Revenge recap: Out of the Box
My brain has melted. Not since the “What’s in the hatch?” heyday of Lost have we seen a network show with as many WTF-worthy cliff-hangers as Revenge. But after last night’s doozy of an ending, consider my mind well and truly blown. And it will likely remain blown until next week’s undoubtedly even more mind-blowing Fire + Ice extravaganza that will take us full circle to the Daniel-offing events of the pilot.
“Perception,” the title of last night’s episode, is indeed everything. It’s the filter that allows people to believe many things that are obviously at odds with reality: that Victoria was raped by David Clarke, when she was actually having a long-standing—passionately consensual—affair with him; that David actually believed Victoria was a victim too; that Emily with brown hair and glasses isn’t worthy of a second glance from the Grayson scion, while blond Emily is worthy of a proposal; that Grandpa Grayson is 80, when actor William Devane is only 72; that the noticeable application of “Just for Men” to Henry Czerny’s hair makes Conrad Grayson look demonstrably younger than his father; that Nolan’s suggested larger-than-life porn is a good way to mend a broken heart; the idea that Declan is charming. I could go on. But, most importantly, I have a feeling our perception of Revenge is about to be radically altered.
Up till now we’ve thought our Emily, Amanda Clarke hiding in plain sight, was the series’ ultimate puppet master. She could destroy her enemies, without implicating herself in the slightest, by having them destroy each other. She didn’t even have to worry about finding a way to expose Charlotte’s paternity—Conrad Grayson did that quite publicly enough himself. But with that final reveal, that somebody dug up her “Revenge Box” out of the floorboards and filled out her engagement party invite with “Miss Emily Thorne will attend,” somebody else wants Emily to know that they know who she really is. That means Emily may not be pulling all the strings, after all. And I have a sneaking suspicion I know who it is. In fact, if you’ll allow me, I’ll dispense with the conventional plot summary this week—I mean, if you haven’t seen last night’s episode, why the hell are you reading this recap? Get thee to Hulu.—and propose a theory.
A Theory of Ashley
Ah, “Victoria’s Little Bird,” as Connie called her, has played a masterful game. In fact, I think she’s maneuvered herself into a position of confidence with the Graysons even more effectively than our Emily has. And I don’t think that’s an accident. Think about it: we know almost nothing about her background other than that, presumably, she’s British and somehow befriended “Emily Thorne” in the time before Emily moved to the Hamptons.
NEXT: I’ve found you out, Ashley, you little minx. I think…
In fact, Ashley herself arranged for Emily to rent her home from Lydia Davis. Now, you could say that Emily exploited her connection with Ashley to infiltrate the world of the Graysons. But maybe that’s exactly the “perception” Ashley wanted to give to Emily—so that she could position Emily to wage war against the Graysons in a manner that suits her own interests. Because I think Ashley is very much pursuing her own path to revenge and has placed herself perfectly to bring the Graysons down from the inside. And, unlike Emily, she might very well be capable of killing young Daniel in cold blood.
Now, I’m not going to lie. Part of this theory is based on my belief that a series that’s so meticulously plotted in every other respect couldn’t possibly have devoted so much screen time to a character who, on the whole, seems utterly pointless. Okay, most of it. This is someone who actually found Tyler a worthy dating prospect. Who defines herself by the parties she plans and the brightly colored frocks she wears. But then again, Revenge has given us Declan. (Shudderingly Awful Declan Line of the Night, when Victoria and Charlotte come into the Stowaway: “It’s like the beginning of a joke! ‘Two Graysons walk into a bar…’”) Still, “Perception” included some major hints that the ultimate puppet master may have been lurking in plain sight. The episode even opened with Emily quoting William Blake’s thoughts on the tug-of-war between perception and reality as Ashley gazed upon the invitations to Emily and Daniel’s Fire + Ice party. Then, later, Victoria asked Ashley if she’s close to her family. “Not particularly,” Ashley said. Aha! Could that be because Ashley’s parents died on Flight 197? Maybe she’s pursued her own investigation into the events behind that great tragedy and found the tidy David Clarke Is Evil explanation none too convincing—especially after getting to know his daughter. Or maybe I’m looking at it from the wrong angle. Maybe Ashley’s parents were actually members of the terrorist cell that downed the plane, and she’s gunning for the Graysons in retribution for how they turned their backs on her organization. If they stopped laundering money for them—and they almost certainly did stop—those terrorists would probably have been none too pleased.
