Well, we found out! And you thought Revenge was going to string us along, didn't you?
“Scandal,” to quote Gandalf the White, was like the deep breath before the plunge. A regrouping episode to slow down for a moment and make sense of all the crazy things that have happened in the two previous installments. And prepare us for all that lies ahead. Unfortunately, you’ll be holding that breath for awhile, because Revenge is going to be in repeats until April. ABC is thinking that it’d be best to air the remaining six episodes of the season as one uninterrupted block—kind of like they did with Lost in its later seasons.
Who shot Tyler Barrol? Amazingly, we found out last night. I don’t know about you, but I really thought that when we didn’t learn the perp’s identity at the end of “Chaos” this was going to be a mystery that would be up in the air for the foreseeable future. Well, this certainly wasn’t a “Who’s in the coffin?” tease, was it? It was Satoshi Takeda! This is very, very interesting. I expected that he had arranged for Tyler’s death on the beach and for Daniel to be framed, but I wasn’t certain if he was the actual trigger man. He was at the barn to retrieve Emily’s revenge box, after all. Then the party. And then he came pulling up in his Maserati to give Faux-Manda a ride out of Dodge. When did he find the time to knock out Daniel and shoot Tyler? Also, it seems pretty clear that the events that actually went down on the beach are not as they were first presented back in the pilot. We now know that Daniel fired the first shot in self defense. But it was at point-blank range with Tyler charging at him. Daniel ended up with Tyler’s blood on his jacket, after all! In the opening moments of the pilot when Tyler is shot it appears to be from a much greater range.
“Scandal” opened with seemingly everyone in the Hamptons parsing what happened on the beach, Rashomon-style. My favorite? Declan’s “I don’t know if it was a hoodie! It could have been anything!” Scratch that, Nolan’s was the best: “The guy went all Benihana on my arm and tied me to a chair.” Who knew that a Pottery Barn knife could inflict such damage! It became clear just in his short testimony that Declan had figured out his brother was 8 Mile, the guy he saw removing Tyler’s body. And he wasn’t about to let Jack go down for this. When did Declan become so smart all of a sudden? Did reading Paradise Lost increase his IQ this much? This is a kid who a couple months ago was stealing lobsters.
NEXT: Let the Nancy Grace-led media circus begin!
Of course, Victoria was absolutely right when she said that everyone at the party wanted Tyler dead. The suspects were legion. And yet everything pointed to Daniel. He shot Tyler with Emily’s gun, and Tyler’s blood was spattered on his jacket. If it had just been that one shot we know Daniel did fire at Tyler, there never would have been a problem: it was clearly self-defense. But, like with Bette Davis in The Letter, it seemed that Daniel had shot Tyler two more times in the back, while he lay on the ground. And with the political climate having turned decidedly against the 1 percent (come on, that’s a big part of why we’re watching this, right?) Daniel was facing Murder One. Let the Nancy Grace witch-hunt begin! That makes me wonder…what kind of smug, Tot Mom-style nickname would Grace give Daniel to convict him in the media? I’m going with Killer Heir, but feel free to share your suggestions, and we’ll pick a winner.
Daniel was acting spacey enough to throw suspicion on himself alright. Did he really have no memory of what happened on the beach? Or was it that Tyler actually succeeded in telling him the truth about Emily? Nolan reassured Emily, before taking it all back, per his usual style: “Daniel loves you…unless that’s now changed?” A flashback showed that Tyler indeed told Daniel that Emily had been playing him, even producing the Grayson Global Corporate Retreat photo from 1993 that Emily had been using as her unofficial hit list. Of course, Daniel, being the most gullible guy ever, chooses to believe Tyler—the guy who slept with Nolan to get his contract, who acted like Daniel had punched him at the Stowaway, who pulled a gun on his fiancée at his birthday party—over Emily. Ah, just because Emily wouldn’t drop everything and go to Paris with him, Tyler must now be right? Takeda called it all along: “The boy is weak.”
NEXT: The circle is now complete for the Graysons. When Emily left them as a child she was but the learner. Now she is the master.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent fans, your ship has come in! Courtney B. Vance made his debut as Mr. Brooks, the high-powered Manhattan attorney Grandpa Grayson brought in to represent Daniel. He figured out mighty quick that it would have been difficult for Tyler to have hit Daniel on the back of his head if they had been sparring face-to-face. That means there must have been a third person on the beach, right? Victoria assured him that he could count on the Graysons to work as a team, yet Conrad never showed up to their first meeting. Connie was particularly haunted by his past at that moment, thinking back to when he realized he’d been laundering money to the terrorists that downed Flight 197. Per usual, the flashback was gray and blue, just as we all know the 1990s were. (At some point they might as well just show a clip of Henry Czerny from Mission: Impossible and get it over with.) Now, after all that, Connie realized he was facing another such crisis. And when the police showed up at Emily’s house to haul another innocent man away, this time Daniel, it felt like true eye-for-an-eye justice. With Victoria screaming in despair, Daniel was led off in chains just like Emily’s father had been.
