Revenge season premiere recap: 'Renaissance'
Emily Thorne has taken over Grayson Manor, and it seems to suit her well.
A lot can change in six months. Revenge‘s fourth season began with a decidedly different tone Sunday night. A tone a little older, but with the same fervor. Mainly because it was the not the voice of our beloved narrator Emily Thorne, but of Victoria Grayson. And now, Emily’s the one who’s looking out from Grayson Manor to the kingdom below her, perched on the same balcony from which Victoria used to watch her.
Victoria’s still locked up in a mental institution, where, in typical Victoria Grayson fashion, she’s managed to have everyone believing a web of lies: “In my lifetime, I’ve come to understand that there are three ways for a person to disappear. The first is to die. The second is to lie. And the last is to be reborn,” she tells her therapy group. “It was after my former husband’s death six months ago that my transformation began. I made my peace with those who have wronged me and with those who I’ve wronged. No one more so than Emily Thorne.”
Made peace? With Emily Thorne? Sorry, Vic, I just don’t buy it. After all, Emily’s not only the one who locked you up, but she’s also the one who tore your entire family apart.
And Emily’s quite proud of that. “Conrad’s dead, I committed Victoria, and Daniel’s self-destructing all on his own,” the new owner of Grayson Manor boasts to Nolan Ross while she’s planning a Memorial Day party like none of this ever happened.
So if everyone has paid their dues, what the hell is she still doing here? Sure, she later explains to Nolan that she’s stayed in the Hamptons to try to salvage a relationship with her “only family”—if only you knew—Charlotte, but does she really feel all that much loyalty to her half sister? I mean, Emily did kidnap her, after all. And, if her revenge is complete and her father’s name has been cleared, why is she still going by the name Emily Thorne?
On the surface, our antihero seems to be happy—but it’s very much the happiness that the character she created pined for, not Amanda Clarke. She’s living in one of the most expensive mansions in America. She drives around Nolan Ross’ white convertible with red leather interior and blasts Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” (and then she backs into a car behind her). But she’s still wearing that mask of hers—the one we’ve only seen come off in the most intimate and heartbreaking moments. We’ve seen it come off when her childhood dog dies and she kisses Jack, when Amanda dies, and most recently, after the death of Aiden. And underneath that mask, it’s clear that revenge hasn’t brought any peace to Amanda Clarke.
Meanwhile, her ex-fiance seems to be in a similar state of mind. He’s living in a penthouse in uptown Manhattan. He’s canoodling with leggy models and drives six-figure cars. He’s a portrait of a young Conrad, only minus a job—as he unexpectedly quit his job as second-in-command of Margaux’s magazine.
Oh wait? But what about David Clarke? Yes, let’s get to that. Unbeknownst to his daughter, Clarke is very much alive, with the blood of Conrad Grayson on his hands, he announces his return to South Hampton because “I’ve got some unfinished business.” Cue dramatic Revenge music.
Jack has just started his new job as a cop, and when a fellow officer asks why the switch, he says: “I guess I thought this would be good for the soul. I’ve seen too many people get away with murder, and I want to do something about it.” His coworker, however, made a joke about the kidnapping of Charlotte Grayson, which he was locked up for during last season’s finale despite his innocence. (And which Charlotte has yet to forget, as she decides to pick up his son, Carl, and scare the living hell out of him.)
Back at the loony bin, Victoria has made a new friend in Phyllis (Yeardley Smith), who helps her steal an iPhone from one of the doctors. Unfortunately for Victoria, she makes the mistake of calling the Grayson manor landline—which come on, who answers landlines anymore? I digress. Emily Thorne picks up, and in a rare moment, Victoria finds herself begging her to let them put the past behind them. But Emily’s not hearing it: “As far as everything I’ve done, I’d do it all again.” And was it just me, or did I see a little bit of light in our heroine’s eyes at the thought of doing it all over again?
