Revenge's season is at its halfway point, but the mysteries and double-crosses just keep coming. There are finally some hints of what the Initiative's new scheme for destruction and world domination will be, but no one has managed to get any closer to uncovering Helen Crowley's plans or the truth behind the Initiative. At this point, everyone on the show has his or her own secret plan to either destroy the Initiative or rescue a loved one from mortal danger, which is fun to watch but must get awfully confusing. How does one keep track of it all?
The biggest double-cross of the episode left me with a question unrelated to the Initiative: How is it possible to be a villain as dull as Padma Lahari? After disappearing for several episodes and being a bore in the few scenes she had, Padma returns and gets a real purpose. One has to assume that the software she is trying to locate for the Initiative is a weapon and not some groundbreaking online dating program; Nolan's romantic track record suggests there might be some kinks in his algorithm.
Now that it has been revealed that Padma is a spy and not just a plot device to butch up Nolan, we can steel ourselves for her to start feeling guilty, for Marco to discover her secret, and for Nolan to discover the truth in the most painful way possible. Maybe Marco will die for his curiosity, perhaps revealing Padma's true identity as he gasps his last breath? There hasn't been a dramatic, romantic death scene yet this season, and everyone loves a redemption arc. Also, Nolan already learned the hard way that office romance is never a good idea, not even when you're the boss, so he really should have thought a little bit harder about getting into another one. Then again, he wore a button down shirt under a polo shirt under a jacket in this episode, so perhaps his decision-making abilities are impaired.
Between Padma's mission to find Nolan's magical software at Nolcorp and Helen's strong suggestion that Daniel buy Stonehaven United Solutions, it seems like the Initiative is looking to make money through some good, old fashioned disaster capitalism. A company that does post-disaster consulting? A piece of technology that acts as some sort of digital bomb? A mysterious cabal of super-wealthy people who seem to profit from the immense suffering of others? I'm starting to think that at least one of the writers of this show is a big fan of The Shock Doctrine.
Emily and Aiden are now much closer to Crowley and the Initiative, and their kidnapping subterfuge (complete with Emily's menacing homage to Carrie Fisher in Return of the Jedi) was well executed, but the moment at which Aiden will find himself in too deep and forced to betray either Emily or his sister still looms. On a show with so many layers of lies and deception, it has been refreshing to see Aiden and Emily have a relationship based on honesty, at least until now. Because no one on the show is allowed to trust another person for more than three episodes in a row, I predict a dramatic confrontation by episode 14.
Speaking of the overly credulous, Daniel has not been living up to his early scheming and backroom dealing promise. Of course Emily is a weak point for him, but he really should be more skeptical of Crowley and of Victoria. It's much more fun to watch him trade insults with his father than it is to watch him try to impress a girl by dropping a million dollars on a bottle of wine. As Victoria and Conrad continue to try and find a way to protect Daniel from the Initiative, they also get the best lines of anyone on the show. Conrad may have drastically relaxed his dress code, but he still has a flair for the melodramatic. "My traitorous son now sits upon my former throne" is something you'd expect to hear from Tywin Lannister, not from JR Ewing. Not to be outdone, Victoria made sure to upbraid Conrad for focusing on his nascent political career rather than helping her set about "securing alliances close to Daniel that will ensure the survival of this family." Victoria has always possessed a good deal of Lady Macbeth, so it's only fitting that she and her husband keep their fights as highfalutin as possible.
Back in the (only slightly more) real world, the women are also the only people capable of getting anything done. Amanda and Charlotte manage to come up with more reasonable and realistic plans to deal with the Ryan brothers in a matter of days than Jack was able to do over months. "Ask the rich friends for help" should really be the first thing on the "In case of emergency" list, and I suppose "buy a gun" would probably be in the top five. Jack's stubborn insistence on taking care of everyone, of being the patriarch, has completely blinded him to the fact that everyone around him, and particularly his girlfriend, is more capable of dealing with his problems than he is. If he does end up going to prison, he should definitely take a women's studies correspondence course.
I thought the show was finished with Ashley, but apparently I was mistaken. Of all the schemes that were hatched this week, hers is the one I'm most curious about. Why come back and ask for her old job? Is she working for someone or is she independent? Will we ever really learn how she went from almost-prostitute to the blackmailing PR mastermind she is today, or are we just supposed to accept that in the world of Revenge, as long as you're breathing, you must be involved in some sort of underhanded plot.
While it seems to serve no purpose to bring Emily and Daniel back together for real – she's still using him, and she can never be honest with him, so they're not exactly starting from a place of strength – their reunion gave us a chance to take another peek inside the Initiative's underground lair and what goes on there. I understand the benefit of having a large screen on which to view your spy camera's live feed, but to sit alone, in the dark, in an uncomfortable looking chair? I'll give you this, Crowley: you certainly do know how to do evil in style.
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