Revenge recap: 'Atonement'
We say good-bye to a character in Revenge's midseason finale.
- TV Show
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
Victoria meddles again
Last week, Victoria learned what it felt like to find out that the person you love lied to you and was keeping secrets. Turns out, she doesn’t like how it feels and tonight’s episode opens with her letting David know just that. She’s freaking out because Malcolm Black, this season’s Big Bad, will kill them all and what little evidence David has against him can’t protect them. And of course, it comes back to money. Unfortunately, neither David nor Victoria is liquid enough to pay back Malcolm Black for everything that was stolen from him. Never missing an opportunity to put Emily’s life in danger, Victoria suggests that David ask Emily for the money. But David, whose pride is still a bit a hurt after his daughter singlehandedly saved him, shuts that idea down and makes Victoria promise she won’t interfere. Does he not know anything about Victoria?
This is Victoria we’re talking about—and she does not stay out of it. The next day, FBI Agent Kate Taylor, who we learned last week works for Malcolm, pays her a visit after having received the little note Victoria left for her. She’s initially confused as to how Emily Thorne is involved in David and Malcolm Black’s dealings, so Victoria has to point her in the right direction. Victoria explains how Emily was roommates with Amanda while in juvy and how she’ll do anything to protect David, even clear his debts. Kate still doesn’t get why Emily would go to such lengths, but accepts Victoria’s challenge of finding out.
Meanwhile, David pays his old prison cellmate a visit; he picks up an untraceable poison that can make it look as if someone died from a stroke. Who is he planning on using it on? Answer: Victoria.
Later that night, David returns home and slips the poison into one of two glasses of wine he pours for himself and Victoria. She’s about to take a sip, but David’s apology for lying and toast to their future stops her. Feeling guilty and with Daniel’s words still ringing in her head, Victoria admits that she stole his computer to help Conrad frame him. Her reason for betraying him and ruining their plan to runaway together with the kids: She found out what happened to his first wife, and although she gave David time to tell her, he never did. The one moment she needed to trust him the most, she couldn’t. Unfortunately, this distrust came around the time of the bombing—and as she was seeking an outlet for her rage and a way to protect her son, she threw David under the bus.
The Wonder Twins of Gossip
Because Nolan remains one of the few genuinely decent people on the show, he’s still trying to make amends for helping Margaux with her story about Louise. Initially, Louise wants nothing to do with him, but eventually Nolan wins her over with his charm. In an attempt to help Margaux “put that story in the rearview,” Nolan suggests they give the media vulture something else to talk about and asks her to cohost his event with her that night. Louise agrees.
NEXT: “Bang Bang”
Emily vs. Kate
Meanwhile, Emily and Nolan are hot on Agent Kate’s trail as they look for evidence tying her to Malcolm Black. Needing more information, Emily, sporting her patented black revenge gloves, breaks into Kate’s hotel room to plant some cameras and lift a fingerprint. On her way out, she runs into Jack’s partner who informs her of Jack and Kate’s budding relationship.
Ever protective, Emily immediately pays a visit to Jack—who actually just asked Kate to be his date to the opening of Nolan’s club—to warn him about his new bed partner. Caught up in the throes of new romance, Jack doesn’t believe Emily. Unfortunately for Jack, Emily and Nolan’s suspicions are bolstered by evidence gleaned from the planted spy cameras. They see Kate using an unregistered and super secure phone—an ideal phone for contacting a paranoid shut-in like Malcolm Black. The new plan: stealing the phone from Kate at the club opening and using it to track Malcolm Black. Before they go into action, Nolan warns Emily about using his new club as her own personal battlefield.
Emily: If everything goes right, Kate won’t even know I’m onto her.
Nolan: When does anything ever go right for the host of a Hamptons party?
(Amen. Nolan dishing out meta moments like these are the reason we’ve stayed with this show for so long.)
The night of the party finally arrives. Everyone’s wearing their Hamptons best and dancing the night away to the song of the summer, “Bang Bang.”(#Foreshadowing) Luckily for Emily, Jack doesn’t interfere with her plan, and she’s able to steal Kate’s phone. Just one problem: Kate quickly notices the theft, confronts Emily, and reveals that she knows Emily is really Amanda. However, Kate claims she doesn’t want to kill her. In fact, she wants Emily to help her take down Malcolm Black because he’s forcing Kate to work for him and is holding her mother hostage. Emily suggests that they rendezvous at her place, to discuss this someplace where Kate isn’t being watched.
When Kate shows up at the house formerly known as Grayson Manor, she reveals to Emily that she lied and that she’s actually Malcolm’s daughter. Although Emily didn’t see this coming, she did know not to trust her and stole the clip to the gun that Kate tries to kill her with. Being weapon-less, the girls engage in a classic Revenge fight sequence, and boy does Emily have her work cut out for her. Luckily for Emily, Jack is on his way to help her after finding out Kate’s identity (thanks to Nolan running her fingerprints).
In the meantime, however, Daniel, who was out on the beach, hears the fight and comes to check it out. He sees a wounded Emily and tries to help her even though she pleads with him to leave. Right then, Kate picks up the gun and fires at Emily, but Daniel dives and takes the bullet. The shots are heard all around, and even interrupt Victoria and David’s awkward conversation. Kate’s about to take a second shot at Emily, but Jack arrives in time and kills her.
Get your tissues ready! In an image reminiscent of Amanda’s death, Daniels bleeds out in Emily’s arms. Before he passes away, however, Emily lets Daniel know that not all of their relationship was a lie, thus confirming something he already knew to be true and making me fall back hard into shipping these two crazy kids. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way that Daniel could’ve been killed off. He died a hero and confirmed that he was nothing like Conrad—because Conrad was too selfish to take a bullet for anyone.
If you need to talk through your feelings about Daniel’s death, feel free to reach out on Twitter @chancelloragard.