In Daniel’s words, “That bitch never knows when to quit, does she?” He says this when Charlotte visits his penthouse and informs him that Emily has invited her to the Memorial Day party. But as flip as the comment was, the guy’s got a point. The real reason Charlotte’s come is to ask her brother for help paying her $7,000 rent for an apartment downtown. And while he says “anything for my sister,” it’s clear that that’s no longer pocket change for the unemployed Mr. Grayson. (We later find out that he’s quickly becoming broke, having to resort to selling his cars for cash.)
NEXT: The annual start of
Revenge the Hamptons season
The next day, at Emily’s Memorial Day party, Jack shows up in uniform—why, I’m not quite sure— with a cop buddy and explains to Emily that he had wanted to join the police force ever since Amanda was murdered, but he waited for her to finish her mission so he wouldn’t stand in her way. “I’m just glad it’s over, that you’re moving on,” he tells her. But moving on, her eyes say, she is most definitely not.
Charlotte shows up to the the party on the arm of Margaux’s brother Gideon, a man Nolan calls “two parts Madoff, one part Manson.” After throwing shots at Emily (“Why would I give you anything?” When you want it, you just take it”), she and her new boyfriend head to the patio to do lines of cocaine. Jack’s cop buddy catches them in the act and threatens to arrest them, but Jack steps in and convinces him to let it slide. Jack confronts Gideon and warns him that if he gives Charlotte “so much as an Aspirin,” he’ll come after him.
And that’s not the only drama to unfold on Memorial Day. Also in attendance is Nancy, the woman whose car Emily ran into the day before, and who, too, is suffering from the loss of a loved one, her fiance. There’s also a new wealthy couple who are there to christen their new boat. It turns out, their last one was totaled after he killed Nancy’s fiance in a boating accident.
Naturally, that wasn’t all coincidence. Rather, it was all perfectly orchestrated by Emily to, once again, get revenge—but this time, not for her. When they unveil the new boat, the wife finds that instead of being named after her, it’s named after her husband’s mistress, Valerie. She abruptly announces she’s leaving her husband and storms out of the party.
And Emily, then, gets that all-too-familiar smirk on her face. But in this case, it’s a little more the smirk of the mean girl bullying her classmates on the playground, rather than the little girl who had her dad taken away from her. And Emily’s surprised to find that Nancy isn’t laughing along.
“I get sick of hating. It’s a useless, crippling emotion. Then what? I live the worst day of my life over and over again,” Nancy tells Emily, making it clear that she wants no part in revenge. “Nothing can bring back the people we love. Nothing.”
That seems to put Emily face to face with the one reality she’s been escaping for the past six months: That after all the havoc she’s wreaked, nothing can bring someone back from the dead. Two, or in this case 200, wrongs won’t bring your father back.
Meanwhile, miles from the Hamptons, Margaux finally confronts Daniel about why he abruptly left his position at the magazine. And it turns out, her brother is behind it all. After the two went out drinking and picked up a couple girls, Daniel woke up to find the girl he was with had overdosed. Gideon had snapped a picture of her and used it to blackmail him. “All I could think about is what I’d do to my name and the company… so I took care of it.” (Can’t you just see him trying to murder his wife by putting her on a doomed plan 40 years down the road?)
Back at the Grayson manor, Emily’s unraveling after her eye-opening exchange with Nancy. Nolan suggests an intervention “to force you to be who you are.” And in that moment, she takes off that stoic mask again: “Everyone I’ve loved is gone. The Graysons killed them all. They left me nothing to go back to. This is all I have left.”
Amanda Clarke is back in this moment, as she tearfully explains to Nolan that she wanted to protect Nancy from feeling the pain she felt and becoming like her. “But she was never like me. No one is… I’m an addict. The thirst has become part of me. I don’t know who I am without it. Maybe I don’t want to.”
And for a moment, it seemed like a possibility that Amanda Clarke could go on living as Emily Thorne, throwing lavish parties, driving convertibles, and embracing her new self-proclaimed mantra of “I like to forget as much of my past as possible.”
That is, until a knock at the door comes and standing on the other side is Victoria Grayson, who had escaped from the mental institution with a message: “Now, it’s my turn.”
But Victoria’s not the only one out for blood. As soon as she steps out to leave the party, her long lost love David Clarke is there to greet her—and quickly knock her out.