Revenge S1E19: Absolution

Posted on May 03, 2012

Call it “Thorne’s rose,” the Revenge version of Checkhov’s gun. If you place a rose on your parent’s snow-covered grave in Act 1, then Victoria Grayson will find it and look off into the distance with her nostrils flared in Act 3. It was an inevitability, and with so much renewed attention in the life and death of David Clarke, it struck us as just a teeny bit unlikely that Hamptons Batman would make such a rookie mistake as to arrive at his grave in full day light and place a rose on it. Come on, girl. Gotham Batman only does that shit at night, when no one can see him.

But this was an episode in with the Revenge-verse needed to expand outward if the show is planning on having a viable season 2, and things needed to be shaken up considerably. So we got several narrative left turns, an introduction of a major-league important character that we never heard of before but who happens to be firmly entrenched both in the backstory and in the life of one of the main characters, and smart people acting somewhat stupidly. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong about this episode – in fact, it was the same level of soapy, campy fun it always is – but we kinda got a glimpse of what the long term arc of this show is gonna look like and, well, it’s gonna wind up looking like pretty much all nighttime soaps do after awhile. We predict byzantine plots, at least a dozen new and extraneous characters, side arcs that go nowhere, and schemes upon schemes upon schemes until the whole thing collapses in a Moldavian Massacre of a mess.

Geez, we’re all kinds of doom and gloom this morning, aren’t we? Imagine if it had been a bad episode. Look, we’re not predicting anything about the show’s future, but night time soaps tend to follow that arc of getting more complicated the longer they’re on the air and last night’s episode gave us our first hint of it with this show. See, Revenge has benefited from being a soap opera but with a laser-like focus; meaning, if it stops being about Amanda Clarke’s revenge upon the Grayson family then the whole raison d’etre collapses. On the flipside of that, if Amanda Clarke ever manages to enact her full righteous revenge on the Graysons, then the show has no reason to continue. The writers are going to have to walk a very fine line of moving forward the revenge plot that drives everything while at the same time introducing all sorts of subplots, side arcs and new characters in order to keep it fresh and prevent it from becoming formulaic. Thus: Charlotte’s drug addiction, Victoria’s shirtless artist, and Nolan’s long lost aunt who just happened to be Conrad Grayson’s secretary. Also: incredibly information-filled pictures hidden away in jewelry boxes. Also, also: for the story to move forward, Emily has to become less than perfect.

It’s hard to watch Emily lose even the tiniest bit of control because she’s a character that’s simply all about control; she’s composed of it. But perfectly realized characters are boring to watch, which means even Hamptons Batman routinely does stupid things like leaving an evidence bomb under her floorboards, visiting her father’s grave in broad daylight, and flashing around her face and a fake Homeland Security badge. Ems, honey; you couldn’t put another one of those fabulous wigs on? In addition, we’re getting to see just how dysfunctional she is underneath that cool, teflon veneer of hers. She was ready to literally throttle poor Nolan for keeping info from her, and as much as we love H. Batman, we sometimes wish her Robin, the Boy Wonder would slap her away and tell her to knock it off when she gets all imperious and threatening with him. He is literally the only friend she has in the world and she treats him like shit constantly.

But Nolan has a secret and it could be an extremely valuable one to Emily. Then again, his aunt wasn’t nearly the font of information that one photograph was, which led to a heretofore-unknown journal, which led to Emily somehow stumbling upon the one second of video footage that allowed her to look directly at the face of the man who killed her father. In a show brimming with unlikely sequences of events, this one may just have taken the cake.

Also, Ashley is shit at managing her career, for all the eyebrow-raising and lip-pursing she tends to do. Her career plan thus far seems to have been something like this:

  1. Become party planner to wealthy family, wait for family member to become embroiled in scandal
  2. Become family press spokesperson, wait for someone to make a job offer
  3. Inform the most scheming, vindictive person on the east coast that you plan on leaving her for something better
  4. Pack up your things, hope someone offers you a Lexus on the way out.

But we have to admit, having the little schemer working for Grayson Global makes a lot more sense, story-wise.

What didn’t make sense to us was Daniel’s complete 180. He was pissed at his parents when he knew about their relatively minor crimes of jury tampering and murder, but when he found out the full array of Grayson sins, he’s suddenly on board? Still, we needed a reminder that Emily doesn’t actually love Daniel and this will do nicely. They’ve been flirting with it for a while, but the story gets much more interesting when you know that Emily will destroy Daniel along with his parents and not give it a moment’s thought.

Oh, and Victoria Grayson may not be as important in the grand scheme of things as her husband, but the bitch knows how to pull the levers when she wants to and Conrad’s going to find out she’s worse than even he thought. Watching these two blow up each other’s lives in anger is almost as much fun as watching Emily draw big red X’s over the faces of her enemies. The story’s eventually going to collapse; we know that. But hopefully we’ll have plenty more hours of delicious, vindictive fun ahead of us.


