Revenge: Ninja-Like Focus

This week's episode of Revenge, "Loyalty," had the steely focus of a ninja. Ninjas like thee pair above, dressed in their gis, throwing each other around like rag dolls over the "Atlantic" Ocean. In the wide shot, we saw Emily (stunt Emily?) execute a flawless ariel. As they discussed Emily's schemes and her lover Daniel in Japanese, the brazen, indulgent opening was a revelation of how focused this show has become, and how the actors and writing are perfectly united in their goal of being the most shamelessly entertaining show on TV. Aside from Emily's abstract ruminations on revenge, there's no morality play here, no pretentious commentary on social issues, no character who serves as an indulgent mouthpiece—nothing diverts from the singular goal of being riveting to viewers.

The whole episode was delightful, but it paled in comparison to the brilliance of this short promo for the next new episode:

I'm sorry, but "Moonlight Sonata" over a slow zoom-out on a group of stunned millionaires—assembled at night on the beach, frowning and frozen around a birthday cake, at gunpoint—reaches so dizzyingly far over the top that it's high art. You could loop that in a gallery and call it "Vicarious Peril as Mental Flight from Recession 2011."

The plot and pacing of Revenge has gotten tighter and more engaging, especially since the show has jettisoned the formulaic takedowns, and the actors are in perfect sync, balancing the barely restrained campiness of the material with the kind of ridiculous gravitas soap operas deliver in their best moments. Especially Tyler, who speaks in a cadence reminiscent of Mink Stole. When Ashley confronted him about his kiss with Nolan, he defined his sexuality as "ambitious" and formally invited her to join him in his "rise to the top." What show since Dynasty has had the audacity to be so on-the-nose with its villains?

Tyler's foil Jack hit a few snarls in his romance with Kara: Sammy, The Dog Time Lost, hates Kara, and she doesn't remember any details of their childhood romance (which Jack obsesses over). In an almost fairytale level of contrast, Sammy loves and obeys Emily. (Did you catch Jack staring as she and Sammy locked eyes and heart-talked?) Jack really keeps his obsession with Emily at just the right pitch to signal he's a "regular bro" but ready to bring the drama. In the mandatory flashback, we saw Child Emily handing over the dog to Child Jack.

The only actor not entirely channeling the vibe is Declan, who seems hellbent on perfecting his Ryder Strong impression. Also, Declan is apparently in high school?

The central plot of "Loyalty" revolved around Emily trying to destroy Tyler. Initially she demanded that Nolan withdraw his investment with Grayson, so that Tyler would lose his large commission. Although Nolan promised he would, she stole a video of Tyler and Nolan enjoying some adult times from Nolan's computer to convince Daniel that Tyler had hustled his way ahead in business. While this had the desired effect of prompting Conrad to fire Tyler, Tyler shot back with the incriminating evidence from Lydia's letter, keeping his job via blackmail. Daniel, who does not know about the letter, entirely turned against his father and promised Victoria to be her inside man at Conrad's company during their ensuing divorce. Phew!

What gave this tangled plot an emotional dénouement was the fact that in spreading the sex video, Emily had exposed Nolan. Gabriel Mann, who is consistently delivering the best reaction shots in the business, proved even more capable at being devastated at Emily's betrayal. The show assumes we're all pining for the day she pairs up with Red Lobster manager Jack, but her relationship with Nolan is the emotional pinnacle of the show. The fact that we know he's going to still have her back, even after her constant ingratitude and thoughtlessness, makes him a better illustration of idealized romance than most romantic heroes on TV.

One of the weaker moments of the episode was Tyler threatening to leave Nolan as "alone and pathetic as I found you." Nolan is arguably the hottest guy in town and has several billion dollars, and Tyler needs to refill his anti-psychotics.

But despite the mishandling of Nolan, "Loyalty" was a flawless achievement of plotting, pacing, and clarity of purpose, and while the plot is a web of scandal, the pure fun of the show is transcendent. No other show is dedicated with such clarity of purpose to surprising, scandalizing, and rewarding its audience.

Questions:

… Does Emily lie even to herself about Daniel?

… Why did the Japanese mentor show up if he was just going to go away, and why did the show make a sophisticated international businessman talk like a fortune cookie?

… Kara: former gymnast, former Ukranian mail-order bride, or both?

… Is there any possibility for a future Emily-Nolan romance, or have they burned that bridge?

… Who do you think Tyler is going to (try to) shoot?

