Revenge "Penance" Review: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

By Lily Sparks

Nov 12, 2012

Revenge S02E07: "Penance"

Greater than the love between a mother bear and her cub, greater than the love of a sparkling vampire for his child bride, or the love of a fat kid for sitting down, is my love for Revenge. This episode is a good example of why, because even while holding still, basically, in the overall plot, it took us all on a rip-roaring rollercoaster ride of endorphins that kept me at the edge of my seat even while every commercial break made me cackle convulsively like a witch on whippets. Revenge, you are a crazy-ass show and if you're laughing all the way to the bank I just want to sit in your back seat while we cruise through the ATM on the way to a Target shopping spree (I'll even help hold your immaculately wrapped white gift boxes).

First of all, Emily and Mason's face-off dialogue was just as decadently ridiculous as I had hoped, with Mason accusing Emily of being Fauxmanda Clarke's jailhouse lesbian lover in the most frilly terms possible and Emily VanCamp seriously enjoying the verbal badminton, volleying back with matching campiness and archness. You have got to love how real-world actress Emily can take any crazy B.S. this show throws at her and ground it in rock-solid acting. She is the mast of this ship and this episode reminded us of that in how beautifully she pulled off Emily's first clusterf*ck, and its recovery.

Conrad, meanwhile, was having an equally florid meltdown in a lounge chair. He's not relishing the thought of being implicated in the needless deaths of innocents and he needs to just chill about it. Victoria, in what turned out to be a running theme of the episode, lent him some spousal support by suggesting they not give up with a fight and instead drag the Initiative into Hell along with them. Aww, that's really sweet Victoria.

Meanwhile, Jack and Fauxmanda were getting high and wedding planning. No, we didn't see drugs in frame but that is getting-high music they were playing, I'm sorry. I don't make the news, I just report it.

Then things got incredibly insane.

In an alternate, better-lit reality, a slick minx very sensually wrapped stacks and stacks of boxes. In a sinister turn, this unknown femme fatale creeped into a gothic manor in which Jack and Fauxmanda were seen spending the Stowaway's yearly profits on a nice dinner. The boxes were delivered: a beanie for Jack, to cover up his new bangs (hey, they look cute!), and low-price-point evening wear for Fauxmanda, who like any stripper got very excited by free clothes.


Anyhoo. Good thing I am used to flipping between alternate realities and blatant product placement due to covering OUaT!

Back to the best episode ever:

Kenny, the Porter brothers' worst enemy/best volunteer barkeep, has a brother from BSG! Welcome to the Hamptons, Michael Trucco, a.k.a. professional alien athlete Samuel Anders! Maybe he has a sinister plan of his own to install a Mrs. Field's franchise in the corner of the Stowaway? I love these Little Business Intrigues.

Meanwhile, Kara hooked up a Grayson credit card and headed out of the House of Usher only to basically walk into Emily and reinstate all that child-abandonment conflict. Emily also handed Victoria a wedding gift and I am frantically racking my brains trying to figure out what could top a box of nothing, in terms of bitchiness, because it has to. It simply has to. I look forward to whatever is in that box bringing down Victoria for once and for all.

Aidan came correct to Nolan and in a very upfront fashion asked Nolan to turn over control of his corporation to protect Emily. After a single growl of frustration Nolan of course said yes, because he is ride or die and the Heart of This Series and well done Gabriel Mann in making what would otherwise be an almost unfathomable choice seem inevitably in character. Nolan lending Daniel's leadership solvency so he can usurp power from Conrad will could also, bonus, possibly prevent the Intiative from using Grayson Global to grow funds for more terrorism, so tons of good karma for Nolan on this one.

Over at Kenny’s the Stowaway, Fauxmanda was reverting to her stripper version of Revenge justice. Emily as a not-so-sociopathic socialite gets all high-tech and destroys people figuratively; Fauxmanda's version of that is clocking people with a golf club. In her best Emily impression, she positioned Mason to go hang out with her solo, obviously intent on acquainting him with her Stripper's Justice a.k.a. a three-wood to the head.

Meanwhile, in a boutique in Byzantium Rome, Charlotte was trying on dresses.

