Revenge: “Perception”
B+

Revenge: “Perception”

B+

Revenge

“Perception”

Season 1, Episode 14

“It’s not what you look at that matters, but what you see.”

Although I normally laugh off Emily’s self-serious narration with a chuckle and an eye roll, tonight, the above quote actually struck a chord. Perception affects everyone, even those with the simplest of lives, but it especially takes its toll on those whose entire existence revolves around gaining and maintaining social status. The premise of Revenge, and Emily’s mission to hide in plain sight while seeking said revenge, hinges on Emily’s actions being perceived in the exact way she intends. This reliance on false perception is why Victoria’s skepticism is such a compelling and necessary component of the show.

Perception, though, can have consequences, especially when the bending of it is wielded by those with less than pure intentions. No one on Revenge has been purer than poor Charlotte, which is of course why she must inevitably end up taking the biggest fall, a victim to the desire for her own mother to control perception. Yes, the secret of Charlotte’s true paternity comes out in epic fashion at a Grayson dinner table, a place that is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous places in the Hamptons. In the end, this control is completely undone by things beyond what Victoria could even imagine, undone not in the obvious way by Emily but in the most tragic way, by someone else who was also fooled by perception: Jack.

After spending much of the season doing what amounted to background work, Jack rose to the forefront of the story tonight in a big way. By using false perception to intertwine Jack with fake Amanda Clarke, both Emily and unfortunate happenstance conspired to bring Jack to this moment, the moment of his breaking point. And break he did, obsessing over Amanda’s sudden disappearance, especially in the light of the stray interview tape he finds under the bed. His desolation over losing Amanda—and perception is the only explanation for Jack’s obsession with her, as it seemed he might somehow fall in love with anyone walking through his door claiming to be Amanda Clarke—has the side effect of finally giving his character some fire, a fire he rashly uses to inadvertently out Charlotte’s true paternity. From the start of the story, Charlotte and Jack felt like the tragic characters in this tale, the ones who would be used and then thrown away, and these events certainly fall along those lines.

As for Emily, she manages to spend most of her time spinning her wheels in an attempt to both thwart Jack and save him from himself at every moment. Her need to control perception in the first place has always been what will end up hurting Jack most of all, which, as each episode goes by, becomes more obvious to see is the last thing Emily wants. In a nice touch, before Jack even does her dirty work for her, Emily backs off from revealing Charlotte’s paternity at the last minute. Emily Thorne the Revenge Machine is fun, but these little glimpses of humanity make her feel more like a person and less like an animatronic revenge robot. 

As the show barrels toward next week’s big Fire and Ice engagement party—and with it the cryptic events from the pilot—there are so many different story wild cards in play that is impossible to tell how the little snippets we’ve already seen will play out. Fake Amanda Clarke is still in the picture and pretty darn angry at Emily right now. Crazy Tyler is supposed to be out of the picture, but you can never trust a good soap villain to stay down. Victoria’s biggest secret was just revealed, potentially destroying her relationship with both of her children. Conrad is increasingly on edge because of the divorce and business troubles. Even Jack now has an edge that couldn’t have been predicted. Revenge has done a masterful job of churning everyone’s lives up just enough to make almost any outcome seem possible, which is possibly the highest praise you can give a long-term soap storyline such as this one.

The final wrinkle in it all came with the last, chilling little moment from tonight’s episode, with Emily discovering someone found her perfect little hidey hole, and that someone plans to let her know all about it at her engagement party. The desperate look on Emily’s face, combined with Nolan’s worried pleas in the background, set the perfect stage for next week’s big episode. Let the waiting begin.

Stray observations:

  • Nolan’s fabulous moment of the week: owning a degausser. Of course he does.
  • William Devane is perfection, and I hope he sticks around for a while. Still, suggesting college dropout Daniel take over Grayson Global seems a little rash, no?
  • Conrad totally has Ashley’s number. I’m not sure that scene will lead to anything in the future or not, but it was a nice little moment for both of their characters.
  • Emily’s flashback accent was something else. Just WHAT was Emily VanCamp going for there? Except “awful”?
  • Speaking of those flashbacks, were they implying that Harvard Daniel wanted to be some sort of poet? Or was he just trying to get into that girl’s pants? I can’t picture Daniel writing poetry about anything, except maybe workouts. Or crisp khaki pants.
  • “If you’re this easily manipulated by your mother, I shudder to think what Emily is going to do to you as your wife.”
  • “What’s on the revengenda this evening?”