Does a twist have to be a narrative surprise to be completely satisfying? The reveal that Emily and Aiden are secretly working together is perhaps the least surprising plot development in Revenge history, and yet it makes so much sense that it feels right.
The only thing that makes the reveal less satisfying is just how obvious everything in this episode setting up that reveal felt. Aiden’s quest to get Victoria to believe Emily stole the Grayson fortune was so strange, so out of left field, that him being in cahoots with Emily was the only possible answer; therefore, every action he took to manipulate Victoria felt like just that—manipulation. When it all converged as a big confrontation at Nolan’s party, a confrontation that led to Emily blurting out the Grayson bankruptcy for a party full of Hamptons elite? Well, then it was just embarrassingly obvious what exactly was going on.
Which is why the more interesting part of this story is not Emily and Aiden working together but how this relationship is affecting Emily’s play on Daniel. Aiden going rogue and telling Victoria about his past romantic relationship with Emily only serves to get Victoria to attempt to put a wedge between Daniel and Emily again, and Daniel is all too willing to let her. Daniel’s role in Emily’s plan has always been nebulous at best, and at this point, he’s nothing but a means to a final confrontation, a way to set a wedding date that will somehow be the culmination of everything she's worked for. To have him finally get real doubts and start to push back against her secrecy—kind of hilariously here, when he gets an alarm installed on her house without her permission—at least gives him more of an active role in the narrative at this point than “patsy.”
More and more, though, it appears season three is going to be about the fight for Emily Thorne’s soul, which feels like the right direction for the story to take at this point. The deaths of Amanda and Declan last season might have felt a relief to the audience given their fitful importance to the story, but their deaths needed to mean something within Emily’s world in order for her to not seem like a complete monster. Also, the show started with Emily acknowledging that her father’s journals begged her to not go down this path, so it feels right to return to that sentiment just when she is focused on exacting her ultimate revenge.
That’s why her plan to get Conrad to simply turn himself in, directly contrasting her desire last season to exact a more brutal, Old Testament sort of revenge, manages to feel like less of a retcon than it ultimately is. This is somewhat of a kinder, gentler Emily, and yet an Emily that still needs to bring the Grayson family down. To do that, she enlists—or, more correctly, blackmails—Father Whitley into getting Conrad to turn himself in. She even goes so far as to reveal herself (under the shroud of confession, because Emily always covers her bases) as the person who set up the picture scam last week. Whitley agrees to help, and even goes so far as to say he’ll turn himself in if Conrad doesn’t, his guilt is so strong, but he never gets the chance. The episode ends with Conrad and Father Whitley’s car crashed on the side of the road on the way to the police station, Father Whitley presumably dead and Conrad alive like the cockroach he is.
Just like Emily’s scheme with Aiden was obvious basically from his first appearance this season, Conrad setting up this crash to kill Father Whitley instead of confessing is inevitable. But it’s so gloriously soapy, so perfectly Conrad, that it almost doesn’t matter that it isn’t a surprise. Conrad confessing was always the strange story here. Conrad setting up a fiery crash to kill the one person he knows would truly out his involvement in the David Clarke scandal without any remorse? That’s 100 percent Grayson. The only question is how long before Emily busts him for his involvement somehow?
For me, the most intriguing person in this world right now is Patrick because in a landscape full of people with obvious agendas, his is still very much hidden. He sides with Victoria when it comes to Emily but strikes up somewhat of an immediate friendship (or—dare I hope—flirtation?) with Emily’s best friend Nolan, against Victoria’s warnings. He’s a total blank slate, and the possibilities for what he’s really up to are endless. For a show that seemed DOA at certain points of season two to be able to even generate this sort of intriguing mysterious figure is a great sign that there’s still a lot more potential goodness to come.
- At least Emily switching Conrad’s medicine was much smoother this week.
- Nolan’s wardrobe is on point this season. Who else could wear swim trunks, a vest, and a jaunty white hat at the club and look completely suave? Let’s not even get into his mugshot shirt and fabulous captain’s-jacket-and-cummerbund suit at his party.
- Can Nolan throw a party every week? THIS is what Revenge needs to be: Nolan throwing fabulous parties while petty rich people get in fights around the pool.
- Emily and Jack’s relationship is getting a bit repetitive at this point. She tries to make amends; he accuses her of more evildoing; lather, rinse, repeat. Yawn.
- This Margaux magazine story is obviously going somewhere larger, but it sure is boring right now. And Margaux and Jack make no sense.
- Conrad and Victoria’s epic fight in front of that ridiculous family portrait was soapy madness at its very best. I admit I definitely thought Conrad was going over the balcony.