Watching this episode last night with a guest who doesn’t normally watch the show, an interesting conversation arose. “I don’t understand what everyone’s doing,” said our guest, not unreasonably. “Oh,” we said. “That’s easy. There’s this big, bad group called the Initiative and they’re basically behind every bad thing that ever happened to any of the main characters. Nolan and Aiden negotiated with the Initiative for the release of Nolan’s girlfriend’s dad, except they wound up kidnapping Nolan’s girlfriend. Now, Nolan wants REVENGE on them. They already killed Aiden’s sister, so he, too, wants his REVENGE. Jack is an idiot but he wants his REVENGE against the people that killed his wife. Dominique Deveraux wants REVENGE against his sadistic foster mother. Emily, as always, wants REVENGE against the Graysons AND the Initiative for destroying both her life and her father’s.”
“Oh. So, it’s like this Revenge Squad thing? Like everyone in the show wants REVENGE against everyone else in the show?”
“Oh, no. It’s all about Emily and her REVENGE.”
Well, damn. He had us there.
There’ve always been competing agendas on this show. You can’t really have a soap opera without them. You also can’t really have a soap opera without characters declaring their intention to seek REVENGE on each other for imagined or real slights. But somehow, we didn’t notice that the show had turned from a story about Amanda Clarke’s REVENGE into a story about basically half the Hamptons seeking out REVENGE on the other half. We can’t say that change bothers us. Yes, Emily’s story should remain center stage. The show suffers when the camera moves away from her for too long. But unlike the time the writers got far too invested in the financial status of Grayson Global and turned the Initiative into a Boogeyman that all the characters feared without really telling us why they feared them, this time, the writers are making sure that all the subplots either revolve around Emily or will involve her down the line. Her “I swear to you, I will make them pay” to Nolan at the end left no doubt that this subplot is going to remain close to him instead of spinning out wildly and introducing a bunch of very temporary characters.
And on that note, we’re shocked to see Dominique seemingly exit the story, his REVENGE complete. That can’t be right, can it? Why introduce this character, have him stir up all kinds of shit, and then have him leave? What exactly did he add to the story? Oh, sure; we got the delicious spectacle of YET ANOTHER Grayson family function turning into a spectacle of scandal in front of cameras (When Conrad complimented Victoria on the turnout, we wished she’d said, “They’re just here to see which stripper’s gonna fall off a balcony or which public figure is going to drop a bombshell.”), but aside from revealing the existence of destroyed letters from her father, we don’t really see what any of this does for Emily. Then again, that tête-à-tête with Mason Treadwell was absolutely delicious. So now Victoria has a long-lost son. Well of COURSE she does.
But really, this all worked for us. We’re a little confused about the particulars, but that’s nothing new. What appeals about this current direction is that the storyline is expanding outward, but it feels more organic, and it feels like Emily has a stake in almost every other character’s story. That’s the way to do it, writers.
Also, we are dying to have a bitchy breakfast meeting with Victoria Grayson. There’s crepes! Crepes and scheming, darlings. Isn’t that what life’s all about? Shouldn’t it be? And shouldn’t every elaborate jewelry case have a secret compartment for a mother’s special bullets? We think so.