Comments (36)
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I know everyone raves about Emily VanCamp is it? (I'm blanking here) but Gabriel Mann steals the hell out of every scene he is in. I watch this show because of Nolan. God he almost made my stunted tearducts start leaking with Emily's betrayal. That was so harsh. So unbelievably harsh that she turned her back and screwed over the only one there who genuinely seems to have her back. I mean her mentor was right in saying that she was letting her emotions with Daniel interfere with her effectiveness but she continues to give the world's best lackey...I mean bestie, the cold shoulder and then she turned on him?! Killed me watching that and watching Nolan get kicked like a puppy this episode by practically everyone. Especially because I still can't fathom why no one in the Hamptons hangs out with this dude. He's awesome. In regards to their relationship. I agree with you...I actually like Jack and all but...the most important, pivotal, fascinating relationship on this show is that of Emily and Nolan. And yeah in some ways he's the epitome of the romantic lead in the form of the supportive best friend, too head over heels to not do whatever she asked him to do. I don't actively ship them...never really thought to...but they are fascinating to watch and now a seed has been planted in my head.



Okay Lily you had me literally laughing out loud with the Rider Strong thing. But Declan is no Shawn Hunter. Shawn Hunter was likeable and made of awesome...Declan is a nuisance if you ask me. I don't understand why he and Charlotte's storyline is pertinent or necessary (unless of course they're hinting at the Charlotte is Emily's half sib theory down the long run). When they appear onscreen I take that time to get a refreshment.



I'm never one to advocate death for a character but for Tyler I'll make an exception. He's godawful. He's not even a villian you root for. Most of the time you find yourself hating to love and loving to hate the token antagonist...but in his case I just flat out hate him. Even there attempts at making him sympathetic to viewers or respectable don't work. I don't care that he may be the best conman around...(I'll take the leverage crew and Matt Bomber over him anyday). I don't even care that he's poor! In fact he makes me root for the rich people! Who wants to root for the rich people?! Ugh! I mean if that's how Tyler is on his meds..I will be watching with bated breath over what that nutjob is like off of his meds. The previews look epic!
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The Best guilty pleasure of the season.. This episode was great like always.
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This show rocks. Best guilty pleasure on TV. Good article...
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This episode proved somehow that there's still hope for Emily's feelings but not concerning her little pawn Daniel. I think you are right when you say that the most important relationship for Emily is the one with Nolan but not concerning any romantic feelings. I think it's more of a sisterly/brotherly bond between them. Nolan clearly adored Emily's father and feels responsible for her. I think he pushed her towards Jack as he knew he'd be the only guy capable of touching her heart. I'm really curious when Jack starts putting the clues together that his dog is leaving behind but it might take too long and that doggy won't last forever. ^^
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I agree with this. I mean Nolan seems to genuinely care about her and want the best for her, in part because of his devotion to her father. They truly are the most important bond of the show and they are intriguing to watch. I tend to lean more towards friendship or sibling like but...however they choose to play it out, those two together are just golden.
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the way she was crying when she gave up the dog and the dog's continued struggle to see her...starting to feel Emily and Sammy are the REAL romance on the show. especially the way they were canoodling at the bar.
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am i the only one who thinks its odd how everyone thinks emily and nolan are or should get together???

they dont even suit eachother, plus nolan gives off a very gay vibe.

now emily and jack i think they will end up together
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Or not. It was a great move to give her diary to Kara. Jack finds it, decides to get back at the Greysons after what they did and shoots Daniel at the wedding. Two motives, killing the guy that is with Emily and getting revenge for what they did to Amanda.



I think the Japanese guy was brought in just to emphasize what Nolan says to Emily: It's good your father can't see what you have become. She will try to get back to her former self now but the wheels have already been set in motion and for the second half Emily will experience the fallout of her actions so far.



Who will be shot? Everybody seemed to be quite happy and alive at the wedding, so Tyler himself will somehow get shot.
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the fact Conrad has promised to be an "inside man" at his father's company and delve through the files, and his good hearted business ethics, I'm starting to think he uncovers the Grayson's framing of David Clarke and wants to go to the police, and Conrad is forced to "silence him"
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Nolan is an outcast, even if he's rich now. The fact that even Ashley despises him proves that.
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Nolan doesn't like Emily in that way. He has a crush on Jack. .__.
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This show continues to amaze me. Awesome episode, as always. I especially liked the scene with Emily, Daniel and the Japanese man having dinner, and all those moments where a character would talk about Amanda Clarke to Emily... Can't really tell why, but I loved those.

