Revenge S1E13: Commitment

Posted on January 19, 2012

Oh, bitches. If ever there was any doubt (and really, there wasn’t), it’s gone now: IT. IS. ON.

You wouldn’t think Emily would need any more reason to continue with her plan but the show managed to raise the stakes considerably, right at the moment when Emily (and the audience) started wondering if all of this vengeance is worth it. But Victoria unwittingly answered that question with her Big Lie. Oh, yes. It’s definitely worth it.

This was an episode of Revenge we didn’t even realize we needed; one that offered very little revenge on Emily’s part. Instead, we got an examination of her entire modus operandi, raising the question of her rightness in this scenario and whether the damage she’s doing to people caught up in her schemes is worth her goal to take down the Graysons. And if things had been just a little quieter around the Hamptons, Emily might have waved off any such concerns, but with Jack’s beating and Fauxmanda’s cage-rattling, not to mention the sheer vicious ugliness that is now the Grayson divorce, events conspired to force Emily to look at herself.

When she embarked on this quest for revenge, it was all about her family honor and the people who destroyed it. But what happens when you find out that the enemy camp contains the sister you never knew you had? What happens when family-related vengeance schemes wind up hurting your own family? Interesting to note that while the revelation of her new sister gave her pause, it wasn’t until Jack got hurt that she decided to, in her words, “press pause.” Jack, for his part, continues to be both the dumbest and the unluckiest man in the Hamptons. Okay, second-dumbest. There’s still poor, wool-headed Declan.

We’ve had some doubts about Emily’s feelings for Daniel and for Jack. Up till now, we’ve had a hard time buying any sort of attraction to Jack because there never seemed to be any chemistry between the two of them and she always displayed a slightly condescending manner toward him. With Daniel, we felt like we were getting some real chemistry and attraction and never quite fully believed her actions with him were all calculated and part of the plan. In other words, we always thought she really was hot for Daniel and cool toward Jack.  Not anymore. It was Jack’s well-being that caused her to “press pause,” and it was Daniel’s gullibility that caused her to press “play” again on her schemes. She’s made her choice and there can be no doubt going forward: every time you see a romantic or sexy scene between Daniel and Emily, just remind yourself, none of it’s true. No matter how believable she might be in her feelings toward him, Hamptons Batman is just playing a long game and using the Grayson scion as her tool. Not only has this question been answered; it’s been explained in depth. You know exactly why Emily needs to continue on this game.  This is what raises this show above mere Dynasty-like soapiness. It’s the complex and understandable motivations at play; not just in Emily, but in all the characters.

Look at Conrad. He couldn’t possibly be any slimier, but can you really criticize him for his reaction to the news that his daughter is not his daughter? Sure, he’s a shithead, but he was still in a lot of pain when he sent Charlotte away. Or look at Victoria, who treats her whole family pretty terribly but who has also been carrying a ton of shame and guilt inside her; shame and guilt that eventually caused her to despise her husband and push away the daughter that reminded her too much of the past and her own failings. These things don’t absolve the characters of their shitty actions, but they go a long way toward explaining them and making them somewhat understandable in context.

But the show won’t let you get too soft-hearted for too long. Whatever sympathies we might have felt toward various characters’ dilemmas, including Emily’s, evaporated once we saw the look on her face after Daniel told her his mother’s vicious lie about her father.  There could be no doubt, for her or for the viewer. That bitch needs to be taken down. Major kudos to Emily Van Camp who absolutely nailed that moment, depicting confusion, hurt and then unbridled rage, all without so much as raising either an eyebrow or her voice. It was a deliciously controlled acting moment coming at the end of a delicious buildup. In fact, so good was this buildup that being on that porch at the end with Emily almost felt like being in the school gym on prom night with Carrie. You just want to recoil from the rage. Questions of collateral damage don’t matter anymore and she’ll burn down all of Long Island just to see Victoria Grayson destroyed.

How the hell can you not love THAT? The story just got a whole lot better and we didn’t even think it needed to prior to this episode.

In other news, Ashley is jealous and sad, which can only mean bad things for Emily at some point. Also, Fauxmanda’s got a ticket to ride and she’s out of there for now. Nicely played, Hamptons Batman. But Nolan is going to have his heart broken. Just when he thought he saved her from her own path of destruction, she up and changed her mind, recommiting herself to it more than ever. His unhappiness with the way she’s been acting has been growing with each week and we wonder if he’ll ever be pushed to the point where he tries to oppose her. All these wonderful competing motivations.

By the way, is Emily really allergic to strawberries or is that something Victoria made up? Because if Emily ever refuses one in front of her, all hell’s going to break loose.



[Photo Credit: ABC]

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