REVENGE Debriefing: Daddy Issues

EMILY VANCAMP, GABRIEL MANN

I’m slowly catching up on the backlog on my DVR, which means I’ve got a whole lot of Revenge on my mind. When last we checked in with the Hamptons’ most dysfunctional family tree, David Clarke (James Tupper) was alive and well and busy kidnapping lost love Victoria (Madeleine Stowe), while Emily (Emily VanCamp) was about to find herself the main course of a barbecue at the Stowaway, thanks to even-more-vengeful sister Charlotte’s (Christa B. Allen) maniacal scheming. My family reunions are definitely never this eventful.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Much has happened in the following three weeks. Emily is conveniently saved by Jack (Nick Wechsler), who runs into the burning bar to save her, and covers for Charlotte’s scheming in the name of sisterly love, or something. Emily: Charlotte didn’t just steal your favorite jacket without telling you, I think you may have to admit defeat on the whole “rebellious phase” idea. Jack plays along at first, reluctantly, but Nolan (Gabriel Mann) rightly reads her the riot act, seeing through Charlotte’s homicidal turn, too. However, Emily has no time for dwelling on orchestrating trust exercises, because she has bigger fish to fry: David, brainwashed by Victoria into thinking Emily is the root of all evil, sneaks out of his Boo Radley-themed cabin to go fillet his supposed enemy in her sleep at Grayson Manor, only to be caught at the last second by watchdog Nolan, escaping by jumping off the balcony. Interestingly, David pauses as he approaches Emily’s sleeping body, as if for a second he recognizes her as someone else: I’d be curious to know if that was in the script, or an acting choice by Tupper, or a random editing trick altogether. But more on that later.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Unsurprisingly, Nolan and Jack are convinced this was an anonymous murder-for-hire by Charlotte, but Emily continues to brush it off as a break and enter, refusing to take Charlotte’s threats seriously, much to her friends’ chagrin. (“So she gets another spin on the murder wheel?!” I love Nolan’s quips.) Meanwhile, David eschews Victoria’s edicts to stay put in the cabin, and sneaks out into town to do a little shoplifting in plain sight — but not before whipping himself beforehand. (I thought they were going to go Da Vinci Code on us, but it he they had a greater plan.) Now, I’m still unclear if David was just desperate for some supplies at the convenience store, or if he stole so blatantly and resisted arrest deliberately to get caught. On this show, you never know what anyone’s ulterior motives are. Jack’s partner, Ben (Brian Hallisay) sees the petty thief being sent for processing at the precinct, and has a hunch he may be the same guy who broke into Emily’s house, the bum leg (from a 15 foot fall) a dead giveaway. Unbeknownst to Jack, he calls Emily in to identify her assailant in a lineup, and Jack realizes only seconds before Emily shows up that the perpetrator is none other than David Clarke. However, he doesn’t have time to warn her, thanks to Ben being a stickler for protocol and foiling his attempts, and Emily is left to unintentionally confront her presumed-dead father in a police lineup behind a two-way mirror. Talk about awkward! VanCamp was wonderful at demonstrating Emily’s utter shock and confusion, while trying to remain composed in front of a roomful of strangers. Yet, just like with Charlotte, Emily denies recognizing David as her attacker, so that he can be set free.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Unortunately, before any happy family reunion can take place, Victoria sees to it that David is firmly under her thumb. Not only does she second David to the cabin in the woods along with Charlotte — and forces her daughter to corroborate her lies about everything she’s done to clear David’s name — she convinces him that he needs her to protect him, and that the dark forces are still out there to get him. (Even though Emily exposed the conspiracy and cleared his name last season.) Destitute Victoria even goes so far as to secure a loan from Margaux (Karine Vanasse) to keep them all in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed, much to Daniel’s (Josh Bowman) irritation. When David pulls a wild card by getting himself arrested, and is then held for questioning by the FBI, who want to know his whereabouts for the last ten years, she regroups and frames herself as David’s savior, hiring him an expensive lawyer and securing his release, even though he was already a free man. He finally emerges from the police station to an awaiting media frenzy, where he reveals his captivity and thanks his family for all their support as they stand by his side — his family being, of course, Charlotte and Victoria. As Emily watches from the sidelines, furious, Victoria stares her down, daring her to make a move. Looks like the Queen is back in town, or is she?

