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'Revenge' Recap: Dangerous Liaisons

Emily and Aiden get closer to the Initiative and risk their relationship in the process

Emily Van Camp as Emily Thorne and Barry Sloane as Aiden on 'Revenge'
ABC/VIVIAN ZINK
January 7, 2013 8:50 AM ET

Emily's New Year's resolution must have been to get back to her roots. The big takedown of the judge who presided over her father's rigged trial felt an awful lot like the early episodes of the first season of Revenge. Justice for another murdered do-gooder, comeuppance for a corrupt and abusive man and freedom for his terrified wife: one more face to cross out of the picture. Just like regular humans, I'm sure the resolution will be tested by all the distractions sure to follow now that Helen Crowley and the Initiative are out of their underground lair and ready for action. The only thing sure to be more dramatic than Emily and Aiden's inevitable confrontation and teary showdown (preview in the teaser, anyone?) will be the meeting some poor saps at Grayson Global have to revise the company's sexual harassment policy.

Seriously, by the end of this episode, Revenge's fictional hedge fund had morphed into the ad agency from Melrose Place, and I'm sad to say that no matter how far he's come, Daniel Grayson is no Amanda Woodward. The show had to find a way to get away from the Hamptons eventually, but hiring your ex-fiancée is the sort of decision that would probably lead a board of directors to question your judgment as CEO. Then again, complaining about the lack of realism in this show's portrayal of the workings of a multi-billion dollar business is missing the forest for the trees. It's also a great idea; Revenge's best plots are the soapiest ones, and there is more than enough romantic drama to fuel half a dozen supernatural CW dramas.

'Revenge': Rolling Stone's Complete Coverage

As heartening as it is to see Daniel and Emily rekindle their affair, it's hard to root for either of Emily's potential beaus. Daniel has come a long way from last season, and he's become a respectable player in the Game of Thrones, but he doesn't seem to distrust anyone other than his parents. That's a good instinct, but after being manipulated by Conrad and Victoria for so many years, wouldn't Daniel be a little bit more skeptical of a woman who claims to represent a "conglomerate" who also seems to have a lot of very sensitive information about the inner workings of his company? I'd like to think that the writers would let Daniel get involved in fighting the Initiative, even if he doesn't realize that's what he's doing, but he'll probably take a back seat to Aiden and his new relationship with Crowley and her minions.

Just as Daniel seems to be turning into someone who can take care of himself and get back at those who have wronged him, Aiden is forgetting all of his revenge training and letting his emotions guide his decisions. For someone who has spent years trying to find and then avenge his sister, he was a little too willing to go into a dark parking garage to meet someone he'd already identified as a dangerous nemesis. When you know someone is the representative of a shadowy global conspiracy and the meeting place she gives you comes up on Google Maps as a parking structure constructed in a vacant plot hole owned by said global conspiracy, why wouldn't you ask what the meeting was about, or make a plan ahead of time? When you add his sudden and stunning manipulabilty to his obvious discomfort with Emily's plan to gain access to Grayson Global information through Daniel, heartbreak, betrayal and at least one real fight between Emily and Aiden are the obvious result.

Emily and Daniel aren't the most interesting pair of exes on the show right now. That title rests now and forever with Nolan and Marco. Marco is Helen's connection to Grayson Global and Nolcorp, right? He has to be, as much as I would love to see Nolan have to navigate his own love triangle, and as much he deserves a better "good" love interest than Padma, who was mercifully absent again this week. As much as it sucks that the only character that seems to be unmistakably gay also has to be the one that is going to turn out to be hateful and evil, it's good to see Nolan spar with someone outside of Emily's circle. He also has so much on his plate, spying for Emily, Daniel and Aiden at the same time, it's likely that he'd miss a few warning signs that Marco is not to be trusted.

Of course, as the younger generation fakes up, breaks up, makes up and everything else, the union of Conrad and Victoria is as dysfunctional and wonderful as always. Forced retirement suits Conrad as well as the golf shirt he wore while he was out with Judge Barnes. Now that Nolan has serious business that keeps the bon mot-generating part of his brain occupied, Conrad has taken over as Revenge's quip MVP. The way Henry Czerny said, "If they sold stock in irony, I would be richer than the Sultan of Brunei" makes me hope that carefree Conrad sticks around for a while. There's just something much more menacing about his flippancy than there ever was to his brooding. When a script requires you to deliver the line, "short of telling him the truth and sealing his doom, we've done everything we could to get through to him" and sell it straight, it's good to have a real laugh line nearby.

Right. If we must, let's talk about Jack and Declan and Carl's new favorite fairy tale, the Ex-con Drug Smuggler and the Pea. Sorry, Coffee Bean. I want to like this story line. I like so many elements of it: Declan and Charlotte actually performed admirably on their maiden voyage into deception and duplicity, and Amanda behaves as close to a real person as you'd expect from a murderous ex-stripper desperate to create a functional home and family, but Jack's tendency to do the most obviously stupid thing possible in the face of an obstacle is maddening.

A list of things Jack did wrong this episode would include: not explaining the situation with the Ryan brothers in its entirety to your cop friend (why leave out the fact that you know they have drugs and are concerned that they might want to frame you); not being honest with your fiancée, a woman whose life before you was rough enough that she might actually have some wisdom to offer in the category of Shady People, Dealings With; and for good measure, not asking your fiancée to call her rich, well-connected best friend for help after you've CONFESSED to a crime you didn't commit. Let's add to the list "not telling the rich, well-connected woman who has helped you out of numerous scrapes for help before," just for good measure.

With any luck, Jack's stint in jail will give Declan more chances to go up against the Ryan brothers. I'd love to see him and Charlotte become a teenaged version of Nick and Nora Charles. Maybe after the next time Conrad and Victoria have her committed they can buy her a schnauzer puppy. If this plot line doesn't end with that spinoff, ABC will be throwing away a golden opportunity.

Last Episode: Hostile Takeovers

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