Revenge "Payback" Review: Two-faced

By Kaitlin Thomas

Mar 10, 2014

Revenge S03E14: "Payback"

LOL this show. I spent most of Revenge's first episode back from hiatus collecting evidence that would prove Emily is currently possessed by a trickster spirit known as a nogitsune. If you've been watching Teen Wolf this season, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The most obvious example to support this hypothesis are the blackouts that Emily is currently suffering from. They're now happening more frequently and lasting for longer periods of time. Her world is dissolving even further into chaos created by pain, which is what the nogitsune feeds on. And further more, she's planting evidence and leaving clues during these blackouts that could potentially lead to the demise of someone she holds dear, just like Stiles on Teen Wolf! Are we sure we want to rule out supernatural causes, guys, because I think we can make a real case here. 

Fine. Emily isn't possessed by a nogitsune, but something is definitely wrong with her, and it's looking more and more like she's suffering a psychotic break similar to what happened to her own mother when Emily was a young girl. This is probably the best explanation we could hope for, because it could potentially lead to a return appearance for Jennifer Jason Leigh, whose storyline was horribly mangled in the mess of Season 2. But it also provides a real answer for Emily's own breakdown, and means the shooting was not the cause. There's the constant worry, however, that Revenge will somehow screw this up.

Right now, Emily's blackouts serve as a reminder of just how dangerous this entire situation actually is, especially now that she's taken up residence at Grayson Manor. For two-and-a-half seasons, Emily has been living a double life, and now the show has taken that idea and turned it sideways so that Emily is actually two different people. She's no longer just Amanda Clarke pretending to be Emily Thorne, but a different person entirely. She has no control over that side of herself—she comes and goes whenever she feels like it—and no recollection of what happens during those blackouts. But we know she planted Takeda's sword in Aiden's room so Niko could find it. She lashed out at Nolan (oh no you didn't, girl), and now she's lured Stevie Grayson—Conrad's first wife—to the Hamptons with a story about wanting to divorce Daniel (and yes, we will get to Stevie and her little bombshell in a minute).

It doesn't matter if this new version of Emily—who we'll call Blackout Emily for the sake of my sanity—really does want to end her marriage to DannyBoy, because that cannot happen. It would give Daniel exactly what he wants and ruin two-and-a-half seasons of work on Emily's part. Blackout Emily is leaving a trail of chaos in her wake, and there's nothing Emily can do about it. And to make matters worse, Blackout Emily appears to be in cahoots with Conrad—CONRAD!—and Daniel's on to her thanks to a chatty bellhop at the Southfork Inn. How long will Emily be able to hide this dual personality from everyone? And just how long until Blackout Emily spills the beans on Operation Revenge, because she's already given Stevie the impression she's in love with someone else? 

I'm not particularly thrilled with this blackout storyline, to be honest, but it has definitely shaken up a series that was desperately in need of a makeover, and for that I am grateful. I've not been shy in voicing my concerns over the staleness of Emily's revengenda of late, but I'm hesitant to call this a triumph just yet. The idea that the writers are presenting is an interesting one: Emily has made it her life's mission to destroy the Graysons, but with this development, all of her carefully laid plans are weakened at the foundation. Instead of an outsider threatening to tear it all down, though, it's Emily herself. She's her own worst enemy at this point, and what's Emily's purpose if she cannot trust herself to complete the mission? But those questions aren't what worries me about this particular road. The show's biggest problem is that it's difficult to tell if this is the series playing the soap card, or if it's really attempting a commentary on identity and the perils of living a double life. And that's always been one of Revenge's biggest problems; It wants to tell this great sweeping story, but it's also a soap and sometimes struggles to mesh the pieces together in a coherent and meaningful way.

Which brings me to Stevie and her episode-ending knowledge bomb that she's Jack's mother. I'm sorry, you're what now, lady? You don't get to just stroll into the Hamptons, exchange a few sharp barbs with Victoria, and then drop a paternity bombshell like that. This development is ludicrous and yet it's still not that surprising given how happy Jack's been lately. After all, it's an established fact that happy people cannot exist in this version of the Hamptons. But this storyline also provides Stevie with a reason to stay in the Hamptons beyond the fact that she's the real owner of Grayson Manor. 

