without everything that came before. When Margaux got word from her father that he wants her to take over his company, it sparked something in her. This spark is what is driving her to do things like make the deal for Javier’s website. It’s ambitious and a way to impress her father, and an easily understandable choice. When Jack hears the news, however, all he can see is Daniel’s personal involvement in it and how he is just using Margaux to be a manipulative Grayson, and this is also an understandable position. It’s rare on a show like this—on this show, even—for two adults to have a relationship conflict that feels earned on both end and a truly mature problem; both are “right” from their own character’s perspectives, and neither is willing or able to bend to the other. Margaux and Jack’s relationship wasn’t very interesting in its inception, but it’s turning out to be far more compelling in its dissolution.
- Emily’s revenge scheme against Luke Gilliam brought back a lot of fun Emily revenge moments. Capturing his fingerprints via a smartphone picture and poisoning him with chemicals from his own shady toxic natural gas company were my favorite moments.
- Pascal straight up murdered that poor reporter. I didn’t expect him to also have assassin-like skills? Interesting.
- Speaking of Pascal, I know they need to push this Pascal/Victoria romance as some sort of true love situation in order to best fit the plot, but it is really not landing for me. It feels rushed and out of nowhere (which is exactly what it is).
- Daniel gave Charlotte a Bentley for her help with the Javier deal. A Bentley.
- Emily’s horseracing outfit is fantastic, especially her hat. She should always wear that hat.
- Victoria: “I’d love to stay and chat, but I have less boring people to talk to.”
- Nolan: “Can’t have a stakeout without takeout!”