Vctoria’s first order of business is to set David and herself up in a swanky hotel suite in the city, which they almost don’t even get to enjoy because an out-of-control motorist tries to run down David before he narrowly escapes becoming a human pancake. Victoria blames Nameless Bad Guys, but Emily attempts to convince Charlotte that Victoria orchestrated it to manipulate David, and I’d bet she’s right, too. Charlotte’s still out for vengeance and shuts Emily down, even if she has her own suspicions about her mother, and is pissed off at Victoria for ruining her own introduction to her father. (“Isn’t the real me good enough?” Oh, Charlotte, have you met your mother?) While I find Charlotte pretty useless as a character most of the time, I do like that she’s been calling Emily out on her crap lately — though I don’t condone attempted murder. But I loved her interrupting Emily’s pleas to allow her up to David’s hotel room by snarking that she should just scale the building instead, because it’s not like anyone can stop her. I thought the same thing before she said it! Since when does Emily let a little protocol get in her way? In any case, Charlotte appears to agree to let her into the room, only when Emily arrives, Victoria is there to answer her, not David. Meanwhile, Charlotte has taken David to visit his “grandson” Carl over at Jack’s, to stick it to her former brother-in-law and David all at once. (She knows Carl isn’t really his grandson, and that Amanda really is alive, yet won’t confess.) She really has become her mother’s daughter, only I don’t think she’s nearly smart enough to carry it through.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Elsewhere, Daniel is still trying to keep on the straight and narrow, and serendipitously meets a rich young socialite in need of some financial planning, which he’s settled on as a new career path. The heiress in question happens to be Louise (Elena Satine), Victoria’s roommate at the looney bin who she threw under the bus in her escape, who conceals her true identity from Daniel in an attempt to get to Victoria. She is obsessed with the Graysons, and Victoria in particular, and there are some definite bunny-boiling vibes coming off her. She flirts with Daniel incessantly, and though Daniel professes his commitment to Margaux, he ultimately gives in to temptation with Louise, all in the name of business. Once she finds out he’s off the market, she sweetly agrees to just be friends, but once she’s out of earshot, loses it, before composing herself and dropping a blind item to Page Six. This means trouble. Meanwhile, Margaux’s supposedly benevolent loan to Victoria apparently is just a ruse for getting Victoria under her thumb, but clearly Margaux hasn’t been watching this show, because sooner or later Victoria will manage to own her, mark my words.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

As usual, my favorite parts of these past few episodes were Nolan and Emily’s scenes. Nolan is always so charmingly protective of “Ems,” even when she’s dismissive and downright mean to him. While we usually only see him through the lens of Emily’s co-partner in crime, what was really interesting to me was watching him react to the news of David’s return. It’s actually something I was hoping would be touched upon when they brought David back from the dead at the end of last season, and I’m glad they’re going there. It’s subtle, but whereas Emily is hell-bent on reuniting with her father at all costs (understandably), Nolan is apprehensive, warning, “I’m afraid she’s rushing to meet a man who doesn’t exist anymore, and I don’t know what that’s going to do to her.” He’s remarkably level-headed about the situation, even though we know he hero-worshipped David as a young man. As he even says here, David was the father he always wanted, and I wonder if this is setting up another story for Nolan in which his idol gets knocked off his pedestal in his eyes, and he’s faced with the reality that the man he admired was also the man capable of sending his daughter off on a kamikaze mission in his name. I hope they explore that, because Gabriel Mann is such a wonderful actor, and he acts the hell out of the few scenes he gets. He’s hilariously snarky, but I think Nolan can carry a lot of gravitas as well, if they let him. All that being said, Nolan’s reunion with David was really touching, and you know it had to be killing him to keep quiet about Amanda’s real fate, at her own insistence. Especially when David confronted him about his “daughter” ending up living above a bar and dead at 28, despite the fortune he’d left her. Nolan owes everything he has to David, but David is now a broken man who can’t be trusted. It should make for a good source of conflict.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