NEXT: I continue to embrace my inner Doc Jensen. The evidence against Ashley is more apparent than you think.
We never really did find out who kidnapped Victoria’s psychiatrist and locked her in a shipping container, did we? At the time, we all chalked that up to Frank. But with hindsight that may have been the first real indicator that some other force was also targeting the Graysons. And if you recall, that mental-health fundraiser where Emily showed everyone the shrink’s recorded sessions, was organized by Ashley. Maybe she arranged for the psychiatrist to be spirited away…to implicate the Graysons for kidnapping someone who’d publicly humiliated them. They certainly would have had the motive to get rid of her, anyway.
Likewise, that filled-out invitation, with “Miss Emily Thorne will attend” in bright red ink, automatically makes us think that the Real Emily Thorne, i.e. Fake Amanda, intends to crash Daniel Grayson’s engagement party and reveal who he’s really marrying. But if our Emily would stop and think for a moment…why on earth would Fake Amanda announce in advance her intention to crash the party? If she really wanted to expose Emily, she’d just do it. So it seems like someone else is trying to cast suspicion on her. That begs the question…who else would know Emily’s secret hiding place under the floorboards? Maybe Lydia, I suppose, since she formerly owned this house. But my money would be on Ashley, who first brokered Emily’s summer rental. She’s trying to distract Emily, while she pursues her true agenda: the murder of Daniel Grayson. The Graysons may have deprived her of her parents, so she will deprive them of their son.
On some level I think Conrad himself suspects her sinister intentions, hence that curious moment in “Perception” when he asked her, “What’s your game, young lady?” He smartly recognized that she’s too refined to be a grifter and too smart to be a lackey. The polite word for her? Opportunist. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling Revenge may structure its mysteries somewhat like those on Lost. That series’ most amazing feats were those moments when it took a mystery and suddenly pulled back and re-framed it within the context of an even larger mystery. Like how the Others suddenly became less scary than Charles Widmore and his paramilitary forces. And then Widmore became less scary than the Man in Black. It wouldn’t shock me at all if we learned the very title of Revenge refers to a vendetta even bigger than Emily’s.
Yeah, there’s a greater chance of me being wrong than right with this one. But if Ashley does indeed turn out to be as benignly vacuous as she appears, I’ll comfort myself with the knowledge that Doc Jensen once suggested that Juliet on Lost might really be a dolphin in human form.
NEXT: It’s odds making time. Who will shoot Daniel Grayson?
So…who will shoot Daniel Grayson, exactly?
I’m giving Ashley a 1 in 3 chance of being the shooter. That assumes that there is only one shooter. We know Daniel was shot once from afar, then twice at point blank range by someone wearing black gloves. It could very well have been two different people with two very different motives. The first person could just have been trying to wound him to delay the engagement, while the second truly did have intent to kill. Here’s a roundup of the other not-so-usual suspects, based on everything we learned in “Perception.”
Okay, so we all thought that Faux-Manda was in Paris partying with Siobhan from Ringer. But actually, Emily put her up in a fleabag motel nearby to keep her handy in a pinch. Just such a pinch occurred when Jack revealed he had one last tape of Amanda Clarke from her Mason Treadwell interview. Emily needed that back. Badly. So she had Faux-manda give Jack a call and ask him to drop it by. When he arrived, still battered and bruised and fighting a broken heart over her departure, she put on a hell of a performance about how she had in fact burned down Treadwell’s house and didn’t want to involve him in her crimes. I mean, she’s come a long way from the silly stripper girl who gamely donned one of Nolan’s house bikinis. Jack decided he was going to keep the tape, so he could find out what was so important that she would throw away their relationship. You could tell she felt genuinely awful for putting him through this kind of emotional hell, and when she went running after him at the end it almost seemed like she was turning her back on Emily’s plan once and for all. Still, I don’t see how she could be the one who accessed Emily’s box, because, quite frankly, how would she have known where to find that hiding place at all?
