Revenge "Dissolution" Review: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

By Kaitlin Thomas

Nov 04, 2013

Revenge S03E06: "Dissolution"

While there was plenty to take issue with in "Dissolution" (the introduction of Sarah, for instance), there was also a lot that I found intriguing this week, particularly the storyline involving Nolan and Jack and their shared frustration regarding one Emily Thorne. This episode moved the storyline forward a bit, even though it didn't really feel like it, and I've been waiting for this to happen for quite awhile now, if I'm being honest. 

It's not a secret that I'm not exactly a fan of Emily these days. But to my credit, I haven't always disliked her. In fact, I was very much a supporter of Emily when Revenge first began. It's just that lately, I've been finding it harder and harder to sympathize with her cause. She's so single-minded that I often feel that she's lost sight of the big picture, and of the people who matter. Oftentimes, when TV characters are written this way, it's done on purpose. It's done because you're not supposed to like the main character. But that's not really the case with Revenge. You're supposed to root for Emily and her plan to take down the Graysons—but I can't. As I mentioned last week, it's hard to empathize with a character who doesn't seem to feel emotion, but it's also hard to feel any warmth toward a character who's treated her closest friend like an employee for so long.

Truthfully, it was way past time for Nolan to snap. He's had to put up with a lot of bullshit from Emily over the years, arguably more than anyone else given that he's been the vice president, secretary, and treasurer of Team Revenge for quite some time. He's dutifully played along with all of her schemes, he's done everything she's ever asked of him, and for what? He's never gotten anything from this relationship, not really. If I'm being honest, as much as I love Nolan and have supported the friendship he shares with Emily, I've never really understood his loyalty to her. I've never really questioned it until now because it served the narrative, and because their friendship gives me the warm and fuzzies when everything is going well, but why does Nolan blindly follow Emily? 

The first—and obvious—answer is that Emily was his only real friend for quite awhile. Nolan, at the end of the day, is a very lonely person. Yes, he's eccentric and wonderful and generally gives off the appearance of not giving a damn, but underneath it all, he's a very lonely man. That's why he's always so quick to fall for all the wrong people, and why he's always been so quick to do everything Emily asked of him. For a long time, she was the only person in his life that he could count as a friend. But now he also has Jack. They haven't always had the strongest of friendships, but I've enjoyed watching them become the friends they are today. I guess I always knew in the back of my mind that Jack didn't know Nolan was involved in Emily's revenge plot, or that Nolan knew she was actually Amanda, but once she came clean to him, I guess I kind of assumed he'd either figured it out or Emily had told him. It makes sense on paper why she didn't; the less he knew the better, but Nolan's confession in "Dissolution" just felt a bit odd, and I'm chalking it up to the fact that I kind of just assumed Jack already knew.

Nolan also feels that he owes this to her father. Without David Clarke, who's to say NolCorp would even exist? I'm sure it would have come to fruition eventually—Nolan is a brilliant man after all—but David Clarke believed in him when no one else did, so yes, Nolan feels a sense of loyalty to the man and he promised to protect his daughter. But Emily is a crappy friend, only thinking about what people can do for her. Everyone is a pawn in her game, but at the same time, everyone has their breaking point. Not everyone can turn off their emotions the way Emily has, and Emily telling Nolan that he has to end his fledgling romance with Patrick was his breaking point. I don't know that I necessarily feel better that Emily has decided to let Nolan and Jack in on her full revengenda in the wake of Nolan's "betrayal," or that I believe that because she's decided to be open about her plans for her wedding that it makes everything else she's done okay, but the time for treating both of these men as players in this game has long since passed. That it appears that she might consider working with them, instead of ordering them around, is a step in the right direction.

But the Emily and Nolan standoff wasn't the only thing that happened this week. Daniel was also reintroduced to Sarah, the cocktail waitress who was severely injured when he crashed the car they were traveling in after drinking a few too many years a few years back. She's working in a bakery (THE HORROR!) because the Graysons screwed her in the settlement. For the record: I hate this storyline. There were already too many balls in the air with Jack and Aiden, that introducing another person to this story makes it feel too busy, and too contrived. Even knowing that it is contrived and being set up by a Charlotte who continues to act more and more like her mother every day, this plot is flat out stupid. It reeks of poor plotting and feels like a case of the writers grasping at straws. No one cares about Sarah. We have no reason to care about her. The idea that Charlotte and Victoria will use her as a pawn is groan-inducing because there's been no emotional build up to this storyline. Hate. Hate. Hate.

