Revenge “Dissolution” snap reaction

Jack Porter“Love built on lies is an arduous endeavor, for wherever passion and treachery meet, dissolution begins. Still we fight to hold our ground in the emptiness, ignoring the fact that every relationship, even the ones we cherish, inevitably dies.”

Of course Nolan does morning hydrotherapy.

Emily is way out of line telling Nolan he can’t be involved with Patrick.

What does Charlotte have against Emily and Daniel get married? I forget.

Victoria lied to Charlotte about who really cut Conrad’s breaks. That is so Victoria to lie to her daughter in order to lie to their father.

Do rich people really get together for fancy breakfasts? It’s just breakfast. Have some Wheat Chex and an orange.

“Good morning kitten, it’s lovely to have you back in the litter.” Weird Conrad.

Victoria’s Pop Tart joke, hilars.

Emily is stupid going to the guest house to see Aiden. This is not how a covert evil-doer would go about her business.

Oooh, way to protect your…art gallery…from Conrad. Oh and then drop the tampered brakes bomb! Is she manipulating him by thanking him?

Daniel wears a tie clip like a sissy.

Hey the car crash girl. Not a bad return, should have seen it coming after the profile bit from a few weeks ago. He deserved that ripping.

Charlotte, this is what I was talking about when I urged you to not turn into your mother. Your brother is right about Sarah, reporting her for being rude is not nice.

“Guess what we have? Foundation issues.” – Emily to Daniel. No kidding.

I continue to believe Emily is far too sloppy with her proximity to Aiden. They shouldn’t be talking at the Grayson’s or at her house.

A beach in the Maldives. Why would they mention that?

“I think he’s the one.” – Really, Nolan? I mean, really? AND THEN STUPID JACK OPENS HIS STUPID JACK MOUTH. Major LMAO at Nolan thinking he was dropping a bomb on Jack about Emily’s identity.

The lighting on this construction scene is exceptionally bad. It’s an interior set and they usually do an okay job but that was bad.

Is there a such thing as a forensic realtor? Because if Conrad had one I have to think you’d be able to tell that a house isn’t really sinking.

Smart play by smart Jack to pretend he didn’t know about Emily. Then trying to turn Nolan against Patrick. Is Emily putting him up to this? I can’t imagine Jack would come up with it on his own. He flipped him from “the one” to an ex in one conversation.

So why bring Sarah back? Charlotte gets her a job, then what? Will she try to put her between Daniel and Emily?

“What do you know Conrad, we’re slipping into the sea!” – Victoria’s second great line.

“This pile hasn’t been a home for years.” – Not as good as the other two, but good. This is a divorce bomb?

There they go holding hands on the beach. How has Victoria, who never trusts anyone, not put a PI on Aiden and caught this yet?

“You know if we can’t sell this place perhaps we’ll just turn it into a home for wayward boys. She’s got her bastard, her Brit…and you.” – Conrad. Sharp stuff tonight.

Charlotte getting Sarah fired was for a good reason? Nice.

Now Emily is mad that Nolan let Jack go to Conrad about Patrick. “circling planet Emily.” Awesome. Nolan and Jack are doing a great job contrasting with Emily to bring out all of her faults this season.

Conrad put the fortune in gold? Didn’t figure him for a Glenn Beck fan.

When you ask how someone learned of damning information, you are confirming it.

Looks like Aiden spooked Emily with this begone and never see them again talk. She won’t want to leave Jack and Nolan behind.

Patrick is too confused by this to stay away.

“In this last bit of time we have…” – Emily to Jack and Nolan.

Oh god. No death faking please.

Photo credit: ABC

Revenge “Confession” recap: Conrad rises, Emily sinks

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.

Revenge is actually mine, says Emily Thorne

Season three, episode two takes a turn for the church

I’m out of town and don’t have time to do a full write up for Revenge S3E2, “Sin,” so we’ll jump right into some Memos to a Character.

Dear Emily, Romans 12:19: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” When you decided to devote your life to this course of revenge did you foresee the way it would turn you into a cold and remorseless villain? You may not see yourself that way, but the people who lived at the generosity of Father Paul do. This was the first of your takedowns that gave you the opportunity to see what you do to people. Will it change your way of thinking or will you continue to take from the Lord his vengeance?

Dear Charlotte, Ezekiel 16:44: Behold, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you: ‘Like mother, like daughter.’  Despite all that he has done to tear apart your family, what you said to Conrad was exceptionally hurtful. You are the only Grayson with clean hands. Don’t become your mother.

Dear Jack, Galatians 5:13: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Keep this in mind as you and Charlotte grow close. She is your dead brother’s ex-girlfriend who is the biological sister of your childhood sweetheart after you thought she was the biological sister of your dead wife who you thought was your childhood sweetheart. Also mind the age difference. I would like you two became close friends because you are the only decent people in this saga, but that is as far as you should really go. She has the genuine qualities of the father she never knew. You were also shaped by your father and became a father to Declan. As a team I think you two could be good morality checks for Charlotte’s parents and Emily. They need it.

