This week’s Revenge taught me something huge: I don’t know Jack. But I think I’m starting to like him.
Who woulda thought that a liberal shot of rage and grief could turn the sad-sack, in-the-dark, possibly cuckolded recent widower into a compelling character not to be trifled with? (Ditching the poetry-slam-coffeehouse beard probably didn’t hurt, either.)
Elsewhere in the episode, Charlotte uncovered someone from Amanda/Emily’s past and The Initiative’s scariness quotient was downgraded once more — it now measures somewhere between “ticked-off librarian” and “kitten with bellyache.” Let’s review the major developments of “Retribution.”
BLAME THE DEAD GIRL | Either Conrad and Victoria have gotten even cockier since offing Helen Crowley, or The Initiative is not exactly the Gordian knot of terror we’ve been led to believe. Elsewise, why would the Graysons brazenly demand an audience with Trask and use it to spout off about Amanda’s guilt in Helen’s death? “All your problems, wrapped up with a pretty bow,” the creepy Initiative rep comments, noting that Amanda, Nate and the computer containing all of the Grayson-damning evidence are conveniently at the bottom of the ocean. After he leaves, Conrad and Queen V note that only Jack can refute their story now. Looks like it’s time for the elder Porter brother to get a little Grayson time, love and tenderness.
FRAZZLED | As soon as they return from their adventure on the high seas, Emily is ready to kill the Graysons with her bare hands. Nolan implores her to rest a minute and take a breath. “I took a breath. And now, Amanda’s dead,” she spits back. During a quiet moment in her room, Em pulls out Amanda’s locket. The realization that her juvie pal had a picture of the two of them in there (underneath the photo of Jack and opposite the one of little Carl) makes her cry. Aw, Em.
But feeling your feelings gets you nowhere, right? (Goodness gracious, the amount of repression this lady does on a weekly basis could fill its own psychology textbook.) With Jack still unconscious after surgery, Emily searches the apartment above The Stowaway, where she runs into Trask pretending to be a law enforcement officer investigating the explosion. Then, she and Nolan come to suspect that the Graysons killed Helen and are in the process of framing Amanda for it – but no one knows where the incriminating laptop is. Next, she meets Victoria and Charlotte at the morgue, where Char IDs the corpse that’s just been fished out of the Atlantic as her “sister”.
Finally, Em winds up at the hospital upon hearing that Jack is awake. (Aiden wins a brownie point or two from me for grabbing her and forcing her to relax into his hug on her way out the door, despite the “ain’t nobody got time for that” look on her face. When a hunky Brit offers you the momentary solace of his embrace, Em, you take it.)
BRIEF GRIEF | The moment that Jack learns Amanda is gone is just about as painful as you’d imagine. Declan holds one of his hands, Emily holds the other, and as Jack starts to cry, Em is torn between witnessing his pain and averting her eyes to give him privacy. It’s very well done… for the few seconds that we get before Conrad smarms his way into the hospital room, offering condolences. All of a sudden, Jack pulls himself together and wants to talk to the Grayson patriarch. Seriously, Revenge? The passing of Jack’s dog merited a full-on Jack sobfest, but the sudden death of his wife creates a grief that’s so easily (and instantly) pushed aside? (Yes, yes, I know — we have many episodes left this season for Jack to experience the stages of complex grief created by Amanda’s offing. But I would’ve gladly sacrificed one of the snoretastic “Will Aiden join the Grayson Global board of directors?” conversations in exchange for a little more time with Jack, Dec, Em and the Terrible Truth.)
Anywho, Conrad’s there to say that he’s paying Jack’s hospital bill and he’s very sorry for his loss. Even with a few tears rolling down his cheek, Jack’s realizing that something is really not right about the whole situation. So he checks out as soon as possible and gets settled at home, where he breaks a jar of sea glass in anger… and finds a key to a marina locker hidden inside.
THE (PARTIAL) TRUTH HURTS | Let’s shorthand it: The locker contains the duffel bag of evidence – including the computer – Amanda stole from Emily’s house. Jack can’t guess the password but he can read the handwritten letters; when Emily comes over to help him get ready for the funeral, he lashes out at her for keeping secret the fact that she and Amanda knew each other from their teenage badass days.
The episode’s most elegant writing (and acting) happens as Emily says she didn’t tell him about her juvenile detention stint out of “pride, self-preservation,” the same way he didn’t want her help with the Ryan brothers. He sneeringly asks what else she didn’t tell him, and Em – for once – just tells the plain truth. “That Amanda loved you from the moment that she met you, and none of that ever stopped – not in the foster homes, not even in juvie. None of that was a lie.” It’s the most emotionally naked Emily has been with him in quite some time, and Jack can’t even see it because he’s so twisted up inside about Amanda. Quite nice choices by both Emily VanCamp and Nick Wechsler in the exchange.
ADIOS, AMANDA | Emily gives the eulogy at a graveside service attended by the Graysons, the Porters and Nolan. While they’re paying their respects, Aiden retrieves the laptop from Jack’s apartment – naturally, Jack later thinks the Graysons were behind the break-in. Looks like Porter’s about to embark on a duplicitous revegenda of his own, no?
Later, Emily tosses the computer (and all of the Grayson-damning evidence it contains) into the ocean, announcing to Aiden that the kind of justice she wants for the Graysons has nothing to do with the legal system. “So, back to basics?” he asks? “No more distractions,” she asserts. (Please, please don’t let that be just her grief talking…)
During a return to the cemetery later that night, Emily meets a visitor: Amanda’s brother Eli, whom Charlotte unearthed and beckoned with a few keywords on Google. Question: If a lackluster high school student can so easily find someone so connected to Amanda, how have so few people figured out the whole Amanda-Emily switcheroo?
CARRION MY WAYWARD SON | “Nolan Ross, life’s pawn” finds out that the finger Padma received at the end of the previous episode matches a print on her father’s immigration file. And though he’s still not sure that Mr. Lahari is even alive, he finishes the Carrion program and turns it over to Padma, telling her to do what she thinks is best – but warning her that The Initiative isn’t great about keeping up its end of the bargain. Other things I love about Nolan in this episode, in no particular order: his hair, the patterned shirt he wears to Amanda’s funeral, the fact that he counsels Em against telling Jack the whole truth right now (because Porter clearly won’t be able to process it) and his delivery of this line: “Why do I get the feeling this isn’t what Takeda had in mind when he handed you your revenge degrees?”
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? What are your first impressions of Eli? Are you already thinking that – because we never saw a body – Amanda’s got to resurface in some way in the far-off future? Did you catch that gubernatorial hopeful Conrad is now wearing a flag pin in his lapel? (Heh). What grade would you give Emily’s eulogy? Sound off in the comments!