Revenge "Endurance" Review: Arrested Character Development

By Kaitlin Thomas

Jan 13, 2014

Revenge: S03E12: "Endurance


For an episode titled "Endurance," this one felt a bit like Revenge didn't really have any left. After two mostly strong episodes, the show was all over the place this week. It had its moments—Nolan's striped blazer in the opening scene, for instance—but it was also a bit of a letdown, especially in regards to Emily's renewed interest in exacting revenge on the Graysons and her plan to do it. We knew this would have to happen given the title and premise of the series, but something about it feels off.

For most of the episode, Emily was trapped inside Grayson Manor having been discharged into Victoria's (and Niko's) care. She was discouraged from her revengenda against the Graysons, basically admitting defeat in the wake of her botched attempt to frame Victoria on the yacht. Even Niko—who was revealed to be Takeda's daughter—basically told her to man-up and finish what she started, but Emily still refused. It wasn't until Victoria revealed to Emily that she could no longer have children as a result of her injuries that Emily's thirst for revenge was renewed.

This is an interesting idea, because being unable to have children is devastating. Being unable to carry on your family's legacy is a big deal, especially to someone who doesn't have one. And, at the end of the day, it's another thing Emily can add to the list of things the Graysons have taken from her. But she kind of brought this on herself in a way. It's important to remember that everything that's happened to Emily recently is actually, in some way, a product of her own doing.

Everyone blames the Graysons and shames them for everything they've done to Emily and her family—and they're not wrong—but at some point, we're going to have to stop looking at Emily as an innocent here. Daniel pulled the trigger—and I'm not giving him a pass or saying he was in the right (because I'll get to him in a minute, and also GUN VIOLENCE)—but Emily is far from innocent anymore and I won't just sit by and let her play the pitiful victim. Viewers should not just accept that everything she's doing is right because the Graysons ruined her life. Yes, she's the main character and you're supposed to root for her, but at some point, Emily needs to take responsibility for her own actions. This is a nighttime soap opera, but it hasn't been as scandalous or exciting as it was in Season 1, and the show appears to be attempting to straddle the line between soap and a more respectable drama series. If the writers want the series to be seen as something more, then they need to start asking more questions about Emily's innocence. 

It appeared as if she was beginning to understand the enormity of the consequences of her actions earlier this season when she felt remorse for what she'd done to Father Paul, but that storyline was dropped just as quickly as Conrad's fake Huntington's Disease. I thought perhaps Emily's refusal to continue the revenge-ing might have been the show acknowledging that a bit, but by the end of "Endurance," she was back scheming against them by calling a press conference and naming Lydia as the shooter.

I could go on and on about what kind of message the show is inadvertently sending by having Emily stay with Daniel even though he shot her, but we know why she's doing it and that's not the show's biggest problem. We can't forget that Emily lied to Daniel about carrying his child, and she brought the gun on to the boat. I am not saying Emily was asking for it or that she deserved it, because that's never the case, but she supplied the weapon that would eventually be used to shoot her, and at some point I think the show needs to address the fact that Emily is not an innocent character. If Daniel has gone full-on asshole (and he has), I see no reason why they can't acknowledge that Emily is no better than the men and women she's put in her crosshairs over the course of three seasons.

As for Daniel, I still enjoy his character—perhaps even more now that he has turned on Emily and let his true colors show—but his relationship with Sara is weak and I can't understand the series' attempts to make viewers care. I cheered for women everywhere when Sara initially refused Daniel at the Stowaway, because no one should ever settle for being someone's seconds, but then she took him back the second he told her Emily lied to him about the baby. Sara, girl, you are so much better than this. We barely even know you,  and I know this to be true. Daniel isn't a good guy, and as long as that's the story the writers intend on playing out the rest of this season, that's great, but right now Daniel is still married to Emily and she's is refusing to leave him in order to finish her revengenda, which makes the Daniel/Sara storyline shaky at best.

"Endurance" was very obviously setting up the rest of the season, but because of that, the momentum the series had coming off of "Homecoming" was definitely slowed. The Niko/Aiden stuff at the end felt like it was added at the last minute to add unnecessary drama, Emily is still fairly unlikable because she's learned nothing in the wake of her shooting, and Patrick is a horrible, horrible person because he whacked Nolan over the head to steal Emily's infinity box. There's not really a single person on this series who's entirely likable or entirely good anymore, and it makes it difficult to root for anyone in particular. It looks as if the writers want to make it obvious that Emily is a younger version of Victoria, especially now that she's in a loveless marriage, but while the show seems to have no problem acknowledging that Victoria is a manipulative, evil woman, (and it's all the better for it) they still won't admit the same of Emily, and that's really holding it back.


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  • desireerosario564 Jan 30, 2014

    This coming out party of sorts for Daniel was a really good, long overdue event in this show that I really think opens up the show a lot for more opportunities. I really hope they keep Daniel's character on this trajectory.
    Also loved that they used "After All Is Said and Done" by Junip in the scene where Daniel enters a mostly empty Stowaway and finds Sara there - that really added a nice backdrop to the scene.

  • AkiraHideyo Jan 16, 2014

    Think Revenge should be re-titled-Desperate Mental Housewife, aka Emily. Seriously!

