Revenge‘s third season been all about the collateral damage of Emily’s vengeance and how the very real consequences of her actions don’t fall on her but on bystanders that get looped in. Amanda and Declan paid fatal prices – and Jack is still paying. While those people fall under a fairly decent category, Daniel’s another matter. Though Sara’s introduction gave him some positive characterization and made him the foolish, privileged guy who wanted to make amends with a girl he’d truly loved and hurt in the past, it doesn’t change the Daniel we’ve known for two and a half seasons. Though he was originally being unwillingly drawn into his parents’ schemes, he eventually started going along with them willingly. Because of that Emily playing around with his life and causing him pain doesn’t have the same emotional effect as it does with people like Amanda and Declan who weren’t bad people (though at times they were certainly annoying people). But Daniel’s a guy who, after learning about his family’s role in framing David Clarke kept the secret to maintain his family’s status. For all intents and purposes, he’s a villain, and Revenge has often played around with his function and hinted at his opposition to Emily but never fully going there because she needed him to accomplish her goals. But “Exodus” finally went there in having Daniel shoot his new bride, and for the first time Emily paid the consequences of her actions herself.
What should have been a tense episode…wasn’t. “Exodus” should have been delving into Emily’s final plans and all the ways it could go wrong. Instead it gave unfortunate and unasked for attentio non the Conrad/Lydia relationship. After discovering Emily’s photo last week, it looked like that would be Lydia’s focus , but instead “Exodus” revisited Lydia and Conrad which was ludicrous since the two reconciled last week. The two had another go of it as Conrad questioned Lydia’s loyalty after discovering her initial plans of revealing the truth about David Clarke. The show’s sudden interest in selling Conrad and Lydia as star-crossed assholes was a weird and unnecessary inclusion especially since this retreading didn’t serve any particular purpose. Lydia still ended up on the yacht and revealed the photo to Victoria which she could have done without the wasted screen time of Conrad realizing the depth of her feelings for him.
It wasn’t all terrible though and continuing his trend of being surprisingly tolerable was Jack. He’s a parallel to Daniel in some ways as a guy who really is decent and has never been fueled by the same privileged brat syndrome Daniel suffers from but has been hurt by Emily’s schemes as well. But while Jack’s pain is certainly undeserved, Daniel’s is the opposite. When Emily said her goodbye to Jack, it all went well until she mentioned Amanda and being with her when she died. He was understandably angered by this reminder of what Emily’s plans have cost him and told Emily she’d taken everything from him, including what was shaping up to be an emotional but satisfying goodbye for the two of them (which was definitely true). But even after their ruined parting, Jack went to the beach after finding that Emily had left Amanda’s necklace for him and wanted to leave things with her on a better note. Emily and Jack are far more enjoyable as platonic allies. There’s probably too much between them now for them to ever become romantic, but there’s also a lot between them in the past that won’t allow them to completely disconnect from one another either and hopefully they’ll be on smoother waters with one another as the season continues.
The goodbyes were the best part of “Exodus” and a hint of tension that the episode sorely lacked. With the knowledge that Emily’s plan was going to go terribly wrong, those last words took on new meaning. Emily and Nolan’s dance at the wedding was adorable after he walked her down the aisle especially moving because he’s the only honest connection in both of her lives. As Emily and Amanda, Nolan is her best friend. His emotional goodbye to her was a great reminder of his longing for Emily’s friendship which happened to come with a vengeful alliance, but with the vengeance coming to a close, so is their bond. Even as Nolan accomplishes his own goal in seeing the Graysons pay, he also sacrifices the most genuine relationship he has.
Also enjoyable was Emily’s “I love you” to an unaware but touched Charlotte. Charlotte’s probably the only decent Grayson, which is most likely because she’s not a Grayson at all. Her main function tonight was to acknowledge Daniel’s wacky head space and look fabulous in her dress. There’s so much good that could come from Charlotte, and it could all come with her realization that her entire family is awful and cutting ties with them. If she could even ally herself with Emily on a superficial basis, even without knowing her true identity but just deciding that Emily’s far better people than the rest of her family, that would work. Since Charlotte was the only one (outside of Victoria) to recognize Daniel’s weird behavior and knew about Sara’s suicide attempt it’s possible she may suspect what Daniel did so maybe she could be steered to Emily’s end of things.
Speaking of Sara, she didn’t need to be in this episode. I haven’t minded her in the past, and I’ve enjoyed her as she’s brought out the only hint of decent Daniel characterization we’ve ever gotten, but there was no need for her to take up space in “Exodus” and effectively slow down the action. From her appearance at the magazine to her drunken hitting on Jack to her suicide attempt, it’s hard to see why she was in it. Even the suicide attempt, which was surely supposed to be the big thing with her story, happened offscreen and was relayed to Daniel via phone call. The last time we saw Sara she was drinking and in a funk but there was hardly any cause for concern so hearing about her attempt to kill herself just came out of left field, and even without that, Daniel would have plenty of incentive to go through with shooting Emily. If the show was determined to keep Sara’s suicide attempt, the phone call would had sufficed since they weren’t terribly interested in fleshing out her mental state to begin with.
But what’s done is done, and Daniel shot Emily. Remember back in season one when he was wrongly accused of killing Tyler? Well now he really did kill someone – or at least he tried to. There’s no way he can get away with it, right? Even if he doesn’t go to prison, Emily isn’t just going to let this slide. Amnesia or not, Revenge can’t function with her being ignorant of her identity forever so she’ll remember eventually and turn her sights on taking out Daniel. If she doesn’t then I don’t even know what show I’m watching. It’s called Revenge, isn’t it? At this point, I don’t see what else could happen with Daniel, and I think the show’s itching for the death of a major character so he could be the one. This is all probably just wishful thinking on my part, but I’m partial to this turn of events.
That being said, I’m concerned about the return and Emily’s amnesia. Memory loss is a soap staple (one that Revenge already employed back in season one with Lydia), but in this case it’s going to be hard to sell. Emily’s our protagonist with a complicated back story so having her completely ignorant not only of her true identity but the one she cooked up in her plans for vengeance, could end up doing more harm than good to the narrative. Sure the reigns could be passed over to Aiden and Nolan for a while, but is anyone going to take any joy in a prolonged plot about Emily not recalling her identity and who shot her? The promo’s instant reveal of Emily’s memory loss gives me hope that particular plot point won’t be around long. In fact, my fingers are crossed that Emily simply makes the whole thing up when she sees Daniel looming over her and really remembers everything and has new plans for vengeance.
Revenge will return on January 5 with “Homecoming” for the first of three new episodes before going on another hiatus until March.
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