Through confession and forgiveness, redemption.
“Some believe confession helps a guilty soul find peace, releasing us from the shame and regret of our mistakes. In the face of mortality, many feel the need to seek this closure to make things right. Because if death doesn’t kill us, our demons will.”
That is the Emily Thorne voiceover to begin last Sunday’s episode, Confession. Here is the one that closed it:
“A guilty heart is silent, it’s pulse muffled by the secrets it keeps. While some believe confession can release a tortured soul, others view it as a sign of weakness. Because ultimately whatever you say, however you feel about what you’ve done, it’s irrelevant for the hand of death is equally unforgiving.”
In between Revenge stuck to the religious theme it established last week as Emily manipulated Conrad toward a confession. I love this and think it’s great for the show. Creator Mike Kelley described the show as a modern day telling of The Count of Monte Cristo and chose to open it with a quote from Confucius. But those themes were rarely referred to and I would say forgotten by the end of his time as producer. Adding a religious base reminds me of the way Lost’s writers made heavy references to religion, literature and philosophy. All three provide universal themes from which you can tell any story and give it much more depth.
Revenge could have spent several episodes developing a plot line that led to Conrad’s decision. Instead it mixed themes of confession and forgiveness to do it in two. In scenes with Emily and Father Paul, Conrad is very much a man representing the Bible verse I cited in last week’s piece. He believes confession will wash away his sins and tells Father Paul, “I welcome death now.” Conrad’s decision is sealed by believing a confession will give Charlotte back the father he took from her in sin. Through confession and forgiveness, redemption.
This is such an improvement over last season that I am almost ready to declare Revenge to be “back.”
But of course while Conrad attempts to find God, Emily continues to defy it. Instead of seeking forgiveness and redemption for framing Father Paul, she doubles down on her alleged regret and blackmails him into working on Conrad. Convince him to confess or be exposed again, she tells him.
He succeeds, but their journey to confession ends in a fiery crash. Father Paul is dead. Conrad, though weakened from Emily manipulating his drug regimen, survives. What happened? We don’t see. I believe Victoria Grayson happened.
Scroll back up to the final voice-over. “A guilty heart is silent, it’s pulse muffled by the secrets it keeps.” That is Victoria, a heart turned so wicked by guilt that she hurts her own children without flinching. “While some believe confession can release a tortured soul, others view it as a sign of weakness.” This line is meant to symbolize the perspectives Conrad and Victoria hold at this point in the story. Remember what she told Patrick last week when she sold her painting: “The world I live in, if they sense this vulnerability they will use it as a weapon. So, I part with the things I love.” She believes facing mortality made Conrad too weak, and therefore vulnerable to what she would perceive as religious foolishness. Enough so that she would “part” with Conrad? Consider her rationalization to Patrick: Some sacrifices are easier than others.
The final line in Emily’s voiceover should convince us that the crash was not a case of reckless driving. “Because ultimately whatever you say, however you feel about what you’ve done, it’s irrelevant for the hand of death is equally unforgiving.” Sorry, Father Paul, you do not get to confess, there will be no cleansing for your soul. The hand of death got you first.
Now Emily’s twisted sense of redemption has led a reformed man to his grave. She continued her moral downward spiral by laying a new layer of lies on her relationship with Daniel and leveling Victoria with a humiliating public revelation of the Grayson’s financial troubles.
Emily Thorne’s descent resembles Walter White’s in Breaking Bad. We began the show rooting for her to get revenge on the evil Graysons, but now she has turned into the people she came to the Hamptons to destroy. Her takedown of Father Paul is meant to represent what happened to her own father and show that she has, for all intents and purposes, become a Grayson. She lies to the people she loves. She plots with no regard or remorse. I can’t root for her to win any more than I could root for Walter. She is sealing her fate in one of the graves Confucius warns about. Maybe not representing physical death but a life with no one to turn to. The life Conrad tells her of when he admits he has no relationships to fall back on in his dying days. Father Paul told Conrad no one wants to die alone. That is exactly where Emily is headed and right now it is exactly what she deserves.
If death doesn’t kill her, her demons surely will. Two graves, equally unforgiving.