If I’ve had one criticism of Revenge in season two, it’s that the mythology is getting so dense it is threatening to take over the narrative in a detrimental way. Tonight the show finally offered a bit of a reprieve from the brain-bending madness by slowing down a bit, focusing on an easily tracked mission, and throwing in a spate of insane soap-opera twists to keep things lively. The result is the most satisfying episode of the season thus far.
The mission in question is Emily’s quest to get Victoria to reveal information about her mother, using Amanda as her inside man. Having just broken up with Jack, Amanda is emotionally vulnerable and reluctant to participate. Emily, though, always knows how to throw Amanda just enough emotional rope to hang herself, and she gets her on board to go to a meeting with Victoria miked up like a 21st century Cyrano. The plot culminates at a baby shower Victoria insists on throwing for Amanda, where Amanda—having shown up with a group of friends from her stripper days as distractions—corners Victoria and tries to get her to admit she not only visited Kara Clarke in the mental institution, but knows what happened to her after that. Where the story goes beyond is when Victoria accidentally sends Amanda over the balcony, into a medically induced coma, and Kara Clarke winds up right by her side.
Revenge hasn’t had a truly shocking and sufficiently soapy moment like Amanda tumbling to her photogenic coma in quite some time, so it was fantastic to finally have something to cheer for again. Evil shadow corporations and elaborate conspiracies are nice, but sometimes a good, old-fashioned pregnancy-in-peril plot is exactly what a show needs. The best thing about this plot is that it brought together many of the main threads that have been running parallel for the first few episodes of season two. This is especially true of Emily’s mother Kara, whose plot is still very murky. Now that Amanda’s injury has brought her out of the woodwork to grieve, it forces her out into the open and hopefully into charged interactions with both Emily and Victoria. The emotional complexity of this is smart as well, as the more Emily remembers about her mother, the more she realizes there is to the story of her disappearance.
Sequestered in his own almost entirely separate plot this week is Nolan, who learns that his father has died. Nolan has never really discussed either of his parents or his relationship to them, so it’s interesting to hear he even had a mother and father and wasn’t just hatched from an egg of awesome or something. The purpose of this seems to be to push him closer to Padma, which happens in an adorable scene that is almost immediately marred by her seeing his connection to David Clarke. Will Padma be the person to connect the dots between Nolan and Emily’s relationship for good? Nolan in his own story isn’t nearly as interesting as when he’s mixing it up with the core cast, but Gabriel Mann does a good job of giving the loss of his father effective emotional gravity. But if Nolan ever has to choose between Padma and Emily in the future, no matter how much she helped him with his father I’m certain Padma doesn’t stand a chance.
One thing that’s been a pleasant surprise this season so far is Daniel and his evolution from complete patsy to a potential player. Him executing a sly maneuver to spy on Ashley was almost even smart, and him not confronting her and just amassing knowledge to use later on was definitely actually smart. I’m not sure if Daniel could ever be a formidable enough opponent to cause a serious problem, but the colder he gets the more interesting he becomes as a character (and a potential future love interest for Emily again). As long as he takes down the sniveling Ashley in the process, I’m all in.
Lost in the land of annoying Declan subplots is Jack, who is just plain having a bad week. If anyone is just a constant victim on this show it’s Jack, whose whole character seems to be a cautionary tale for anyone trying to do the right thing in a bad situation. This week, his baby almost dies and Amanda is in a coma, and the shady man from last week is using Declan’s stupidity to manipulate Jack into selling him the bar. Jack just cannot catch a break, so for his sake let’s hope whoever is dead in his boat is someone he actually wants there (and maybe even put there himself). The man could use a win.
- Conrad’s meeting with the woman from the Initiative was neither threatening enough nor interesting enough to warrant that long of a scene.
- I cannot stress enough how horrible everything Declan is involved in turns out to be. Jack, just turn him in to the cops!
- Victoria says the words “It’s a baby journal. Open it!” with all the warmth of a pit viper.