Emily tries to deal with the Tyler situation, and Queen Victoria prepares for an ugly divorce.
“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 KandinskyElsewhere in Hampton-land, Queen Victoria had received divorce papers from King Conrad. As curious fate would have it, she ran into a divorce attorney later that same day. “Ryan Huntley,” said Ryan Huntley introducingly, “We met at an Art auction at Sotheby’s. You outbid me on a spectacular Kandinsky.” Queen Victoria never forgets a Kandinsky. She remembered him. Huntley told her that her hubby had sought him out for the divorce trial, but he had other ideas: “I’d love nothing more than to represent you against your husband.” (I’m pretty sure this might violate various legal statutes — didn’t we learn from Sopranos that any lawyer your soon-to-be-ex-husband approaches can’t switch around to represent you? Well, whatever, immortal dog.)
Lawyer-man swung by Casa Grayson to give Queen Victoria a roadmap. She must have no further contact with her spouse. She must be absolutely financially transparent: bank accounts, lockboxes, planes, jewelry, fantastic morning pajamas, it all has to go on the books. And finally, she must be willing to do anything to win her case. Nothing could have pleased Queen Victoria more, except perhaps the rough man-hands of her dear departed Security Man. (Alas for thou, poor Frank!)
Over in Poor-Town, the Porter brothers were finding themselves enmeshed in slightly more functional relationships. Jack is currently dating the girl he’s been dreaming about for his whole life, magically returned to him in the body of a boozy, brassy, vaguely Shakira-esque woman. Jack cooked her pancakes. “Oh, thanks!” she said, “Pancakes!” Jack seemed vaguely hurt: “You don’t remember the pancakes we had on the beach all those years ago, the same day I met you?”
I’m not sure how intentional it is, but since the arrival of Fauxmanda, Jack’s fixation on Amanda has shifted from sweet childhood puppy love into an eerie Vertigo-y obsession. We saw a flashback to the moment when a very young Amanda gave a very fro-tastic Jack her puppy. As she was taken away by child services, Amanda screamed, “I’ll come back for you! I promise!” It wasn’t clear whether she was talking about the dog or Jack. Jack’s whole life was invented in that moment. He spent the episode trying to jog Fauxmanda’s memory; whenever she “remembered” something new (i.e., read about it in Emily’s journal), Jack would just be ever so happy. He treated her to a candle-light dinner, and magically produced a container of sea glass that they’d found as children. “I dug it up the day after social services took it away,” he said. “And I’ve kept it ever since.” Start the debate: Is Jack’s fixation supposed to be bordering on freakishness? Or is this some sort of embedded reference to The Odyssey, only with the gender flips, so Emily is Odysseus and Jack is the patient wife Penelope?
Oh, and Declan wanted to move into a house with Charlotte, but Jack told him he should stay in school, so Declan told Charlotte he wanted to stay in school. I feel like there was something missing from this plotline — an establishment of stakes, rising action, a climax, an actual plotline. But hey, school is important.
NEXT: It throws the laptop in the pool, or else it gets the hose again.
Daniel was feeling a little bit proud of himself. He managed to close a $50 million deal with Master Satoshi. He strolled into King Conrad’s office at the South Fork Inn and said, “Oh, hey gang, what’s up? It’s me. Daniel. Or, as I like to be known, Mr. Businessman.” (I like how the show has slowly built Daniel Grayson into being a likable guy who is fundamentally kind of a patsy. He’s always being controlled by someone.) Tyler made a snide and totally accurate comment about Daniel’s Japanese-speaking girlfriend. Daniel struck back by telling Papa Grayson just how Tyler closed the Ross account. Let’s put it this way: When Tyler gets in bed with investors, he really gets in bed with investors, amiright?
Papa Grayson called Tyler into the office. “You garnered Mr. Ross’ support through less-than-honorable circumstances. Your time at Grayson Global is over.” He mentioned a sex-tape, which confused Tyler, but he had a counter-attack ready: “At least when I do business, people don’t die.” He apparently blackmailed Conrad into letting him keep his job…even though Tyler no longer has the speech written by Lydia and reassembled from the remnants of a paper cutter, which now that I think about it I’m not sure how that would hold up in court.
Tyler visited Nolan, asking about the Monte Carlo vacay. Nolan said he was pulling his investments and canceling the trip, which is sad. (Monaco’s a fun country. It totally has the best aquarium in all of Monaco.) Tyler forced Nolan to show him the sex-tape. Then, in a show of force, he threw the laptop in the pool. This was pretty awesome, although I have no clue exactly what it was supposed to accomplish. Nolan is a kabillionaire who got famous off the Internet — he didn’t make any back-ups? (I initially thought that Tyler had destroyed the little secret-seal-camera, too, but he was watching the video later on his own computer.) Still, I’ll accept illogic if it’s awesome, and I loved Tyler’s exit line to Nolan: “We could’ve been a good team. Now you’re just as lonely and pathetic as the day I found you.”
Because Daniel was so upset about the Tyler situation, he rejoined Team Victoria and promised to give her access to Papa’s bank accounts. He also made an errant reference to that kooky Amanda Clarke woman who’s been hanging around. (I loved the look on Madeleine Stowe’s face when she heard that name: A little bit of shock mixed with just a tiny bit of amusement, as if she had suddenly discovered a missing piece of the puzzle.)
Meanwhile, over at the old Clarke house, Emily was perhaps taking her Master’s advice a little bit too completely. We saw her sever ties with her two main allies. Master Satoshi left when he saw that Emily had fallen in love with Daniel. He reminder her that he had not wanted to train her, “because your emotions destined you to fail.” She claimed to have separated herself from her emotions. Satoshi gave her a stern Spock’s-Dad look and walked away. Then Nolan walked in, sad and dispirited after his encounter with Poolhouse Tyler, but Emily gave him no kind words. “You’ve been trying to derail me since day one,” she said. “You’ve sabotaged our alliance because you fell for a hooker.” Nolan reminded her that the only reason he was helping her was because of her father — and, more cuttingly, that her father would not have wanted any of this for her.
It’s unclear if Nolan is right, or if he’s just being kind — from what little we’ve seen of David Clarke post-conviction, he didn’t particularly strike me as a forgiving man. Regardless, Emily walked back inside…and for the first time in quite awhile, opened up her Revenge Packet and appeared to pick out a new victim — another person who had wronged her father. The lawyer who dropped his appeal. An attorney by the name of Ryan Huntley. We saw Emily visit Huntley in a brunette flashback. So is Huntley working for Queen Victoria on her behalf? Or does this mean that, in the next episode, Emily will be bringing her old Sniper Scope of Convoluted Vengeance out of dry-dock and aiming it directly at the Kandinsky-sized void in Huntley’s heart? Let’s meditate on those questions with a steady regimen of Black Dahlias and morning karate.
Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich
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