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

Revenge: “Lineage”

Illustration for article titled Revenge: “Lineage”

Revenge’s flashback episode in season one was basically a failure, making the big mistake of dramatizing events from the past that did nothing to enlighten the characters or plots of the present. It seems like the show learned from this mistake, resulting in “Lineage” which—although it wasn’t necessarily the most dramatically compelling installment of this second season—at least used its look back to where all the characters were during the Thanksgiving of 2006 as a way to shed light on all the stories happening in present day. And there was an actual revenge plot to boot!

The ABC promos for this episode tried to frame it as some sort of Thanksgiving family screwball comedy centering on the arrival of Victoria’s mother Marion (Adrienne Barbeau), but the resulting episode was far darker than that. What it was instead was the origin story of Victoria Grayson, the revenge superhero of the Hamptons. In this world, schemes and manipulations are passed down in families like Grandma’s finest china, whether the child wants it or not. Victoria’s icy heart wasn’t always so cold, but was slowly frozen by witnessing her mother choose rich men over her own daughter’s happiness again and again, a cycle of emotional abuse that culminated in framing her own daughter for murder and then later casting Victoria aside after one of the sleazy rich husbands molested her as a teenager, blaming her daughter for tempting him.

But Victoria couldn’t be satisfied to simply ignore her mother’s presence and reject her from her life. Victoria’s own mother’s insistence on hardening her daughter’s heart is what ultimately was her own undoing, with Victoria and Conrad setting up an entire revenge scenario to offer Marion hope and then snatching it away so they could watch her suffer. The tragedy of it all is that Victoria and Conrad do all of this—recognizing that what Marion did to her child was awful—while manipulating Daniel to ignore his own desires and be who they need him to be at the very same time. It’s the show recognizing that what the Graysons are doing, and in turn what Emily is attempting to do to them, is a vicious circle and a story that will never truly end. If Emily gets what she wants, Daniel and Charlotte will still be there to carry on the Grayson way, and all of this will start over again, like the Hamptons is a snow globe that periodically gets shaken so the snow falls in a different pattern, yet everything remains essentially the same.

Emily’s story is more the story of how she and Aiden fit together, and it felt like a necessary piece of the puzzle. If they’re going to sell the reality of Emily having a serious relationship with him, the audience needs to get invested, and learning that she’s the one who got him involved in Takeda’s revenge training is a good way to give their relationship a bit more weight. Additionally, the idea that Aiden and Emily’s revenge missions dovetail a bit is an interesting twist, although the conspiracy is beginning to reach the point where I can’t follow it much at all. The episode seemed to imply that these Russian mobsters had some sort of connection to Flight 197, and Aiden’s father might have a connection as well, but what does it all mean? The more information we get, the more confusing it all becomes. As Aiden and Emily work together more in earnest, I hope this confusion can get cleared up a bit.

As for Nolan, it appeared his flashbacks were going to be as useless as most of his entire story this season, until the last-minute reveal that Nolan’s old CFO (and former lover) just might turn out to be Daniel’s smoking gun in proving that Nolan’s company has ties to David Clarke. This feels like it could have some teeth, especially since Nolan told CFO Marco he gave David’s daughter $500 million. If Daniel finds that out, it might seem a little suspicious for Amanda and Jack to still be living in that bar and complaining about money troubles. How will Emily and Nolan squirm their way out of this one?

Finally, there’s Jack and the bar plot that ate the Hamptons, which was no more interesting in flashback than it has been in the present. As had been suspected, Kenny has bigger plans for the bar, and it all stems from his belief that Jack’s father Carl killed his own father in 2006, a mob guy who was shaking down all of the local businesses for protection money. In what might have been the dumbest thing the show has ever done (and that’s saying something), Carl had nothing to do with his death at all; instead, it was a friend who killed him using Carl’s gun, and Carl just helped him cover it up. The murder was a downright terrible scene, not even soapy fun but just silly and nonsensical, and hinging a big present-day story on such a dumb scene really kind of proves this story isn’t going to amount to much. Still, at least Kenny has a motive, and layering a bit of revenge for the blue collar side of the island isn’t a terrible idea. Whatever Kenny’s game plan is, he’s certainly taking the long con route, but I have a feeling his long con is going to result in him floating to the bottom of the harbor. I just hope how he gets there proves to be worth this slog of a story.


Stray observations:

  • Thank goodness Jack had normal flashback hair this time.
  • Ashley was so desperate for money she was about to become a hooker for a Russian mobster? To go from a MFA to a prostitute is a fairly big fall, though I did appreciate her humor at thinking perhaps the Russians would want to talk about Kandinsky before they bang.
  • So Emily knew about Lydia and Conrad’s affair in 2006, but she waited until 2011 to begin her Grayson infiltration using this knowledge? She’s lucky Conrad is into long-term affairs.