Ever since the fun of the winter finale, Revenge has seemed content to inch along at a snail’s pace. That episode appeared to promise the beginning of something exciting in the team-up of Emily and Victoria, and what the season to that point desperately needed was something exciting. Instead, the collaboration between the two main women of the show has been more of a slow burn than a lightning bolt of energy, existing more as a small background portion than the front-burner story the cliffhanger promised.
The more I think about this conclusion, however, the more unfair it feels, like something I imposed on the show with my own expectations instead of something the show promised and didn’t deliver on. Much of season two has been a lesson in learning to adapt to a show’s new storytelling style. Season one of Revenge was twisty and tangled, with almost every episode building to a deliciously fun denouement while still throwing out breadcrumbs for the larger story of Emily’s revenge plot against the Graysons. Emily’s goal was always in sight, even when individual episodes took her far, far away from this goal.
Season two has different concerns. When Emily learned about the Initiative and their role in framing her father—and their continued presence in the Graysons' lives—her goal shifted focus from the immediate (taking down the Graysons) to the indeterminate (taking down a shadowy cabal). In turn, the show’s concerns shifted from immediate satisfaction to the long-term plan, and the way it must be watched and evaluated shifted along with it.
So, with that being said, has Revenge been successful in this transition? Honestly, it feels like a mixed bag at this point. If one of the best things about your show is the immediate gratification of a beautiful woman taking down evil rich people and you suddenly take away all that immediate gratification, something has to take its place, and that’s where the show feels like it’s lacking. The Initiative is not well developed enough to take the place of the Graysons as Emily’s big nemesis, making the whole endeavor feel like a nebulous quest, instead of the more straightforward narrative of season one. It’s simply taken too long to understand their goals, to even figure out why Emily should be chasing them instead of continuing to work against the Graysons.
There was finally a welcome bit of movement on the Initiative front tonight, when their goals to get their hands on disaster-relief company Stonehaven and Nolan’s potentially disaster-causing Carrion technology finally intersected in a way that Emily and Nolan took notice of. Is the Initiative looking to cause a disaster so they can profit on cleaning it up? Or are their goals more nefarious? Either way, it was good to see that their plans might actually be plans rather than just flights of fancy dreamed up by a woman who never sees sunlight.
Also featuring a welcome bit of movement was Nolan finally discovering that Padma wasn’t as pure as he thought, and that she was working for the Initiative the whole time in order to get the Carrion technology for the Initiative. The scene when he tells Emily and she angrily tells him to play Padma for all she is worth is a great one. Nolan and Emily haven’t spent nearly enough time together lately. Nolan’s story ended on perhaps the high note of the episode: the return of Shamu cam, which once again proved the most worthy secondary player in the Revenge universe by helping Nolan confirm that Padma is in fact working against him. It was a nice throwback to the fun and simplicity of the early days, and Nolan’s plan to string Padma along is sure to provide some fun moments in the future.
As for the bar plot that ate the Hamptons, Conrad joining the party has significantly increased the interest level after just one episode. Conrad’s plan was simple: Get Jack’s drug charges dropped, get the confession on who killed the Ryan brothers’ father, and pay them off so they go away for good. This way the Ryans are out of Jack and Declan’s hair, Conrad looks like a good guy to potential constituents for “cleaning up the docks,” and everyone goes back to normal. Conrad can’t quite resist being a complete ass, however, so when brother Nate approaches him with the idea to work together to get the entire waterfront there sold to casino developers, Conrad jumps at the chance. Declan was the only person wary of accepting Conrad’s help, and it looks like the lunkhead will be right for once, as Conrad will likely be a worse foe for them than the Ryan brothers ever were.
So while the show is inching along, my perception of what the show is now versus what it used to be is inching along as well. There’s a common conception that a show teaches you how watch it, but what do you do when a show changes that relationship? You adapt, or the show adapts without you. There’s still so much good here—particularly the great characters and cast—that I still have hope this adaptation will lead to something great.
- Now that the show mentioned Nolan throwing a murder mystery dinner party, it’s all I can think about. Please do a bottle episode like this but with a real murder. PLEASE.
- The Initiative’s plan to have Aiden kill Victoria was just silly. If they want her dead so badly, don’t they have at least 20 assassins they could hire? What an incompetent shadowy cabal.
- Everyone forgot Charlotte’s birthday, because she’s Charlotte. Charlotte is changing her last name to Clarke, because she’s Charlotte. Useless, useless Charlotte.
- “Say yes, and I’ll buy you a house.” I need richer friends.