Emily takes aim at a politician with a secret, Nolan teaches Declan about getting even, and Daniel's roommate from Harvard arrives
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Henry Czerny, Emily VanCamp, ... | OH, HOW SWEET IT IS Madeleine Stowe and Emily VanCamp in Revenge
Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

There’s something oddly comforting about how old-fashioned the horrible rich people are on Revenge. Last week, Emily targeted a Wall Street banker whose worst crime was a little bit of wink-wink insider trading, which seems positively nostalgic in our post-Too Big To Fail era. This week, the poor sap in Emily’s Sniper-Scope of Convoluted Vengeance was a shady politician who clearly had to have a secret. But it turns out that he was just having a heterosexual love affair, complete with an old-fashioned illegitimate bun-in-the-oven. No TwitPics? No wide stance? Ryan Murphy would not be amused.

Still, I’m digging the fact that Emily’s vengeance-quest is taking her beyond the usual type of Hamptons elite. Senator Kingsley was just in town for a little money-grabbing speech to prepare for his re-election campaign. Victoria was surprised that he knew who Emily was: She was a senior volunteer in his first campaign. (Given how many years of set-up went into Emily’s vengeance, I’m surprised she didn’t tattoo her master plan all over her body, Prison Break-style.) Kingsley had another link to Emily, though. When he was a Federal Prosecutor, he led the case against Emily’s father.

His real crime, though, was a sin of omission. The night before David Clarke was sentenced, Victoria came to Kingsley’s office claiming that she could prove Papa Clarke’s innocence. Conrad told Kingsley that Victoria had just gone love-crazy, but he also pointed out that the Clarke case could make or break Kingsley’s entire political career. (For this flashback, the color was a bit bleached out, but I could swear that Conrad’s eyes briefly glowed blue when he offered his life-bribe to Kingsley.)

Emily’s plot to take Kingsley down was a curious mix of hacker-mediated subtlety and pregnancy-related extremity. First, she taunted the Senator with scary messages on his iPad. (Emily’s specific request to Nolan: “Can you hack a computer tablet to run a PowerPoint presentation?” Interesting how quickly Emily has come around to accepting Nolan as an accomplice.) It seemed like this might be some sort of blackmail gambit. Kingsley admitted that, although the affair “ended amicably,” there was a potentially embarrassing twist in the story: His mistress had gotten pregnant, and he’d paid for the abortion. “You know the senator’s politics on the issue!” screamed Kingsley’s aide.

The climax of the Kingsley subplot was pleasantly twisty. I thought we were being primed for some sort of video reveal of the Senatorial Sex-Tape right in the middle of the party. Instead, the senator went onstage to deliver his speech. Conrad: “He’s a man who represents everything this country should be: Honorable, passionate, and conservative!” Kingsley cleared his throat and prepared to read his speech off his iPad. The iPad buzz-buzzed a message: “Look for the red dress. Happy Father’s Day!”

And sure enough, the Mistress had shown up, with a bun in the oven that was decidedly unaborted. The Senator quickly announced his retirement from public life. I don’t know about you, but it’s always been a personal dream of mine to reach a high enough station in life that will allow me to say the words “I am retiring from public life” in front of a crowded audience.

NEXT: Learning to Love Daniel GraysonI like how Emily didn’t let the Senator off the hook. She told Nolan about her plans to release the sex-tape on the internet: “I want to destroy his life.” I was intrigued, though, by the implication that Victoria might have had something to do with the Senator’s downfall. Frank the Totally Badass Private Investigator told Conrad that the emails to the mistress had been coming from his computer. (The implication seemed to be that Victoria was somehow involved — I’m not entirely sure how that’s possible, but the episode did seem to indicate that there was more to Victoria than just being the Hamptons’ heartless Alien Queen Mother. Quick Prediction for the Future: Since Revenge creator Mike Kelley has stated that the show could tell several different vengeance sagas, maybe the second half of this season will be about Mama Grayson seeking her own violent retribution for her son’s death?)