Dear Nolan, I John 2:16-17: For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Who do you think you are Derek Jeter? Do you send your conquests home with a basket full of autographed computer disks? Keep trying to rein in Emily when her quest for revenge takes her down a dark path. That is where you will find your purpose, not in the arms of strangers.

Dear Conrad, I John 1:8-9: 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Your visit to the church tells me your exposure to mortality is causing you a crisis of conscience. Follow it. Confess your sins. The ramifications will shatter your family and the world around you, but you will experience the truth you need if these indeed are your final days.

Dear Victoria, Ecclesiastes 5:10: He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. I’ve never learned more about you than when you said you have to keep up the appearance of being wealthy. You spend so much of your life trying to keep up appearances. Family, happiness, wealth. It’s almost like a job for you. There will come a day when you realize these things are not appearances but values.

Dear Daniel, 2 Timothy 2:22: So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. I am in awe. Resisting a redhead the way you did was damn near a miracle. You are strong where I am weak, and it shows you are beyond a life of youthful passions. I am very happy to see you pursuing work with Margaux’s magazine. Stepping away from the Grayson shadow will bring you rich rewards. I am, however, suspicious of the timing though I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Dear blueberry muffins, Zechariah 9:12: Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. Watching you be passed around the Hamptons summed up the Hamptons better than I ever could. Come to Minnesota. We will treat you right and give you the reward you deserve, the reward of being eaten.



Revenge Rights Wrongs

Season three premiere erases season two

The most shocking reveal from the Revenge season premiere is that only one line from season two still matters: “I’m Amanda Clarke.” Everything else, every way that the show went haywire, has been wiped away. Charlotte’s baby? Gone. The Initiative? Poof. Carrion? Flown the coop. Ashley? Buh-bye. Governor Grayson? Sent home sick. I can’t remember any other show erasing storylines so completely.

“Let’s never say the words ‘Carrion’ or ‘Initiative’ ever again,” Emily says when she picks up Nolan outside the prison. “Amen to that,” he responds.

So do we. New showrunner Sunil Nayar dismissed most of these unpopular storylines in the first five minutes. Perhaps to mock how silly Conrad’s political story was from the beginning, Nayar had him hinting at presidential aspirations before the alleged onset of Huntington’s Disease forced him to resign. Poor Ashley was the unsuspecting victim in Nayar’s final clear-cutting. To really drive a dagger through season two, Nayar paired Victoria and Emily to turn aside her last desperate attempt to stay in the Hamptons and deport her to television Narnia, although her deliciously sexy accent will always have a place in this writer’s heart.

In that same scene outside the prison Nolan takes Emily’s left hand and asks her the question that returns the series to its roots: Are the “rules of engagement” to Daniel still on? Of course they are. She is trying to delay setting a wedding date while Daniel looks for a new job. What will happen between now and then looks to be the guts of season three. Indeed, in the next scene Emily boldly proclaims that if all goes as planned this year’s Memorial Day party will be the last the Graysons ever attend.

This is the most welcome news we could have asked for. Revenge is back where it began with Emily plotting the Graysons’ demise.

To tell that story it appears the third season will model itself after season one with a teaser followed by a jump to two months earlier. This is a great decision, one I speculated about last month. Revenge has been best when it is building toward a specific point in time. This season it is two months from Memorial Day, which will line up to be just before Emily and Daniel’s decision to get married on August 8. All that remains for the timeline is to see if the third season ends there or pivots the way season one did after the fire-and-ice engagement party.

The last topic I want to cover before hitting some Memos To A Character is the possibility for the show’s end. The pilot opened with Emily quoting Confucius’s famous quote, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” In this episode she tells Nolan of her intention to exact her ultimate revenge on her 8-8 wedding day. As he draw’s Emily’s interlocking infinity symbols in the sand, he calls it, “A fitting end to a path of revenge.”

Is the show trying to tell us something? I wrote last year that it needs an end date so it can know how much time it has to tell Emily’s story. Surely this can’t be the reason for the premiere to be talking end game, but it had a definite impact on what happened. Jack gave her an ultimatum to finish her plot this summer and leave town or he will out her true identity. Remember that Emily will be shot in her wedding dress two months from now. Will it be the second grave Confucius refers to? If so, who is in the first? And if that is something we see in season three, what will be left for season four??? Time will tell, and that’s why this year’s premiere has me excited for what’s to come.

Now, Memos To A Character.

Dear Emily, you really did get shot in the tummy. I’m sorry this happened to you. I was wrong to speculate you might be wearing a vest because when you were floating there in the water (wait, you float?) you sure were bleeding. I hope medical attention comes quickly because you will lose a lot of blood from those wounds.

Dear Victoria, a warm welcome back to you. “Emily. It’s a shame you still feel the need to drop by unannounced.” That is the you we know and love. Not really sure what you mean but judging by the look on your face it isn’t a compliment nor a welcome.

