Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Enlightened: “Revenge Play”

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“Revenge Play” is like the recurring Enlightened image of a carefully manicured green space butting up against gray and black architecture. It has the glass and concrete side, where highly organized mechanisms respond to the discovery of a security breach at Abbadon. But it also has that immense hedge growing wherever it’s allowed to, where relationships grow in unplanned ways. Officials are zeroing in on Amy, and all she can think about is her toxic friendship with Krista. There’s a fair amount of vanity and self-importance in Amy’s response to Krista’s medical emergency, even as Amy tells her mother about their relationship with that adolescent impatience and matching eyebrow arch. “It’s such a long story, mom.” You wouldn’t understand.

But at the same time, Amy really is being nakedly honest with herself. “She’s not my friend anymore. I mean, she doesn’t like me, so…” She trails into a whisper. She can’t even process what that means. Amy’s been clinging to her old, comfortable life, stuck on that world of fake smiles and stock art, even though she knows what she was like back then, not just complicit but asleep. Amy isn’t oblivious, so much as hard-headed. She knows why Krista’s been freezing her out. “She’s just protecting herself,” she says, acknowledging that Krista sees her as a risky association. Why keep reaching out?

Clearly, Amy had been processing some of these feelings even before Krista’s accident. After a meet-up with Tyler and Jeff at a jazz club, Amy recasts the patrons there—her kind of people, she imagines—as federal agents flanking her as she storms Abbadon to flush out the parasites, including Krista. It’s a disarming dream. The sound of chanting eggs Amy on as she and her team arrive in a bizarre X of vans, parking however they please. They file past the grateful Cogentiva workers, and Amy gives them a thumb up. The higher-ups are so guilty they scream just at the sight of Amy’s team, and Amy stands back with her arms crossed, refusing to help CEO Charles Szidon (James Rebhorn) as he’s escorted out in handcuffs. Dream Amy is confused about Krista being in handcuffs, too, but who wouldn’t fantasize about having the upper hand in such a one-sided relationship for a change?

The Cogentiva side, meanwhile, is a little schematic. Tyler frames Omar without thinking of the possible consequences. Omar gets fired without putting 200 and 200 together about Tyler and Amy’s not-so-secret discussions. And Amy doesn’t get that Tyler framed Omar until ridiculously late. Connie, the office Christian, assuages Amy’s guilt because she thinks every little thing is decided by God and he probably didn’t hear Amy’s mean wish and aren’t religious people silly? Enlightened is so clear and generous toward Amy and Helen and even Krista, but there isn’t much dimension to the goings-on at Cogentiva this week.

Maybe that’s because it’s a kind of fable. Tyler tries to cover Amy’s tracks, but by framing Omar in the process, he’s only multiplied their investigators. Omar wants to bring a law-suit, which is likely to take apart the offending computer and track its individual parts. That’s only if Abbadon doesn’t get there first, considering Omar’s bafflement and his demands for an investigation. And now even Dougie promises to get to the bottom of this. Funny how none of these recourses are built-in worker protections, exactly. If Abbadon investigates further, it will be to cover its own ass, Amy’s vision of her corporation as a profit-driven murder-robot continuing unabated. Omar won’t be saved by the corporation that wrongfully terminated him. He’ll be saved by having made a personal connection with Dougie or by seeking redress externally.

Back to the fable: All of this happens with Amy completely oblivious. It starts that way, too, with higher-ups unable to access their own e-mail accounts because Amy was logged in as them (and there’s no “log out all other sessions” feature, I guess). Then Tyler gets a heads-up about the impending IT sweep and figures out a way around it. He swaps Amy’s hard-drive for Omar’s. He smiles like he’s been drinking and speaks in Jellicoe-isms. He’s liking the taste of revenge. Amy drug him into this, Amy demanded that their hurrah couldn’t end with this security crackdown, and Amy dumped the problem into Tyler’s lap. Now, she isn’t thrilled with the consequences of her actions.


That’s what this episode is all about, but Amy barely even registers that she’s responsible for Omar getting fired. She doesn’t even justify herself with that “We’re all getting fired soon, anyway” line. Instead Amy’s caught up in the consequences of her vibes. Of course Amy thinks her thoughts shape reality. Apparently, her voice-over about the chasm between intentions and actions was just a riff, just another chance to hear herself talking. So Amy and Connie pray to make up for the initial bad feelings toward Krista. At least Amy doesn’t feel guilty about Krista’s situation anymore. The previous night, Amy rejected her mom’s idea of bringing Krista a homemade pillow on the grounds that it wouldn’t move Krista an inch. It doesn’t. But it does help Amy prove to herself that she’s not the poison there, even if she is overzealous about getting the gang back together. And now, she’s free to deal with the fallout of her whistle-blowing scheme, concluding with another ominous voice-over as Amy stares at Omar’s empty desk: “They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. My intentions are good. My intentions are so good.” Does she even listen to herself?

Stray observations:

  • “Revenge Play” was written and directed by Mike White.
  • What exactly was Amy going to do when the IT sweep caught her? Was she just going to try to innocent-talk her way out of trouble again?
  • Jeff says Abbadon was under Congressional investigation for expelling toxic waste in the Santa Ana River until suddenly it wasn’t, and now he wants Amy and “Julie Underscore Bitch” to find evidence of bribery in Charles Szidon’s e-mail. You know what that means: more James Rebhorn!