Of course, she could still be Daniel’s shooter. The shooter wore black gloves, and in the promo for next week’s episode we see her running along the docks wearing what appears to be a black leather outfit. The only problem? She has absolutely no motive whatsoever. But if she does kill Daniel, that may explain why Jack’s so very eager to carry away his body: to cover up his beloved’s crime. And we certainly know from Frank’s encounter with a crowbar that she is more than capable of killing.
Odds Faux-Manda is Daniel’s shooter: 1 in 5.
NEXT: More suspects! Daniel really, really has to watch out for the women in his life.
For all we know, whoever accessed Emily’s “Revenge Box” might very well expose her on the night of her engagement party. If not in public, then, at the very least, to Daniel. On the day of the party, Emily and Daniel are apparently going to have a fight, a quarrel big enough that Daniel chooses to walk alone on the beach, away from the festivities. If Daniel finds out her secret and threatens to expose her, Emily might be capable of shooting him. I highly doubt it. But much of the rest of her plan has now gone awry. She wanted to implicate Amanda Clarke in Treadwell’s fire, but Victoria’s henchman didn’t recover all of the tapes. And she wanted to expose Charlotte’s paternity via David Clarke’s own video testimonial, but Conrad beat her to the punch. Maybe if she feels her plan will totally unravel if she doesn’t kill Daniel, she in fact will.
Odds Emily’s the shooter: 1 in 12.
So Jack got a 65-inch LED TV from Nolan as a get-well present. But that wasn’t nearly enough to mend his broken heart over Amanda. (Nolan Snarkism of the Night Vol. 1: “I don’t need to give you the Other Fish in the Sea talk…because you’re basically a fisherman.”) He immediately assumed that Amanda had left to protect him, an assumption that seemed all the more true after she reached out, only to ask for her DVC-Pro tape back. When Jack got Nolan to play it (Nolan Snarkism of the Night Vol. 2: “I can’t help but notice Amanda’s name on there… A sex tape?”) and he saw a terrified 10-year-old Amanda, all the love he ever felt for her came rushing back, magnified by his heartbreak over how cruelly this little girl had been abandoned all those years ago. His already fragile emotions couldn’t take much more, so he crashed the Graysons’ dinner party and confronted Victoria with his suspicions that she’d run Amanda out of town. And broadcast his knowledge of her affair with David Clarke, to the shock of everyone. Jack’s clearly a little unbalanced, so he might very well be unhinged enough to pull the trigger by the next episode. I say he won’t, though, because it’s too obvious. We already saw him drag away Daniel’s body in the opening moments of the Pilot, and it seems more likely he’s covering up somebody else’s crime.
Odds Jack’s the shooter: 1 in 15.
NEXT: What about Conrad or Nolan?
I know, why would Conrad shoot his own son, right? But he might be involved if there are indeed two shooters. He might have fired the first shot, intending only to wound his son, so that his father would rethink his plan to turn control of the company over to Daniel—and prevent him from getting married just yet and accessing his company shares. He might also be worried about how his son is taking Victoria’s side in the divorce, although Daniel might very well take a more neutral position now that he knows she was lying about being raped by David Clarke. (Cynical Conrad Line of the Night Vol. 1: “So, Fire + Ice. It’s astonishing how your mom modeled the theme of your engagement party on the two sides of her personality.”)
Odds Conrad’s the shooter: 1 in 25.
He’s been giving off some sinister vibes of late, though that’s probably counteracted by his preachy self-righteousness in the aftermath of Jack’s beating. Still, I’m listing him here because he was the only man at the Fire + Ice party to wear red (a color reserved for the women), and I have to believe that’s a clue to something or all my frantic re-watching has been in vain.
Odds Nolan’s the shooter: 1 in 100.
So there we have it, gang. Tyler or Lydia could also be suspects, I suppose. But since we haven’t seen either of them for awhile, it seems pretty unlikely either would be the shooter. I have no doubt we’ll see them again, but will they really return with just such a bang? Next week, the circle will be complete, and I’ll either be proven a genius or a madman with my predictions. Probably the latter. Are you ready for “Chaos”?