At the start of last night’s Revenge, the young men of the Hamptons were engaged in a fierce game of beach volleyball. Now, I’ve always considered volleyball the most relaxing of the intense sports — as opposed to ping pong, which is the most intense of the relaxing sports; or golf, which is the most heartbreaking of the silly sports; or soccer, which is the most interesting of the boring sports. (It completely makes sense that the most important scene in Top Gun is a volleyball game, since Top Gun is easily the most leisurely action movie ever made.) So it seemed only natural that Poolhouse Tyler was horrible at volleyball. Tyler has closely studied the details of bourgeois badassery — skinny ties, fitted suits, the piercing glare of casual indifference, the affected mid-Atlantic accent. But he has never developed the ability to relax. Whereas Daniel Grayson has been relaxing his whole life. Tyler dove into the sand and missed the ball by a mile. “Side out, bitch!” taunted Daniel.
After the match, Papa Grayson called his boys into his office. He teased Tyler about the morning’s volleyball tournament. He noted that “Friendly competition is good for the soul.” He explained his latest scheme: He would pit the Harvard classmates against each other in a pitched battle for salesmanship. At the next day’s investor party, Daniel and Tyler would compete for the attention of multi-billionaires. “First one of you to close the high roller keeps the commission, same as all the execs.” He reminded the boys that they weren’t just selling Grayson Global; they were selling the Grayson lifestyle. “Ambition vs. nepotism,” said the talented Mr. Poolhouse. “Game on.”
The basic structure of Revenge is coming into focus now. This is a show that’s all about one-on-one competition. People who were close allies just a few episodes ago are now enemies. Just look at Fauxmanda — Nolan’s nickname for Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke/Kara Wilkins — who arrived at the Hamptons a couple episodes ago as our Emily’s closest friend. Last night, Emily asked her old cellmate to leave. Then she commanded her. “Get out of the way,” said Fauxmanda. “You’re blocking the sun.”
Or look at Conrad and Victoria. Their separation is still fresh, but Conrad’s departure from Casa Grayson seems to have unleashed decades of pent-up resentment. Victoria swung by Conrad’s digs at the South Fork Inn to deliver a friendly message. The cops had discovered Frank the Dead Security Guy’s cell-phone outside of the Graysons’ house. They asked significant questions about Conrad: Was he a jealous man? Conrad didn’t seem too worried. He told his beloved wife: “I suggest you start backing me up, because if I end up getting framed for this, I’m gonna see to it that everything you cherish so dearly is ripped from those greedy little claws of yours.”
Conrad was smiling when he said that. (This is where we have to remember that Henry Czerny played Eugene Kittridge, possibly the greatest Evil Douchebag Bureaucrat of the ’90s, which in hindsight was a terrible decade for pretty much everyone except for Evil Douchebag Bureaucrats.) And the great thing is that Victoria smiled right back at him. “I don’t respond well to threats,” she said — and viewers, she winked at him. Love is strange.
NEXT: Tyler and Nolan redefine the term “pay-for-play”