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