Revenge: The Phantom of the Hamptons

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Revenge S01E19: "Absolution"

Am I surprised that I was rocked AND shocked by this episode? No, I'm spoiled rotten by this show and count on its weekly infusion of jaw-drops the way some people depend on tasty drugs or silky liquor. But I am surprised at the way the tone changed in this episode, how it deepened and the world expanded and took on a melodramatic Phantom of the Opera flavor. Between the haunting memories of a long-lost father, the cinematic snowfalls, the roses laid on graves by black-gloved hands, and the choke-holds (well, maybe not the choke-holds) this episode should have been called "The Phantom of the Hamptons."

Instead it was called "Absolution," and it was all about protecting family—and BTW, Emily's dropping the ball looking out for her half-sis Charlotte, who is apparently trading sex for pills, then printing out GoquestGo images of her dad in a cozy haze. Emily checked in with Charlotte and was immediately distracted from the teen's glazed-over sorrow by a photo of David Clarke on the last day of his life, stolen from Victoria's jewelry box. Victoria is big into saving keepsakes of her many tragic affairs, apparently.

Victoria's dialogue has always danced just at the fringe of camp, striking some uncanny balance between John Waters' Donna Dasher and Oscar Wilde. Her response to Grayson when he sneered at her portrait was epically icy, yet she topped it later when she told Ashley, "The Hamptons are FILTHY with ambitious young girls like you." I so badly need a daily calendar with Victoria and Nolan quotes in the margins. I also would like an audio tape of all of Emily's intro-outro voiceovers from this season to play on one long loop while I work out. Focused fury, dudes, it tightens your abs.

Poor Ashley! We heard about the Saddest Party Planner in the World's upgraded job and then maybe seven minutes later in the episode she lost it. Although she always has a backup job in web design, look at the site she built for Mason Treadwell's blog! Also, is Mason still in the Grayson Manor, up in the CGI mansion, blogging furiously, mournfully, from a blackberry? Sooo Phantom 2k12.

Emily may not have noticed Charlotte's pillhead stare but she did notice a Moleskine in David Clarke's photo that Nolan had neglected to put in her shoebox. Which meant it was time to go administer a choke-hold.

Isn't it bizarre seeing a minimalist ultra-modern house with snow on it? Also, if you ever get inside the paneled interior of a super luxe summer home, start tapping the walls immediately for safes, because there WILL be one.

Like I can't even believe Emily would choke-hold Nolan again after all they've been through. In the pilot it was ungrateful enough, but now that Nolan is the emotional heart of the show and has had her back all through her ramshackle summer of revenge, it was clearly misplaced rage. Emily investigated the Moleskine and it lead her to the house of one Carole Miller, who had faked her own death to get out of this mess. Emily showed up at Carole's Pennsylvania house and introduced herself as Allison Rodner, FBI agent (which, when this show comes out with a 30th anniversary Trivial Pursuit: Revenge edition, will be the answer to the hardest question)—and Carole countered by coolly leveling a shotgun.

Nolan appeared instead of letting Emily squirm, and then we got a ton of information unpacked on us, which boils down to Carole having seen a white-haired man who is The Terrorist, and Karl Lagerfled sitting bolt upright in his unicorn-skin-upholstered Chippendale Chair and screaming "Sacrebleu! An homage, n'est pas?!" at his TV. Well, in my imagination. Also, Nolan told Emily he had acted to protect his family in a few incredibly touching lines and for once Emily conceded he was in the right. Like for God's sake, why haven't Nolan and Victoria had a feisty scene yet? They're kind of foils, Madeleine Stowe is like the dark emotional heart of the show—the relatable character tortured by regret and still making bad choices, Nolan is like the good emotional heart of the show, doing good and being loyal and giving Jack hugs, and I think they would do spectacular head-to-head in a whisper-fight.

Like a one-woman mafia, Emily respects family loyalties, unless of course they're Daniel's. Daniel was freed from jail, all charges dropped, and we have to assume he took a long sobbing shower, then went downstairs to have his father pull him into the study and lay out for him that he came from a family of essentially real-life Batman villains. While Emily eavesdropped on her 2008 non-brand laptop. And this led to her kinda final test of his mettle: If he confesses his father's atrocities in a live on-air interview, then he's broken the train of Grayson crazy and proved himself a good person.

Sidebar: Do you think the Backstage ad for the actress playing the interviewer was like, "Must look like Barbara Walters + Diane Sawyer"? Because that is exactly how she looked! If those two news vixens could have a baby and rapidly age it to 55, she would be the spitting image of this minx.

But like, Emily, come ON. If Daniel does want to unseat his father from his company or correct the failures of the past, the place to start is not a 20/20 interview. Like, fingering your dad for terrorism on a live interview would be "fair" but it would also require disassociating on such a primal level and what would Babsane Salters even do? Call the police? Tackle Conrad Grayson? Mouth "Pulitzer" to the camera? Is this the milestone that tells us Daniel has embraced the dark side and has been converted to the "business as usual" Grayson Global World Domination Cult?

Learn from thick-haired Declan: Loyalty counts, even if your ex-girlfriend is going to get more help for her drug problem if you narc on her and tell the Crusty Dean she's got pills in her locker. It cracked me up when Charlotte put him in a choke-hold up against the locker. It runs in family! Clarke girls will choke you OUT. Also, Charlotte looks vaguely imposing next to Declan (I have no doubt the actual actress is five feet tall, it's just that Declan is like 4' 8" or something.) It gave me a Pretty in Pink flashback and frankly Declan deserved it.

Maybe my favorite part about this episode was that a blood-red rose on a snowy grave was a major plot point. Victoria's reaction was priceless! I have a feeling this is not the first time an inconveniently placed flower has signaled an ONSLAUGHT of scandal for our Grand Dame.

Although why in hell would she rat Conrad out to the feds? Even if she gets immunity, doesn't that mean her son, her daughter, they're all "tainted by association" or does she figure their reputations are in rags anyway? A bold move by a woman scorned, to be sure, although Conrad has retaliated by hiring Ashley so, look out Victoria! Hahahaha just kidding, Ashley is great at hot-gluing jewels onto invitations and siding with psychopaths, so enjoy managing that, Conrad. Also Ashley, enjoy your Lexus G4 or whatevs! I actually thought the product placement was super endearing. This show has come a long way and it's getting the swag it deserves.

Emily revealed to Nolan that she still plans to marry Daniel, then find the ghostly, Lagerfeld-esque super villain who killed her father and KILL HIM. Hmmm. First things first: CONRAD killed your dad moreso than anyone who stuck a knife in him. So having Conrad's grandbabies is essentially the OPPOSITE of revenge, and also this white-haired guy? I immediately got anxious that the white-haired he-devil would be a "smoking man" type who always stays one elusive step beyond Emily. Not that worried, though, because this show clearly knows what it's doing and in terms of story-building, this show has earned a black Amex amount of credibility with me.

But that doesn't mean we can't place our own bets. Got some questions for y'all!!!


QUESTIONS:

– Victoria is now breaking her silence about Conrad's terrorism because of Mason or because Daniel's reputation is already ruined and she has nothing to lose?

– Daniel should have announced his family was behind a terrorist plot without any proof or any real authority in the room to restrain his dad the first time a camera fastened on him?

– Is marrying Daniel a revenge on absolutely no one but Jack?

– Would Nolan and Victoria become unlikely pals or immediate enemies?

– Declan is being a total dick, or is tough love and constant betrayal the only way to get through to an addict?





Make an official prediction for how Revenge's first season will end: Visit our Season Finales Predictions page.

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