'Revenge' Recap: Imperfect Unions

Amanda and Jack get married, Victoria provokes the Initiative, Emily faces setbacks

Revenge
ABC/RICHARD CARTWRIGHT
Margarita Levieva and Nick Wechsler as Amanda and Jack on ABC's 'Revenge'
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Congratulations Jack and Amanda! You have a baby, you just got married, you're free from debt and, despite the fact that your entire relationship is built on a massive lie, you established a loving and honest relationship. It's a shame that all this happiness means that one of you is doomed to die soon. Everything is in place: you're on a honeymoon boat trip, you took an adorable picture of yourselves before setting sail and we already know that the Amanda sinks over Labor Day weekend. Sorry kids. If there was any lesson to be taken from this episode, it's that this show needs a few more sympathetic characters. It's exhausting to keep track of all the layers of deception everyone has piled on one another.

There seems to be some sort of checklist from which the writers on Revenge are working, and it's taken a lot of the fun out of the show. Nolan makes an important discover about his girlfriend and responds to it? Check. Emily and Aiden discuss their respective revenge missions and lament their inability to live normal lives? Check. Victoria makes a power play and argues with Conrad? Check. The Porters do something noble in the face of corruption and hardship? Yeah, got that too. So much has happened over the course of the season, and Emily's mission has become so muddled, that it's easy to miss the simple revenge of the weak plots of the first season.

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What was fun this week? Nolan's wedding officiant outfit, for one. Paisley, in all its permutations, is a fashion war crime, but that is almost certainly why he picked it. If a person is willing to wear multiple shirts as an everyday look, his taste in whimsical formalwear is bound to be . . . eclectic. Nolan's confrontation with Padma managed to have some kick despite the fact that there is still less than zero chemistry between the two of them. The brief glimmer of hope that appeared when Nolan discovered his paramour's deception has already disappeared. Instead of watching Mr. Ross use what he's learned from Emily to attack Padma, we have to watch him work to save her from the Initiative and rescue her father. This is a time for Nolan to sit down and talk to Emily; Aiden's experiences are not a good omen for Padma's father.

The revelation that Aiden's sister had actually been dead for years, and that the Initiative had been playing him, was another twist that felt like it was supposed to be shocking but that lacked its intended punch. If Takeda's Revenge Academy doesn't have a required course on using technology to analyze and digital communications from your enemies, it should lose its accreditation. It really didn't occur to Aiden to ask Nolan to look at the video before violently breaking with Emily? Or that Helen Crowley and her associates might have been deceiving him? I'm all for watching the revenge ninjas struggle to contain their emotions while they go about their missions, but it's no fun to watch them behave like amateurs. Remedial refresher courses for everyone but Emily, who has been doing an awfully good job of keeping her feelings to herself. She may be sad to lose Jack (and any chance at regaining her former life), but she's still a total sociopath.

The one moment that was genuinely unexpected was Helen's murder. It would have been slightly more satisfying, just for symmetry, to have seen Victoria get revenge after something happened to Daniel, but he looks too good in those suits to cause him any harm. Nothing brings a family together like a murder (a lesson Conrad could have taken from the Porters, if he had been paying attention). It's possible that nothing brings a family together like a feud with an evil multinational conglomerate sparked by the murder of its leader, but we won't know for sure until next week. Something that can be said now: terrorists should really try to limit their paper trails. 

Before diving into damage control and body disposal mode, Conrad tried out his best Michael Bloomberg impression on the Montauk waterfront. It's just as obnoxious as in real life, although if Bloomberg had a thuggish enforcer who looked like Nate Ryan, perhaps people in New York City would feel better about losing their homes and businesses to eminent domain. Once again, Jack's stubbornness and misguided sense of honor almost led to his family's destruction, and for what feels like the thousandth time, Amanda had to step in and do the scheming required to keep the Graysons and their One Percent cronies from destroying the life she'd built. It's another beat that this show will probably be done with shortly – Amanda's the one that will die, right? – but it's tiresome to watch the only characters on this show that ever appear even remotely normal go through this over and over again. Maybe the waterfront should be redeveloped; living so near it has caused irreparable memory loss for Jack. He's incapable of learning anything!

Many things happened in this episode without making it feel eventful, but with any luck that means that next week will bring some explosive developments that is not the actual explosion set to go off on the Amanda. Will that be enough to change the course of events, or does Revenge need a reset more on the scale of Kimberly plunging the detonator on Melrose Place? We'll find out soon.

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