About that promo, WOW! I already miss Revenge.
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Great as always. I can't wait for the next episode! It's crazy!
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I liked the episode, but even though a lot happened I was just a little bit disappointed. It was supposed to be a midseason finale and I was hoping for a huge cliffhanger or something of that sort.

Some thoughts:

- I'm surprised Lily that you didn't say anything about the new title page. In the new one got rid of the plain black background and added in water with a sunset. I actually liked it, it fits with the show.

- The Charlottle and Declan storyline seriously has to disappear.... I'm pretty sure no one cares about them.

- While watching the fighting sequence, I kept thinking about Mr Miyagi (The Karate Kid) and The Bride training (Kill Bill)

- I liked the fact that the poked fun at the whole Sammy thing, with the senility comment. Has anyone seen this by the way:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/06/worlds-oldest-dog-dies_n_1132675.html

- Emily really did a number on herself in this one.

- Madeleine again does a great job, her face when she heard about faux Amanda was priceless! Faux Amanda just dug her own grave.

- The whole Jack and Faux Amanda thing was at times a little creepy. It kind of went from sweet childhood love to just plain creepy Vertigo obsession.

- I'll come back for you, I promise! It wasn't very clear, was she talking about the dog or Jack?

- As for the promo, I love the use of Moonlight Sonata and how simple, yet great the teaser is. I don't think he'll shoot anyone as they're all present in the engagement party. Maybe, it's a dream?



As for the rest of the season, here is something to help you through the wait:

http://www.aoltv.com/2011/12/07/revenge-questions-answered-mike-kelley-emily-vancamp-victoria/
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First, let me say that I love this show. However, I have a few issues with it. Like how is it that no one remembers what Amanda looks like. People usually look pretty much the same as adults as they did when they were children or did she have some work done. Also, I totally don't care for the story line involving Declan and Charlotte. Something else I wish was addressed is how did Amanda/ Emily become so wealthy ?
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Due to her father's initial investment, and his incarceration/death, she owned some like 49% of Nolan's company, and as he's super wealthy, so is she. That was covered in a pretty quick scene like 3 or 4 episodes ago, I don't remember specifically.
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Her having 49% was in the pilot.Of course,all her expenditures since would argue that she has sold some of those shares...and it was noted in the latest episode that Nolcorp has gone public,diluting both her and Nolan's percentages.
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To nitpick myself,if the company went public before she was said to have 49%,of course the IPO would not have diluted her 49%.
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What a wow ep! Great review too. Emily is feeling the pressure and no wonder she's falling for Daniel who is hot and has been pretty decent (at least during this summer of sobriety). I can take any crazy stuff from this show as long as they keep Nolan who has the best hair, clothes and snarky lines... He does deserve a better love interest (man or woman whatever) than Tyler who is like a not-so-talented mr. ripley... Kara/faux-Amanda is going to bury her own grave and 'Emily' giving her the wrong notebook sounds completely likely... Tyler is going to shoot faux-Amanda perhaps thinking that he can protect Conrad's secret (which in turn he is using to blackmail him)
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That promo was incredible.
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-Emily is definitely in love or falling in love with Daniel. She's lying to herself if she thinks she has no feelings for him.

-I have no clue why the mentor was there, it was odd.

-"Kara" is just all out crazy and I think that Emily will manipulate Victoria into disposing of her

-I hope Emily and Nolan don't get together. I agree with previous comments, their relationship is sweet, but seems to be good friends/siblings love, not romantic.

-I think that Tyler will shoot Daniel, and then go on the lamb, returning at the engagement party to finish him off. A sort of "If I can't have him, no one can" thing.
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It's Jack who shoots Tyler at the engagement party.
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It's jack who finds him on the beach. We don't know who shot him and I doubt it was Jack.
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I'm going with the same line of thinking in that Tyler probably gets rid of Amanda
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Tyler has no reason to shoot Amanda(the real Emily) my guess it's just a threat and shoots no one. Emily(the real Amanda) needs to stay focused, that is what I got from the episode, I am surprised the Jack has not put it together with Sammy , Emily Amanda
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My thoughts, Tyler shoots Amanda and Jack either shoots Tyler in revenge (haha, get it?) or Daniel on accident, mistaking him for Tyler in the dark.
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-She does lie to herself about Daniel. She's into him (been saying that for weeks now). She cares about him. She seems to have no agenda for his activities but supporting him and offering him advice to navigate his tricky life.