But now that what’s gone around has come around, does Emily feel any satisfaction? We haven’t ever really deciphered what her true endgame is, have we? Because, really, this should be it. What more fitting way to break Conrad and Victoria’s hearts than to do to their beloved son what they did to her father? There’s nothing else that could compare. Not financial ruination, nor even publicly exposing their complicity in the downing of Flight 197 and exonerating her father, could match that for pure eye-for-an-eye payback.
The next day, Victoria decided to present Emily with her engagement present. Now she was really stuck with this interloper as a daughter-in-law. If Emily called off her engagement at this crucial time, it could be a sign to the world that she also believes Daniel is guilty. Staying by his side could assure people that she herself knows for certain that he’s innocent.
NEXT: Charlotte’s hooked on drugs! After only three days! Plus, why are the only true romantics on Revenge the guys?
Later, Charlotte, even more spaced-out than Daniel what with all the drugs she’s loaded up on, asked her mom if she thinks Daniel killed Tyler. And then asked her what she felt when she found out about all the crimes that David Clarke had committed. Flashback to another Calvin Klein-cool love-scene on the beach with David proposing to Victoria, just like Daniel did to Emily, that the two of them should just pack up and leave their old lives behind. Victoria basically said that she couldn’t go back to a living in a house that’s less than 24,000 square feet. And she didn’t want Daniel to be denied the Graysons’ lifestyle. So in a sense Revenge is showing the intense similarity between Victoria and Emily. It’s the men on this show who are the true romantics (David, Daniel, Jack), and their love can be easily thwarted by the hard-headed pragmatism of the women in their lives. Personally, though, I think all future flashbacks to some David and Victoria lovin’ need to play out like this:
Speaking of one of those besotted romantics, Jack returned to the Stowaway on the night of the murder well after his suspicious younger brother. Declan told him that it was Tyler whose body had been found on the beach. Jack was shocked. Which means that he really did think it was Daniel who had been murdered and he was still more than willing to cover up what he thought was Amanda’s crime.
Emily was well and truly stunned that Jack didn’t leave the night before. Nolan was really sleeping on the job because his own whale camera clearly showed Jack disembarking the Amanda with Amanda. And that wasn’t the only problem with closed-circuit television the night of the murder. Mr. Brooks discovered that the Grayson security cameras had been tampered with to play the same piece of footage on half-hour loops. The prosecution could then say that young Daniel had altered the camera feeds himself, so that there would be no record of his crime on the beach. Premeditation! But Emily knew this meant Nolan must have tampered with those security cams, and, remembering his strange exchange with Takeda, must have done it on the Japanese businessman’s orders. And Emily knew very well why…
NEXT: So what is Takeda’s endgame?
Takeda had broken in to her house the night before to tell her that he had tied up her loose ends. He had done what she could not, and now she was going to have to take it from here. Flashback: yep, Takeda was the second shooter all right. After Daniel shot Tyler the first time, he conked the Grayson scion on the back of the head and finished the job, putting two more bullets in Tyler’s back. Honestly, I’m a little surprised at Takeda’s willingness to get down and dirty with gunplay. It seems so…uncivilized. Hardly the action of a billionaire martial-arts master. But maybe we’re looking at this from the wrong angle…
The Agatha Christie Theory of Revenge
Up till now we’ve thought that Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo is the key literary influence on Revenge. A tightly focused tale of a singular hero who’s been cruelly wronged by a rogues gallery of hateful people and then takes it upon herself to neutralize them one by one. But I’m thinking that the revenge plot against the Graysons—if it really is just confined to the Graysons—is much, much larger than we’ve been led to believe. Takeda taking it upon himself to kill Tyler and frame Daniel is not the act of a sensei protecting his student. It’s the act of someone who himself has a deep-seeded desire for retribution and will not let the romantic entanglements of his increasingly confused protégée stand in his way. This is a billionaire who could hire the top hitmen on the planet to clean up Emily’s mess, and yet he chooses to do it himself—out of the need for personal satisfaction, I’d be willing to argue, more than for any practical necessity.