The real question however, is if Stevie is Jack's mother, did she have an affair with Carl Sr. or is Jack a Grayson born from the fruit of both Stevie and Conrad's loins? *shudder* The world definitely does not need more Graysons, guys. They can't even find good storylines for the ones they've got. Charlotte isn't even a person at this point. She exists solely as a prop in everyone else's storylines. Her birthday party in "Payback" was not about celebrating her birth, or about Daniel being an awesome big brother, but rather an easy way to bring the rest of the characters together and an even easier way to secure Charlotte a position at Voulez. Which, by the way, might make sense on opposite day, but I would hire exactly zero Graysons if I ran a company. I've given up on waiting for the writers to make Charlotte relevant. She'll exist as long as the rest of the Graysons exist, but she'll never carry a storyline of her own, especially not one that's meaningful. And Jack's been suffering similarly lately, and I worry that this new bombshell is just a way for the writers to bring him back into the fold. 

"Payback" wasn't the best or most exciting episode of Revenge, guys. It was more of a combination clean up/setup episode. It took out the trash—bye Niko, I'll miss your taste in Pier 1 Imports candles and our shared desire to see Aiden dead—while also setting the stage for the rest of Season 3—Emily's battle against her own deteriorating mental health. There was also the matter of Victoria's rape and Patrick hiring said rapist as the contractor for the gallery because he wanted to meet his father. This entire storyline was poorly handled, in my opinion, and I don't think I can even stomach all the ways in which Revenge failed women in this storyline. Jimmy was the monster Vee said he was, but I suffer from my own rage blackouts when anyone—even if it's just the rapist—says the victim was asking to be raped or that it was consensual, so let's just skip over that and to the part where Patrick has now killed two people for his mother, and is still barely more than a sketch of a character. If the writers want us to care about this storyline, or about Patrick at all, they're going to need to start filling in some of his shading. The same can also be said for Emily's blackouts. Right now they're a threat to her mission, but if they're going to be meaningful, they need to lead to more than just a soapy twist. As long as the series uses them to tell a deeper story about Emily, then they're a welcome addition to a shaky season. If not, they should probably pack their bags with Victoria and find a new place to live.


– Seriously, Niko, was there a sale on candles? Otherwise, I cannot make sense of why you bought so many. I wasn't even watching the fight between Emily and Niko in that scene because all I could think was, "OH MY GOD, THERE IS SO MUCH FIRE RIGHT NOW. WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?"

– When Victoria asked Emily where she came from, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" began playing on a loop in my brain. And now it's stuck in your head. YOU'RE WELCOME.

– Charlotte still doesn't know her half-brother is responsible for shooting her half-sister. And she still doesn't know Emily is her half-sister. Sigh. 

– I think it's a whole bunch of bullshit that Stevie's the real owner of Grayson Manor and is evicting Vee, but I also really like Stevie and what her presence in the Hamptons is doing to Victoria. Why did Conrad ever divorce her? She's sassy and amazing. Do you like her?

What did you think of "Payback"?



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  • tamaracassill Mar 14, 2014

    maybe they pull a ,,Homeland" Thing on us and after 5 more episodes the writers say: haha we were joking it was all a dream of Emily ;)

  • tamaracassill Mar 14, 2014

    I would LAUGH SOOO MUCH if Emily would fu** up her own plans cause she is schizophrenic now.... haha
    and if poor poor Little Jack finds out he is a Grayson - I would laugh aswell. He probably kills himself after finding out cause he cant look at himself in the mirror anymore ( he might Smash one and then cut himself by mistake - who knows - if that happens I get 100 Points ;) )

  • Kiwirevengefan Mar 16, 2014

    Yeah, schizophrenia and suicide are such hilarious topics..............