[Photo Credit: ABC]

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  • I do wish this was a limited series (like American Horror Story) and that Emily’s revenge on the Graysons would wrap up the season, and we’d get a whole new cast of characters to play with. In fact, I’ve wanted a series to do this, with the same cast (in totally different roles) from season to season forever. If I knew how to be a TV producer, that’s what I’d do.

    • Little_Olive

      I so agree. I love this show and it pains me to think that the only way to keep it alive is to have Ems either i) fall apart or ii) turn into Victoria The Second (which I suppose is the soapy irony the writers want to deliver)… this is not French cinema, so I’m kinda hoping for a happy ending. 

      Also: Nolan’s wardrobe.   

      • lifetime_student

        Ditto on Nolan’s wardrobe. I would love a Mad Men-type style post on Nolan.

        • Jessi03

          Me, too!  

        •  This would be wonderful…

    • Remember Shutter Island?! It was short and sweet. The show would be better with a limited series, but I’m not complaining there’s a second season!

  • They could always spin it off as someone trying to get revenge on Emily – like a relative of the plane crash who believes her dad was responsible.

    I know all great things come to an end eventually and I prefer them to end on a high note (Greek) than die slowly on screen (Project Runway). Still, I hope for at least another season or two of must see awesomeness!

  • NinaBoo

    In the scene where Jack told Daniel about the bloody hoodie, et al, I could practically smell the wood burning as those two fired up their brain power.

      It was something like:

      Jack- So here is your phone that I am giving you with my prints all over so you have proof that I was AT THE MURDER SCENE.
      Jack- Yes, I also had a hoodie with neat bloodstains for further proof that I WAS AT THE MURDER SCENE but someone stole it from my very safe drawer… after a couple of weeks of thinking I realised it might have been your mum. 
      Daniel- So, lets get this straight… were you at the MURDER SCENE?

  • Let’s not forget why would Nolan suddenly get a journal out of safe keeping just because Ems called him about it? That’s pretty dumb. And billionaires should keep their doors locked.

    Still loved the episode, as I do the entire show.

    • I think he was trying to hide it somewhere new because he knew she’d come looking.

    • annieanne

      And if that damn journal was so dangerous to auntie Carole — why the hell did he still have it 18 years later? Or at least have torn out that one page?

  • Sobaika Mirza

    In a show that is as strong thematically (revenge, plotting, glaring, bandage dresses) I think they could make it last. Someone else taking Revenge on Emily (maybe Charlotte?), Nolan/Jack/Sensei/Amanda could sell Emily out, etc. They’ve created enough characters so that they can weave in and out of the story and keep things afloat as needed.


    • GenXcellent

      I was thinking the same could be paid forward for awhile.  I could see Emily finishing up with the Graysons and sparing Charlotte…and then Charlotte gunning for Emily…etc etc. It’d take a little finesse, but it could be done.

      (I’m still waiting for a Kill Bill Vol III someday where Copperhead’s daughter comes after Uma Thurman….)

    • Chaiaiai

      so true on the bandage dresses.

  • In our recap, we basically interpret things the same way. 

    Hearing other people claim ‘Absolution’ is one of their favourite episodes of the show makes me shake my head. At this point Em has more than enough info to put away Victoria, Conrad and the Grayson empire, but she’s zeroing in on the white haired guy we’ve known for 42 minutes? What happened to her big plan? And why does she even need to marry Daniel at this point. Blech – the show needs to get its sheot together. Hopefully next week’s flashback ep will get things back on track.

    •  Because he’s the one who actually killed her father.

    • annieanne

      I kept thinking all she had to do was upload Conrad’s confessional to the interwebs and it would be all over for the whole family.

      • Interwebs…one of my favorite words. 🙂

  • Guest

    I didn’t buy it for a second that Daniel did a 180.  I think he is siding with his father for now so he can help to expose Conrad completely to prove to himself, and to Emily, that he is not a “Grayson.”  Maybe he thinks Victoria cannot take down Conrad on her own and he needs to take things into his own hands to turn them around.  However, if Emily doesn’t know this … well all sorts of complications will ensue (lots more twists for the storyline)

  • ChelseaNH

    “The writers are going to have to walk a very fine line of moving forward
    the revenge plot that drives everything while at the same time
    introducing all sorts of subplots, side arcs and new characters in order
    to keep it fresh and prevent it from becoming formulaic.”
    This perfectly describes the challenges faced by the writers of Nikita, who have been handling them quite well.  But then, their universe isn’t as hermetically sealed as the Hamptons.

  • I don’t think the picture led her to the video snippet.  Emily/Amanda has watched all that footage so many times, she knew exactly which video to watch.  She’d probably seen the white-haired man before but didn’t think he was important until she saw the photo.

    I feel like maybe Daniel is trying to protect Charlotte.  Remember Daddy Grayson asked him to listen to what he had to say and to take care of his sister. 

