Two long weeks ago, Revenge introduced the real Emily Thorne. Real Emily Thorne, despite her murderous, devious ways and eye-tickling aversion to clothing, turned out to be kind of a drag, nothing more than an overwrought cliché who, despite a decent backstory, seemed destined to be more trouble than she was worth. After tonight, however, I must admit many of my reservations might have been a bit unfounded. Real Emily Thorne—or Kara, or perhaps now Amanda Clarke, it’s unclear what name she’s actually going by these days—is turning out to be kind of a hoot. Her character is still about two feet deeper in the soap well than I wish the writers were willing to go at this point in the show, but her true beauty is how wonderfully she antagonizes Emily. And we all know an antagonized Emily will eventually reap great rewards for us viewers. With REVENGE.
The thing about Real Emily Thorne is that she’s a pain in the ass. Not only because she’s grating, or because of her decidedly unsexy way of constantly throwing around her sexuality, but because she’s obviously just an obstacle being thrown in our Emily’s path towards revenge. She can’t possibly be a permanent fixture; she knows too much, and her objectives are in too great of opposition to our protagonist. In her introductory episode, the obvious nature of her arc on the show really turned me off. Tonight, however, showed that her being simply an obstacle is perfectly fine as long as she’s an interesting obstacle. Her telling Jack she is the real Amanda Clarke (and Emily’s subsequent reaction to this news) was definitely interesting. We haven’t had an all-out revenge plot in quite a while, and I can only hope Real Emily Thorne is the next to go down. The tears in our Emily’s eyes when Jack broke the news assured that this revenge might just be the one she savors the most.
As for Jack, this is a fairly heartbreaking turn. His character development hasn’t been the greatest, so the one way he’s been defined so far is in his connection to the Amanda Clarke of his childhood. For him to think he’s found that, especially in the shadow of his rejection by our Emily, has succeeded in turning him into one of the more tragic figures of the show, the most innocent of victims in our Emily’s revenge. It’s obvious to the audience why he shouldn’t want anything to do with Real Emily Thorne (and I hope you were screaming “No, Jack, no!” at your television, too), but even before she tells him she is Amanda Clarke, they have a lot in common. They’re both lonely and searching for a connection. Unfortunately for Jack, the person he is seeking a connection with is quite possibly mentally unbalanced and taking advantage of his emotional connection to the past. When Real Emily Thorne goes down, what happens to Jack?
Jack’s transition into a tragic figure is a bit surprising, but truly shocking on the tragic front is how quickly Victoria is taking up the mantle as most tragic of all. Jack’s tragedy is in his innocence; Victoria’s, in her complicity. With no apparent confidante or emotional partner since David’s downfall, she’s obviously a strikingly lonely person. This causes her to cling to the people she holds most dear—mainly Daniel and Charlotte—in increasingly controlling and self-destructive ways. The more she tries to control everything in her life, the more everything just falls apart around her. This extended to her almost pathological attempt to control Lydia this week, which resulted in Lydia begging Conrad to hide her away from Victoria for good. The tragic thing about Victoria’s story is how she is complicit in the entire thing. For reasons we still aren’t aware of, she chose to go along with Conrad in framing David instead of following her heart. Her role in the conspiracy makes her a pretty horrible person, but the fact that she’s paid for it every single day since is what makes her interesting. Her loneliness is something she foisted upon herself, and her subconscious punishes her for it at every moment. Stowe embodies this in every bit of her performance, so much so that even when there isn’t a flashback to her time with David you can still read it all over her face. It grounds the story in a way that feels really essential.
For all of the tragedy that snuck into this episode, the MVP was definitely Nolan, and he was decidedly not tragic. No, in fact, he was absolutely on fire tonight, both with his snarky dialogue and sneaky manipulations of Tyler. Every moment he was on the screen was filled with pure delight. At the beginning of the series, the character felt off in a way which didn’t seem likely to mesh with what the rest of the show was trying to accomplish. Both the writers and Gabriel Mann have completely figured out his place, though, and he is now consistently one of the best parts of the show. His story with Tyler has been a true highlight, especially because it is still unclear who is going to come out on top. Nolan has now invested $20 million with Tyler in Grayson Global, and although the plan is to pull the funds before anything goes through, can that possibly work? The best part of it is that Tyler thinks Nolan is doing it for pure sexual favors, while Nolan’s true aim is to help Emily take him down. The sexual favors are just a bonus. Their intersecting and competing agendas are twisty and soapy in all the right ways, and the sexual element is interesting in a way the Real Emily Thorne character, who uses similar methods, is just not.
Coming more into focus this week as well was the strengthening of Tyler and Ashley’s alliance. Their relationship is one of the more interesting ones on the show because it might be the only one built on pure honesty. They’re both out to take as much as they can from these rich people in order to better their lives, and have stated they’re willing to do anything to get it. Ashley even sees Tyler kissing Nolan, but it is a momentary blip; he instantly explains what he is doing, and she seems to understand. Ashley’s character has made a complete 180 from the way she was introduced and although I find her attitude bratty—Victoria honestly doesn’t owe her anything—her unholy alliance with Tyler certainly has promise.
This was a very entertaining and jam-packed episode, so jam-packed I almost forgot to mention one thing: our Emily has a little secret. Yes, another one. We all thought CCH Pounder was the one who guided her little road map for revenge, but it might be far more over-the-top soapy than that. Who is “X” (a.k.a. Satoshi) and what did he teach Emily? The art of keeping the perfect poker face? How to stealthily manipulate your future diabolical mother-in-law? Aikido? Personally, I kind of hope he is the main character in the Japanese version of Revenge doing a multi-continent crossover event. Wherever this is heading, the reveal was certainly a heck of a lot of fun. But hey, any show that introduces a character as simply “X” is just fine by me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go change my revenge expert’s name in my phone’s directory to X. I’ve obviously been doing this all wrong. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
- For as big of a bombshell the police finding Frank’s phone and wallet on Grayson property should be, it sure took a backseat in the episode. In a gossip-ridden world like the Hamptons, information as scandalous as this would rip through the community like a wildfire.
- Emily is still working the very long con on Daniel and Victoria. Her manipulation of Daniel was so subtle it felt like a completely normal conversation anyone could have with their significant other about an overbearing parent. Bravo, Emily.
- So did Declan take $25,000 from Victoria to stop seeing Charlotte and then continue to see her anyway?
- I’m confused about Victoria saying she hired Ashley because of Emily. Wasn’t she already hired before Daniel and Victoria ever met Emily?
- “You’ve still got a problem, Ems. Or should I say Ams? Even I’m getting confused.”
- “Spoiler alert: Your girl talk with Miss Montauk did not work.”
- “Transaction denied. Cash only.”
- “What did Mrs. Grayson want last night? That woman scares the pants off me.”
- “Oh, hey Ash. Love the dress.”