  • tamaracassill Mar 16, 2014

    yeah cause thats what I meant... we are talking about a TV Show here not real life u know

  • nyckjay Mar 14, 2014

    I wouldn't be surprised to discover that Emily is being drugged. After all, she is living (and presumably eating and drinking) at Grayson Manor, so it would be easy for her to be poisoned. That would be much easier to resolve than trying to cure the chronic mental illness that resulted in her mother's psychotic break and subsequent 20 year hospitalization.

  • Malahito Mar 12, 2014

    Love Aidan's attitude in this episode "Love you,but i won't let you to play with me"!

  • MrAwesomeOne Mar 12, 2014

    I was quite surprised to find a new episode of Revenge on Hulu last night and I am glad it did not disappoint! I do like a lot of the elements and twist they have incorporated, like Blackout Emily but some things like Stevie being Jack's mother, are just so obvious from the start. The thing I like about Stevie is that she doesn't seem to be a devilish as everyone else in the Hamptons and is more likable. Can't wait to see where everything ends up!

  • Svanehjerte Mar 11, 2014

    LOVE this show so much! Such soapy drama!

    Happy to see Niko lose and hopefully this will be the last we see of her. Also glad to see Aiden leave after being a cheater.

    I wonder what is causing the blackouts, since she said it wasn't the swelling causing it. Is she really getting crazy like her mother? I hope not. I hope someone is drugging her instead or something.

    I like the introduction of Stevie, she was great, although I found the moment where she told Jack she was his mother to be really LOL-worthy. That is 100% soap.

    Margaux seemed to apologize to Daniel, as if she meant it. I hope she will end up having an affair with him so that Jack can get rid of her once he finds out, which would mean he lost one more thing to a Grayson, and then he could team up with Emily instead to take them down. Yes, the shipping is still going strong!

    Patrick is an a-hole. I don't even feel sorry for that man after he died, I felt more sorry for Victoria.

    I want Charlotte to not be kept in the dark anymore. Poor girl. Time for her to be let in on the truth before she turns into Victoria completely.

  • Super_Dooper Mar 11, 2014

    It'd be crazy if Jack wasn't Stevie's son, but Declan was. It would make more sense (maybe Mrs Porter left because of it), AND it would mean there were weird incest levels going on (not too bad, more like The OC marriage kerfuffle kind of incest, remember that time Ryan dated his Step-aunt? Lol). Basically I think Charlotte would've dated her step-step-brother? If I've worked that correctly? Because she's a product of David Clark and Victoria, while Declan would be a product of Stevie Grayson and Mr. Porter. Right?

    Lol this show.

  • casssize Mar 11, 2014

    I've always wondered about the Daniel/Emily probable incest deal. Since Charlotte is Emily's half sister and Daniel is Charlotte's half brother, wouldn't that make Emily and Daniel some sort of relatives to each other?

  • Kiwirevengefan Mar 13, 2014


  • morqrom Mar 11, 2014

    Well, they failed the first rule of television - ENTERTAINMENT - this episode and the entire season are just pure depression. They (whomever they are?) have lost sight of the 1st season premise - REVENGE - too bad they haven't a clue how to fix it!

  • morqrom Mar 14, 2014

    Thank you for the ups!

  • SergiDomenge Mar 11, 2014

    OMG!! Two months waiting for this?? The episode was ludicrous!! I don't know how the actors can act with straight faces to these scripts!! Are the writers messing with us? Like when Aiden is able to untie himself ONLY when Emily shows up and she and Niko are fighting? I imagine the writers laughing at us when they plot this twists and turns... Seriously hope that the show gets canceled.

  • tamaracassill Mar 14, 2014

    maybe they pull a ,,Homeland" Thing on us and after 5 more episodes the writers say: haha we were joking it was all a dream of Emily ;)

  • ch0c0nutz Mar 11, 2014

    i love this show but it's so confusing atm that i just watch it and don't care about understanding what's happening... but yeah, stevie was an awesome addition to it! :)

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