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

Revenge: “Engagement”

Illustration for article titled Revenge: “Engagement”

Here’s the thing: I don’t really know if that was the best episode to set up next week’s two-hour Revenge season finale, but at least it wasn’t boring. Plots were set somewhat in motion for the inevitable showdown with the Initiative, but more importantly, the tone of the episode just felt right, with all the dialogue having that sort of ice water running through the veins chilliness that made season one so successful.

Leading the charge in iciness was every interaction between Emily and Victoria, a dynamic that has been sorely lacking since Emily had less reason to interact directly with the Graysons this season. Now that Emily has accepted Daniel’s proposal again, they have every reason to interact sharply and often, and every single conversation they had in this episode was a cutting delight. Where last season Emily seemed more willing to pull her punches in conversation, this time around, her relationship with Victoria is much clearer: They don’t like each other, they don’t trust each other, and they’re going to go out of their way to be cavalierly awful to each other when not in the public eye. So while Victoria gives a you-could-take-it-either-way speech at Emily and Daniel’s engagement party, in private, she clearly states she knows Emily isn’t in love with Daniel. Emily doesn’t respond with thinly veiled niceties like she might have in the past; instead, she goes right for Victoria’s sore spot in bringing up David Clarke. Whatever Emily’s end game is with Daniel and the Graysons, she has already begun to work on Victoria, and the results are fabulous to watch.

But while Emily might have control of her situation with Daniel and Victoria, she is far less secure in her other relationships. When Victoria reveals to Jack that Emily and Daniel broke up the first time because of him, all Jack can wonder is what has changed so much to make her go back to him? Emily and Jack end up having quite a lovely conversation outside her engagement party where Emily finally reveals that she let go of Jack when Amanda showed up pregnant for everyone’s happiness, but all he has are more questions, and once again, Emily cannot provide any real answers. The show has struggled with Jack and Emily this season, but with Jack a new antagonist for the Graysons and more aligned with Emily’s true goals than ever, their tragic relationship regains some of the pathos that made it work at the end of last season, and I found their interactions surprisingly heartbreaking here.

One relationship that is less successful, though, is Emily and Aiden’s. Emily remains committed to being with Aiden once everything is done with Daniel and the Graysons, but things get complicated when Aiden decides to take Emily’s quest into his own hands and cut her off at the knees by draining the Grayson bank accounts and setting their demise into fast forward. Aiden’s insistence that Emily’s revenge won’t satisfy her (since his revenge didn’t ultimately satisfy him) is an interesting idea, but as he insists on having conversations about it with everyone but Emily, it gets tiresome. Truly, Aiden is a very ill-defined character within the landscape of this show despite all the time put into developing him, so it’s quite exciting when Takeda decides he’s had enough of him as well and outs his past to Daniel, forcing his firing. Takeda himself even shows up and challenges Aiden to a sword fight—a sword fight!—but alas, Aiden bests Takeda and kills off the craziest little plot twist this show ever came up with. RIP, Takeda. At least you died right after spouting out a line about how you, as well, had a nefarious purpose Emily is not aware of.

As for the Graysons, Conrad’s campaign is still going strong, but Jack and Ashley have an idea about how to derail it: Go to Victoria and tell her about Conrad’s potential cheating ways. This backfires, of course, when Victoria meets with the governor’s wife herself and learns that she wasn’t sleeping with Conrad but giving him information about her sick husband’s campaign in order to sabotage it. When the wife decides to out her husband’s sickness herself, Conrad is all but guaranteed the governor’s seat—that is, unless Jack’s new alliance with Victoria to take him down bears fruit. There is a lot of scheming in this plot and none of it ever seems to go anywhere, but honestly every scene involving Victoria is so much fun I almost don’t even care.

The Graysons' biggest problem, though, is Nolan and Aiden’s plan to drain their bank accounts, which are conveniently all stashed in one place: The Amanda Clarke Foundation. Nolan goes to the Falcon to get information about Victoria’s son Patrick and learn how to hack the account, but right as Aiden is about to press the button to drain everything forever, Emily bursts in and tries to stop him. Naturally, this doesn’t work, and all of the Grayson funds are now squirreled away in some account no one can ever access. Goodbye, money!


As if that’s not enough, right as the money drains away all of the power in New York City goes out, and it’s not a cross-promotion with NBC but the Initiative finally putting their very murky plan into motion. Sure, we haven’t heard anything about the Initiative in weeks. Sure, we have absolutely no idea what this has to do anything we’ve previously seen them do all season. But hey: Blackout! Blackouts are fun!

In all seriousness, although this episode wasn’t necessarily a font of new information, it set things in motion for the final push to the end and had a lot of great character interactions while doing it. Considering what a rocky road season two has been, this feels like a win to me.


Stray observations:

  • Charlotte is pregnant, which is ridiculous. Are we really supposed to care? At least it made me laugh.
  • Regina. Why are you even here?
  • Charlotte:  “And this year? Try not to shoot anyone.”