Hey guys. It’s been a long time since I tried to wrap my mind around the roller-coaster that is Revenge, but I’m filling in for the amazing Dru Moorhouse as I hear she’s joined an extremely nudist cult. Or was busy attending Survivor's live finale, it's one of those two. In the meantime, let’s talk about the Dark Knight Rises remake we saw last night, a.k.a. the Revenge Season 2 finale, which was pretty freaking intense.
For one thing, this show has always been about domestic terrorism at its heart, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would involve a plot point about a skyscraper blowing up in New York. That sort of theme usually sits uneasily next to soapy, high-society hijinks, and there were moments when I wondered if a college freshman had broken into the writers room and whipped everyone into a frenzy with a frantic speech about how “9/11 was an inside job.” We'd need someone more informed than I to thoughtfully unpack those themes, but I’m just going to go ahead and give Revenge a general pass with regard to last night’s finale. The show's world has grown so comic-booky (The Falcon! A citywide blackout!) that I think we can group it together with the same pop-culture philosophizing that brought us The Dark Knight and allow the show to paint big ideas in broad strokes without asking ourselves to criticize Revenge as harshly as a genuine political discourse.
So while there were definite Dark Knight overtones, there was also a Marley & Me B-plot, with Jack as essentially this big dumb innocent animal who Nolan and Emily had to keep shepherding out of and around disaster. How many times did Jack (who's looking very much like a cross between Jon Snow and Capt. Jack Sparrow these days) do something that caused Emily and Nolan to leap on their phones and come to the rescue? He just could not stay out of unnecessary trouble.
It's almost like Emily and Nolan are the parents of an extremely tall toddler and have to check in with each other about what he’s up to constantly. “Oh no… Jack is walking into a set-up!” “Oh no… Jack is in the building and the building is exploding!” “Oh no… Jack is going to shoot Conrad!” “Oh no… Jack is trying to get the toast out of the toaster with a fork and he chewed all the stuffing out of the couch!”
No joke, a lot of the finale happened on the phone. Maybe it's
just the nature of our digital age, but roughly 20 minutes of dialogue were
angrily whispered into a Windows phone and almost every inciting incident
involved a text, or a search for a computer, or a zip drive. There were major
plot points based around phonery (like Regina’s video of Charlotte proving
Regina had ill intentions). Even Declan’s last words to Jack were, like, a Vine
video prayer circle; the offscreen death was more about phone product
placement and less about Declan faking his demise. Because killing off Declan
is easily the best decision this show has ever made.
Another great decision: An obsessive socialite in a fur coat busting Declan’s balls all episode. What is her deal? I’m very intrigued. Leaving Charlotte a widowed teen mom is a crazy move for next season (although I’m still not 100 percent certain that Declan is dead), but I really hope Regina steps up to the plate in terms of crazy, steals that baby, and swings it by the ankle from a skyscraper.
Although how insane was it that Victoria found the pregnancy
test? PUHLEASE. She has a flock of maids. Victoria Grayson hasn’t touched the lid of a trash can in years. And then she sort of dug through the garbage to get it?
That may have been the least believable moment in the entire two hours. (She would have,
at the very least, stopped and gotten salad tongs.
Still, for all the unprecedented contact with refuse containers and sorta cinematic special effects, one thing that I was shocked by (having been away from Revenge so long) was how Season 2, in my absence, managed to circle right back to where Season 1 started, sloughing off all the characters that season 2 worked to establish.
Daniel and Emily are engaged! Emily secretly still loves Jack! Emily keeps throwing away all meaningful relationships in favor of an extremely slow, dubious revenge! The Graysons are doing as well, if not better than ever! Emily... get it together, girl! You might have been better off simply having Nolan hack into the Graysons’ bank account and shriveling their credit scores the first day you got back to the Hamptons, and then just running out and hitting the beach. Sometimes less is more. Emily continues to be strong, heroic, beautiful… but at this point we can all agree, she is just not effective at actually getting revenge.
Also did I misinterpret things, or did Conrad reveal that the Initiative was, in essence, imaginary? I think when he said that the Initiative is nothing more formal than a group of businessmen with interests in airline security machines or something, he meant that he’d been in cahoots with Helen and neither they nor Daniel had ever truly been in harm’s way? Which... what? I am very dim, guys. I felt like Jack some times during this episode, and not just because my eyeliner was looking tight.
I’m not sure how the Illuminati-like “powerful men playing
games with the world” message affects the mindgames the Intiative has been
playing with Aidan, but maybe Aidan is actually a psychotic murderer. I mean,
he did skewer Takeda in a “fair fight” and then lie about it, and Takeda was
like he and Emily’s Revenge Father or whatever. The revelation that Takeda had had
personal reasons for fueling Emily’s revenge… is that really so bad? She was a soldier in his army, but knowing
the man made her the hero we love, with much more discipline (not to mention
foreign language skills) than she enjoyed in her previous life of going to tha
club and beating people up with toilet seats.
Another great choice: As much as it pains me to see Nolan
flopped onto the floor like a ragdoll by the FBI—perennially good sport Gabriel
Mann seems to take the lion’s share of bruises on the Revenge set—putting Nolan in danger
will always raise the stakes, so it was a strong choice to leave the season
sort of holding Nolan hostage. I have to make sure he is okay in Season 3, and
I’m sure you all feel likewise. He is a fan favorite and the heart of the show
and such a necessary balance to the relentless “sturm und drang” of Emily that the
writers will sneak in merry little animations of him even at the most grim moments
just to keep the audience invested.
I also absolutely loved Victoria’s speech about how she and Emily are more similar than Emily would like to admit. Um, no shit. These two are
exactly the same psychological profile: Neither would bother to live in a world
where they weren’t using spy cameras in ice sculptures to absolutely topple
someone’s medical practice or whatever. And neither of them could truly enjoy a
world where they did that and then their apt adversary didn’t notice. If a tree
falls down and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? And if Victoria successfully
hides a son for 23 years and Emily doesn’t call her out on it, would he even
So basically, I had a lot of feelings about this episode. A lot of weird gray feelings. Seeing the bombed-out sky scraper which somehow Emily got into, seeing her continue to string Daniel along, watching her sever ties with yet another meaningful person in her life (just go to the damn Capri Villa, already. Take a freaking break, dear.)... it all definitely made it that much more of a release when she got in front of Jack and confessed the truth already. Although what his reaction will be is something I’m going to ponder right up until the start of Season 3.
… Can someone explain to me the true nature of the Initiative?
… What will Jack’s reaction be to Emily’s big reveal (and has he known it all along in some way)?
… How did Emily get up into a bombed skyscraper before first responders?
… How long will Nolan be in peril and didn’t you love his hair this episode?
… How many times did Declan ask Emily if she could hook him up with a gig on Captain America 2?
… Fantasy Cast: Victoria’s first-born son! Ian Somerholder is my dream choice. What’s yours?
… Aidan killing Takeda: For the best, or messed up?