This episode worked well if all it intended was to make me hate Emily a bit more, or if its intent was to have Emily bring Nolan and Jack fully on board as actual members of the revenge team, but other than that, I think the episode dropped the ball in many ways. There was a lot of road the writers could have traveled with Nolan and Jack opposed to Emily. I wish they'd have struck out on their own and started living lives that didn't somehow always involve or revolve around her. Could you imagine what that would have really done to Emily, to her plan, to her psyche? To have the two people she claims are the most important people in her life suddenly turn against her and want nothing from her? That was a story that could have really made Revenge stick out. It could have made Emily a human being again. But instead, everything was once again wrapped up by episode's end. 

Revenge is a serialized story, but it feels less so when there aren't any real stakes. Now it just looks like Nolan was a petulant child who acted out, but Mommy Emily forgave him and now everything is all right. Nolan has every right to be pissed, and so does Jack. She's used them and abused them and she's manipulated them for so long, it makes sense they'd be frustrated and angry with her. So why do the writers keep attempting to make it look like Emily isn't at fault? 


– So Emily's plan for her wedding is for Victoria to shoot her so she can fake her own death and then she can disappear with Aiden forever. Barf. I have a feeling Nolan and Jack aren't going to be too cool with that plan. And did she also just reveal everything weeks before she should have? I have a feeling that's not how it plays out. So who do you think the shooter turns out to be?

– Conrad was going to sell the Manor this week. Obviously Emily couldn't have that happen, because her plan apparently somehow depends on them living next door. But it also couldn't happen because think of all the sets Revenge would have to tear down and rebuild!

– Call me crazy, but don't you think the realtor would have checked the records for all the houses in the area? She flipped out after checking the fake files that Emily planted after Emily played her, but Emily didn't switch out the records for all of the properties in the area, just Grayson Manor. Whatever, I guess I'm just going to have to do everyone's job for them.

– Patrick is in the wind after Jack came clean to Conrad about who really messed with his brakes, but he did it for Nolan. Bye, Justin Hartley, please come back soon for more awkward hugs with Madeleine Stowe. (But seriously: WHAT IS HIS DEAL?)

– Aiden and Emily decided to return the Grayson fortune in order to keep Victoria from peacing out of the Hamptons and divorcing Conrad again. As long as it puts an end to "We're poor! We can only afford elaborate fresh flower arrangements and lavish table settings at breakfast now!" then fine. Give them all the money.

– Nolan's best look this week was when he was just chilling at home in an understated purple and cream combo.



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  • tamaracassill Dec 13, 2013

    I agree with everything u said about Emily and Im sooo annoyed. So those 2 say: hey wait its not fair how u treat us and 2min later everything is fine again? buhuu.. U know what I felt 10 times more heartbroken for Victoria than for Emily. I didnt really feel that sorry for her for ages.
    BUT I totally disagree about Daniel. I LOVE that storyline. Give that man something else to do then running after his ,,I dont really love u and roll my eyes cause u made a not funny joke" fiancee. The only thing that really pisses me off is I know that Daniel will fall in love with Sarah again. But Im so sure that Emily suddenly will be the best girlfriend in the whole world so Daniel picks her (of course). And thats just so shit. Ah I just cant support Emily at the moment. And whats her big plan? its so stupid. Conrad is a horrible person so he is getting away? Jesus girl just go to the police.. its not that hard

  • wwgdy Nov 12, 2013

    I agree with most part of this review, the reviewer provides some good comments on the show, and I can tell the viewer could understand every leading or supporting characters in the show except Emily, because she keep saying that Emily does not have emotion.

    -------“whereas Emily has no problem destroying the lives of others, feeling no remorse or conscience regarding the lives she ruins”

    -------“it's hard to empathize with a character who doesn't seem to feel emotion”

    These are simply not true.

    Sometime, I thought the reviewer might see a different version of the show in which Emily’s part was cut off, or a mini-version without Emily.

    Clearly, the reviewer cannot understand Emily, or she was blinded by something too emotional, reviewer’s troubling understanding on the leading character does not mean that Emily did not show emotion, actually Emily has shown too much emotion in the season 3 far more than previous seasons, and her emotion almost ruined the whole revenge plan in “stop-making-Aiden-happen” episode.

