After last week's slate wiping, but ultimately shaky season premiere, the show brought it in "Sin." The show felt more focused this week and had less semblance of being strung together at the last second, and that all came down to the fact the story revolved around another of Emily's takedowns.
I maintain that the show is at its best when Emily and her mission to take down the Graysons is at the forefront of the story and this episode proved that. It even went a step further as we saw Emily second guess herself for the first time since we all got on Victoria's fancy yacht and sailed the Revenge sea together. Morality and Forgiveness have never been big characters on this show, traded out for Anger and Betrayal, but they made an appearance in "Sin," and I dare say the episode was all the better for it.
Emily's had one mission in mind since she found out the truth about her father and very few things have ever deterred her or made her change course, but tonight's takedown of Paul Whitley, who's silver tongue was used to sway the undecided folks at Grayson Global to turn against David Clarke so many years ago, had a different effect on Emily than all the former dudes who got red sharpied. Paul had become a member of the clergy post-Clarke scandal, and while all the former takedowns had continued shady business practices even after the terrorist attack, Paul chose penance. He's now Father Paul Whitley and the Mother Theresa of the Bronx, as Nolan pointed out, and he didn't feel right about this takedown. "Check your soul, Emily Thorne, cause once you start taking down kittens, I'm out," he told her.
This is going to sound really weird, considering the part he plays in Emily's nefarious plan, but Nolan's role on the show is to be Emily's tether to the real world. He keeps her grounded, is the person to tell her when she's being a cold-hearted bitch, and he's going to look absolutely fabulous while doing it (seriously, there were several new contenders for Nolan's best fashion moments list from this episode). No one on this show is perfect or even all that moral, but Nolan might be the closest thing we're ever going to get. Even sweet first-love Jack has had his fair share of shadiness over the last couple of years. But Nolan's the one person who can—or at least should—be able to get through to Emily, because he's the one person who knows the truth and who knows the real Emily... um, Amanda (Jack doesn't count because in essence he really doesn't know her at all). He loved her father like he was his own and has supported Emily this long, but there are some serious complications that come from ruining the life of a clergyman who's attempted to right his wrongs, and Nolan's not sure this was the right move to make.
Emily's crisis of conscience eventually came, but it was a case of too little too late. Emily set Father Paul up with some faked pictures of a sexy rendezvous in which you couldn't tell that Paul was actually unconscious. She sent them to the pastor of Paul's church via the collection plate (someone is seriously going to hell and her name rhymes with Shmemily) and the next thing we know it's sayonara, Paul! But to be fair, once Emily saw the soup kitchen and all the good Paul was doing in the world, Emily did at least want to intercept the mail before any harm could be done, but the Pastor had already received Emily's dirty pics and he was not pleased. Sorry, Paul, you seemed like an okay person post-scandal.
If the episode had ended with Emily's change of heart, this episode still would have been successful in accomplishing at least one of its missions. The show needed to make Emily a human being again, and not just a revenge robot, and although you can't really take the edge off of her too much if you still want an exciting show, this did set up the next act of the series.
Conrad, who had another "spell" as a result of Huntington's (spell of course is code for Emily poisoned his drink with the same liquid from last week), had arrived at the church to speak to Paul after his own crisis of conscience. Charlotte had found out via Jack that Conrad had known about the bomb that eventually killed Declan, and ultimately led to her own miscarriage as a result of her own grief over his death (she'd been blaming herself all this time). Charlotte took this as any human being would and turned against Conrad as well. This new development, coupled with his own mortality, gave Conrad the appearance of having started to turn over a new leaf. Nothing makes a person want to atone for their sins like the threat of dying. So Conrad told Emily about his woes, and she sat there pretending to be a good person, but when she asked him if there was someone he could talk to, Conrad admitted to her that he's not sure there's anyone left in his life that would be willing to listen to him (that's what happens when you're a horrible person, Conrad). And that's when Emily got the bright idea to track down Father Paul and bring him back to New York in order to get Conrad to confess his sins.
While that's never been the ending I envisioned for Emily's revenge story, it does have more of an emotional weight to it. Ultimately, Emily just wants to make the Grayson's suffer like she has, and she's done a fairly great job so far. They're poor, Victoria's auctioning off her paintings to keep the manor afloat (here's an idea: jettison the yacht and maybe downsize to a smaller mansion?), and Conrad actually believes he's dying. Charlotte has turned against both of her parents (and Emily, unfortunately, because she blames her for her mother's "affair" getting out), and Daniel's given up on both of them as well. The Graysons are suffering plenty. But as great as it would be to truly reduce them to nothing, having Conrad willingly admit to his part in the David Clarke scandal would actually make for a better ending. Not only would it make Emily's life easier, her father's name would be cleared, and she could come clean about the fact she's really Amanda and not have to immediately hop on a flight to Switzerland. She could also skip off into the sunset with an impeccably dressed Nolan by her side, which is what we all really want anyway, right?
What any of this would mean for her faked relationship with Daniel, or who shoots her on her wedding day, I'm not sure, but I definitely prefer Emily's new course of action to any and all of last season. This storyline is focused and it also feels a bit like the show's version of the third act. Revenge has never been a series that could viably extend years upon years—it would run the risk of becoming too convoluted, or worse, stale. And I'm not sure the premise can actually work for too much longer. The show came in with a set goal, and as last season proved, the show doesn't do well when it strays too far from that goal. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Season 3 wraps up Emily's revenge story. After all, Jack did give her an ultimatum in the premiere, and Conrad confessing (not that I necessarily believe he would or that he will), feels like a good place to end the series.
— Do you think Conrad will confess all? Or will this blow up in Emily's face?
— Charlotte sure is her mother's daughter, eh? She's turned into quite the stone-cold bitch, and I dare say I like it?
— Victoria introduced Patrick to the whole family this week. Naturally, no one took the news that well.
— Aiden and Victoria have teamed up to take down Emily, all because Emily turned her back on Aiden. This seems like an awfully silly reason to ruin someone's life, but whatever. This still feels very shoe-horned in and I've pretty much just stopped paying attention to this storyline at this point because it detracts from the actual good stuff. I also don't appreciate that Aiden's dragging Nolan in to this, because I will fight to the death to protect that well dressed man.
— Margaux definitely has the hots for Daniel, but to think that Daniel would cheat on Emily at this point is silly, so I'm happy the show didn't drag that out. I am intrigued, though, by his agreeing to still work for her. Even if he is basing the offices in Montauk.
— "Unhand my painting this instant!" might be the single greatest line of dialogue this show has ever seen.
— "Freelancing's not a profession, dear. It's a hobby one has between bar tending shifts." Them's fightin' words, Conrad.
— "When did punishing the guilty become more important than helping the innocent?"
AIRED ON 5/10/2015
Season 4 : Episode 23