Revenge: Masterpiece Theater

Revenge S01E17: "Doubt"

Last night's return of Revenge could be compared to waking up in the luxurious four-poster bed of your Hamptons mansion after weeks of scrounging in the woods, sleeping in a hollow log and fighting squirrels for trail mix dropped by hikers. The luxurious sets, the flowing wigs, and above all the ravishing dialogue that no other show offers felt both strangely decadent and dearly familiar. Only a few minutes in, Mason Treadwell described his burnt typewriter as "an unsightly heap of molten dreams," and it felt as nourishing as a Croissan'wich from Sweet Nothing's Sweetery.

Yes, Revenge is back and it's putting Victoria center stage. She's in mother-tiger mode, and when Charlotte refused to fill in the details of the face of the hooded man she saw crouching behind a sand dune, Victoria suggested she start making things up—right over the head of the police sketch artist, who I assume is associated with the police department? Charlotte refused to lie, telling the artist this was all she could remember:

...but later Victoria produced a finished pencil portrait of Jack Porter.

I'm going to assume that the sketch artist is in some way affiliated with the police department, which would mean Victoria waited until after he left before she got out a nub of graphite and made that delicate rendering of Jack/Nick Wechsler. Nice! She might be more talented than her steamy artist lover. More on that later.

In the last episode before the break, the show seemed to be geared toward making Emily choose between proving the innocence of Jack or Daniel. "Doubt" found her very busy protecting Jack from Victoria's thirst for a scapegoat and kind of just letting Daniel chill in jail. She even suggested to Nolan that if Jack was made the main suspect, she'd be willing to reveal that she's Amanda Clarke and has been essentially treating everyone in the Hamptons like her own personal sock puppets for the last few months. That is what she was saying, yes? I was very distracted by just enjoying Gabriel Mann so maybe I took his interpretation of her statement as truth, but still: kind of huge. Like, Daniel's in Rikers effing Island and her response is "Don't gamble," but someone pencils one convincing drawing of Jack and she will sacrifice everything she's worked for in the last several years? I'm glad Emily's growing a heart, but it definitely seems to favor the hunky Red Lobster barkeep, crouched behind a dune or not. Crouching seems to run in the family—did you notice that Declan, in his surfer jams, lowered into a Listening Crouch to take in Jack's conversation with Mason Treadwell?

Amazing. Declan assured Treadwell that Charlotte is a pillhead and her testimony cannot be trusted. She's still not so much of a pillhead that she can't pull your tuition from that fancy private school you just bought a suit for, Decs. Charlotte basically broke up with Declan over her sparkly phone. Sometimes Bros Before Hos = no paid ride to an Ivy League-level prep school. Burn!

I'm sorry, but JAMES PUREFOY makes so much sense across from Madeleine Stowe, maybe too much sense. When this passionate former lover turned Victoria around and started ravishing her against a sticky canvas, it was like peanut butter meeting jelly.

Victoria has taken a bohemian artist lover! And she keeps the giant beads on during lovemaking. Delicious. Wearing accent jewelry while swanning around a painting studio in a bed sheet draped like an evening gown is now officially on my bucket list.

I loved that James Purefoy had little brushstrokes of paint on him during his scenes, as though he had gone Method for a week and was madly painting away off-screen to explore the character. Although this portrait of Madeleine/Victoria is kind of rude:

Actually I wish her response had been, "I painted better than that as a blind teen!" but not everyone has seen Little House on the Prairie. Victoria was rolling amongst the Windsor Newton tubes and jars of turpentine while waiting for Daniel to be discharged from prison hospital, where Victoria had put him in the first place. When she picked up that phone and said, "I need to send an inmate a message" it was like the snapping sound of a gas ring bursting to life under a pot full of trouble. She called a prison hit on her own son to get him off of Rikers, which actually was pretty clever, and I guess if you're going to spend the night losing sleep over your kid you might as well spend your night enriching yourself culturally.

I am really liking Mason Treadwell these days. And not just because the bow-tie-wearing eccentric writer likes to get drunk on wine coolers...although that's going into my case file of evidence that the Revenge writers are creating the best comedy currently on TV. I'm warming up to Mason, and it's not just because he's got my dream job of live-blogging from a room in Victoria's CGI mansion, it's because through his writerly lips the Revenge scribes are free to push their most florid phrases and ridiculous dialogue. "Your empire is crumbling," he said in all seriousness to Victoria. Nolan and Treadwell: Please start a podcast immediately. Can they live stream a podcast of just talking sh-t on the Hamptons from Victoria's Attic?

Meanwhile, after spending the entire episode maneuvering things so Charlotte's evidence linking Jack to the scene would be discredited, Emily put on a wig and jumped a guy for Daniel's sake. I love a woman who can kick a man's butt in cute boots, but you have to wonder where she got such a fine hairpiece without drawing attention to herself. I doubt there are any professional-level wig stores in the Hamptons, so I'm assuming she ordered it online. What would you do to see Emily's Amazon account? So many high-tech, generically branded computer gadgets, wigs, karate robes, and false spectacles! I guess she's going to go make a false key and break into this guy's house? But I'm not sure where that will leave Daniel.

Poor Daniel, stargazing while he tried to forget the countless gang initiations he was jumped into on Rikers, and with a probation cuff on his ankle. It's good to see those things have only gotten clunkier with time. We had a girl who had to wear one in my high school (Norwalk High Connecticut whut whut!) and that was back in the early aughts and it seemed more compact than that fax machine they strapped on Daniel.

Sad that Emily would sacrifice everything for Jack, and he would be willing to fake a confession to prevent his mother from trying to pin things on her. Can't wait to see why he flings Emily against a set of dresser drawers in that long-form promo ABC is running for next week's episode. I am so glad Revenge is back. The plot is already shifting so rapidly it feels like all my predictions have to be re-calibrated: Daniel is back home, ready to stir up trouble; Victoria has other things on her plate, for once, instead of just fretting about her galas; and Emily is focused on something more than scheming. I thought these next episodes would be about choosing between Daniel and Jack, and while that will probably remain a theme, given how much she's willing to sacrifice for Jack, I wonder if things will shift and it will become about her trying to get Daniel to choose between her and chasing illusory Amanda. Whatever. Just glad to be back home in the "Hamptons."


– Is Emily torn between Jack and Daniel or did this episode prove she'd come clean for Jack?

– Will Faux-Amanda turn up next week?

– Charlote and Declan, done for good?

– Victoria has a lovah! Will this throw a kink into the works?

– What three items would Amazon suggest that Emily should buy?

– Ashley was looking ridiculously good this episode. Where can I buy her triangle earrings?