    Emily in the show is a complicated and restraining character, she has been described as a flawed and multifaceted heroine figure, Emily seems to be cold, cruel, and emotionless, yet she is struggling and conflicted inside, and try hardly to suppress her feelings for her goal. Many times the writer embed her feelings into subtle expression and sub-conscience behaviors, in the season 3 Emily was cleared softened and has gradually been letting people into her heart.

  • ark1317 Nov 10, 2013

    I want Patrick back!
    I liked Sarah's introduction, interesting link to season 1! I think they're trying to make us like Daniel again, making him a human being again with feelings, compassion etc...

  • Waltermaze72293 Nov 10, 2013

    If you don't like Emily so much, then stop watching the show. I agree with you about the Sarah storyline though.

  • StephenBrown9 Nov 07, 2013

    Honeslty I think the only weak link in the Revenge chain at the moment is Aiden. He is dead weight. Get rid of him. Everything else is gripping and a great improvement on season two. Absolutely -loved- Emily's chillingly human conversation with the realtor about shoreline erosion, it contrasts greatly to the paranoid and desperate Emily we're seeing behind closed doors these days.

  • Kiwirevengefan Nov 07, 2013

    Why is it that some people think because they don't like a particular character they should be removed from the show? It is not a reality TV show where you vote off the worst character! Personally I don't like Jack or Charlotte's characters but I see that they are part of the story and I would not like them to disappear/be killed off etc.

    Aiden (whether you like him or not) is integral to the story. He is Emily's inside man in Grayson manor. He is her revenge partner and has had far more training in those skills that Nolan or Jack. He is also the man she says she plans to disappear with in the end. (whether that happens or not is a moot point, she says he is part of her plan). We don't know yet but I think Aiden is integral to Emily's plan to frame Victoria for her murder. You can hardly imagine Emily getting Jack or Nolan to pull a trigger as part of her plan, fake or not.

  • wwgdy Nov 07, 2013

    I agree with you.
    The role of Aiden in the story is repeated of either Emily or Nolan, as a revenge helper, Aiden’s role repeated of the role of Nolan, as the undercover in the family of Grayson, Aiden’s role is repeated of Emily. Sometimes, Aiden let Nolan irrelevant to the main storyline, and undermine the chemistry and connection between Emily and Nolan. Aiden is an unpredictable plot in the storyline, that is good but out of rail, therefore it would be more intense and interesting if Aiden could really turn back on Emily.

  • Malahito Nov 07, 2013

    No way Aidan is ''weak link in the Revenge chain'',he's the one who helps Ems in revenging, we need more characters like his, this is a story about revenge..I love team with Emily,Nolan,Aiden and Jack on the same side.This show needs all of them :-)

  • Tadaia Nov 06, 2013

    While the series took a wasteful detour in season two, I think Emily's recent troubles this season have her right where she was supposed to be. In the first ep of the first season they opened the series by quoting Confucius "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves". As well Nolan's early warnings from Emily's father concerned that very same thing - forgiveness and not seeking revenge. Emily's arc had to get here before the series ended. I fully expect this to blow up in her face before all is said and done. Whether she literally survives it (or others she cares about) will be the big question.

  • AkiraHideyo Nov 06, 2013

    Seems Emily is playing Aiden to help her out on whatever needs to be done to reach her objective. As much as "dangerous" Patrick wanting Conrad dead by rigging the brakes to protect Victoria from constant abuse, I sensed he was genuine about Nolan and vice versa. It seems really selfish of Emily to expect everyone to give up the love of their lives in the name of "fiend"ship. Charlotte is strange, developing an almost overnight hatred for everything Emily? Source? As usual, Victoria delivers some of the most astounding one liner stinks that only a seasoned drag queen could. Bravo! And from the trailer with a new Sarah, Daniel is forever flippant, jumping from skirt to skirt at the slightest whiff of a new bakery-geez! The BIG finale puzzle now would be if Emily were to be really "killed" by other than Victoria; or was the season opening episode where Emily was shot on the yacht on target but deliberately used to play on the over imaginative minds of the viewers as a reverse reverse psychology plot twist that actually didn't go wrong. They did that with the prior trailer showing Nolan lying motionless in the bathtub this episode but an astute viewer on Youtube actually surmised that he was simply not dead but Zen-ning with his earphones still on. Well done Sherlock Holmes! More twists? Can't wait.

  • leonlak Nov 06, 2013

    The "love of their lives" ? C'mon, Patrick and Nolan have only known each other for about a few hours - more like an infatuation than for keeps. Besides, Ems is just looking out for her "loved ones" here. Patrick is just another gay hustler like Tyler - he's surely out for no good.