A mysterious gal hand-delivered a $39.99 gown. Charlotte was VERY into it.


Okay. Back to the best episode ever.

Nolan and Emily got back to basics with a pretty touching scene in which Nolan revealed how he was her truest friend to the bone (I am giving up my company for you, Chokester). Obviously there will always be a place at Emily's table for Nolan, maybe even financial woes will force him to move back in? Guys I loved it so much when Nolan and Emily lived together. If only because it upped the amount of time we spent with Nolan saying things like "This one time, at Revenge camp..."—which, you know, are we all just paying rent to keep a roof over our TVs so we can enjoy lines like these? I don't know if it's fair to say the Nolan-Emily relationship is keeping a lot of us going, but I don't know if it's fair to say it isn't.


Emily, alerted by Jack (who reeeeeally needs to erase her number already, bro, you are engaged), stopped Fauxmanda mere moments before she BASHED IN MASON'S HEAD with what looked like the exact same implement she had used to crack open Frank's noggin. Granted that may have been a tire iron, but I like to think it was the same blunt instrument she always uses to "clean up" after herself, with little Frank hairs still stuck to the end.

Luckily Emily interceded and in one of the most surprising turns in the season CAME OUT to Mason!

It was actually riveting to see Emily be real about who she is and to open up about the depth of her anger. The barely concealed rage of her true persona heated the screen. It was a good reminder of how consumed Emily is by this ordeal and how steely her resolve is that she's able to keep this level of anger constantly on the back burner as she methodically plots her vengeance. It was another beautiful scene by VanCamp and if she doesn't get an Emmy this year I will be pretty enraged myself.

MEANWHILE, in the Hogwarts Library, Declan was sitting on a stack of books so he could reach the table when all of a sudden a slinky runway model in black gloves delivered a box twice his size.

Looks like there is going to be a Revenge Kiki and Declan is invited! He also received a striking Drummer Boy costume to wear to the event. "WHAT IS GOING ON?" asked NO ONE. In the Venn diagram appearing in our minds, crazy is red and commerce is blue and this is a very deep purple.

Back in the "Hamptons", Mason Treadwell proved his a failure as a puppet, going completely rogue while intercepting Kara and essentially throwing a grenade of information into her shuttered fireworks factory of a brain. Emily's pursuant meltdown as Mason Treadwell turned his one job into a clusterf*ck of bad decisions was another golden acting moment and some genuinely thrilling TV. Mason went way off script and Kara got some guns and headed for Grayson manor, with chess master Emily left stuck staring at a board where all the pawns were fighting amongst themselves.

Also, Aidan and Daniel gathered Grayson Global together to announce their big financial coup in the living room, while outside Conrad meticulously dug his own business grave and then built, polished and lacquered his own business coffin, climbed inside, shut the lid, and basically shouted for the crowd to throw him in the hole.

MEANWHILE, in the alternate reality of Revenge, all the cast members who had nothing better to do the Wednesday evening this episode was filmed showed up in a steamy lot looking both affordable AND fashionable. Also invited to the mysterious Kiki: several alcoholic catalogue models.

So the Graysons found themselves face to face with a furious and Helter-Skelter-inspired Kara, who demanded the truth and could barely handle it when they happily dished it out. Well, Conrad took all the blame for framing David Clarke to protect Victoria. Really sweet gesture. As they knelt presumably to die, these on-again, off-again newlyweds took hands. Cute? Chilling? Ridiculous? Yes. Graysons, there were maybe a hundred people within shouting distance and TWO of you. How were neither of you rushing this skittish bitch while the other one rang the bell pull? Get it together.

However, if this episode proved only one thing, it's that Kara and Fauxmanda are actually two peas in a crazy little pod and could actually probably have more to talk about than Emily and Kara.

MEANWHILE, in a warehouse filled with masked catalogue models, a dead-eyed singer who once sat amongst her band talking about how they were going to do important things and be the next Lykke Li and own independent music banged a drum. Bang the drum, puppet, Target says so! Just kidding NICE JOB LADY. You look good and you can sing and also you can drum! That's cool.

