As much as I enjoyed the over-the-top insanity of last week’s Revenge it was kind of nice to get back to simple, old-fashioned revenging this week, even if the revenge scheme itself wasn’t the most subtle or interesting one the show has ever attempted. What it lacked in intricacy, though, it made up in viewer satisfaction, as the target was perhaps the slimiest monster we’ve encountered yet. Seriously: what a dick.
The dick in question is Mason Treadwell, eschewer of technology and author of the tell-all book outlining the David Clarke scandal (the horribly titled The Society Connection). The problem is, the book was less tell-all and more lie-all, as Treadwell sold all of his scruples to the Graysons and presented only their version of events in exchange for his big break and a big payday. In the process, he toyed with the emotions of a young Amanda Clarke and now grown up Amanda demands retribution for his crimes. As we know by now, grown up Amanda – both real and fake versions – is not to be trifled with.
The beauty of this scenario was its moral simplicity; while the Graysons are the true conspiracy culprits and the ultimate demons here, there is something particularly repugnant about someone opportunistically using the scandal as a stepping stone to their own shallow fame and fortune. When Emily torched his house, taking the only existing copy of his memoirs with it, it was divinely gratifying as well as completely fun in the way people walking away from giant fires always tends to be. And really, anyone who only has one hand typed copy of the most important document in their entire world deserves to have it go up in a ball of flames. Learn to embrace the cloud, Treadwell!
The downside of the simplicity was the sheer predictability of the whole affair. While it was great to see Emily draw a big red X on Treadwell’s face and know he was going down by the end of the hour, the second we learned he only had one copy of his memoir it was pretty easy to guess what would happen next. Also predictable, if ultimately fruitful, was Emily stealing all of Treadwell’s interview tapes so we can finally learn what we’ve all been suspecting for quite a while: that Charlotte Grayson is likely David Clarke’s daughter! Although the information isn’t surprising, the fallout from the information – and any additional twists that might come – is something to look forward to.
Also satisfying was the first truly interesting use of Real Emily by Our Emily. The scene where Our Emily and Nolan Cyrano the hell out of Real Emily’s interview with Treadwell was just a heck of a lot of fun, and used Real Emily’s unstable nature in the best way possible. Less successful was her impatience with Jack’s refusal to be spontaneous and her almost pathological need to push back in destructive ways when things don’t work out in her favor. This is obviously a story that’s here for the long haul, but I just can’t help finding her character cliché to the point of banality. Real Emily works when she’s interacting with Nolan and Our Emily, or pulling off schemes like with Treadwell. When she’s paired up with Jack, however, something just seems off. Part of this is because poor Jack is stuck in a pretty shallow rut as a character, but his scenes with Our Emily and Nolan don’t carry the same baggage, so much of it must be the chemistry between the actors as well. All I know is their scenes together are quickly headed down the road to being as inessential as Declan and Charlotte's.
Also simmering this week was the continuing saga of the Grayson divorce. The scheming gloves are off and both Conrad and Victoria are frantically trying to outmaneuver each other by using their son and his future as leverage, as all good parents do. What Conrad doesn’t know is that Daniel is fully on his mother’s side, so when Conrad adds a clause to Daniel’s trust stating he cannot be fully vested in the company until he is married (or 30, but seriously, that’s like SO OLD) Daniel simply decides he will speed up the inevitable and ask Emily to marry him. Conrad unwittingly won this round, or at least the sour look on Victoria’s face when Daniel breaks the news would have us think. Victoria, if you want to steal your husband's company, sometimes you might end up with unwanted collateral damage. Like a daughter-in-law who is plotting your ultimate downfall.
What’s nice about this little development is that its outcome is inevitable – the pilot started at Daniel and Emily’s engagement party – but the shading of the elements getting us there are still interesting. Daniel loves Emily, yes, but he never would have proposed if this added pressure hadn’t been applied. Also, I don’t doubt there is going to be many more twists and turns added to the events before circle back to the engagement party. As someone who doesn’t love a long-term in media res story structure, it’s been nice to see how compelling the events leading up to this moment have remained despite ostensibly knowing where they all are headed. It helps that the events were somewhat vague – we're still not sure who gets shot, for example – but most beneficial has been the strength of the individual episodes themselves. Because even if we sort of know where this story is going, it’s always going to be fun to watch people light things on fire and then walk away while it burns.
- Nolan shooting a gun instantly shoots to my favorite things ever list, quickly followed by him sniffing the drink Emily gave him and then putting it down without drinking it. Gabriel Mann has a sort of Jason Dohring-esque ability to add flair to the most mundane moments.
- The actress who plays young Amanda Clarke is perfect for the role. She has the saddest eyes.
- When Jack said Declan and Charlotte were off at her school I thought that meant they were off. Of the entire episode. Alas.
- “Well, six, actually, but who’s counting.”
- “No more bandage dresses.” “Right, I will have it burned immediately.”
- “Six months ago, Victoria gave birth to a baby girl. Her name is Charlotte. You want proof I’m telling the truth? Ask her who the father is.”