Tonight’s episode saw Emily targeting a former Grayson Global employee and now pastor while Aiden took a step forward in his plot with Victoria, Patrick was introduced to the rest of the Grayson family, Daniel decided to try out magazine publishing, and Jack clued Charlotte in on Conrad’s machinations. After the premiere I hoped Revenge would maintain its momentum, and despite its stumble with Aiden’s storyline, it didn’t disappoint. I hoped the reasons behind Aiden’s plot against Emily would make sense with this episode, but I was very wrong. His tirade about Nolan and Emily shutting him out after they got what they wanted from him was unbelievable. The ridiculousness of it made me think Aiden was playing Victoria, as Emily’s decision to kick Aiden to the curb didn’t happen at all how he said it did. However, the conclusion of the episode with Aiden revealing that Emily has the Graysons’ pilfered millions, points to the opposite. Aiden’s definitely out for blood. He was already on weak footing with me, but his vengeance arc is only making his standing more wobbly.
Where the Aiden plot failed, Revenge made up for in other ways. Though I cringe at any extended time spent with Daniel, he was tolerable tonight. Despite being propositioned by Margaux, this new-and-improved Daniel refused. It would have been a breach of character for Daniel to sleep with her, as he’s been consistently enamored with Emily since the show’s beginning, but I suspect Emily and I would have cared about the same amount if he had. The thought of Daniel being pulled in another romantic direction is only concerning because it could derail Emily’s plans for their wedding, but neither I nor Emily seem very invested in their relationship. Though Margaux backed off by the episode’s end, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her interest in Daniel being revisited. If she does make another attempt, I’d expect to see Emily get involved because there will be a wedding because Emily has to get shot.
Though I’m glad to see Charlotte taking on a more active role in her life, there have been so many falling ins-and-outs with her parents, I don’t remember how or why she got on such bad terms with Victoria again. The way she compares her parents was heavy-handed (and Christa B. Allen’s delivery was more wooden than usual), making Victoria akin to the Antichrist and Conrad the poor victim now dying of Huntington’s. I’m glad Jack clued her in to the truth about Declan’s death and Conrad’s involvement. The one thing I don’t enjoy about the time jump was the loss of the chance to see Charlotte coming to terms with everything. The guilt she felt for Declan’s death and her subsequent miscarriage would have been great chances to see Charlotte’s character grow, but hopefully Revenge will capitalize on Charlotte’s distance from her parents and make up for it there (maybe we’ll even see this mysterious place to which she’s moved).
Despite her claims of being different, Victoria’s still prone to manipulating her children, even Patrick. The difference with him is that Victoria uses her manipulative streak with a more positive bent, pulling him back into her orbit by selling a painting she knew he’d be interested in. I’m intrigued by Patrick and his naiveté and more mature relationship with Victoria. Though Victoria’s certainly different with him, Patrick operates under the assumption that what Victoria says goes. The warning Charlotte gave him wasn’t wrong. Victoria is exactly as Charlotte said she is, but all it takes are a few kind words from Victoria, and Patrick’s not concerned even after learning that Victoria sent Frank to threaten bodily harm the first time Patrick sought her out. I don’t doubt the truth of what Victoria says to Patrick, but Victoria loves all her children and shows it in all the wrong ways. Patrick’s made no room in his opinion of Victoria for her more dangerous qualities, and when he becomes privy to them it’s going to be explosive. On a related note, I like that Patrick is immune to Emily’s charms, poisoned by Victoria’s opinion of her. Emily’s always been very disarming and manipulative, but without the parental baggage to draw upon with Patrick, Emily’s not going to be able to pull him to her side as she did with Daniel and Charlotte.
The giant conflict this episode provided us with was the ethics of Emily’s vengeance. If she can target Pastor Paul with the same veracity as she would a corrupt businessman, where does she draw the line? Revisited were her father’s journals and his initial request for Emily to forgive the people who ruined their lives. I’ve always had mixed feelings on that as David did give Emily all the tools she needed to dive headfirst into the vengeance business so I don’t think David was all that sold on Emily trying the more passive approach. Pastor Paul’s speech (about changing his life and making amends, reminding Emily that her father’s probably very proud of her) could have pushed Emily in either direction. She’ll never know what her father would have felt, and like Paul said, she was denied a relationship with him because of what Pastor Paul helped the Graysons do. That being said, I think it was a better storytelling choice for Emily to realize her error and find herself unable to take back her takedown.
Though this season seems to be embracing the theme of who exactly is going to suffer because of Emily’s plans, I’ve never blamed her for what’s happened to the people she’s targeted or the ones who get hurt in the process. Season one saw Lydia getting thrown off a balcony because of the Graysons’ henchman Frank (who even got a shout out in this episode), and Emily rationalized away the blame for it. The Graysons are very good at causing their own problems, and the fates of Amanda and Declan are proof enough that Conrad and Victoria need to be stopped by someone. I find myself siding with Jack in this conflict (who was seen very little tonight) in his persistence in Emily picking up the pace, if only to keep the body count low. Judging by the situation Emily’s going to find herself in on her wedding night, she’s going to be the one paying the price this time.
All of Emily’s plans could be over fairly quickly if Conrad confesses. His abandonment by Charlotte and his poor relationships with Victoria and Daniel plus his Huntington’s diagnosis have him at a low point. It’s great to see Conrad paying for something, even if it’s in this relatively small way. For too long he’s wiggled his way out of any real consequences, and his isolation now is fitting and deserved.
Though next week looks like an intense chapter in the Revenge saga, I’m not looking forward to more Aiden and his flimsy logic. Fingers crossed for more Jack (I can’t believe I typed that) and Emily and Nolan nipping the Aiden issue in the bud before we have to see more of it.
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