Revenge picks up where last week’s episode left off with everyone back in their rightful place except for Nolan who shocks Emily with his new relationship with the attempted killer of Conrad Grayson, Patrick. After a series of consistently good episodes, “Dissolution” was a wobbly installment that was an exercise in going from one plot point to the next without knowing how to get there smoothly and simply jumping. Unfortunately these leaps sacrificed some development in the process though to be fair it did jump to some pretty compelling places.
At the core of the episode was Nolan’s relationship with Patrick and the ramifications as Patrick’s attempt on Conrad’s life was made known. Though I appreciate that Nolan got a love interest, and one that’s very interesting, the turn it took tonight felt inauthentic. There was lot of promise for Nolan and Patrick, and when they were first introduced as a probable romantic pairing I was excited. There was chemistry between them, and Nolan was long overdue for a romance that didn’t end badly. Despite my support of the Rosbourne relationship, their potential hadn’t been reached yet so their transformation into a quasi-Shakesperean romantic tragedy didn’t feel earned.
If Revenge had held off on the reveal that Patrick was the one to make an attempt on Conrad’s life, this could have worked better. By then Nolan and Patrick would have established themselves as a couple, and the intensity of their feelings would have some context. Then Emily’s desire to see Nolan distance himself from Patrick would have been more poigant because Patrick would be a real contender of Nolan’s loyalty, and Nolan’s assertions that Patrick isn’t dangerous wouldn’t have felt so fake. After so little time spent with Patrick, the audience can’t apply the same vigorous faith to him as Nolan so it just looks as though Nolan’s naive and/or willfully ignorant. That being said, the developments this conflict spawned with Emily and Jack’s opposition to the relationship were necessary to Nolan’s characterization as well as his relationships with them.
Jack and Nolan verbalizing their friendship and finding common ground was important and enjoyable. Since I forgot that Jack didn’t know about Nolan’s involvement in Emily’s plans, I wasn’t very affected by the reveal. After all this time it seems silly to have it come up now and cause such a fuss, and I was glad that it was handled within a couple of short scenes before moving onto what was really important:the sacrifices Emily’s plans have forced Jack and Nolan to make and their rightful resentment entwined with their complete understanding of her reasoning.
However, when compared to Jack, Nolan’s sacrifices seem far less dire especially when Nolan was insistent about being involved while Jack was unwittingly exposed. Jack lost his wife, his brother and had to send his son away to protect himself from the blowback of Emily’s revenge, but Nolan doesn’t get to be the guy he just met. These aren’t on the same level, and as I said before, this could have been fixed by providing for context for Nolan and Patrick’s relationship to make Nolan’s unwillingness to let Patrick go more urgent and more believable.
Also having trouble letting go is Victoria. Though she seemed horrified that her golden child attempted murder, her horror was not at Patrick going off book but at the potential consequences of the act. In fact, she’s not concerned by Patrick’s actions at all. She’s actually very impressed. Her teary smile of motherly pride was the stuff of magic if only because it’s just so Victoria. Nothing makes her happier than being adored by her children so with Patrick (who she constantly toes the line of obsessive and incestous with) loving her enough to commit murder, it’s a dream come true. This made Patrick’s send-off especially hard for her, and like Victoria, I certainly hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Patrick.
Strangely not as annoying as usual tonight was Daniel who’s gotten himself on another track contray to Emily’s great Infinity Wedding. Daniel serves no purpose outside of being Emily’s window to the Graysons so the only real risk he could pose is straying from his romance with Emily so unlike some other missteps in the episode, Sarah’s reappearance actually worked. Her place in Daniel’s life as a genuine past romance as well as a signifier of Daniel’s own guilt and desire to change and take responsibility is especially poignant. Since Sarah, Daniel hasn’t had any real romantic partners, and it’s hard to count Emily in this as she’s playing him – and as Daniel’s spent recent episodes being in various states of awareness of this fact. His reconnection with Sarah is surely going to cause problems for Emily (and she just got him back where she wanted him!), and even though Daniel’s never going to be my favorite character, I prefer him when it occurs to him that his relationship with Emily isn’t very fulfilling which works because we know it’s not real.
While Daniel’s story with Sarah is definitely working, Charlotte’s definitely isn’t. I’ve been waiting all season for her to do more than offscreen remodels of the Stowaway, but I’d rather she go back to them if this is the alternative. Her Victoria-esque hatred of Emily is so out of the blue. Though Emily and Charlotte’s relationship’s been strained recently, Charlotte’s never had this much animosity toward her, not enough to sabotage her relationship with Daniel. The sudden shift now doesn’t make sense. If Charlotte hates Emily, why? There has to be more of a reason than…well, Charlotte didn’t really give a reason. It doesn’t help that Christa B. Allen’s rocky performance only ever gets rockier. Melodramatic performances are Revenge’s thing, and though most of the cast does well with bringing some brand of authenticity to their oft-ridiculus dialogue, the wide-eyed and wooden delivery of Charlotte’s lines makes it harder to believe the already questionable turn her character has taken.
Also taking a weird leap are Emily and Aiden who are busy planning an idyllic future with each other after Emily’s revenge is complete. Though I’ve never doubted that Emily does have real feelings for Aiden, their plans didn’t feel as cohesive. With their rocky relationship this season, and particularly last season, it’s hard to believe that Emily’s now totally invested in her and Aiden and is looking forward to a life with him after all this. But like all the other sudden shifts in this episode, it led to a necessary heart-to-heart between Emily, Nolan, and Jack.
With Emily needing to disappear after her plans come to fruition, she won’t be able to see Nolan or Jack ever again. Though Aiden’s delighted with the prospect of putting the Hamptons in their rearview, Emily’s conflicted about leaving behind the two people she loves the most. Her moment with Jack and Nolan showed Emily not as vengeance obsessed robot she can can sometimes appear to be, but as a person who’s doing the best she can, unable and unwilling to untangle herself from her plans for vengeance even as she sees it costing her the relationships that are dearest to her.
And Emily’s really invested if she’s planning on pinning her murder on Victoria. This has to be the most Revenge-y, most excellent plan ever. There’s no one who hates Emily more than Victoria, and she doesn’t even try to hide it. This certainly won’t go as planned, but I’ll cling to its greatness for now.
Leave your thoughts in the comments!