Takeda’s been wronged by the Graysons every bit as much as Emily…because I bet his family was aboard Flight 197. After years of research via the limitless resources at his disposal, he figured out that the official story of David Clarke being the terrorist mastermind was a joke. And when he traced his family member’s deaths back to the Graysons he reached out to the warden of the juvenile detention facility where David Clarke’s daughter was being held, sensing that he could recruit her as an ally. She had been wronged just as much as him, right? But for Takeda Emily has never been more than just an acolyte to do his bidding, someone to pave the way for his true endgame, which I would suspect is greater than just framing Daniel. Emily to Takeda is like Nolan to Emily—an ally who can become at any point a nuisance or even an obstacle to achieving his true goals.
NEXT: The Agatha Christie Theory of Revenge continues…
I’m willing to wager that Takeda and Emily are just two parts of a large circle of the aggrieved, who have all banded together to take down the Graysons. This makes Revenge not so much like the strongly subjective Count of Monte Cristo, but Agatha Christie’s sprawling Murder On the Orient Express. It’s one of the last century’s most popular novels, so if you haven’t read it or seen the untold number of movie and TV adaptations you’ve been living in a vacuum, but SPOILER ALERT, for those who are really still in the dark. In Murder on the Orient Express, twelve different people who’ve been affected by a gangster’s Lindbergh baby-esque child-killing conspire to get payback. There’s the baby’s grandmother who wants revenge not only for her granddaughter, but also her daughter who died of grief shortly thereafter; the dowager princess who wants to avenge her goddaughter; the chauffeur who wants payback because his fiancée, the family nurse, killed herself after she was considered a suspect; and on and on. Ultimately, these twelve, each of whom represent a different stratum of society, from servants to governesses to military men to actresses to royalty, gather on the Orient Express and kill the mobster, each one of them in turn plunging a knife into his breast. Since they are twelve they can justify their vigilantism by considering themselves a makeshift jury. I think the same thing is happening in the Hamptons to the Graysons. Already we know Takeda, Emily, and Nolan have teamed up, each wanting mortal satisfaction for different reasons. But how many others could be involved in this plot?
NEXT: As with all things, we return…to Ashley.
That’s where I return to my Theory of Ashley. I know I initially thought she might be the shooter, but really that was never her style. Still, I think she’s gunning for the Graysons in her own way, even if she’s in not coordinating with Takeda-Emily-Nolan. Remember, she wasn’t “particularly” close to her parents. Could they have died on Flight 197 as well? Or could they have been forsaken members of the terrorist cell that the Graysons abandoned in the wake of the crash? And she’s maneuvered herself into a position of astonishing influence within their family. You could say she’s just a social climber. Conrad certainly noticed her ambition when he called her an opportunist. But I think she’s actually done a magnificent job of infiltrating the Graysons, only to bring them down from the inside. And last night in “Scandal” it seems like she’s begun to do just that.
In the span of sixty minutes Ashley went from being Victoria’s aspirin-fetcher, to helping Nolan cover up leaked tabloid photos of blood-spattered Daniel, to becoming the Grayson spokeswoman. Nolan put it best when he said, “I’m all for meteoric rise, Ash, but something smelled particularly fishy about how quickly you reached warp speed.” To me she seemed to be doing as inept a job as Dr. Frasier Crane when he became his brother Niles’ spokesman in the wake of Maris killing her Argentinean polo-player lover with a crossbow. But again everyone seemed taken in by her. Everyone that is except Nolan who discovered that she, in fact, was the one who had leaked the blood-spattered Daniel photos. Either Ashley really is that much of an idiot that she would compromise the Graysons’ privacy (and her own position with them) just to earn a little fleeting cash or she did this to distract from the far bigger conspiracy she’s really masterminding. At this point she can barely contain her animosity for the Graysons, even saying to Mr. Brooks that she thinks Daniel did kill Tyler, and that he’s going to get away with it just because of his wealth and privilege.
Of course, right now it doesn’t look like Daniel is going to get just a slap on the wrist, because a judge, citing the Graysons’ phenomenal wealth and hangers’ worth of private planes, ordered him remanded to the maximum security lockup on Rikers’ Island without bail. (Who knew Veronica Cartwright could be so tough?) And that judge could score some political points by playing into the current resentment against the 1 percent. But I don’t think anyone would say that having millions of dollars to throw in the direction of legal counsel is a bad thing. Ashley might very well be right. So the real question about Miss Davenport is exactly what first Conrad and now Nolan have flat-out asked her: “What’s your game, young lady?” Time will tell.
Who else do you think is conspiring against the Graysons? Are you also happy that Revenge chose to reveal the identity of the shooter last night, rather than drag out the mystery for episodes—or even seasons—on end? What is Takeda’s endgame, exactly? Or even Emily’s for that matter? And what did Takeda do with Faux-Manda? Can we expect her to pop up again like a homicidal stripper version of Whack-a-Mole? Sound off in the comments. And see you in April.
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