Revenge: “Betrayal”
B+

Revenge: “Betrayal”

B+

Revenge

“Betrayal”

Season 1, Episode 3
B+

Revenge

“Betrayal”

Season 1, Episode 3

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Another week brings another very solid episode of Revenge, in what’s shaping up to be one of the better new drama series of the season. Not only did it feature another mostly satisfying revenge plot, but it also added a bit of moral ambiguity to that plot and started to show a few cracks in both Emily’s armor and her overall plan for total Hamptons dominance. Most importantly, though, some uppity rich and powerful folk got what was coming to them! Woo!

Emily’s mark this week is quite a big shot, Senator Tom Kingsly. Kingsly was the federal prosecutor on her father’s case and not only got him put away, but according to David’s journals, ignored last minute evidence he was innocent. Emily exacts her revenge by discovering a pregnant mistress and threatening to make that knowledge public unless Kingsly makes a complete resignation from public life. Emily plans on releasing the evidence to the press anyway, because she is not interested in quiet, private revenge but ugly, public, life-ruining revenge, which is why we like her.

This revenge case was my favorite so far, not necessarily because of the elegance of Emily’s plot—although buying an entire building just to get video footage is pretty hard core—but because of the fact it isn’t a clear-cut case of “this is a bad guy, so fry him.” It might appear that way to Emily, but for once, the audience might know a bit more than she does about the case. All Emily has to go on is a journal entry from her father and a letter Victoria wrote to David about how she was planning on presenting evidence to Kingsly in order to get him to drop the case. What Emily doesn’t seem to know is what was shown via flashback, when a distraught Victoria went to Kingsly and was about to present the evidence until Conrad showed up and effectively put a stop to it. This was the most obviously evil moment anyone connected with David’s case has had so far, so it leads to the question: Was Conrad behind the whole thing? If so, how and why did Victoria go along with it?

Up until this point, the audience has seen things mostly through Emily's eyes, so to have entire flashbacks she wasn't personally aware of brought a lot of new perspective to the mystery. As it was presented, Kingsly was just a prosecutor doing his job with the evidence he had; no more, no less. That Emily is so willing to take down anyone involved without so much as a moral question as to her own motives is dramatically complicated for both the character and the show and demonstrates a pleasing willingness by the writers to live in shades of grey. Emily’s schemes are also becoming more complicated as she gets more and more involved with Daniel Grayson, who is about the closest thing to a “good” rich guy the show has. The small flicker behind Emily’s eyes when he promised to never lie to her was important, and I hope is more fully developed as she gets further entangled in his life.

Also smart this week were the flashbacks to David’s relationship with Victoria, showing their close bond and giving a lot more depth to Victoria’s character and her dysfunctional relationship with her husband. Madeleine Stowe always brings more to the page than is written, but here, when the writers give her something to play, she is even better. How much of Victoria’s scheming nature comes as a reaction to what happened to her and David way back then, and was she just a pawn in the entire scheme? Things are about to get more complicated for Victoria now, due to Emily framing Victoria as the person responsible for outing Kingsly’s little liaisons. Poor Victoria is working hard to scheme, but she is really only playing with half of a deck while Emily has all her cards in play.

Finally, we have the blue collar portion of the show, which is still struggling to fully integrate. The death of their father does give an automatic emotional edge to Jack and Declan’s story the “struggling mortgage” dilemma did not, but it still feels a little slow to fully join the other portions of the show as a cohesive whole. Although slow, there is progress being made as Declan gets a few pointers on revenge from Nolan (although he goes the noble route and ignores them, because poor people are good) and Jack comes into repeated contact with Emily because his ancient zombie dog keeps ending up on Emily’s doorstep. There’s not much doubt where this is headed—Declan and Charlotte were together in the pilot’s opening, and Jack was lurking somewhere on the beach—but it does feel a bit like it’s taking its time to get there.

Still, Weschler and VanCamp have decent chemistry, and the anticipation of him figuring out her true identity is a pleasing thing, so a few awkward moments as they figure things out are to be expected. Overall, Revenge is perhaps the most assuredly crafted and tonally consistent of all the new dramas, and there is no reason to think things won’t stay this way or get even better. It’s not often you can say that about a show only three episodes in, but it’s something I feel comfortable saying. Revenge shows no signs of going off the rails anytime soon, and this is a very good thing.

Stray observations:

  • I love the term “a roadmap for revenge” in the previouslies. I would like to believe in this day and age you could very well Google Maps your way to vengeance.
  • Both Ringer and Revenge started with a “you’ve been discovered” dream sequence this week. Both were not very successful, but at least Revenge didn’t really try to pass Emily’s dream off as real.
  • Emily’s scheme to get Daniel and the brother of the waitress he hurt in the same place was clever, but to what purpose? Is this just her way of undercutting Daniel and Victoria’s relationship, or is something more sinister planned in the future?
  • "Sweet Melissa" in the wake scene. A+.

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