Revenge Recap: Back to Basics -- For the Better

Revenge, just when I was ready to issue a strong rebuke about how you need to distance yourself from all of that Americon Initiative nonsense and get back to making me care about Emily’s plight… you do just that. You’re so tricky!

This week’s episode wasn’t the series’ best, but it was a sight better than the past few, and the cliffhanger was a Hamptons classic worthy of Season 1 love. So I’m going to break from our usual format to hit the reasons “Forgiveness” excelled and, of course, suggest a few points to consider in the coming weeks.

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR | Even though I’m not sure how I feel about him yet, I’m with Aiden on this one: Emily’s focus on finding her mom has completely distracted her from the revengenda that made Season 1 so watchable. The reason I got into this show in the first place was that it seemed like the offspring of two of my all-time favorites, Alias and Veronica Mars – a well-dressed chick with a giant chip on her shoulder who gets biznas done. As Emily red Sharpied people out of the Grayson Global picnic photo each week, it felt like we were really making progress. But Season 2 Emily… well, she drives a lot. And cries. Don’t get me wrong – she does both of those things in this week’s episode, too. But as she listens to Kara talk with Amanda, Emily realizes that her mother is just a flawed woman who’s made some epic mistakes in her time. More importantly, our heroine seems to get a little clarity – as evidenced by her telling Amanda the truth about Carl’s paternity and apologizing for being such an icy jerk in the past. And with Em’s suspicions about Padma and her all-but-declared war with Aiden on the horizon, I’m optimistic that Emily will get back to fighting form real soon — and clearing daddy’s name can’t be far behind. But in the meantime, with Emily not at 100 percent, you’ve gotta have some other kickass storylines (:cough:notKennytryingtobuyTheStowaway:cough:) going on to compensate. Which leads us to…

SECRETS AND INTRIGUE ON LINE 1 | You know why Tyler was a very utilitarian character on this show? Because he had a plan. You never quite knew what his motives were. I had thought Ashley would fill that role this season – and maybe she will eventually – but her burn has been so slow that it wouldn’t even warm a cupcake in an EZ-Bake Oven. But Padma? I’m still not sure what her game is, but her off-the-books inquiry into Grayson Global’s history with NolCorp makes me positive she’s got one — and that makes me interested in what she’s going to do. Speaking of things she’s doing, I know that certain other members of the TVLine staff remain unconvinced that Nolan would be interested in a member of lady nation, but I buy it. Is Noles the most masculine man who ever wore a candy-colored sportcoat? Hell no. But given the way he discussed his sexuality with Tyler last season – you’ll recall he said he was about a 3 on the Kinsey Scale – I’m at least giving Heterolan a chance. And, as previously mentioned, I love him. Moving on!

COMMENCE FREAKOUT IN 3… 2… | David Clarke’s wife is bunking at Grayson Manor. I repeat: David Clarke’s wife is bunking at Grayson Manor. So much awesome comes out of that simple situation: Victoria quailing at the mere sound of Kara’s voice, that awkward hug with the floral clippers, Queen Vic panicking as she tosses Kara’s room looking for dirt – basically, I love it when anyone can send Vicky into a full-out “Wha?!” attack, and Mrs. Clarke does that with some chunky jewelry and some incredibly uneasy conversation – the exchange in the cupola about Victoria being the other woman comes to mind. My theory: Kara totally knows that Emily is really Amanda and that Fauxmanda isn’t really her daughter, but she’s playing it all with Meryl Streep-like skill in order to get at whatever truth she’s pursuing. During her initial visit, she’s clearly lying to Victoria at the same time she’s pumping her for information; I posit that her love for Em is just playing possum until she can finds what she needs.  Agree? Disagree? Tell me how right/wrong I am in the comments.

WHEN IN DOUBT, RETURN TO WHAT WORKS | Mason Treadwell’s reappearance is perfection on several levels. First, Roger Bart seems to derive actual pleasure from playing the slimy author, and that’s always fun to watch. Second, he is a good way to remind the audience that this show is about finding clues and then using those clues against others. I did not know what his stare at Amanda’s bare back meant at the hospital, but I didn’t have to wait long for some excellent payoff. He knows Amanda Clarke has a scar incurred during her foster years, he knows little Carl’s mama doesn’t have that scar, ergo he knows exactly how faux little Mandy is. “You may be many things to many people, the latest, it would seem, young mother to an infant boy. But the daughter of Kara Wallace and David Clarke? That is one thing you most definitely are not,” he says with glee, tossing a file folder (clues!) on her swing and sauntering out, whistling “Strangers in the Night.” Baller! And that, folks, is how you do a Revenge cliffhanger.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT | Revenge could send the following items to the sea floor with the soon-to-be-doomed Amanda, and I wouldn’t complain:
• The Stowaway, complete with its mold problem and Kenny’s desire to bilk the Porter brothers out of their townie bar
• Americon Initiative – remember how I said I loved Alias? I’d like to amend: I loved it until the end of Season 2, then I stayed with it out of a sense of obligation through the rest of the rambling Rimbaldi ridiculousness; all this talk of the Initiative is veering heavily into giant-floating-red-ball territory
• Charlotte and Declan, not as individual characters (well, maybe Declan), but as a couple or potential couple or whatever the heck they are these days; (side note: Christa B. Allen’s facial expression when Declan remarks that the Porters are from “a long line of gentlemen” conveys such a perfectly polite nonverbal “What the hell are you talking about, little leprechaun?”, I’m going to have to practice it and put it into use myself)

Enough of what I think – now it’s your turn. Hit the comments with your thoughts on the episode, what you loved, what you hated and how it compares with your vision for the show. Have at it!