Just then, GABRIEL MANN STEPPED ONTO STAGE AND AGREED TO HELP TARGET AND NEIMAN MARCUS OUT A LITTLE BIT. The Nolan Ross cameo was easily worth $500 million, so I hope they paid him accordingly. Also how sweet that all he had to do was cross the stage for two seconds.

Still worth several million dollars of that Neiman Marcus money, so let's hope his agents are on top of it lining that up for him. The "best" "friends" beanies are genuinely adorable. Is it dorky if I get them and give one to Price? DAMN YOU CORPORATE ADVERTISERS AND YOUR CUNNING USE OF GABRIEL MANN AND NICK WESCHLER!

So anyway, Emily and Aidan got to double-team the Kara goodbye, talking to her like a dog they were about to put down, and JJL got to leave her Revenge contract to work on her next award-winning role, and literally everyone in viewer land was kind of relieved. I'm sure Kara will be back, but honestly I'd rather have the Graysons alive and well.

Nolan Algernon Mitchell Ross endeared himself to truth-tellers all around the world by telling Padma he hates feet when he found her barefoot, foot-bleeding all around his office. Feet are the worst, I agree. Time will tell whether Padma sticks by Nolan when he's several billion dollars less snappy.

And now why this episode was called "Penance"—because Emily rounded out her first mistake with a huge, huge triumph, framing the one man who knows her secret for the murder of Gordon, totally owning him, getting him to confess to a crime he knew he didn't commit, and keeping him behind bars until she finished handling her business. Just like that, she is the single biggest badass on TV right now, second only to Walter White. (VERY DIFFERENT WORLDS. Do not mentally compare Breaking Bad and Revenge, yikes, it's like orange juice after toothpaste. Both very good flavors on their own, but not complementary.) This was just a brilliant piece of writing, to offer such a crazy turn in Emily's character, to have her come out and then sew things up so she's actually more in control of her plan than ever before and has a key witness at her disposal to one day commemorate her genius. Incredible! Incredible.

And finally, as if all of this whirlwind wasn't enough, the show gave us another incredible first: Emily's first real kiss,a kiss where both parties knew each other and Emily actually wanted it to happen for reasons that had nothing to do with irking Victoria Grayson or reconnecting with her stolen childhood. She totally earned it. Revenge also totally earned whatever money they got from the very silly "Gift of Revenge" product endorsements because that crazy was embedded in an episode that was simply perfect. Well done everybody. Everybody wins. Companies, cast, and most of all me because now I get to hear what y'all thought of it.


1. What did you think of the "gift of revenge"?

2. Will Daniel successfully take over Grayson Global, and what will that mean for the Initiative and Conrad?

3. How long will Kara be offscreen?

,p> 4. Aidan and Emily: true love at last?

5. Would you give up your billion-dollar Facebook company for your best friend?

  • Comments (35)
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  • CarlyChristen Nov 14, 2012

    I have bronchitis right now, and every time I laugh I go into horrible coughing fits. I'm pretty sure I lost at least a lung and a half while reading this review. Well done, Lily!

  • CarolineHylto Nov 14, 2012

    1. I loved it, honestly. It's the best , least irksome way todo ads andmore than that--it was effective

    2. No more terrorism david +emily &happy; ever after

    3. hopefully forever

    4. deff

    5. Nope--just hide the funds, pretend she was a secret mistress, omething

  • CarlaConnor Nov 14, 2012

    I also find it fascinating pondering what Emily might do in future episodes. Will she keep her promise to Mason and confess to the murder of Gordon Murphy when she's done with her revenge quest? (it was Aidan who killed him anyway, not her) or will she just let him rot in prison? I think the latter. She's let him take the blame. After all, he helped to ruin her life when she was a child.

    I think that Mason Treadwell is the dead body on the boat in episode 14. Just like Tyler took the heat for Fauxmanda killing Frank and then was conveniently killed off so that Emily and Fauxmanda would not be implicated. It will be the same thing, I reckon.

  • CarlaConnor Nov 14, 2012

    I loved this episode. I think it's one of the best since the show began. It was so good. Good to know I wasn't the only one cackling like a witch on whippets!

    I found Nolan's choice to be understandable but he did it too easily without too much protesting. Hopefully this means he will have to move back in with Emily which will be fantastic. She won't be able to kick him out this time because he gave up his company for her. Maybe she will give him a slice of her money.

