There were several reveals in this episode of Revenge—some obvious, some less so—but the most amazing, silly, soapy turn was Conrad’s decision to run for public office. Last week I called out Conrad (and Henry Czerny’s deliciously sardonic performance) as the secret MVP of season two, and this cements that status, branding Conrad Grayson as the absolute torch bearer of that tried-and-true soap archetype: the untouchable patriarch.
Every soap has one: The male head of the main family, the one who is devious and duplicitous, and yet always manages to come out on top even when he is completely in the wrong. Now that Revenge has backed off a bit on Emily’s long-term schemes against the Graysons the show has set its sights on reshuffling the status quo, starting squarely with tearing down Conrad and building him back up again, like some sort of golf-casual clad phoenix of the Hamptons. And I say this with sincerity: It couldn’t happen to a better guy. This is going to be fantastic.
The best thing about the entire idea is how patently ridiculous it is. Conrad Grayson has been involved with scandal after scandal since Emily showed up in town, with these scandals touching every single person in his immediate family. He wouldn’t pass a sniff test, let alone the extensive political vetting process and media scrutiny. If he manages to not only run but win, it will be the perfect metaphor for the Hamptons of Revenge: Corrupt, money hungry, and rotten to the core. And I kind of can’t wait.
It’s a good thing Conrad was there to spice things up this week, because everything else was fairly tired. The big scheme of the week involved Emily and Aiden attempting to get closer to Helen Crowley but pulling off a ridiculously complicated stunt involving a charity benefit, tricking Daniel, a gas-bombed elevator, a hostage situation, and a fake getaway. Really, it seems as if Aiden could have found an easier way to get Helen to consider him trustworthy, especially when their plan was so easy to foil at any point along the way if things didn’t go perfectly. This felt like nothing more than a complicated plot existing solely to fill an episode of television, and not because it was needed for the characters.
The biggest (and least surprising) reveal of the night, though, was that Padma, Nolan’s ex-CFO and one third of a very anemic love triangle, is working for Helen Crowley. From the beginning it seemed as if something was off with Padma, but it looked as if she was just going to be revealed as boring and not duplicitous. Her long absence and return only to immediately denounce Marco should have been a huge red flag for Nolan, but if Nolan has one fatal flaw it’s the sucking pit of need where his heart should be. He believes Padma and denounces Marco, giving Padma an in to search for the very technology Nolan is trying to hide from Daniel and Grayson Global. Whatever this technology does, the Initiative wants it and it looks to be a big player in the main arc of the season.
This brings me back to the Initiative itself, which remains much more of an abstract construct than a tangible threat. What the heck do they do, besides dabble in terrorism? Are they in existence solely to make obscene amounts of money and give their members untold power? At times they remind me of SD-6 in Alias, which used all means of terrorism as a front to what was really a criminal organization fixated on making large amounts of cash. I have no doubt the Initiative’s goals will be revealed in time, but until then it’s difficult to understand why we should be worried about Helen Crowley at all.
But at least Helen is more interesting than the Ryan brothers. I’m not going to harp on how terrible this story is week after week, but up until Conrad decided to use Jack’s situation as a springboard for his political campaign nothing about this plot worked yet again. At least there was a bit of momentum on Declan and Amanda’s part in confronting the brothers, with Amanda even going so far as to threaten violence, but these baby steps just aren’t enough. Now that Conrad has decided he’s going to use this case as a springboard to fix police corruption in the Hamptons, things are bound to get more interesting, or at least more snarky.
My biggest question is this: Are we really going to have to wait until the end of the season to see who bought the farm on Jack’s boat? And does the show even remember they introduced that lovely little bit of foreshadowing? Unlike last year’s shooting at the engagement party, this plot point has been almost forgotten. Who’s on that boat, dammit?
- Perhaps I missed it, but how did Victoria know about Stonehaven to leak it to Grayson Global rival Jason?
- Victoria and Emily were working together but with separate agendas yet again. I must say the promise the winter finale delivered of them working together hasn’t quite been properly realized. More razor sharp confrontations between these two, please.
- So does Helen sit in a dark room watching Daniel’s life on a big screen 24/7? She must be low on vitamin D. I hope she takes supplements.
- The Bond references with Aiden and Nolan were sublime; especially considering Nolan is totally the Q of the Hamptons.