Dear Patrick, what’s your deal, bro? We only saw the back of your shoulder last season and you kept your mom company while her husband settled in up in Albany. But why you no stay when he come home? Are you out of the story for good or just waiting for the right time to hop back out to the Hamptons?

Dear Jack. Sigh. You weren’t your usual dumb self so I will give you some credit. How about your kiss with Emily though? That was pretty intense and breathy, I hope you had some mints. I was relieved that despite how great it looked you said you don’t have any feelings for her. You know I don’t like love triangles, so thanks for that. I don’t know why you want Emily to get her revenge over with so fast but it at least will help the story move, so thanks for that, too.

Dear Aden, you prick. Your quest for revenge not only failed to save your sister, it failed to get you Emily as well. But you did get to take out your anger on Takada so have a Coke and a smile and shut the front door, okay? That means go away.

Dear Padma, you are so still dead.






Feeling for Revenge

It was really hard to come up with something to write about Revenge. I re-read a piece I wrote after the season finale and re-watched the two-hour episode to get in the right mindset to think about what will be a make-or-break third season.

I got nothin’. Even though I really liked the finale and believe booting Michael Kelley was the right thing to do I can’t come up with any emotion for the season that premieres Sunday, September 29. Why not?

Maybe it is due to the teaser ABC released showing Emily being shot in the abdomen. She gets shot, but does she really? She doesn’t appear to bleed, in fact the impact appears to give off black residue as if it hits some kind of matrimonial Kevlar. I grew to loathe these teasers during Lost because they are put together by marketing departments with the goal of making you watch the show, not writers with the goal of giving a glimpse of what will happen.

I am not up for being teased and misled. Maybe someone wants Emily dead, maybe someone wants someone else to think Emily is dead. We will find out. What is not happening, we can be absolutely sure, is that Revenge is not killing off its main character. Trying to make us think it might is insulting to our intelligence.

Maybe there is a silver lining here. After Emily appears to fall off a yacht the narrator says, “and that’s just in the first 60 seconds.” A lot of people met the second season with discontent as the story meandered in too many directions, but I think the show really started to slide halfway thru its first season. A reminder of how the show began: The first scene of the series premiere was Emily and Daniel’s Labor Day engagement party and what appeared to be Daniel getting shot on the beach. The rest of the episode and first half of the season was a flashback of everything that happened from Memorial Day until the party. Everything worked perfectly for Emily’s plan as she took out one enemy after another. Of course it did. For the show’s purposes, all of it already happened. Some of it was a little far fetched, a little too perfect, but we bought it because it had to have happened for the engagement party to happen.

Once the show caught up to that first scene, things changed. It didn’t have that anchoring moment to build up to anymore. The story had to be told in real-time, and it really began to falter. My hope is that this teaser is a sign the new showrunner will model the first season’s structure and, by extension, get back much of what it lost. If not that then at least a different creative way to shake up the show.

It lost more than its storytelling prowess, though. Its characters sagged. Nolan lost all of his mojo after falling for dear dead Padma and ended last season in jail for the blackout and bombing at Grayson headquarters. Actor Gabriel Mann said Nolan gets his sex on in season three, so presumably his time in jail doesn’t last long. Good. The whole Padma storyline and his sudden rivalry with the hacker Falcon need to be two things the show jettisons from its lackluster sophomore season.

The same goes for Victoria. She was neutered by Conrad becoming the one who plotted Fauxmanda’s downfall and death and further diminished by his run for governor. The show needs her to be the cunning, protective mother she was in season one. The son she gave up for adoption came back in the finale, how will that affect her? Will she be as protective of him as she is Daniel and Charlotte, or will the humiliating way he was exposed knock her off her game entirely? Let’s hope the show has a real purpose for him, the last thing it needs is a useless new character.

Conrad is the governor. He takes a spill in the teaser as if he is having a stroke. That would be cheap. I really feel the show bungled The Initiative’s presence last season. Now that he revealed his role in it to Victoria and Daniel, is it over or will it ascend to a bigger role with the governor and the head of Grayson Global in its confidences?

What about Daniel Grayson? Will he accept what Conrad did and what it means for him? What does it mean for him? It is time for the young Mr. Grayson to become more than Conrad and Victoria’s son. He deserves to fully establish himself as his own person, and the show needs him to. Ousted showrunner Michael Kelley is rumored to have wanted to shorten Revenge into a 13 episode run similar to most cable serials as opposed to the 20-plus episodes of most network shows. He lost that fight, so his successors will have to rely on deeper characters to fill all that time if they intend to reduce the amount of sprawl in the storyline. A better Daniel character can help them do that.

And, no, I still haven’t forgiven them for killing Declan.

ABC, Michael Kelley and most everyone involved with Revenge admitted it went awry in season two. Hopefully that recognition and the new lead writer will get a once a very enjoyable and saucy primetime soap back on track.

I guess I did find an emotion: Hope.