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Revenge: "Sin"

That’s more like it.

For all of the problems with the season three premiere, the biggest was that it just felt off, like a slightly skewed recreation of what a Revenge episode should be. Any fear this would become an ongoing issue was completely put to rest with “Sin,” which felt like vintage Revenge. Freed from the premiere’s burden of shaking off a rocky season two, “Sin” is allowed to just be, to represent the show’s recommitment to Emily’s revenge instead of simply making awkward proclamations about it.

We know Emily isn’t messing around because not only does her Box of Secret Revenge Things come into play—now safely ensconced in a safe at Nolan’s house—but so does the infamous Grayson Global picture. Nothing says “back to basics” like that picture full of faces crossed out in red, the tattered reminders of Emily’s past vengeance, with her vowing to keep crossing more off until everyone has been taken down. The target this episode is Paul Whitley, who worked for Conrad getting investors to put their money in Grayson Global. The catch? His new profession is as a Catholic priest.

This is the sort of deliciously ridiculous thing that Revenge revels in, and it does not disappoint, with the Catholic themes of original sin, repenting, and forgiveness a strong runner throughout the episode and important factors in Emily’s character arc. Father Whitley is practically a blinking neon light symbolizing Emily’s danger of losing her own soul in her quest for revenge, but this is the sort of obvious metaphor the show has always done well. Despite the hints that Father Whitley has completely atoned for his past sins, turning his life around in the wake of her father’s death in an attempt to make reparations for his sins, Emily does not back down one bit from attempting to take him down. Her renewed quest for revenge—much of which is being stoked by Amanda and Declan’s death and Jack’s demand she finish it all by the end of the summer—gives Emily tunnel vision, and even Nolan’s protestations can’t snap her out of it.

It’s only when Emily already sets her plan in motion, sending staged scandalous pictures of Father Whitley in bed with a woman to the Pastor of his church, that she realizes she’s gone too far. This is a note Revenge has played in the past, but these moments are essential to see Emily as a human being who is losing something by continuing on this path. She might avenge her father’s wrongful conviction and death—something even he told her he didn’t want, as she is reminded by his diary here—but the ultimate cost might be her soul. The most interesting part of Emily’s regrets here is that ultimately, taking down Father Whitley might have hurt her overall plan, which is why she needs to find him and get him back—so she can somehow get him to convince Conrad to confess to all of his many sins.

Conrad’s sickness remains the lynchpin of Emily’s plans to take down the Graysons, but although at this point things seem to be going well, it seems like it is going to be difficult to continue making him think he has Huntington’s. (Of course, this season only has a two-month timeline so that might not be as much of an issue as it appears to be on the surface.) She manages to drug him again, but how many more times can she pull it off? The biggest toll here, and perhaps Emily’s ultimate goal, is that Conrad’s spirit seems completely broken; he’s hiding in his bedroom, he’s drinking his way through awkward dinners with Patrick, he’s losing Charlotte’s support when she learns of his connection to the bomb. Conrad’s breakdown at the end of the episode makes Emily think she might have a chance of breaking him, of making him confess to his evildoing, but this is Conrad. There’s no way it’s going to be that easy.

And then there’s Victoria and Aiden. The over-the-top soapiness of them meeting on yachts (How has Conrad not sold the yacht yet?) and speaking in obtuse circles around each other is certainly fun, but so far, Aiden’s reasoning for getting Victoria roped in on his scheme against Emily and Nolan is fairly weak. Aiden’s ploy is telling her Nolan and Emily stole her money, using Aiden to help until they cut him out at the very last minute. He uses Emily buying Nolan a house as proof they took the money, and honestly, it all makes absolutely no sense to me. Victoria dislikes Emily immensely but why would she immediately jump to the conclusion Emily stole millions of dollars from her and used that money to buy Nolan a house? Emily is a multi-millionaire herself. Until this plot gets developed further, it seems more like Victoria getting taken for a ride, which is not something I think Victoria would even let happen, especially from someone whom her family had such shady dealings with in the past. This is the one plot that feels like the show shoehorning things in, keeping Barry Sloane around because the producers like the actor, without really making his plot make sense. Still, it’s early, and I’m sure many twists and turns await.

Overall, most of the concerns I had about the season after the premiere were alleviated here. Revenge might not have the juicy immediacy it busted out of the gate with in season one, but this episode showed that there is definitely still gas in the show’s tank.

Stray observations:

  • Are the Graysons Catholic? Did we know this? Is Emily supposed to be Catholic? I have a lot of questions about Daniel and Emily getting married in a Catholic church.
  • Hello, Nolan’s one-night stand. I’m so glad the show remembered he is bisexual. I’m also glad Nolan makes muffins now.
  • Daniel and Margeaux were the only completely boring part of this episode. Did anyone think Daniel really cheated? Whatever Margeaux is up to is much more complicated than that.
  • I still don’t buy that Patrick is completely on the up-and-up. Why wouldn’t Frank give him money like Victoria asked? Why would he just threaten him?
  • Charlotte: “Booze in the morning looks a lot like denial, Dad.”
  • Nolan: “Come to borrow a cup of vinegar?”
  • Conrad: “Freelancing is not a profession, dear; it’s a hobby one has between bartending shifts.”

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