A blah episode lays the groundwork to exit two recurring male guest stars as Emily (Emily VanCamp) deals with her repressed memories.
Let’s bitch it out…
It’s hard not to feel like the majority of ‘Struggle’ is a waste of time, particularly when early on (as seen in the promos), Emily loudly confesses to Nolan (Gabriel Mann) that she’s going to kill all of the Graysons. At this point, two and a half seasons into Revenge, I feel that I speak on behalf of all of the fans when I say: effing DO IT! Earlier this week we posted a link of our Facebook page (perhaps you’re a fan?) from TV.com about shows that need an end-date. ‘Struggle’ perfectly captures the reasons why Revenge topped that list. The soapy content isn’t soapy and the narrative drive is non-existent. The show is doing little more than spinning its wheels and/or regurgitating the same storyline over and over and over again.
Naturally as soon as Emily makes her bold declaration, Nolan recruits Aiden (Barry Sloane), who promptly kidnaps and tortures Emily to prevent her from doing something she regrets – like advancing the plot. Instead the two ex-lovers spend the majority of the episode working to recover lost memories about the night she saw her father (James Tupper) hooking up with Victoria (Madeleine Stowe).
The idea of pain inflicted by parents on their child is a recurring theme on Revenge, and ‘Struggle’ plays it out quite predominantly across three storylines: Emily’s, Patrick’s (Justin Hartley) and Jack’s (Nick Wechsler). There’s not much new about Emily’s perspective, which is essentially about getting back on her REVENGE horse and refocusing her laser sights on bringing the Graysons down. It also sort of serves as a swan song for Aiden, who rescues Emily using junior Takeda moves and then departs.
Patrick’s story serves much the same purpose as Aiden’s. It’s become quite clear, quite quickly that Victoria and her obsessive need for power and petty social crimes against Hampton humanity is poisonous to the simple-minded Patrick. Nolan gives him a healthy reality check and Victoria lays the foundation that enables Patrick to seek refuge with some random famous painter who’s never been mentioned and off he goes. This feels a lot like the writers running up the white flag and acknowledging that there’s nothing left to explore with this character (if there ever was), so as much as I’ll miss looking at Justin Hartley’s rippling muscles, I’m more than okay with the character leaving. And so, adieu to you, Patrick – have fun toiling away for pennies in Spain.
That leaves us with Jack and his biological birth mother, Stevie Grayson (Gail O’Grady). Flashbacks eventually reveal that Stevie was the lawyer that visited David Clarke in prison, which obviously suggests that the first Mrs. Grayson has a larger role to play. This is good because everytime I see Gail O’Grady, I kinda feel like I’m watching a late-80s soap (it’s likely her big ass hair). Unfortunately Stevie is a bit of an older Patrick in that she’s little more than a narrative pawn (albeit portrayed by a better actor): Stevie exists in this episode not as a character, but as a conduit to alternatively piss off Victoria and/or drive Jack into Emily’s proximity (keep that hope alive, Jack/Emily shippers!). The absent mother storyline has been played so many times on this show that I’ve lost count and this doesn’t do anything to keep it fresh, so we better hope that Emily is right and Stevie has other motives for sticking around the Hamptons. Otherwise pretty soon she’ll be running people over with cars or punching their heads into boxes before retiring to whichever European country sells the largest mass quantities of Botox.
- Did someone fire the lighting and/or set designer? Because the exterior garden of Emily’s house has never looked more fake and the “sky” outside of Victoria’s bedroom is clearly a painted wall.
- Initially Patrick’s goodbye scene seems really poorly staged (my notes read “why is he so awkwardly far away?”), but it’s revealed that Patrick didn’t even face Victoria; he just left her a voice mail so his goodbye is actually just her imagining his confessional goodbye. It’s a surprisingly effective fake-out in a series that often forgets it can play with its visual aesthetic.
- Gosh the battle between Stevie and Victoria for Grayson manor sure is scintillating. Oh wait – no one cares. Why does Revenge insist on developing these inane plots?
- Margaux’s father, Pascal, is en route from Paris (ie: we’ll see him next week). See the bullet above for an indication about how excited I am for this.
- Thankfully boring-ass Daniel (Josh Bowman) sits most of the episode out, appearing only briefly to hire a comically young private detective who shows him pictures of Em and Aiden kissing. Blah.
- Nolan makes Em a new fingerprint activated, impenetrable infinity box. Awww…that’s friendship kids.
Best Lines (It’s an all Nolan week!):
- Nolan (trying to calm Emily down): “Look, for starters, why don’t you put the knife down?”
- Nolan (when Patrick reassures him the most recent death was an accident): “Which is fast becoming a euphemism for ‘Patrick did it’”
What’s your take on ‘Struggle’ – a flat episode, or filled with juicy good stuff? Surprised to bid farewell to Patrick? Think this is goodbye for good for Aiden? (both Hartley and Barry Sloane have booked pilots, so read into that what you will) Were you glad that Conrad (Henry Cznery), Daniel and Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) mostly sat out? And how will Stevie Grayson be involved in Emily’s plans for REVENGE? Sound off below
Revenge airs Sundays at 10pm EST on ABC