After two episodes that seemed almost too filled with twists and reversals, everyone took a few minutes to breathe and plan their next four or five moves. The White-Haired Man is out of the picture, but the Initiative's representatives aren't going to just disappear. The mysteries and dangers of the past season have mostly been explained, which means it's time to start fighting one another.
Now that Emily and Aiden's history has been revealed, I have to wonder: has Revenge Master Takeda's Academy for Wayward Youth ever produced a successful graduate? Aiden left halfway through his training and apparently failed to save his kidnapped sister, and Emily continues to break Takeda's rules by engaging in the forbidden practice of having feelings. At this point, Emily Thorne is basically Luke Skywalker, letting her emotions guide her when she should remain calm and collected. The problem is that revenge training seems to be all about destroying your own humanity in order to be capable of destroying your enemies. Will Emily ever get the chance to confront Takeda on this? And what kind of contract do revenge students have that restricts them to only one "true mission?" That sort of inflexibility seems problematic when dealing in elaborate schemes and deceptions.
Given how reluctant she was to deliver the death blow to the white-haired man, it's strange that Emily would be so willing to consign Aiden to the trash compactor. Their plans may clash right now, but it's only a matter of time before the goals unraveling the mystery of the Initiative, crushing the Graysons, and reuniting with Emily's mother finally align. It's almost too much to keep straight.
Training yourself to be a heartless killer, metaphorically speaking, is what the financial industry is all about, so I'm surprised that Conrad never tried to arrange a professional development retreat. He does continue to be the least appealing member of the Grayson family, however, so he probably just assumed he already had all the evil skills he could ever need. The creepiest moment of the season, if not the show, came tonight when he threatened Victoria. It's one thing to want to destroy your most hated enemy, but threatening his ex-wife with rape is vile. I'm sure their remarriage will go swimmingly.
Once again, it was nice to see the Grayson children trying to keep up with their parents. Neither Charlotte nor Daniel is very good at it yet, but they're giving it their best effort. They should band together and start their own revenge plot against their parents. Daniel seems particularly determined to punish his mother for her lies, but his moves so far are amateur. Victoria is far too sharp to believe her son would settle for a simple apology when she's still holding a grudge over Daniel's decision to side with Conrad when she divorced him. She is sure to test his loyalty soon, although pretending to support his mother while she lies about being kidnapped and tortured would send a strong message in any other family.
The fact that Victoria could force her entire family to unite behind her at her press conference, even after they all find new and exciting reasons to despise and distrust her, shows just how much Daniel is going to have to learn if he's going to play the game better than his mother. Victoria is such a quick thinker, it's a shame she's had to use her gift for strategy on the domestic front. If she'd used her powers in the business world, she'd be bigger than Martha Stewart. The Grayson family operates under the principle of constant distrust that Takeda tried so hard to teach Emily, and which she can't abide by even as she manipulates or alienates everyone around her.
It's sad to see Emily and Nolan go their separate ways, especially since Nolan's double-entendre-filled phone call with Emily was the best scene in the episode. He sounded far more turned on by the thought of Emily orchestrating some public humiliation for Victoria than he did by the prospect of flirting with Padma the Audit Whisperer. Nolan is far too smart and squirrely for his new love interest. Maybe she'll discover some dark truth about the IRS' sudden interest in NolCorp's finances, but until she gets sucked into the Revengeiverse, she's up against Ashley in the competition for least interesting secondary character.
Of all the people that Emily uses for her own devices, the way she treats Amanda is still the worst. She ruined her former friend's life simply because she could, and because Amanda had something she wanted. Forcing her to betray Jack and calling it part of their years-old deal is the sort of thing Victoria would do. Emily must be counting on Amanda being too sleep-deprived once the baby arrives to do any revenge planning of her own. It's an awfully big blind spot.
Speaking of blind spots, Jack is going to regret offering favors to Declan's burglary victim. When a rich guy calls you "barkeep" and looks your place of business up and down like it's a pinup poster, beware: you don't want to owe him anything. Declan made the leap to thief awfully quickly; does he not know that most colleges provide financial aid? Also, who brings their driver's license to a burglary? This kid shouldn't worry so much about paying for school; he's obviously not smart enough to get in anywhere expensive.
Just like last week, this episode ends with a cliffhanger, even if it was obvious as soon as we caught a glimpse of the pocket watch with Emily's mother's picture in it. The mysteries around Carol just keep getting deeper: is she in the witness protection program? Does she have Stockholm Syndrome? Does this mean that Gordon Murphy, the White-Haired Man, might have been a hit man with a heart of gold? Emily is going to have a hard time learning the truth without admitting she killed her mother's boyfriend.
So what comes next? The flight recorder will reveal what really happened on the plane, which means whatever secrets Victoria is still keeping about the night of the crash will finally come to light. Whoever was on the other end of that conversation with Conrad before the press conference will almost certainly send another operative to deal with the Graysons, and maybe, finally, Emily will find out where her mother is and punish Aiden for keeping more secrets from her.
Previously: Clash of the Titans
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