    I don't really feel there's much chemistry between Emily and Aidan. I feel there is more between Daniel and Emily.

    I'm glad Kara has gone for now. I was getting bored with the mother-daughter issues going on a few episodes ago. Hopefully she will stay away for a while.

  • CarlaConnor Nov 14, 2012

    Get over the typos already. You don't have to pay to read this stuff. It's free.

  • MamaVanC Nov 14, 2012

    For the most part I really enjoyed this review - and yes, Mann & VanCamp are both seriously deserving of some kind of awards this season - but I have to say it is kind of grating on my nerves how almost every review I read on lately has numerous typos. I mean, I know it does not impact the overall message of your very thorough and funny review, but please just do another editing scan for my (and I would guess others') sanity.

    This is not meant to be personal, I just don't know how to communicate this to everyone on the reviewer roster. I am probably extra sensitive to this issue since I am a graduate student in education and so I am both graded ON and in CHARGE of grading grammar and spelling and other mistakes made due to word processor and auto-correct software. I am envious because I pay tuition to get in trouble for making these errors and WISH I could get paid to write such enjoyable, entertaining pieces without having to worry quite as much about the irrelevant details. ...Rant over.

  • emmairis Nov 14, 2012

    1. WTF??

    2. no idea, hope he will but I'm on board only if that would turn Conrad in a season-5-Clay-type-of-character (ask Tim for the Sons of Anarchy reference), not in a meaningless powerless one

    3. maybe she'll reappear before the last arc of season 2, but, if they have more crazy story lines coming (hopefully), in season 3

    4. I'm crossing my fingers!!! I adoooore Aidan's relationship with Emily, second best only to Nolan so yikes!

    5. DO NOT THINK SO! On the other hand, my friends aren't as great and loyal as Nolan and Emily are... so I don't really know

  • bluemystique Nov 14, 2012

    -It was kind of wicked and maddening but kind of aweesome too. Which is pretty much how I feel half the time when I watch Revenge anyways. This show can sell anything to me at this point, including mini Gift of revenge series' that end with cute matching hats. I will not lie...I want them..desperately! I was sold the moment Nolan was on stage talking about how he was throwing a party. I love Nolan. No, really that guy is the bestest. I NEED a friend like NOLAN so that someone can wear the other half of the matching hat set!

    - He may but if he does it won't be for long. Daniel is his father's son...a little too overconfident in his abilities, for sure. He hasn't mastered being conniving, charming, and diabolical like Conrad though. This won't work out for the kid.

    - I don't know. She'll be back soon, but I do think I'm okay with her taking a little break. I almost overdosed on the amount of crazy they were throwing at us. She was so good at it that i twas too much. You're too much for me JLL!

    - No. But I liked it anyways. Thus far that's the one romantic entanglement that has had the most chemistry. I like it. I also like the reluctant partnership between Aidan and Nolan. It works for me. Oh and protective Nolan is just as awesome as regular Nolan. Ah-mazing that Gabriel Mann. He should be getting money thrown at him, along with the awards, and maybe by then he'll actually get him a slick new car and only hold on to his adorable gold monstrosity for sentimental reasons.

    -In a world with that type of Revengy stuff going on? Without a doubt. It would literally mean life and death.

    -I don't even know how she managed to pull that Mason thing off, but my goodness that was something. What? I still haven't figured out yet, but definitely something.

    -I'm sorry are we still supposed to be operating under the belief that JR. Bourne's character is some kind of villain? I'm not sold yet. His brother, probably.

  • TVwanderlust Nov 14, 2012

    This was a great episode, it finally felt like the series is getting back on track. I prefer Emily in control, kicking butt and crossing off-names and it felt like everyone else has been doing that but her this season.

    I also demand that she start treating Nolan better. Besties forever and she doesn't even appreciate it.

    Your comment about Kara and Fauxmanda...two peas in a crazy' sure. I predict Kara returns around or just after the mid-season cliffhanger.

    LOVED your review this week!

  • zampognaro Nov 14, 2012

    I just want to say ... I LOVE THIS SHOW!


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