What really got me, though, was Emily’s dawning self-awareness, particularly in last week’s episode. She’s finally realizing that all of her years of planning and single-minded pursuit of revenge might have all been for naught, if her father was really alive all these years. She feels guilt over all the havoc she’s wreaked, and this has been four seasons in the making. That’s another avenue I hope they actually devote some time to: Daniel is the one who claims he’s in search of an identity, but in many respects Emily’s the one who has the tougher road to forge in that respect, right down to her very own name. She’s been nothing but Emily Thorne: Avenger for a decade, focused on destroying the people who destroyed her life and her father’s. So what does she do now that David Clarke is alive and shacking up with the woman who framed him? Obviously, her immediate goal is to make him see the truth of Victoria, but in the longer term, how is she going to cope with reintegrating with Amanda Clarke? I’m surprised at how quickly this storyline is progressing this season, and I hope we get to that point this year, too. She’s been nearly sociopathic in her quest for vengeance, that it’s going to be interesting to see her regain her humanity, if she can; maybe her mission has squashed that for good. I suspect that will be part of the larger arc of the season.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Of course, all of this culminated in the final scene of “Repercussions”: Emily’s at a loss for how to reunite with a father who not only believes she’s dead, but thinks she’s currently his archenemy. Obviously she can’t see him face to face, but she can’t bear the thought of him losing his memories of her, thanks to both time and Victoria’s brainwashing. So after manipulating Margaux (and Daniel) into landing the first interview with David, much to Victoria’s dismay (since she’s trying to hide him from the press, for fear of him learning the truth), she hands over the deed to the old beach house to her father (again, through Margaux), to place him back in familiar territory, hoping it’ll jog his memory. Then, in one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the series’ history, David sits on his porch, listening to Their Song — the one he and Amanda used to dance to when she was a little girl — as Emily watches from above at Grayson Manor, strolling down memory lane with him. So close, yet so far. The chinks in Emily’s armor are cracking at breakneck speed, and all I wanted for her in that moment was to be able to run into her dad’s arms and dance again. The restraint she displayed in the first three seasons is now her own prison, and while I am certain there will be more devastation ahead, I really do hope Emily gets a happy ending with her father, if only for a brief moment before all hell breaks loose. And on Revenge, you know it will.


 

In other news:

  • David did the final voiceover last week! Does that mean Revenge will soon be his? That’d be an interesting direction to take.
  • His self-flagellation scene: I thought it was some sort of weird penance at first, but are we to infer from his interrogation scene later that he inflicted those wounds to make his torture story seem credible?
  • Moreover, I have no doubt that Conrad was really behind his abduction from prison, but what is the deal there?
  • I loved the pointed “I have come to learn that evil takes many forms” in the last voiceover as it focused on Charlotte. Is she the next Queen? (Sorry, I made myself laugh.)
  • What’s going to come of Ben reopening the Conrad Grayson murder investigation? Why’s he going after Jack?
  • How is Charlotte calling David “Dad” after five minutes of knowing him?
  • Did anyone else agree with Victoria when she said she wanted to smack Daniel?
  • When Victoria said she was going into town to make some money, we all snorted at the double entendre there, right?
  • Did anyone else get a kick out of Victoria going all Annie Oakley on Emily’s ass at the cabin? “Buckle up, sweetheart!” It’s on like Donkey Kong.
  • Jack is totally going to get busted for insurance fraud from the Stowaway fire, even if he didn’t cause it, right?
  • Gotta love how Victoria claimed Charlotte was everything good in her life — including her alibi! HA.

Nolan Ross Words of Wisdom:

  • “You can pretend you’re indestructible, but superheroes don’t get balloons.”
  • Emily is “technologically ignorant.” HEE!
  • “Little Arson Annie” re: Charlotte. HEE!
  • “That hoodie isn’t a bulletproof vest!” Zing!
  • “You can’t make the people you love change, even if it’s for their own good.” Ahem, Emily.
  • Re: Emily’s boxing workout: “This may be fists of fury, but you’re still made of flesh and bone.”
  • “Definitely sounds like her shade of bitch,” Re: Victoria.
  • “Vicky’s done a hell of a job Clark-blocking us.”
  • Nolan: “What do we call [Margaux and Daniel]? Maniel? Dagaux?” Emily: “Trouble.”
  • Honorable mention for Daniel, for once: “[Victoria] is like P.T. Barnum in stilettos.”
Nels
Nels knew how to operate a TV remote control before she knew how to talk. As a result, she has spent an inordinate amount of time pretending she actually lives on a soundstage. When she isn’t watching whichever show is currently capturing her heart, she is writing about how said show is currently capturing her heart. She loves pie.

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