  • Kristin McNamara

    It was a small, possibly insignificant part of the Ashley storyline last night, but I was hoping you guys would comment on Ashley’s line after Victoria thanked her for how much she’d done for Daniel. She said “you’re welcome,” and followed it with something like “It was the least I could do, after all he’s done for me.”  I couldn’t figure out what that meant!? Plus she had a weird look on her face when she said it, it seemed suspicious….! (I thought maybe she was alluding to how he took/got stuck with the murder rap, and may have inadvertently saved her from something? Possibly she was involved? I mean, we know Sensei was the one who actually pulled the trigger, but do we know if others may still have been involved? Ashley is Tyler’s ex, after all…)

    • It’s possible it could have meant more but we took that line as an ironic commentary on the fact that Daniel’s legal woes were ultimately good for her career.

      • Kristin McNamara

        Ahh. Right. Why didn’t I connect those dots? Haha what a dumdum 🙂

      • Jessi03

        That was my thought, too.

    • turtleemily

      I thought it was because she was the one that leaked the photos to the media to begin with, which pretty much created her whole media spokesperson job for the Graysons. They make a point to focus on the photos when Ashley walks away, and then they show Victoria studying them; Victoria hadn’t figured it out until that moment.

  • elemspbee

    For some reason, I thought this show was a short-term, one-year soap. That’s why I thought, gosh the writing is tight. I was really appreciating the fact that they’ve been able to create good trashy tv that will nicely wrap up in a year. Then a brand new show will be introduced! Now I read your blog and there might be a season 2??? Shet.

  • Redlanta

    I keep thinking Ems will accidently kill the wrong person (Charlotte, Declan) and next season will deal with the ramifications,and someone else wanting “Revenge”

  • Speaking of Chekov’s gun, I am still waiting for FauxManda to resurface….

  • Spicytomato1

    Sigh. I don’t know, I feel like the show is losing me. It started last week and last night I didn’t even watch. I can’t pinpoint what happened…I think it was the shirtless artist. Reading T Lo’s commentary doesn’t make me feel much better.

    As for the comments about the possibility of maybe Emily being the victim of future revenge as a possible storyline, isn’t she too well-versed in the art and science of revenge to succumb to someone else’s machinations?

  • frances rossi

    DH and I used to crack up and “clues” that would suddenly turn up on CSI shows. That photograph of poor David Clark with the menacing US Marshall in the background was hilarious. Who’s snapping photos of DC in prison?? And did it really take Hamptons Batman (srsly, the best nickname EVER), that long to realize the scary white-haired man Aunt Cathy (?) was referring to was the same guy in the photo? By the way, I loved your career strategy for Ashley! LOL’d at that one.

  • turtleemily

    If you place a rose on your parent’s snow-covered grave in Act 1,

    Then I get that Seal song stuck in my head for the entire episode.

  • Susan Crawford

    See, if there had even BEEN such a thing as an “event planner” back in the day when I was young and sprightly, I would have glommed onto it in a heartbeat. You get to dress up, attend great parties where people are plotting and scheming and shooting at each otherand running over the dunes in bandage dresses. And then you get to dress up again and talk to the press and snap imperiously, “No further comment” as you sweep off in the family limo. And then you parlay that into a dramatic resignation followed by a Lexus and a new six-figure job where there will be more plotting and scheming and photo ops. Geez – Ashley is turning out to be my favorite beyotch.

    And gol dang it, I believe that little lady has some major agenda beneath her cool exterior . . . the next Mrs. Grayson??? Bwahahahahahah! I toss a red rose on your grave and speed off into the night in my new Lexus, Victoria!

  • joe_tey83

    And because the story’s definitely going to collapse eventually, it kind of makes discussing it… kind of weird. Maybe “weird” is not the right word, I don’t know what the right word is. But, everything we talked about will probably turn out to be something else, most likely something completely silly and utterly ridiculous and just plain bad taste in the mouth unsatisfying. And at the end, we are left wondering, “why did I let myself be suckered into something that I know wouldn’t work out?” Oh well.

  • GTrain

    I hate the Charlotte storyline. Poor little rich girl on drugs. YAWN. That’s at least 50% of my graduating class. Plus it forces me to have to watch Declan who I can.not.stand.
    Daniel proved to be the easily-manipulated himbo I already knew him to be. YAWN.
    I too wish Emily would stop manhandling Nolan. I really like that character and the actor is terrific.

  • Did anyone else find it odd watching the winter-scapes and wardrobe since we’re now in spring? It was freaking me out! The whole “rose” thing was totally predictable, as was Queen Bitch Grayson ratting out her husband! And how STUPID is Ashley? I wanted to punch her through the screen! Honestly! Why would you reveal your new employer to someone like Vicky…. I mean really! Its like the writers WANT me to hate the lack lustre schemer; especially if she can’t get her low level scheming to work – what hope is there for full blown take down scheming! (I’m not saying she’ll ever be like the big “V” but still…) UGH! 

    I too would support a wardrobe write up for Gabrielle Mann’s character 🙂 Please TLo!?

    • I am so down for a TLo write up on Nolan’s wardrobe. Just maybe one with a few of his really good outfits. I am in love with him.