Revenge "Endurance" Review: Arrested Character Development
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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