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Although we may sometimes want it to be because it is so deliciously fun, Revenge is not singularly focused on the act of revenge at all times. Sometimes, like in tonight’s slow but very necessary “Intrigue,” it needs to set Emily’s mission to the side and use its time to set up things for the future and do a bit of character development. Sure, these things might not be as viscerally enjoyable as watching some rich jerk get publicly humiliated, but it’s essential for the health of the show as a whole. Besides, when the world building is wrapped in so many enjoyable, soapy moments, it doesn’t feel all that much different from when Emily is exacting her revenge anyway.

Emily and Nolan’s actions tonight deal directly with the aftermath of Lydia’s five-story fall last week. (Good call to everyone who noticed her blink, as she is not dead but in a coma, ready to be revived at the most dramatically convenient moment.) Nolan is genuinely freaking out and sorry they caused Lydia’s murder, but Emily is very adamant the death is not her fault because she didn’t set it in motion, the Graysons did. This is a tricky view of morality and a refreshing one for someone who is supposed to be the “hero” of a show to be allowed to take. The idea that the only bad things she is responsible for are the ones she meticulously sets in motion herself shows just how single-mindedly she views her mission here. Undoubtedly, there is going to be more and more collateral damage as she gets further into her plan; she can’t always predict human nature. To explicitly know she doesn’t care is bold and exciting.

She may not have set the Lydia problem in motion, but she does need to deal with its aftermath and the now looming Frank problem. Instead of slipping the videotape to the police, Nolan anonymously sends it to Conrad who immediately fires Frank and attempts to pay him off to get him to go away. His reasoning is that Frank was always more loyal to Victoria, which is true, as he is obviously in love with her. Frank, for his part, reminds Conrad of everything they went through with David and even insinuates he had something to do with David’s death. It is mindboggling how many levels of lies and schemes are going on in the Grayson family. Frank and Conrad and Victoria are wrapped up in their own little twisted circle, and this circle only seems to be getting more complicated once Frank realizes Nolan is responsible for the video and sees Emily and Nolan talking. Frank feels like they are all being set up, but does he know by whom?

The episode ends with Frank lurking in the shadows around Emily’s house, obviously ruminating on how she fits into all of these schemes. The idea of someone slowly catching on to Emily’s little games of destruction is a good one, and it was a nice touch for Nolan to say “because he’s better at this than us.” Considering Frank was likely a big part in setting up David, Nolan is probably right. The idea of a cat and mouse game with Emily and Frank is a fun one, and it will be interesting to see where this little story development goes next.

Beyond the schemes, most of the episode dealt with the emerging triangle of Emily, Daniel, and Jack. Emily takes her maybe-fake, maybe-not relationship with Daniel to the next level, just as Jack starts to realize how strong his feelings are for her, and urged on by Nolan and his brother, decides to do something about it. That something just happens to be pouring out all of his intense feelings for her. It’s really adorable and also highly awkward. Emily is obviously touched and does have some feelings, but immediately rejects him. You can’t really plan elaborate revenge while shacking up with your childhood crush. Jack and Emily have displayed some nice chemistry up to this point, and he’s an important character for her because he ties her to her past, but it does seem like the writers rushed this one a bit, doesn’t it? The slow burn of her little moments with Jack was nice, so to dramatically shift that dynamic seems hasty. Still, Emily’s little breakdown after his confession was probably the one true emotion she’s ever shed, so it was an interesting look at her struggle and what this mission is doing to her.

As for Daniel, well, Daniel has a Tyler problem. I don’t know if Tyler wants to have sex with Daniel or wants to be Daniel, but his schemes to be the golden child in the Graysons’ eyes are becoming even more desperate by the minute. The fantastically fun scene where Emily tears his stories of rich shenanigans to shreds was such a pleasure; Tyler might be a con man, but he’s got nothing on her. Of all the people Emily has in her sights for revenge, I am most looking forward to seeing how she takes him down because Tyler is the worst.

Even though this wasn’t one of those episodes that made you want to shout “REVENGE!” while shaking your fist at the sky, it was still a very enjoyable hour that set up a lot of interesting things for the future. Still, I can’t wait for the next time we can all raise our collective fists to the sky again.

Stray observations:

  • That was the fanciest Fourth of July party ever. Doesn’t anyone in the Hamptons do beach casual?
  • Jack moving the porch swing: predictable, but also sweet.
  • I have no patience for Declan and Charlotte. They are the most predictable and uninteresting aspect of the story every week. For once, can’t a poor guy just go straight to the broke charming date instead of doing something dumb to impress a rich girl?