The Shady-Politico subplot had some of the same problems as last week’s Wall-Street-BSD subplot: Emily’s plan wasn’t really all that interesting, and the vengeance-targets were so obnoxiously villainous that there wasn’t much tension in seeing them brought low.

For my money, the show may want to think about dropping the vengeance-procedural angle of the show — I had a lot more fun with the series regulars this week. Looking through the comment boards, it seems like the most controversial character so far is Declan, who admittedly has spent the first three episodes of Revenge mostly pouting around and saying things like, “Just because dad died, that doesn’t mean you’re my father!” and just generally being an annoying teenager. But I’m inclined to like the kid, if only because he’s played by Connor Paolo, who managed to retain his dignity longer than most of the actors stranded on the sinking Gossip Girl ship.

I liked how the episode interlocked Emily’s anti-Senatorial campaign with Declan’s own mission of vengeance. Nolan tried to convince Poorboy the Younger to take drastic measures against his rival, Douchebot Adam. Nolan hacked into Adam’s webcam using a laptop, because that’s how computers work, and Adam’s webcam was pointed right at his adultery bed, because teenagers are stupid. Nolan gave Declan the laptop — although I can’t be the only one who noticed that he didn’t give Declan a power cord — and sure enough, before long, Adam was hanging out with an Adorable Blondette. Would Poorboy the Younger send evidence of Adam’s crimes to Charlotte? Nope: Instead, he sent a video of his adorable self and the adorable sunset.

Elsewhere in the Grayson household, Daniel was continuing his soft assault on Emily. They went to a nice restaurant, where Emily used her all-purpose ninja powers to force Daniel into a meeting with the brother of the girl he almost crippled. (The brother took a golf club to Daniel’s car, which I prefer to consider an homage to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.) Daniel tried to explain his crime to Emily: He was dating a cocktail waitress, his mom didn’t approve, he was angrily drunk at his mother and got into a car crash.

NEXT: Harvard? Where’s that?{C}This was a confusing subplot — all the more so because we didn’t see the climax, when Daniel actually went to see his old girlfriend at the rehab facility — but confusion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Revenge has been focused so far on Emily’s short-term cons, but she’s clearly running a longer-term game on the Grayson family here. She clearly knew all about Daniel’s crime, so what was her purpose in getting him to confess to the girl whose life he ruined? (The whole Daniel-Emily plotline had an eerie undertone when Daniel errantly picked up her handgun — maybe the very same gun that will kill him in a couple months?)

To me, the most exciting development of the evening was the arrival of Daniel’s roommate from Harvard, a caddish-looking fellow named Tyler, who you may have heard rooms with Daniel at Harvard. He’s a cool guy, and did we mention he goes to Harvard? Tyler is played by the excellent Ashton Holmes — who you’ll vaguely recognize as one of the many existentially-bruised grunts from The Pacific — and he instantly stole the show from everyone by moving into the poolhouse and trying to convince Tyler to make some poor decisions. (Not for nothing, but the last time there was an awesomely sudsy melodrama on television that featured a major character who lived in the poolhouse, that show was The OC and the world was a better place.)

He even got a rise out of Ashley, who hasn’t done much so far this season beyond plan parties where everything goes horribly wrong. I’m hoping Tyler hangs around for awhile, if only so we can add “Someone mentions that Tyler goes to Harvard” to our Revenge drinking game Bingo Board. But seriously, Harvard is a clown college.

I think Revenge has set a pretty high goal for itself. The show appears to be aiming for the hybrid “serial-sodic” form of storytelling, where each episode simultaneously tells a self-contained story while also furthering along the overarching master story. It’s a tough trick to pull off — I’d say that Fringe and Burn Notice do it the best — and I’m not even sure if Revenge needs the independent vengeance plots. I got a big charge out of the one big scene between Emily and Mama Grayson — “Would you mind terribly if I started calling you Victoria?” — and I wonder if the other little vengeances will just start feeling distracting.

What did you think of the episode, viewers? Were you as stoked about Tyler’s arrival as I was? Can you believe that a politician had a dirty secret? Do you like that Victoria is slowly but surely revealing an actual heart beneath her icy exterior? Is Declan winning you over or losing you under?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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