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Revenge: “Struggle”

Illustration for article titled Revenge: “Struggle”
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This was an odd episode of Revenge. It somehow felt both overstuffed and under baked, concluding a lot of long-simmering plots while introducing new ones, but without giving either the gravity necessary to make much of it stick.

The biggest event of the episode—or at least what feels like it should have been the biggest event—was Emily finally getting rid of her blackouts for good. The blackouts have been a fun concept executed a bit poorly, and it doesn’t get any better here, as Emily downward spirals to the point where she decides to just end her revenge mission once and for all by killing all of the Graysons. That’s one way to solve the problem, I guess! Aiden helps her snap out of it by pulling a Takeda move and drowning the blackouts out of her, but the problem comes with the reveal that Emily’s blackouts are the fault of a repressed memory that shows Emily actually blames her father for everything that happened to him, because the child version of Emily warned her dad Victoria was a bad lady. It’s, frankly, ridiculous and slight and absolutely absurd, and it takes a story that was a fairly good time during its multiple-episode arc and pulls all of the intrigue and tension right out of it. Showing Emily’s mental breakdown and vulnerability is a good thing, but using such a facile explanation for it is most definitely not.

Also weirdly facile was Patrick’s arc in this episode, as he goes down a very dark path after accidentally killing his father last week. In a nice moment, the show actually remembers Patrick has killed multiple people in service of Victoria and uses that as a reason to jettison his character, but despite all of the time spent on Patrick and Victoria’s relationship this season, his departure still rings a little hollow, because we never got to know much about Patrick beyond how he reacted to Victoria. The writers even did a fairly good job of writing him out, having Victoria and Nolan team up together to manipulate Patrick into taking an internship with an artist so he could move far, far away from the Hamptons and from everything that was threatening to ruin him. If Patrick is gone for good, it’s sad that he left without ever truly getting a chance to make an impression, simply because the show never bothered to develop his character enough to give him one.

The final main thread of the episode was the aftermath of Stevie’s big news last week that she’s Jack’s biological mother. Within the episode, the story takes a fairly standard arc—Jack rejects Stevie, Jack learns that she has her own demons that prevented her from being a real mother, Jack tentatively gives Stevie a chance—but of all of the things floating around in this episode, this thread at least felt emotionally grounded and connected in a way nothing else really did. This was greatly aided by a great scene between Emily and Jack where Emily urges him to get to know Stevie since she is the only parent he has left. It’s a nice friendship moment for them after all of the difficulty they had earlier on in the season, and a nice nod to their emotional connection back in season one. It’s also, thematically, linked to Emily’s struggle with her own father in this episode, and while that struggle didn’t work for me within her own thread, it’s nicely used here to emphasize Jack’s.

In addition to these three main stories, there were numerous others floating around the edges of the episode seemingly there just to move some plot forward for big events to happen in the future. The least interesting of these moments was everything happening with Conrad at Voluez, which is so disconnected from everything else happening in the episode it almost feels like Conrad was visiting from a different show. They’ve been teasing Margaux’s father all season, but it seems like we might be about to finally meet him, thanks to Conrad. But does anyone even care at this point?

That’s a bit where this episode of Revenge is in general, stuck with transitions and resolutions when the best parts of the show are almost always wrapped up in ramp-ups and revelations. Revenge has picked up quite a bit since Emily’s ill-fated wedding, but episodes like this one prove the show is still finding its way back to a storytelling balance between its gloriously soapy moments like last week’s reveal that Stevie is Jack’s mother, and the more nuanced, emotional territory it’s attempting here.


Stray observations:

  • Stevie visited David Clarke in jail? Very curious to find out her inevitable secrets.
  • Daniel hired a private investigator to follow Emily because apparently Daniel finally got a few of his brain cells to rub together at the same time. Good job, Daniel!
  • Oh hey, Charlotte got that internship at Voulezzzzzzzzzzzzzz.