After four weeks, we’re ready to dissect the strengths and areas for growth for Revenge S3.
Let’s bitch it out…There are two things bothering me on Revenge (aside from the fact that Henry Czerny’s Conrad is still on the show): 1) Emily (Emily VanCamp) won’t let Jack (Nick Wechsler) get in on the sweet, sweet REVENGE! 2) Aiden’s (Barry Sloane) silly jealousy issues.
Since the show debuted three years ago, the end game has basically been Jack + Emily. Although she’s been tied to Daniel (Josh Bowman) for nearly Revenge‘s entire duration, it’s become increasingly clear that he’s just a patsy to help take down Conrad and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe). And last season Aiden appeared on the scene – he’s one of the few reminders of how over-stuffed S2 was – and although he’s still kicking around, he will clearly be let go at some point in the future to pave the way for Emily with Jack. After all, she can’t settle down with someone who represents her quest for revenge – she needs to get back to her childhood sweetie.
At this point pretty much everyone knows this except Emily, so we get Aiden throwing Jack under the bus to Conrad at the end of ‘Mercy’ in a desperate act to get rid of a romantic rival. This might be interesting were it not for the fact that Emily and Aiden haven’t been together in quite some time and, more problematically, they no longer seem to have any chemistry together (this is a similar issue with VanCamp and real life beau, Bowman, who give off more of a brother/sister vibe to me). Aiden’s jealousy is little more than a plot point, and while it does make sense within the world of the show, it’s not particularly interesting since Emily will find out about this move immediately and it will likely amount to nothing. (Prove me wrong, writers!)
Of course this part of what I not-so-affectionately call the “Jack problem”. At this point Jack is pretty much the last somewhat sane character on the show (Emily is Batman, the Graysons are Dynasty rip-offs and Gabriel Mann’s Nolan is the sassy bi-sidekick). Because he’s more or less the straight man, Revenge frequently feels the need to protect Jack or sideline him. All attempts to keeping Jack “safe” and out of the loop inevitably make the scenes at the Stowaway feel like an add-on (“Oh look, it’s the requisite Jack & Emily scene!”) and unnecessarily drags down the plot (every time Nolan tries to protect Jack, I just want to grab him and shake him by his pretty little frosted tips).
Four episodes in, it’s time to face some facts: Revenge is significantly improved this season, even if it remains more than a little indebted to S1. But it’s also inherently safe. Saving Conrad and killing Father Paul is emblematic of this. We knew that Conrad would be spared and the D-list guest star would bite it. Revenge, like many other shows (particularly soaps) is in love with revisiting the same conflicts and the same catty conversations. At this point we can more or less guess any of the insults Emily and Victoria will hurl at each other each time they meet, and while that’s still one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show, it’s undeniably formulaic. Revenge is fun, frothy and often a little silly, but it could stand to up some of the stakes by actually following through and delivering on how shocking and scandalous it thinks it is (perhaps it could take a few pointers from ABC sister show Scandal?). Send a Grayson to jail for more than two episodes. Kill a Grayson. Give Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) more to do than hand out wedding invites! Anticipate what we expect and counter with something completely unexpected and new (I’m looking at you, Patrick).
In short, Revenge needs to change up its game: there’s got to be more than simply pitting Emily vs Victoria and Conrad vs Victoria. Having Daniel and Emily actually fight is a start in the right direction. Having Victoria and Patrick (Justin Hartley) blackmail an art dealer into giving up her gallery is not.
- Shocking absolutely one person (your grandma), it turns out that Patrick is a big old mo. While this development is not surprising, I don’t think gay fans of the show should get too excited since the rest of the episode clearly highlights that Patrick is a liar who can’t be trusted. It’s fairly clear that he’s playing an angle here, so get ready for some Tyler-esque antics as the season progresses. With that said: score!
- It’s good to be Nolan, no? He’s getting some, jetting off to Florida on a whim, making it rain $20 grand to get some much needed info and humourously battling his technology addiction. Our little boy is all grown up! Now if only he could leave the weird hankerchief neckties alone for a bit
- There are many, many instances of questionable plotting in ‘Mercy’: Victoria is able to go from employee to gallery owner in the space of a single blackmail conversation, Emily believes that a cell phone video is enough to get Conrad convicted for murder and Daniel gives a statement to a police officer on behalf of Emily for a crime scene he never saw. Of the three, the third is the most egregious, so I am glad that they acknowledged that Detective March (bland!) is on the dirty cop payroll
- Who is this Bianca (Connor Leslie) maid girl? For a moment when Conrad began talking to the help I thought we’d wandered into Devious Maids territory. Man, the thoughts she must have working at Casa Grayson: “Mmm…empty liquor bottles everywhere, pills on the floor, blood in front of the balcony, car wreckage out back – just another day working for a bunch of self-entitled, formerely rich idiots”
- Finally, in case you missed it, Charlotte’s role in this episode is to hand-deliver an effing wedding invitation four feet to Jack. AHHHHH! She needs to be sent off to Dr. Uwe Boll’s Academy for Gifted Postal Employees and off my damn TV screen
- Victoria (when Conrad suggests Paul was driving): “Good luck getting the authorities to swallow this tripe”
- Emily (deciding to crash Victoria’s gallery): “It’ll be fun to watch her try not to lose it”
- Victoria (dismissing Em with an eye roll): “Well thank you for coming, Emily. Feel free to leave at any time.”
- Victoria (to Sheila, taking possession of the gallery): “Right after you change this bulb”
Over to you, do you think Revenge needs to step up its game or are you just happy that it’s a return to S1 goodness? Are you surprised about Patrick? Would you give up your art gallery to Victoria Grayson if she blackmailed you? Do you wish Conrad had actually died in that car crash? Comment away below
Revenge airs Sundays at 9pm EST on ABC