There is an awful lot of plot flying around in Revenge season two so far, yet everything still feels weirdly static. Perhaps it is because every episode so far has felt like it resets at the end, like all of the machinations are happening for machination's sake, independent of any necessary outcomes. This results in a confusing viewing experience, especially because, when all is said and done, a lot of the twists and turns feel superfluous, like the show is just killing time.
Nowhere does this feel more prevalent than the Victoria story, which has gone through so many twists and turns this season that even the craftiest of souls would have a hard time keeping up. The most important part is where it ends up, which also coincidentally is the best part: Victoria, forced into a corner by Emily’s behind-the-scenes schemes, reveals to an army of reporters that Charlotte is the result of her affair with David Clark. But Victoria has more than just a simple confession up her sleeve, as her ultimate goal is to goad her unwitting family into presenting a united front in front of the world, even the hated Amanda Clark. What Victoria has up her sleeve following this proclamation is anyone’s guess—especially where it concerns Amanda—but Emily might have come out positioned the best from this entire thing. Not only is Amanda now more of the Graysons’ “inner circle,” but Daniel is now actively taking Emily’s advice and working against Victoria while acting friendly to her face. This little bit of advice Emily gave Daniel was one of their best moments together, and one of the only times Emily has told Daniel the absolute truth. For the things that have been shaky this season, Revenge has done a great job of giving Emily and Daniel little interesting moments of connection in each episode.
The thing that is less clear is Victoria and Conrad’s connection to Americon Initiative, the White-Haired Man, and Emily’s mother. White-Hair (who gets a name in death, Gordon Murphy) was obviously carrying on some sort of relationship with Emily’s mother, who is hiding out at the same hotel he was staying. If this is so, why did he try to kill Emily last week? And seeing that Americon sent Conrad a nasty message about Victoria’s decision to out one of their henchmen as the suspect in her kidnapping, White-Hair was obviously still working for Americon.
Granted, the mystery of this is the point but the level of complication here has gone beyond the point of “fun mystery” and to the point of “impenetrable mystery,” which is especially concerning considering we are only three episodes into the season. The purpose of this criticism is not to completely dismiss the twisty, gloriously double-crossing nature of Revenge itself, as that is truly the show’s bread and butter and can result in some of its greatest pleasures when executed well. It just doesn’t feel like it’s being executed all that well, especially in the early going.
One thing that is adding to the complication in a somewhat more pleasant manner is Revenge Colleague Aiden and his backstory with Emily. Last season Emily was almost a revenge robot, and her time with Takeda was presented as an emotionless revenge programming. To learn that she had emotions, but they were trampled out of her by Aiden’s rejection is a nice little shading on the character, especially since that emotional nature has slowly been rising to the surface as she develops relationships in the Hamptons. It helps that Aiden himself has a compelling presence, and his resourcefulness could be useful to Emily.
Of Emily’s relationships, the one that’s increasingly important this season is Nolan, and they had some great scenes tonight. Nolan is a breakout character whom the audience is always going to want to see more of, but so far his subplot with the IRS audit and his new CFO has been awkward and disappointing. With Emily, though, every scene is gold, highlighted tonight by his awkward introduction of her to Padma and Emily’s confession of thanks for everything he has done for her. Nolan is stuck in this weird position where he’s at her beck and call, even though she generally treats him like garbage, so it’s nice to see those walls come down and her real emotions come out. It was also a nice thematic callback to the reveal of Emily’s old emotions for Aiden. She's not a robot!
But although the emotional content of the episode was fairly strong, it still felt like a bit of a hollow victory at the end. These emotions need something in the story to grab onto, and right now, the story is so convoluted that is beginning to feel impossible.
- Declan has somehow graduated to full-on robbing houses with his “friend” Trey, and the first thing he does is leave his driver’s license behind? He is too stupid to be alive. And don’t think Jack doing a favor for the rich man whose house he robbed won’t come back to haunt everyone.
- Emily straight-up put Aiden in a dumpster. That takes balls and a significant amount of upper body strength.
- Victoria’s ice-cold dismissal of Emily from the Graysons’ lives was marvelous. As was Emily’s prompt decision to ignore her.
- I don’t even understand where Jack and Amanda stand. Are they together? Broken up?
- Conrad: “Your mother is inviting every vulture in the sky down for a feast attempting to capitalize on the one thing she’s never really had: sympathy.”
- Nolan, after being attacked: “Why does this keep happening to me?”
- Conrad: “My boy, at this moment there are things at play that dwarf your penchant for gullibility.”