Revenge: “Duplicity”
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Revenge: “Duplicity”

The tricky thing about lies is how easily they build on themselves. What might start out as a simple untruth can quickly spiral out of control, as more and more lies become necessary to sustain the original story. Revenge, a show that revels in the consequences of extreme deceit, is cleverly mirroring these snowball effects when it comes to designing its serialized plot. Each week, the lies build up between the characters, while the plots slowly build upon each other as well, all while the characters create an elaborate house of cards between themselves that will eventually be knocked down in an avalanche of jokers and kings. As each week passes and the show becomes more involving, the wait until it all comes crashing down is getting almost exquisitely unbearable. It’s a good thing the buildup is turning out to be just as compelling.

The episode starts out in a bit of a different manner than in the past, with Emily seeing a therapist in what appears to be an innocent psychiatric session. Things with Emily are never innocent, however, as it is quickly revealed her therapist is also Victoria’s therapist, and this therapist has a habit of recording her sessions with a hidden camera instead of taking notes. When it is revealed this therapist, Dr. Michelle Banks, was also the therapist who originally committed a young Amanda Clarke to an institution and kept her away from her father, it’s easy to see the target of Emily’s subterfuge of attending these therapy sessions isn’t Victoria at all but Dr. Banks herself.

Here’s where things get sticky. It isn’t just Dr. Banks who institutionalized Amanda and denied her access to her father. In fact, she only did this at Victoria’s explicit instructions, in return for Victoria taking her out of her work toiling in a public pediatric facility and setting her up with a tony practice catering to the Hamptons elite. Victoria’s motivation for this heinous act—and no matter what Victoria ever did to David, inflicting this pain on a helpless child is surely at least as terrible—seems to be young Amanda witnessing Victoria stealing David’s computer and giving it to Grayson security officer Frank.

Emily takes down Dr. Banks by stealing footage from her patients and editing it into a video the doctor was showing at her yearly charity fundraiser attended by all the Hamptons elite. The video not only exposes Banks’ practice of taping her clients without their knowledge but features some choice revelations Victoria had about her struggling relationship with daughter Charlotte. Dr. Banks disappears for a short while, but we soon learn Emily kidnapped her and locked her in a Grayson Global shipping container before tipping off the cops to her whereabouts. So not only did Emily’s revenge on Dr. Banks ruin her reputation, but it also ruined Victoria’s relationship with her daughter and threw more suspicion on the Grayson name (after last week’s reveal that Conrad’s computer was used to email the Kingsly mistress). If there were awards for scheming and trickery, Emily Thorne would win them all because she is working on a whole different level right now.

The best thing about this story was how it involved so many facets of the show’s mythology all at once. It was a revenge-of-the-week story, it revealed more about Victoria’s involvement with David’s case, it affected personal relationships beyond just Emily and Victoria’s feud, and it threw suspicion on the Grayson family as a whole by getting them significant police attention. These layers are precisely what are taking this show from a simple trashy nighttime soap to something that, yes, is still trashy, but is working on a more interesting level as well. It also added a significant layer of darkness to Emily’s quest by showing she was willing to go so far as to cause someone physical and emotional harm. No matter your feelings on whether or not Dr. Banks “deserved it” (she totally did, right?), the image of her locked in an abandoned shipping container was a chilling one.

Emily isn’t the only person dealing in deceit this week, as Tyler emerged as a full-on mustache twirling villain devoted to keeping Daniel and Emily apart. Between enticing Daniel to get drunk and hook up with randoms, lying to Daniel about Emily canceling dinner plans, and stealing Daniel’s phone and erasing all of Emily’s calls and voicemails, this kid is intent on making sure Emily is far out of the picture. What is his ultimate goal, though? Right now, it is unclear, but having him around to throw an extra wrench in Emily’s plans should be delightful. Myself, I’m hoping he’s doing all of this because he’s desperately in love with Daniel.

Finally, we have Jack. Sweet, unassuming, certainly not deceiving anyone Jack. Jack is stuck in a bit of a tough spot as the one designated “good person” on the show. It would be easy for his story to quickly become boring. Luckily, the writers are integrating him more and more every week with Nolan and Emily, which not only makes for an interesting dynamic between the three of them but adds a better dimension to both characters separately. Nolan with Jack is an especially fun dynamic and the source for almost any humor present in every episode; Nolan teasing Jack about having feelings for Emily and Jack’s deadpan response prompted the first chuckles ever from this show for me. Also effective is the growing friendship between Jack and Emily and what that means for Emily’s character. Although she’s doing some fairly evil things each week, she’s still our wronged protagonist, and it’s obvious the show still wants us to root for her. Softening her with Jack is a good way to get this done.

Overall, this was yet another strong episode for Revenge, which is quickly building into something more complex and layered than first expected. I hate to sound like a broken record with praise each week, but when it’s warranted, how can I say anything else?

Stray observations:

  • Here’s what we know about Victoria’s involvement in David’s case: She was David’s lover; she testified against him; she later tried to recant her story but Conrad stopped her; she stole David’s laptop and gave it to the security officer, then immediately told David she wanted to run away with him; she forced Amanda to be institutionalized and kept away from her father. Also, she seemed to love David with all her heart. Victoria is one complicated lady.
  • I love how Nolan is such an obvious Emily/Jack shipper. On his part, it’s probably 50 percent wanting to see them together and 50 percent trying to drive Emily crazy by mucking up her plans. Nolan is fun.
  • Declan and Charlotte are getting closer, but that doesn’t mean they are getting any more interesting. Sorry, Declan and Charlotte.
  • Conrad and Lydia are still seeing each other, which is perfectly logical but seems extremely foolish. Very interested to see where this one goes.
  • “Danny tells me you’re an orphan; that sucks.”
  • “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I smell the distinct aroma of retribution in the air.”
Filed Under: TV, Revenge

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