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

Revenge: “Chaos”

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You’ve got to hand it to Revenge: Planning and executing a 15-episode arc is not an easy task—especially when said plan has to return to a very specific reference point—and the show totally pulled it off. Pulling it off and creating a completely satisfying viewing experience can be two entirely separate things, however. Sure, Revenge pulled it off, but was the resolution satisfying? I’ll give that a resounding… mostly.

What unequivocally worked about this episode (and the entire arc, really) was how well the pieces moved together to create the perfect storm of insanity that was Daniel and Emily’s engagement party. Almost every major story arc from the season so far was in play here, building on each other in the way all great soap storylines do, until everything came to a one giant, explosive head. Tyler’s insanity, Amanda’s neediness, Daniel’s fragile relationship with his parents, and Jack’s vulnerability all merged in a way that managed to feel completely earned and almost inevitable, as all the seeds of Emily’s lies built to create the moment where someone dies on the beach.

It’s when we get to the “someone” part where things get a little less successful. It was fairly obvious from the pilot that Daniel wouldn’t be the one to die on the beach; his face was never shown, the editing carefully constructing a scene to conceal the identity of the victim. Knowing it wasn’t going to be Daniel, the moment Tyler showed up (and, honestly, long before he showed his face in the episode) it was all too obvious he would be the shooting victim, not Daniel. This inevitability, combined with the giddy anticipation-fueled speculation that led up to tonight’s reveal, simply made the moment where Victoria turned the dead body over to reveal Tyler instead of Daniel feel a bit like a letdown in the moment. Killing Daniel would be a bold, shocking move, one that would completely change the character dynamics on the show, and something that could really cement it as a show to be reckoned with. Instead, they went the more obvious route, which while not bad, is still obvious.

This really isn’t fair to Revenge, though, because although it may not have been a shocking reveal, the careful way the murder was crafted smartly sets off numerous stories to carry the show through the end of the season. Daniel, found wandering the beach with blood on his jacket, will obviously be the target of the investigation. Amanda, whom Jack found kneeling over Tyler’s body, has some explaining of her own to do. Jack, who stupidly moves the body in an attempt to cover for what he thinks Amanda did, is also mixed up in this. The murder on the beach has shifted from the “who was it” hinted at in the pilot to a full-on “whodunit,” the reveal of which I assume will come in the season finale.

The difference between the pilot and now is, knowing the victim is Tyler, do we really care who killed him? Tyler was a very fun diversion, mostly because Ashton Holmes went full-soap in his performance in the best way, but no one really cares about Tyler. Still, the persecution of Daniel is bound to bring much more delicious conflict between Victoria and Emily, which is always something to look forward to.

Still, despite all of my grumbling and nitpicking, this show still manages to impress every week. Doing what Revenge does on a consistent basis in as satisfying a way is extremely difficult, no matter what anyone’s a preconceived notion about soap storytelling might say otherwise. Telling a good soap story is hard; telling an extended, complicated, multi-faceted one like Revenge has for the last 15 episodes is even harder. So even if the ultimate reveal isn’t perfect, all of the roads that led us here were so satisfying it almost doesn't even matter.


Stray observations:

  • Awesome Nolan moments of the episode: shipping Emily and Jack, using his iPad to monitor all of the security cameras at the party while at the party, wearing that awesome red jacket.
  • What is Victoria up to with her divorce and Conrad’s business? She definitely has a plan.
  • Charlotte’s on drugs! Drugs for Charlotte! I’m sure that will make her interesting.
  • Grandpa Grayson really is a piece of work. Talking your distraught granddaughter out of counseling out of fear it might affect your business is truly the lowest of the low. Enjoy your druggie granddaughter, jerkface!
  • Declan was kind of okay tonight. Not interesting, but definitely tolerable. You have to respect a random 8 Mile reference.
  • Since I tweeted exactly what was going to happen tonight earlier in the day, I’m obviously a genius. Therefore, I’m going to make one more prediction: The revenge sensei was the actual murderer and he was working with Emily to frame Daniel for the deed.