Revenge "Resurgence" Review: Not With a Bang, But With a Whimper
It was the Fourth of July in the Hamptons, but the episode fizzled out more than it exploded with a sense of urgency. After Emily brought Nolan and Jack up to speed regarding her plans to frame Victoria for her murder last week, "Resurgence" had a "wait and see" mentality. Maybe it was because Emily didn't have much going on this week, the revenging being handed over to Nolan, or maybe it was the lingering sadness Jack felt over the death of Fauxmanda that was keeping him from exploring anything more than a few kisses with Margaux. It could have also been Daniel's redeveloping feelings for Sarah that made the episode drag, but I found my mind wondering during the episode this week, so much so that I didn't even realize the party everyone was going to was for the Fourth until Nolan's red, white, and blue ensemble caught my eye and lit up my life like its own firework.
Now that the Graysons have had their fortune returned to them, Conrad was putting it to good use hiring a public relations specialist to clean up the family image. He probably should have done this in Season 1 when Emily kept outing secrets and turning every event hosted by Victoria into a revenge scheme, but better late than never, I guess? As it turns out, though, the publicist he hired, Bizzy Preston, was the same woman who once outed Nolan to the press in order to save the marriage of a client. Having her resurface in his life after a few years on the S.S. Revenge gave him the perfect opportunity for a little payback of his own.
While the outcome of Nolan's scheme wasn't as fiery or explosive as one of Emily's—Bizzy was having an affair and instead of outing it and ruining her life, Nolan gave her the chance to end it and save her marriage—the storyline did provide us with more of Nolan's backstory. We knew of his strained relationship with his father, the elder man having passed away last season, but we now know why he was estranged from his son. They'd been on the verge of mending their broken relationship in the wake of Nolan's successes, but once Bizzy outed him in the press, his father never spoke to him again.
Nolan's situation would have been difficult for anyone, but for someone as lonely as Nolan, for someone who'd just lost one father figure only to lose his actual father (again), was especially hurtful. It makes sense that he'd want to exact revenge when she reappeared in his life, but whereas Emily has no problem destroying the lives of others, feeling no remorse or conscience regarding the lives she ruins, Nolan is a big ol' softie. He's not the kind of guy who can ruin a 20-year marriage out of spite, and it's refreshing to see someone have a conscience after Emily's robotic and mechanical planning have made me wonder if the show even notices the void in the emotional spectrum.
And speaking of voids in the emotional spectrum, Jack, who's been having a dalliance with Margaux for a few episodes, but who's been mostly emotionally unavailable since Fauxmanda swam with the fishes, finally took off his wedding ring and decided to start living his life again. The ring itself has not been directly mentioned all season, but it's been there in every scene, quietly lurking, reminding us that Jack hasn't yet moved on or gotten over her. His life has been on pause for quite a while now, and his removal of the ring this week was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, I just don't feel the sparks between Jack and Margaux.
I'm not against Jack finding love again or moving on or doing anything of the sort—in fact, I very much want him to do just that—but I simply don't feel any emotional attachment to Margaux or her burgeoning relationship with Jack. But if Emily swoops in at any point in the future and tries to make Jack feel bad about living a life that doesn't include her, I think I'll be able to muster up some emotions, because hell no.
Also hell no? The horribly contrived plot device named Sarah. I already mentioned how much I disliked her sudden reappearance last week, but this week Daniel tried to kiss her while surrounded by family and friends at his mother's annual holiday party. Ignoring how ridiculous that would be considering anyone could have seen him and his engagement would have been over, I have several other reasons to be annoyed with this storyline. The first of which is that we've already seen Emily get shot while in her wedding dress, which means we know that she makes it to her wedding. So everything that happens between Daniel and Sarah between now and then will be void of any real stakes. How are viewers supposed to care about whether or not Daniel has feelings for the girl he almost killed several years ago if we've seen Emily in her wedding dress?
There's always a slim chance that Emily doesn't marry Daniel and steals the Graysons yacht, but come on, like that's believable. Add in to the equation that I also don't believe Daniel's feelings for Sarah have been rekindled in the span of a week and we've got a boring, contrived storyline that is going nowhere. It doesn't matter that Charlotte and Victoria have teamed up to try to use Sarah to keep Emily from marrying Daniel either, because we already know what happens. And because those two women feel like they've been neutered lately. Charlotte thinks she's a player in this game, but she still comes off as a petulant teenager, and aside from Victoria's takeover of the gallery, she hasn't really had much to do this season. She complains about Emily and Daniel and wants to stop this marriage from happening, but nothing she does feels like it has any stakes either.
The absence of any real threats is a constant problem for the series and it stems from Revenge's typical opening scene flash-forwards. They always seem like a good idea at the time, and they create a fixed timeline that the series has to build to which generally keeps the action on track, but it also often means that plots that might have once been cause for worry or concern are deemed null and void simply by the fact viewers know the ending. I remember feeling this same way in Season 1 when we were waiting to find out whose body was found on the beach. Early on it seemed like there was a good possibility it was Daniel, but as time went on, and as fans took a liking to Daniel, it felt obvious when we found out it was Tyler and not Daniel who died. And I feel the same way here. Right now we know that Emily is shot in a wedding dress on her wedding day, so anything that happens between July 4 and August 8, whether Daniel has feelings for Sarah or not, doesn't really matter. Would I like the show to surprise us and pull a switcheroo? Yes, of course. But this season has been pretty flat, so I'm not holding out much hope for a last-minute save.
– It felt a little strange to see Emily and Nolan acting like last week's entire episode didn't happen, but I can't say I didn't enjoy seeing their friendship again. A little continuity wouldn't hurt, though.
– Conrad is writing his memoirs, and if there is a God, that book will be published in our world. I love this idea so much, because he's such a great soap villain at this point.
– Nolan is trying to track down Patrick, but the trail has been pretty spotty. I have a feeling that's because Patrick is a pretty good liar and con man and knows how to cover his tracks. But still. Poor Nolan.
– Nolan's spy glasses (!) caught Daniel attempting to kiss Sarah, which means Emily will probably be doubling down on her efforts to keep Daniel next week.
– “It’s the Fourth of July. The day we Americans celebrate ridding ourselves of the British.”
– Nolan's wardrobe was so spot-on this week, but I have to give his red, white, and blue party outfit the cake. (I'm working on getting a full body shot, because the red pants really made the look).
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