“The task in front of you requires absolute focus. Prioritize your obstacles to your end goal. Eliminate them…one at a time.” So spake Master Satoshi at the beginning of last night’s Revenge. He was offering her a battle plan: Her original clockwork vengeance plot has become senselessly complicated by unforeseen variables. In a funny way, Satoshi was also describing a solid business model for a growing business. When Emily initiated this tale of bloody revenge, she was like a start-up engineer: A one-woman vengeance organization, unwilling to work with anyone else. She’s had some early success, but that success has only brought more problems: Competition, old friends coming out of the woodwork, an evolving marketplace.
There was a third, deeper level to Satoshi’s advice. As Emily’s vengeance has become more complicated, so the TV show Revenge has become more complicated. After ten episodes, the show’s chessboard has shifted dramatically. Casa Grayson is empty, a “mausoleum too cold and empty to be called a home,” in the memorably Shakespearean phrasing of Queen Victoria. Jack’s perpetually sad smirk has become a perpetually goofy grin, thanks to the arrival of Fauxmanda. The Talented Mr. Poolhouse has ascended to the heights of Hamptonite elite, partially through his own devious roofie powers and partially by unknowingly riding along in Emily’s destructive wake. There’s an exciting array of plot in motion. But the end of summer is approaching. We’re very close to reaching the point where we started the show. If Emily needs to focus in her end-goal, then so does Revenge.
Last night’s episode pushed the show’s various conflicts one step closer to an explosion by focusing mainly on the character who has practically stolen the show from Emily: Tyler the Poolhouse Boy. At the start of the hour, the Anti-Atwood seemed as cool as ever. Quietly hiding a prescription-drug bottle, he nonchalantly told Ashley that he was only lip-locking with Nolan “with our future in mind.” He told her he had a 9:00 reservation at a local restaurant — “a hard get.” By the end of the conversation, Ashley had descended from anger to mild irritation: “So you’re not even bi?”
The object of Tyler’s non-affection, Nolan, called Emily over to his house. For reasons which are still utterly inexplicable, Tyler had used Nolan’s computer to Google-Stalk David Clarke: “Check out my browser history!” he actually said. (Aside: If you freeze-framed on Nolan’s computer, you would notice that the Google of the Revenge-verse is apparently called “Search.” Working theory: In the Revenge version of the Internet, Amazon is called “Buy,” YouTube is called “Watch,” and Netflix used to be called “Awesomeness” but is now called “Wah-Wahhhhh.” End of Aside.)
I have to admit: Before this episode, I couldn’t really get a bead on the Nolan/Tyler relationship. Since they both seemed to be playing each other, and since in their ways both characters appear to be constantly flirting with anyone, I couldn’t figure out how seriously we were supposed to take their attraction. Apparently, lonely Nolan was actually falling for the Harvard Hustler. When Tyler suggested that they get away for a little while to South Beach, Nolan said: “Miami’s for trolls. But Monaco is pretty nice this time of year.”
Nolan made the worst mistake you can make on Revenge: He exposed himself to actual human emotion. Tyler never seems to have this problem. In a brief throwaway moment, we saw Mr. Poolhouse freak out about his empty pill bottles — he’s been taking Clozapine, a drug used to treat schizophrenia. (Start the conversation: Between Revenge and Homeland, are anti-psychotics having A MOMENT?) But when his old pal Daniel suddenly appeared, Tyler was all smiles. When Daniel asked him how he landed the Ross account, Daniel said cheerfully: “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” (Maybe he does. Although my money’s still on Fauxmanda. Or maybe they both kill him at the same time, Gosford Park-style. That’s what Gosford Park was about, right?)
NEXT: A spectacular Kandinsky