  • Tadaia Nov 06, 2013

    Nothing strange about being protective of your big brother when you sense he's getting played by his betrothed. I've never cared for Daniel, but I do get it from Charlotte's perspective. I'd feel the same. The Sara ploy might be the first meaningful thing she's done since season 1.

  • Tadaia Nov 06, 2013

    Everyone keeps looking at Charlotte with the assumption that she knows that Emily is her sister. She doesn't. While its true that they became chummy especially when Charlotte was have drug issues, at the end of the day Emily is just some broad marrying her brother.

  • nicholehamm7 Nov 06, 2013

    Indeed. Charlotte have no idea who Emily really is. Emily herself got away from her when Emily herself forged a sentimental fraternal meeting between Charlotte and Fauxmanda..

  • atyleung52 Nov 06, 2013

    There was a time that I used to complain A LOT about Emanda and how horrible and ungrateful she was towards people who were on her side (mainly Nolan). But IMO, Emanda HAS evolved over the past 2+ seasons, to the point where I feel like she deserves more defense.

    Yes, she's mostly still narrow-mindedly focused on her Revenge, but I feel like she's softened and has gradually been letting people into her heart. The old Emanda wouldn't come by Nolan's place for no reason but to check in on him, she wouldn't have shared with him his pain over losing Padma last year, and she wouldn't stick around to hear all the frustrations Nolan has been expressing at her in the past several episodes. Emanda's telling him that he should end things with Patrick may have been in her interest, but I'm sure it also concerned her for Nolan to be getting involved with someone who attempted to commit murder. It didn't bother me that she told him to be "rational," especially since Jack pretty much expressed the exact same thoughts to Nolan later that day.

    I get that Nolan is upset about losing Patrick, but I feel that Nolan may be the one who was blinded this time and failed to recognize Emanda's attempts to be a friend.

  • Malahito Nov 06, 2013

    Well I don't think she's horrible and cold to Nolan in this season, specially after last episode when she wants to tell them(Nolan & Jack) everything and be honest with them,but obviosly she's manipulating with Aidan now..

  • jewel47 Nov 06, 2013

    Can someone please explain to me how Charlotte has done a complete 180 on Emily so fast?! I think I have whiplash trying to keep up with that one. Yes, Emily betrayed Charlotte's confidence by mentioning that Charlotte thought Victoria was having an affair with Patrick. But that is one small transgression that could easily be forgiven. But Charlotte now has heat seeking missiles locked on Emily. Come on, her mother and father have done 1000 times worse to her. And considering that only last season, Emily was Charlotte's confidant, it seems odd that she would be unwilling to forgive a small mistake and be happy that Emily is marrying Danial. Charlotte trusted Emily implicitly and even told her about Victoria faking her death. Now Charlotte wants Emily out of Daniel's life! And why is Charlotte colluding with Victoria and acting just like her?

  • CynthiaBell1 Nov 06, 2013

    I completely agree. The writers are making me truly despise Charlotte. She and Emily were like sisters and then all of a sudden she hates Emily. I know they try to write breadcrumbs into the script to get us on board with the transformation, but it didn't work. It's the least believable storyline in the entire show. The evolution of this character does not make sense. Although I like that she is turning into her mother, but the reasons why make no sense.

  • jewel47 Nov 15, 2013


  • Malahito Nov 06, 2013

    No one knows ! Probably there's backstory what happened between her and Emily. They should get rid of her character..

  • jewel47 Nov 06, 2013

    Charlotte's character has no real purpose without Declan, so they are fabricating a storyline for her by making her plot against Emily and Daniel's relationship. But it seems like there is no real reason for her to dislike Emily all of a sudden. There needs to have been a big transgression that Emily committed to get Charlotte to dislike her. But it was *poof*, I don't like Emily anymore.

  • nicholehamm7 Nov 06, 2013

    Well I disagree. Declan had no real purpose other than being a bore. Charlotte is a link between Victoria and Emily, the problem is that the actress cannot act out of paper bag and the character is very poorly written, especially after two seasons being sabotaged by Declan's ridiculous plot.

  • acre1993 Nov 06, 2013

    in season 1 this show used to be one of those shows where it was so hard to wait a week to find out what happens next but now its pretty became one of those shows where i pretty much watch out of curiosty to see how it ends

  • CynthiaBell1 Nov 06, 2013

    I feel that same way about how I met your mother!!

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