'Revenge' Recap: Blood on Their Hands - Rolling Stone
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‘Revenge’ Recap: Blood on Their Hands

Emily seeks information from Victoria, Amanda becomes collateral damage

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Emily Van Camp as Emily Thorne in 'Revenge.'


I wish I could have heard the thoughts of the maid as she cleaned up the Grayson Manor foyer. What do you think Victoria said to her to keep her so calm as she mopped up Amanda’s blood? After everything we’ve seen in the world of Revenge, cleaning up massive pools of someone’s sanguinary fluid is probably a pretty common chore. Victoria is a modern-day Lady Macbeth, so the sight of her with blood literally on her hands makes a lot of sense. Everyone in Emily’s orbit is in danger either from the Initiative or Victoria or Emily, and Victoria’s slow burn as she torches incriminating evidence makes for a great opening moment in an episode that raised the stakes for all the characters.

It was probably inevitable that Amanda would be the first person to really suffer because of Emily’s obsession with learning the truth about her mother. All she ever wanted was a family and a little bit of stability, and every time she goes to Emily for help, Emily manipulates her into doing her bidding. She’s right; Emily will never be done. Emily can never get her father back, and she will never be able to rain enough destruction upon the Graysons to fill that hole. It should have been obvious that Amanda was doomed when she started pointing out obvious truths. Now she’s lying in a hospital bed in a coma, being watched over by Emily’s mother in creepy, creepy fashion.

The plot to use David Clarke’s doctored journals to elicit information from Victoria was so straightforward that I was surprised it actually succeeded. She framed the man she loved for terrorism and then worked with his murderer; she’s basically a professional at this, and an extortion attempt seems like the kind of thing she could shut down without breaking a sweat. It was also nice to see her rattled by the mental hospital’s visitor logs. Whatever the truth is about Emily’s mother and Victoria’s involvement in disappearing her, no one seems to be either entirely good or entirely evil. 

Taking duplicity from the pros to the minor league, Daniel gives scheming the old business-school try, but he’s still only playing at about a single A level. He didn’t even notice the blood stains in his home’s entrance and he expects to compete with his parents? Not likely. Being honest with Ashley about his desire to take down his father for corporate malfeasance was a rookie mistake. Even if Ashley was telling the truth when she told Conrad she didn’t want to spy on Daniel any longer, there’s no way Conrad will let her off the hook so easily. Whether it was intentional or not, Conrad’s immediate suspicion at Daniel’s brown-nosing was hilarious. The elder Graysons are such terrible people that they see kindness as merely a front for some ulterior motive. It probably makes for dreadful gift exchanges at holidays, but it’s a real treat for connoisseurs of dysfunctional television families. 

It’s not surprising that Conrad was in an extra foul mood; he had to interrupt his routine of playing mind games with Victoria to meet with an Initiative representative. You can tell she’s evil because her dress has a black leather top and she makes ominous statements like, “It’s a zero-sum world,” which is exactly the type of koan I want leather-clad villains spouting. I know one of the first rules of shadowy international conspiracies is “Reveal as little as possible,” but this meeting accomplished so little, it could have been conducted over the telephone. 

Speaking of dysfunctional families, why wouldn’t someone have tracked Nolan down to make sure he knew his father was dead? He’s right about the obsolescence of snail mail, but “Your dad died” is a piece of news usually delivered in person. As he points out to Padma, that’s what he has minions for. Despite that bit of plot contrivance, Nolan’s breakdown over his father’s scrapbook was genuinely touching. It’s nice to see him get to do things beyond just helping Emily with tech support, even if his romantic storyline is dull beyond belief. What purpose does Padma fulfill beyond obligatory love interest? The look on her face when she discovered the Grayson Global/David Clarke connection suggests she’s going to start poking around and uncover some secrets that powerful people would prefer stay hidden, but I don’t think she has the knack for intrigue, or snappy one-liners and double entendres, necessary to keep up with Nolan.

One thing I would like investigated thoroughly is why Trey Chandler and Kenny Ryan, the gravelly voice of Jack’s growing desperation, are going after Declan and Jack. Owning a bar is a dream for a lot of people, but there are easier ways to do it than snaring a teenage boy in a burglary ring, bribing a health inspector and making veiled threats. And what’s the end game? Why go after someone who has so little money? It’s like using an Uzi to mug someone for $2.50 in quarters.

Jack ends the episode with another mouth to feed, while his poor son faces a life of stoicism, hard work and a lack of female influences. He’ll have Charlotte, who seems on the verge of a reunion with Declan, but her parents will have to let her out of the house and stop surveilling her before she can dive into being an aunt. And he’ll have Emily, but until he needs a revenge mentor for what will surely be an epic battle against the men who stole his own father’s livelihood, he’s probably safer if she remains a hands-off godmother.

Is there a single good mother on this show? Victoria certainly isn’t, and Emily’s mom Kara doesn’t look like she wasn’t up for any parenting awards before her disappearance. All of Aiden’s warnings turned out to be right, and Emily now has to contend with the fact that her one remaining relative once tried to drown her. Recovering that memory raises more even more questions about what exactly David Clarke and Victoria were up to when they handed Kara over to Gordon Murphy. At this point, I have no idea what to think of him. Just about the only thing that is certain about him is that he was a murderer. Was he an undercover FBI agent, or was that just a cover story? Did he and Kara fall in love because they shared an interest in murdering members of the Clarke family? It’s a specialized hobby, so you should seek out a partner who will work on it with you. The mystery that is Emily’s mom just keeps getting murkier: is she insane? Is she evil? Is she a little of both? What part did she play in the plot that brought down David Clarke? Why did she want to kill her daughter?

Takeda would say that none of these questions matter because they are all distractions from Emily’s true mission to destroy the Graysons. Emily certainly learned the hard way that giving into one’s emotions can only lead to trouble, and she finally breaks down in front of Aiden, who is the only person capable of understanding the turmoil she’s going through. She has people who need her help – Amanda and Jack and Charlotte – which means she can have a cry and watch Mommie Dearest tonight, but tomorrow she has to get back to get back to the fight. 

Previously: Come Together


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