-Because two episode arcs are interesting? I have no idea. I don't think he's gone but if he comes back he isn't being true to his own statements which isn't very ninja.

-Emily gave her a fake notebook with some real memories but some wrong ones. Amanda will trust it, say it and prove she isn't the real Amanda Clarke to Jack. Emily really doesn't want Jack messed up with a crazy like that.

-Emily & Nolan will be lucky to be friends let alone lovers. Besides look at who Emily is into. Jack & Daniel look NOTHING like Nolan. They act nothing like him too. It wouldn't make sense.

-I think Tyler's going to shoot either Conrad or Emily. If the show really wants to throw us off he'll shoot Ashley and tell her she's a bad kisser.
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Staff
Just blew my mind with the false memories in the notebook idea. If it hasn't occurred to them to do that yet then Mike Kelley should look you up and call you in for a little story consulting.
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- The japanese guy showed up just to let us and Emily know she's in love with Daniel! And of course to provide some kickass ninja scenes and Hattori Hanzo wisdom.

- Please stop calling her Kara! We're well beyond that! She's SO back to Amanda now!

- Emily-Nolan?! ....Come on!! I can't tell you how wrong this is at this point but "If we were having this argument in my native language, I'd be kicking your butt."

- I'll go with Emily. Is that too obvious? Somehow he understands what she's doing and is on the verge of exposing her, but then again he's a wackjob so no one believes a word he's saying and then he dramatically pulls out the gun? I don't know. She's the main enemy. But with him being said wackjob, also Daniel would be a good guess, because he's his one true unrequited love...? One thing for sure, that promo is AWESOME.
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Calling anybody simply "Emily" or "Amanda" invites confusion."Kara" is a viable shorthand for "phony Amanda who's the real Emily"...until we get any plotline to which the real Kara (long dead) is relevant.
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Love the awesome screen-captions. Agree that the promo looks like high art (or is it high camp because this show treads a fine line). We don't actually think anyone will be shot - it's all a ruse (remember the dream Emily had that Victoria burst into her beach house with the cops). Either that or he'll go on the lam after that.



We specifically focused on Emily-Nolan in our recap here (http://wp.me/p1VQBq-9V) though not in a romantic sense.



bitchstolemyremote.com
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I will lose my mind if its a dream sequence. But the shortage of anti-psychotics makes me think he's going to wig. Hopefully they find a way to keep him very much involved in the action even after he attempts a murder. Will check out your recap! Thanks for the link!
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-90% of me says yes, 10% says no. I'd like to think that Emily is all steely resolve, but her obvious affections for her prison palette and Jack betray her.

-I don't know. I hope he's more present than that in the future, or maybe doesn't even leave...

-Both and just all around chick. Especially given that she really should be leaving and is instead playing a dangerous game with arguably no good outcomes other than temporary happiness with Jack.

-I don't want a romance for them. I want siblings. Love each other, fight against each other, mess with each other and ultimately be there for each other. Plus, they both have gobs of money and enjoy messing with people.

-I am all about him shooting Lydia, just to completely screw with us. Besides, then he'll (or so maybe he thinks) be the only person who still knows about the true circumstances surrounding Conrad and Victoria's past indiscretions.



Also, I'd just like to say that I am really enjoying the ride of this show. It's a lot of fun with the backstabbing going on and all the money and intrigue. Very fun. Also, I would love to see this Nolan - Emily thing go back and forth a bunch with a lot of fun. It'll be great to see Tyler next episode, though! He's getting pushed farther and farther back against the wall, and it looks like we'll get to see him snap, so, yay!
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I can't remember if we actually saw Conrad at the engagement party in the pilot so its always possible he might bite the bullet. Alternatively, it could be Kara. Tyler's storyline doesn't wrap up for another 2-3 episodes so if he does shoot himself, he won't die immediately. There's always a possibility that whoever is shot will only be injured, but the engagement party happens for real in episode 15(I think) and its only a a few months away. I didn't see anyone nursing a cast, or any other kind of injury for that matter, so the only options that leaves are very minimal injuries or a Kara/Tyler dying.



Alternatively, the whole thing could be a fake-out and no one could be hurt. But where's the fun in that?
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Conrad was at the engagement party.
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And Taylor was not.
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