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

Revenge: “Treachery”

Illustration for article titled Revenge: “Treachery”

Every week, Revenge seems to embrace its soap trappings a little bit more. With “Treachery,” it skipped past soap and went into full Lifetime movie mode. Depending on your tolerance for LMN—I happen to be a big fan—this episode was either a mostly fun lark or a strange, maddeningly contrived trip down the rabbit hole of psychological and sexual manipulation, secret identities on perpetual edge of potential exposure, and the always classic cuckolding of the innocent love interest. The sudden appearance of the real Emily Thorne (and the actual character herself) might be groan-inducing, but the way it’s being used to expand what we know about our Emily’s character is definitely smart.

Let’s just get it out of the way right now: Real Emily Thorne is obnoxious. Her overtly sexualized façade, her determination to flirt with and corrupt one half of our Emily’s love triangle, her impulsive nature and obsession with our Emily in general—all bad, mostly because of the ridiculous cliché of it all. Still, this is a classic character type in soap for a reason, and that reason is it brings the drama. Of all of the obstacles our Emily has faced so far, I guarantee none of them were as wily as a psychotic obsessive ex-stripper who wants nothing more than to wile her way into Emily’s life for good. Unstable and willing to kill is not a good combination.

The one thing that really works about this story, enough to excuse some of the more tedious bits, is how the whole idea of the single white female trope is sort of turned on its head. Usually, it’s the mentally unbalanced one doing the manipulation, but here all the manipulating is being done by our Emily. She’s the one who specifically targeted Emily Thorne as a candidate to swap identities, she’s the one who has nurtured the relationship by lying to Emily and pretending to love her, and she’s the one who gave her $500,000 to switch identities and hoped she would just go away forever. It is ruthlessly cold, colder than anything we’ve seen her do. It was also a miscalculation on our Emily’s part, one I have no idea how she’s going to get out from under without doing something horrible to the real Emily. From the beginning moments of the episode, we see how our Emily doesn’t like the idea of Frank being dead, insinuating murder isn’t her style, but how else is she going to get out of this one? Seeing Jack rebound directly into her arms certainly won’t help matters, I’m sure.

Even though Emily is now dealing with her namesake, she must first deal with the big problem her namesake caused: Frank. It seems she’s setting up the Graysons by planting Frank’s cell phone outside their house, but are her lies going to catch up to her relationship with Daniel? He knows she was out of her bed that night. It’s going to be hard for Emily to keep up her revenging with a houseguest!

Also tied up in the mess of Frank are Victoria and Conrad, who take in amnesiac Lydia after she comes out of her coma. It’s lucky Lydia’s amnesia is one of those “only forget the plot points pertinent to the show” types of head injuries. This way, she can remember things just at the right (or wrong) times! No, seriously, Lydia’s amnesia and continued presence in general isn’t my favorite thing the show has done with the mystery thus far. It feels like they could accomplish just as much, and have had a higher shock value to boot, by just killing her in the fall. Still, she knows something isn’t right about what happened to her and that Victoria and Conrad are involved, so it should at least allow for some twists and turns in their story.

One small thing that bugged me this week was Daniel, as it seemed like he was all over the place. First he decides to quit the Stowaway and that he only wanted the job in the first place to make his parents angry. Then he goes to his father—the one he is still mad at, especially now his parents are separating—and asks to be a part of the family business. Then, when he finds out about Victoria’s investigation of Emily he basically removes himself from her life and moves in with Emily. He was all over the place, and it never really tracked. I understand him getting angry with Victoria and moving in with Emily, but what prompted him to run crawling back to Daddy with his tail between his legs asking for a job? Daniel is still a bit of a mushy character and beyond “trying to be a better person” and “loves Emily” we don’t know much about him. This needs to change.

Basically, this whole episode can be summed up like this: Real Emily Thorne feels kind of a drag, but a necessary drag the show is milking for all it is worth. And any time our Emily has a problem that seems impossible to solve, that’s when she’s at her best. I for one am looking forward to seeing how she pulls this one off.

Stray observations:

  • I love how Nolan’s guest swimsuits still have tags. Poor, lonely Nolan. Now that he and Jack have made up they should have swimming parties.
  • As Ashley gets more disgruntled every week, it becomes more and more clear that she and Tyler are going to team up to do something interesting. It’s just unclear how it will manifest.
  • All in on the full dramatic soapy score tonight, huh, Revenge? I approve.
  • I’m just going to stop talking about Declan and Charlotte until one or both of them do something interesting. Declan’s “There’s no pressure, here” did make me want to flick him in the nose, though, so there was that at least.
  • “Look, I’m not built for prison time.”