REVENGE Debriefing: Sins of the Fathers

GABRIEL MANN, EMILY VANCAMP

I know I’m a few weeks behind on Revenge here at TYLL, but I finally caught up in a marathon this weekend, just in time for the fall finale. Not a moment too soon, because with an ending like the one tonight, we’re certainly going to be left with a lot of questions over the upcoming holiday break.

WARNING: Major spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk.

Henry Czerny makes a guest appearance as dearly departed Conrad, so you know the show means business. No, he’s not alive (like every other “dead” person on this show), but returns to us via flashback, in order to make us think that Daniel (Josh Bowman) actually has a conscience. In the last few weeks, Daniel’s slept with crazy Louise (Elena Satine), lied to Margaux (Karine Vanasse) about it, found out Louise is looney, been ratted out to Margaux, been dumped by Margaux after she confesses she loves him, then finds out Margaux is pregnant with his child. Talk about a roller coaster.

I had my suspicions about Daniel’s fate as soon as he and Emily (Emily Vancamp) were trapped in the elevator a couple of episodes ago, and traded barbs afterwards about the grandiose nature of their dysfunction as a couple and as people. They both dropped truth bombs on each other — that she would screw over anyone she loved in the name of getting ahead, and that he always runs and takes the easy way out when things get rough — and it would almost make you think they were heading towards a classic opposites-attract friendship, or at least regular verbal sparring matches, if you didn’t know this show better.

Yet tonight, we see Daniel finally confront his actions, thanks to dear old Dad. It comes back to that ill-fated encounter with former girlfriend Sarah, and his cowardly refusal to testify at her trial at his father’s insistence. The show hasn’t revisited that chestnut in a while, which means we’re on the road to a redemption arc — also signifying that bad things are about to happen, because it’s never that easy on Revenge. Daniel is wrestling with the guilt of what he did in 2008, and the guilt of what he’s done to Margaux in the present, and all the things he did to Emily and anyone else in the meantime.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Once Daniel confronts his mother about their family’s mistakes, it’s obvious he’s being set up for a fall: it’s the classic tragedy, if only Daniel were a classic tragic hero. When he tells Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) that, “I’m done running. I hope you are too,” you’d have to be deaf not to hear Chekov’s gun go off in that moment. It’s a well-used dramatic trope: as soon as a loathsome character begins his redemption, something will come by to snatch it all away. He’s become self-aware, he’s attempting to make amends to Emily, and Margaux has finally decided to take him back after a heart-to-heart with Victoria, who assures her Daniel is nothing like his father and won’t repeat his mistakes with his own child: he gets more development in half an episode than he has in probably a season and a half. It’s too good to be true.

It all comes down to newcomer double-agent Kate Taylor (Courtney Ford). She isn’t really FBI, as she claimed: not only is she working for the omnipotent Malcolm Black, supposed mastermind behind David’s escape and blackmail for the past two years, but she happens to be his daughter, as well. She’s actually in the Hamptons to finish what her father started. And if she can’t get to David, she’s going to do the next best thing and take out his daughter,  Amanda. In an epic girl fight all throughout Grayson Manor — which I assume was at least inspired by Kill Bill in some fashion — Emily and Kate beat the crap out of each other over and over again, proving that women can duke it out as much as any men can. I could see them going over the railing on the second floor coming a mile away, but it didn’t make it any less spectacular. Kate gets away, and Emily is quite seriously stabbed in the back by a shard of glass, left crawling in her own home (and metaphor) to escape her predator.

So Daniel, King of Terrible Timing Always, sees Emily through the window — because he’s come by to make amends with her after a crisis of conscience — and runs in to help her, just as Kate comes back to finish the job she started. Emily pleads with him to stay away, but he’s too dumb to listen to her (even though he knows she’s an evil genius who’s manipulated every aspect of his life for four years, but I guess it’s the heat of the moment), and comes to her aid. Unaware that he’s in the line of fire, he takes a couple of bullets right to the chest from Evil Kate, who in turn takes a couple of bullets to the head from Officer Jack (NicK Wechsler) just in the nick of time to save Emily. Emily is safe, but Daniel’s fate is sealed, and even he realizes it. Emily keeps trying to convince him it’ll be okay, but he knows she’s lying and his time is up. (Meanwhile, no one is calling for help, because apparently phones are extinct in the Hamptons.) So Emily compassionately appeases the dying man by telling him not everything between them was fake, and that she did care for him, while he uses his last breaths to tell her he always knew that, despite their animosity. And with that, the Grayson-Thorne-Clark feud ends one chapter, and undoubtedly begins another.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

I have to admit, I expected Daniel to be written out at some point this season, or at least, I thought that was the most logical route for him. His character had just been circling the drain for at least two seasons now, especially once they attempted to make him as cartoonishly evil as Czerny’s Conrad. It felt to me like they didn’t really know what to do with him anymore, because he couldn’t live up to Victoria’s outlandish camp, or Conrad’s pure villainy, but he also wasn’t believable anymore as a poor little rich boy who just wanted to find love. I didn’t know if he’d go off into the sunset with Margaux, or sent to the pokey like his father, but it seemed like they didn’t know how to use him now, especially once he found out about Louise. His redemption set him up for a permanent exit six feet under; I’m only surprised it happened this quickly.

There is no doubt that his murder will send Victoria into a tailspin. She might only ever really care about Victoria, but at the very least she was a little obsessed with her son, and loved him in some way, so we’re bound to see her on the warpath when the show returns in the new year. Is she going to blame Emily? (Almost certainly.) Will she join forces with her foe to catch the man behind Daniel’s death? (Unlikely, but interesting.) Will she retreat, or become even more determined to keep David (James Tupper) under her thumb? There’s a lot to digest in the coming weeks.

What was obvious was the thread of how the sins of the father affect their children. David’s lies are coming home to roost, not only for himself and Victoria, but for Emily as well, who is reeling from learning her father never wanted her to avenge his imprisonment after all. Daniel was grappling with how his father’s actions influenced his own, and what he would pass on to his child. Margaux wonders if being raised by an absent father will affect her child’s happiness, too. Louise is running from her father’s specter, and Nolan is searching for the father figure he thought he knew. And even homicidal Kate was raised by her henchman father to assassinate their enemies, so she wasn’t immune, either.

Sure there was a whole lot of other stuff to discuss in this episode, but let’s be real, no one is going to care in the immediate aftermath of Daniel’s murder. Louise’s unhinged behavior or Jack’s professional troubles pale in comparison to a main cast member being killed off.

So what did you think of tonight’s shocker? Are you going to miss Daniel, or is it good riddance?


Okay, I can’t quite pass up these gems, though:

  • Daniel, to Flashback!Conrad, about screwing over Sarah: “Why is my future more important than hers?” And Conrad is basically, “Money, dummy.” (Or, a 2008 precursor to #YesAllWomen?)
  • Nolan to Emily: “When does anything ever go right […] with you on the guest list?”
  • Emily: “I’ve spilled my fair share of drinks.” Nice callback to the pilot, Writers.
  • Jack: “This is not how I expected to spend my summer.” Bada-ching!
  • Daniel stating the obvious to Victoria: “You’re trying to control the situation.”
  • Nolan about his surprisingly smooth bash: “It’s a Hamptons freaking miracle!”

 

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.

One Response to REVENGE Debriefing: Sins of the Fathers

  1. […] been snubbed from this week, not Daniel’s — because he was about to kill Victoria (with the poisoned wine, you remember) when Daniel was shot. Way to deflect the blame onto your kid, Dave! Emily’s […]

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