Revenge: “Secrecy”
B+

Revenge: “Secrecy”

Well, that was unexpected.

It’s been a good while since Revenge pulled off a really satisfying, legitimately surprising “Oh damn!” moment, but Lydia stepping out of the shadows to reveal herself as Margaux’s source on Conrad was definitely one of those moments. The last time we saw Lydia she was getting on the Grayson jet, a jet that subsequently exploded and supposedly caused her death. This being a respectable nighttime soap, you can’t consider anyone dead unless you see the body, though, so now that she’s back and ready to exact some revenge of her own, it almost seems inevitable that she would return.

That being said, was Margaux’s quest to expose Conrad’s misdeeds the purpose of her character all along? She’s been a perfectly pleasant presence throughout the season, but her presence has nonetheless felt strange and unmoored, like the writers never really had a good game plan for where they wanted her character to go. Having her go after Conrad finally feels like a good fit for her personality and her established place in the show as a journalist, even if flying this close to Conrad’s sun is sure to get her burned.

Perhaps the strangest thing about this season of Revenge is how the show has taken a turn into pure maliciousness at every opportunity. As Emily gets closer and closer to her endgame, each character interaction becomes more and more barbed until it’s almost unbelievable that these people can stand to be in a room with each other at all. Victoria and Emily have always skated around each other on ice and razor blades, but that tone has infected Emily’s interactions with almost everyone else she comes in contact with.

Take Daniel for example. Sarah returning to Daniel’s life has thrown him for a total loop, in a way reminding him of the guy he was before he started believing in the myth of the Graysons again. This Daniel and Sarah plot has really been far too emotionally rushed—her feelings for him more than the other way around, considering how much resentment she had stored up over the years—but to watch Daniel have a light bulb moment like when he realized Emily was just like his mother was a long time coming. Emily and Daniel are two weeks from their wedding, and they can barely stand to look at each other, and if this marriage was in any way going to be real, they would be about six months away from the way Conrad and Victoria treat each other, so it’s not surprising that Daniel has realized this is no way to live.

Everything in “Secrecy” is set up for Emily and Daniel’s marriage to fail, from Sarah and Daniel’s rekindling to Victoria’s hilariously contrived bridal shower games, but Emily has one wild card left to play. Just when Victoria thinks she has the upper hand by revealing that Daniel and Sarah are holed up at the Grayson mistress shack together (and of course the Grayson men have a family-sanctioned mistress apartment), Emily reveals her most underhanded trick yet to keep Daniel from calling off the wedding: telling him that she’s pregnant, complete with ultrasound picture. This is nasty, nasty business, and in season one I might have been surprised that Emily was willing to go so far to get her revenge. But after seeing just how angry she is this season, just how hostile she is even with people who ultimately are her allies, this sort of underhandedness seems almost quaint in its simplicity. Oh, Daniel. She’s just too coldblooded for you.

And then there’s Jack. The show is pulling back quite a bit on Jack’s anger at Emily in these past few episodes, ever since he found out about Nolan’s part of the plan. It’s smart to give his interactions with Emily more shading than “Angry Jack Is Angry,” but they went so far in the other direction—and have been a bit unclear about Emily’s feelings as well—that their attempts to make him jealous of Aiden and Emily’s relationship don’t quite fully work. Especially frustrating is the masculine puffed chests contest Jack and Aiden get in when Jack confronts Aiden about the relationship out of concern. Watching these two men get possessive over someone who would probably ultimately step over both their bodies to make sure Conrad and Victoria get punished feels like an eye roll-worthy moment to say the least, especially because Jack has done such a quick turnaround from being impossibly angry at Emily to being concerned Aiden isn’t good enough for her. This love triangle just isn’t quite compelling enough to pull off these moments.

But with Lydia back to cause trouble, Emily fake pregnant, and the wedding just two episodes away, things are bound to get twisty in a far more interesting way than the love triangle has fared so far this season. Lydia didn’t turn out to be a very effective foe in her first appearance, but escaping certain death surely has a way of bringing out the schemer in anyone.

Stray observations:

  • Seriously, the Grayson men have a mistress apartment that is secretly passed down to the men of the family when they get married. And the women secretly pass down the phone number, so they can keep tabs on their men. This is deeply, deeply messed up.
  • But if Conrad had a secret mistress apartment, why did he sleep with Lydia at the South Fork Inn and therefore make it so easy for Emily to find out about Lydia in season one? Sloppy, Grayson.
  • Nolan, your hair is fantastic this season, as is your obsession with protecting your belongings from Aiden’s grubby hands via instructive post-it note.
  • Conrad’s book is called The Choices We Make. Conrad: Still the best.
  • Charlotte took naked pictures and is blackmailed until Aiden takes care of the problem. Charlotte: Still not the best.
  • Nolan: “18. No killing on the premises, to be disregarded if my life is in danger.”

More TV Club