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Revenge: "Dissolution"

Illustration for article titled Revenge: "Dissolution"
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Like Jack Porter hearing his buddy Nolan was in on Emily’s plan the whole time, this was the episode that basically revealed everything I thought about this season of Revenge was completely wrong.

I think. Maybe. Honestly, I’m not completely certain.

I was fairly sure Patrick had ulterior motives. I was fairly sure Emily’s devotion to Aiden was a feint just to keep him engaged in her revenge plan. Now? Now both of those things don’t seem to be the case, and it’s causing me to reassess my entire view of where this season is and where it is going. The tricky thing about Revenge is that nearly everyone is playing games nearly all of the time, so spotting the actual sincerity becomes the difficult task. The entire show basically exists on this razor thin line, and sometimes it is better than others at balancing its stories on it. Here, it feels like a few missed that delicate balance.


Let’s take what we know about Patrick, for example. He came onto the show as a character that almost seemed like he couldn’t exist except for to have a secret agenda. Revenge then continuously played with this idea, purposefully giving him very little in the way of backstory and focusing all of his time on how he interacted with both Victoria and Nolan, two characters who have quite the history on the show of being the victims of people with secret agendas. When it was revealed Patrick cut Conrad’s brakes, it almost seemed impossible he did it on his own with no direction or input from Victoria, but that’s exactly what is laid out in this episode: He acted alone, he did it to save his mother, and she is over the moon about it. (This is a very functional relationship.)

Even Patrick’s relationship with Nolan, which seemed so unlikely to be completely sincere, appears to be an real love connection. This bit of Patrick’s sincerity is a much more welcome surprise, because of the ripple effects it has with Nolan’s relationships with both Jack and Emily. But like Patrick’s sincere intentions with Victoria, it definitely subverts viewer expectations in an interesting way. Who would have guessed that a love interest of Nolan Ross—he of the awful taste in love interests—would turn out to be maybe the one fully sincere guest star this show has ever had?

But now Patrick is gone, sent off by Victoria after Conrad learns he was the true culprit behind his accident, and we might never know exactly what Patrick’s intentions were. Is he as pure as he seemed here? Or does he have a secret agenda as yet unrevealed, only to surface when he inevitably returns to the Hamptons? Justin Hartley has been a very pleasant addition to the cast, so I definitely hope he does return, and sooner rather than later.

As for Emily and Aiden, what was confusing about their relationship earlier in the season is now crystal clear: She has real feelings for him, and she is planning on running away with him for good after her wedding, after she manages to pull off her big stunt of framing Victoria for her murder. More interesting than her sudden true love for Aiden is the reveal that her plan means she has to go away forever, and what that means for her relationships with Nolan and Jack.


If seasons one and two were about Emily testing her limits and learning about the price of her revenge plan, season three has been all about the emotional fallout, with her friendships with both Nolan and Jack the most heavily affected. In the past Revenge has very much been a show with two main point-of-view characters, Emily and Victoria, with the characters around them really only being significantly serviced in reference to those characters and their stories. In season three—and especially in this episode—Nolan and Jack have finally staked out their own sort of point of view as Emily’s revenge plan puts them in emotional opposition with her. The scenes where Nolan confesses to Jack about being in on Emily’s plan, and later when they discuss how being her friend has basically ruined their lives, are so foreign in this show that they almost feel like they are lifted from something else. That’s not a knock—their rekindled friendship is one of the strongest parts of the episode—but it feels strange all the same.

Even better is Nolan finally calling Emily on how her mission has made her selfish and completely isolated him in the process. These are scenes the show has more than earned, so it’s nice to see them recognizing that yes, Emily’s quest has consequences for more than just the people she is getting revenge against. Which is why the end scene, when Emily struggles to tell Nolan and Jack how much they mean to her, and is only able to do it by letting them in on her plan, is so powerful for me. Emily Thorne is such a complicated lead character for a television show—morally compromised and emotionally distant—that Revenge needs these moments every so often to demonstrate that yes, Emily is a human and not a robot.


The beauty (and sometimes frustration) of Revenge is that as confusing as this episode was at times, as much as it turned everything I thought on its head, the show could just as easily change course again and make Patrick evil and reveal that Emily has been playing Aiden all along. Because as much as Emily thinks her plan will be done by her wedding day, it feels like things are still just beginning.

Stray observations:

  • Emily’s scheme to keep Conrad from selling Grayson Manor was very clever here, but not necessarily dramatically interesting. County assessor records and fake beach erosion is just not very sexy.
  • Conrad and Victoria have their fortune back in the form of bars of gold. How quickly can you get money transferred into bars of gold? Do you have to call one of those numbers in the ads they play on Fox News?
  • It’s easy to see where the Sarah/Daniel story will fit in down the line but it certainly was a slog in this particular episode.
  • Nolan and Patrick sure did sex-wreck his house at the beginning of the episode. Come back, Patrick!
  • The remodeled Stowaway is kind of awful. What was wrong with keeping it a dive bar? Every beach town needs a good dive bar or four.
  • Victoria: “Won’t your mistress be joining us, Conrad?”

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