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Revenge recap: 'Atonement'

We say good-bye to a character in Revenge’s midseason finale.

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Tony Rivetti/ABC


TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe

Nobody does death like Revenge. Next Sunday, who’s next?—said a voiceover as images of past Revenge deaths flashed across the screen in promos for tonight’s midseason finale. Although my inner contrarian is rattling off a list of shows that do death better than Revenge, it can’t be denied that the show, even when it’s not at its best, knows how to craft a devastating end. No matter how awful the character, you can’t help but be moved. (Confession: Conrad’s death in the third season finale kind of got to me, and that guy was a terrible human being).

Well, gosh darn it, Revenge delivered again. Tonight, we said goodbye to the prince of the Hamptons, Daniel Grayson. To be fair, it wasn’t the most shocking death. For one, Revenge is all about single parenting. Also, it was telegraphed the moment tonight’s episode became about Daniel proving to everyone around him that he would not be like Conrad. But, you know what, who cares if you could see his end coming? It was still incredibly poignant.

However, there’s a ton of stuff to go through before we can talk about how he died.

Daniel and Margaux

If you thought the pregnancy would bring Margaux and Daniel back together at the beginning of this episode, you were wrong. At the beginning of the episode, Margaux pays Daniel a visit and tells him that she intends on raising their child alone. She doesn’t like and can’t trust the man he’s become and is afraid that he’ll run off when things get hard. Daniel has been trying his hardest to be a better man than Conrad, thus the possibility that he might not be involved in his son’s life because he’s become like his father is troubling.

Daniel spends most of the episode brooding and reflecting on the past. In a welcome cameo from Henry Czerny, we flash back to 2008 and see Conrad trying to convince Daniel not to testify against one of his frat brothers who assaulted a girl. Conrad’s worried about Daniel’s future because the frat brother in question comes from a powerful family. What Daniel doesn’t understand is why his future is so much more important than the girl’s. Conrad’s answer: privilege. According to Conrad, there are gods and there are ants, and the gods—people like the Graysons—can’t afford to concern themselves with the well-being of ants. At first, Daniel ignores this and plans on testifying. However, Conrad shows up in the knick of time and convinces him not to to testify because it would mean alienating powerful people and they can’t afford to do that.

In another welcome surprised, Victoria stops being the worst for a few minutes tonight and actually helps Margaux and Daniel reconcile. First, she talks to Margaux, who tells her about the pregnancy. Margaux’s silence and question about Conrad in the beginning of their marriage tells Victoria everything she needs to know, and Victoria makes it clear that Daniel is nothing like Conrad. Still in god of mischief mode, Victoria then pays a visit to Daniel to tell him that he’ll be a great father. But this advice falls on deaf ears because his memory of 2008, in addition to him helping to cover up the framing of David Clarke and shooting his ex-wife, is weighing heavily on his mind. Instead, it is Victoria who gets a much-needed talking to. Daniel tells her that it’s time for them to stop lying to themselves and to own up to every terrible thing they’ve done because he’s tired of running from his mistakes and wants to do more than just survive. With that, Daniel gets up and leaves his mother at the bar to contemplate her multitude of sins and wickedness.

Yes, Daniel has said something along these lines to his mother before, but tonight it took on more significance in light of Margaux’s pregnancy and this makes Daniel determined to be the man the woman he loves and his unborn child need.

Luckily, Margaux accepts what Victoria had to say and calls Daniel, who’s contemplating his own multitude of sins and wickedness on the beach, to apologize for doing the very thing she accused him of doing: running away. Because of the promos and this being Revenge, this reunion is more bitter than sweet.

NEXT: A big secret is revealed