Murder seems to be as much of a Labor Day weekend tradition for the Graysons as Victoria’s lavish parties. Now that we’ve caught up to where the season started, deep in the drink and looking at an unidentified, waterlogged corpse, the real fun can begin. But first things first: a few characters that had outlived their usefulness must be dispatched.
Sorry Amanda. You came a long way from your early days as Emily’s trashy, single white female-esque bestie from juvie, but you were in between Jack and Emily, and you’d already managed to blackmail every important person in the Hamptons in your quest to live a normal life, so there wasn’t really much left for you to do. You did do the world a great service by taking Nate Ryan down with you, and for that you will always be remembered.
This episode lacked the sense of urgency that last year’s Labor Day episode had. As Revenge’s universe has expanded and the plans have become more intricate, the stakes have been lowered dramatically. One of the greatest pleasures of watching the show’s first season was the simplicity of the concept. Girl seeks Revenge. There was an artisanal quality to Emily’s work that is missing now that the big bad is the Initiative and not the Graysons. Factory-farmed revenge just doesn’t taste as good.
Before we set sail, let’s check in with the Graysons and see how they managed to dispose of Helen Crowley’s body without using a wood chipper. Daniel’s contempt for his parents is getting a little tired; we all know you hate yourself for turning into your parents, but at some point you have to accept that you’re part of an evil aristocratic family. It’s also more than a little ridiculous to think that Victoria could fool Helen’s driver just by wearing a scarf and sunglasses at night. I know the writers needed something to tie Daniel, Victoria, and Conrad together against the Initiative after their earlier feud, but the back and forth, and the agreement to frame Amanda for Helen’s murder, was too tidy. It did make for a nice final shot, the three Graysons gazing out at the sea, preparing to go to war.
There needs to be a moratorium on mysterious boxes that contain body parts. Wouldn’t a shipment containing a human finger need to be refrigerated? I can’t imagine what it must have smelled like when Aiden opened up the box to see what proof of life Mr. Trask had sent to Padma. The revenge gang has its newest official member in Ms. Lakshmi, which means it’ll probably be a full season before she gets her own "your character is a dead end" mercy killing. She was more interesting when she seemed evil and not simply trapped. Also, is it really the wisest idea to have Aiden working with Padma? His track record when it comes to dealing with the Initiative is not exactly that inspiring.
This episode spent just enough time with Declan and Charlotte to remind us why we don’t really need to see them that much, and to show us that rich people don’t seem to remember a time during which babies lived without air conditioners. Everyone traipses off to Grayson manor for the Labor Day party and Conrad’s campaign announcement, and the Stowaway is left unattended just in time for some snooping on the part of the bad guys.
There were an awful lot of lines about the inherent duplicity of wives; is one of the writers going through a divorce? "That’s what wives do, they screw you over" doesn’t even make sense, Nate! At least it makes sense when Conrad spews contempt towards women; hating his wife is second only to tight polo shirts on his list of favorite summer activities. The insults and threats uttered through the Graysons’ tight smiles are currently the best part of the show. I’m looking forward to the moment when one of them gets to say, "I know where the bodies are buried" while talking about Conrad’s campaign. Of course said body is buried at the children’s hospital. Wouldn’t an active construction site be a bad place to hide a body?
Is there anything that can really be said about Emily and Nolan’s race to find and rescue Jack and Amanda? We already knew someone was doomed, and that Emily would have to fight Nate, because Emily has to fight all the thuggish bad guys or risk losing her revenge accreditation. It’s been pretty obvious all season that Amanda was doomed; anyone that desperate to settle down and live a quiet life can’t be allowed to have it, and there just isn’t any reason for her to be there.
Emily’s quest for revenge had started to lose steam, so "dead friend" is a good way to reset the board and create a new reason to go after the Graysons. Now the question is, what will Jack do when he wakes up? At some point Emily is going to have to reveal her true identity; will that drive him away or bring him closer?
Amanda might have been a bit of a dead-end character, but without her there will be a painful lack of reasonable bad behavior. The show doesn’t need more scheming and backstabbing and convoluted plots to stay afloat, but it keeps layering them, one on top of the other. Whenever Amanda appeared to just straight out blackmail someone or threaten someone, it felt like a breath of fresh air. In a way, her fights with the Ryans and the Graysons were the closest things the show has had this season to Emily’s revenge plots of Season One. They were small, self-contained, and the motivations were clear. Now she’s just another person to be avenged.
Where do things go from here, now that we’ve arrived back at where we started? Can the massive changes of this episode jolt everyone back to their tasks? What will the Initiative do when they discover that Amanda is dead? These are uncharted waters, and so far this season, sailing has been anything but smooth.
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