  • tamaracassill Jan 17, 2014

    The bold and the beautiful 2.0.

  • wwgdy Jan 16, 2014

    This show needs to build something positive in the storyline.
    This show needs despairingly the positive energy in the whole.
    This show needs to build something meaningful for Emily instead of taking everything good away from her life.
    Emily is going to be destroyed by her own choice, and so does this show.

    The positive, positive energy is very important for any TV show and its rating, please build something meaningful for the main character.

  • immortalCG Jan 16, 2014

    Just wanted to say to inside edition about a show they put up about helping someone who has been falsely accused of something very wrong. I don't know where else to do. So I was wondering if u guys can help my cousin.,he's been I jail for about 9 years. Thank you so much

  • Whedonrules Jan 15, 2014

    The only thing I liked about that episode was Niko, Stephanie Jacobsen. That's because its always nice having a Viper pilot around.

  • Tadaia Jan 15, 2014

    I think many viewers' irritation with Emily's over-complicated plans is perhaps affecting the perspective on Emily's culpability vs whoever. Revenge is never a good thing... the show started out with that premise and her father warned of her of such. Nevertheless Emily is not a murderer and is not responsible for the willful and deplorable actions of others.

  • ark1317 Jan 15, 2014

    I have to say that I completely disagree with this review, even though I understand why miss Kaitlin Thomas feels this way. I'm offering a different perspective :)

    I've never believed in Emily being a good person. Maybe she was once upon a time and then decided to give in to darkness and I just LOVE when a character falls deeper and deeper in its own darkside. She could either crack or reach a next level of insanity and it looks like she chose the latter.
    Also I'm glad her revenge was renewed with new purpose. In the end Emily will be just a mass of sadness and lost things and she will be mostly her own fault. Just so poetic!

    Also, the parallelism between Victoria/Conrad and Emily/Daniel is just brilliant. Emily will enact her revenge only to discover she's become the thing she hated the most (or love? As she said they're not that different...). And of course Daniel is now a real Grayson too.

    Patrick is another mess, but I find it logical for him to choose Victoria over some guy. And of course Nolan was one step ahead. Their passion is going darkside too!

    Daniel and Sara, I couldn't care less, I'll pretend she was his true love or something, because his obsession with her doesn't make sense. Or maybe it does, if I see Daniel as a person who wants to atone for so many things without giving up his dark roots (I'm loving dark too much, aren't I?)

    I liked Niko very much. I would expect Takeda's daughter to be much more japanese though. She's like Patrick, bringing fresh air and dynamics to the show. Also, Aiden's reaction was just typical Aiden, acting impulsively as always when he doesn't get his way (I know he wants Emily to quit the revengenda because he knows how empty she will feel, but really, he should understand more.). I'm already sorry for Niko, being in love with her father's murderer...

    Don't know why, I liked Jack. I guess he's at his best when he doesn't try to be an asshole.

    Finally, the scene between Victoria, Emily and Daniel was just priceless!

  • CynthiaBell1 Jan 15, 2014

    I agree with the other responders about your take in Emily. She's not supposed to be innocent and I would have been very disappointed if she had stuck with her whole idea ofletting it go. Niko punching her to remind her of what she was there for was great. Emily has gotten of track so ofte of her true purpose, which was to exact revenge.
    I am pleasantly intrigued by Conrad and what he is up to. Whatever it is I hope it puts him at odds with Victoria. the show is great when they are trying to one up each other. Also I hope Nolan gets Patrick in true revengenda form.
    As for Aiden I actually liked him and Emily together, but since she ended things with him and he ran immediately to Niko although she obviously played him (that entire situation was too easily manipluated by her) I would rather see him get written off of the show then watch the song and dance that is clearly about to ensue. All I ask from Revenge is just to keep me guessing and I don't see that happening with this storyline.

  • ch0c0nutz Jan 15, 2014

    "There's not really a single person on this series who's entirely likable or entirely good anymore, and it makes it difficult to root for anyone in particular."

    NOLAN!!!!!!!!!

    i was angry at patrick for what he did to nolan...

  • Kiwirevengefan Jan 15, 2014

    No one is "entirely good" or for that matter "entirely bad", that is what makes us human. I like shows that show both sides of people, the good and the bad. Otherwise they are just one-dimensional and boring. Even Nolan is not entirely good otherwise he would not help Emily with her revenge.

  • dude19 Jan 14, 2014

    I think you're way too hung up on this plot point and it's really clouded your judgement on a stellar group of episodes. And not to be "that guy" but I really feel like this wouldn't even be an issue if Emily was a man. I mean, I don't hear a ton of people complaining about the fact Walter White or Tony Soprano or Dexter Morgan weren't inherently good. This show has always worked on the principle that as bad as Emily is, Victoria has always been worse. She's done worse things for much more selfish reasons and is just all-and-all a bad person. Emily has never been the poor innocent and I don't think this show has ever portrayed her that way. When bad things happen to her, she doesn't play victim, she uses it to fuel her revenge.

  • tamaracassill Jan 17, 2014

    Because Dexter and Walter White were good written characters - Emily isnt

  • ark1317 Jan 15, 2014

    Maybe at first, but I've not felt Victoria's the worst in a long time!

  • Kiwirevengefan Jan 15, 2014

    Amen to this!

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