It’s a stunning testament to the general bananagrams insanity of last night’s episode of Revenge that one of my favorite characters got killed off and I don’t even mind. The ensemble cast of this show is like HYDRA: Cut off a head, and two more takes will take its place. So last night’s fast-paced hour alleviated the loss of one character — farewell, Frank the Passive-Aggressively Romantic Security Guy — by introducing two fascinating new characters: Warden Stiles, who is apparently the Mr. Miyagi of Vengeance; and the real Emily Thorne, who — as played by breakout that-girl Margarita Levieva — quickly revealed herself to be a Homicidal Psycho Proletariat Stripper. Also last night: one awesome character revealed his mysterious past and became even more awesome; the most ridiculous character somehow achieved whole new levels of ridiculousity; and the single least interesting character magically sprouted motivation and began to seem vastly more interesting.
Also, freaking Shakespeare was quoted. And it wasn’t even a famous line. It was a (relatively_ deep cut from Hamlet: “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.” Emily quoted that line, and it handily sums up how the central conflict of Revenge has subtly shifted. When this show began, it was about how one woman built a new life for herself on a foundation of lies. By the end of last night’s episode, it was becoming clear that everyone on the show was like that. (By the way, am I the only one who likes to picture Emily in her long years of Vengeance-Plotting staying up really late reading Confucius and memorizing Shakespeare?)
All of the main characters are trying to build a new life for themselves by leveraging an assortment of falsehoods — white lies, half-truths, identity theft, Federal-court perjury. That’s especially true of Mama and Papa Grayson, who have converted one big lie — David Clarke’s guilt — into a lavish billion-dollar lifestyle. The Graysons began the episode engaged in their annual wedding-anniversary photo-op for that famous gossip rag The New York Times. (I loved the way the interviewer stressed that they weren’t just getting the front page. They were going to be above the fold.) “If you had to sum up your quarter century of marriage,” asked the interviewer, “What would you say is your secret?” “Love and respect,” deadpanned the philandering Papa Grayson.
All season long, Emily has been chipping away at the Grayson’s Body Armor of Falsehood. Last night, though, a pair of Grayson minions tried to strike back at her. Tyler took a subtle tactic: He stage-whispered Emily’s name and address to the Times reporter. Frank was somewhat less subtle. He strolled into Casa Thorne and announced that he knew all about her troubled past. “Two years at Allenwood Juvenile Detention. Conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.” This wasn’t Emily’s actual troubled past, of course. She’s running a long con, Sawyer-style — instead of giving herself a spotless history, she’s given herself a shady history that is just embarrassing enough that no one would think the truth is even worse.
Frank promised to find out all of Emily’s secrets. He’s a simple man, an uncivilized man. Like Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, he doesn’t realize that it’s probably best not to loudly announce to your enemy that you intend to ruin her. Frank’s an old-school guy, so he straightened his tie and walked straight up to Victoria and gave her a promise: “I’m gonna redeem myself with you, Victoria. Or I’m gonna die trying.”
NEXT: Famous last words