Episode 11: Sabotage
By: Carlos Uribe
Revenge is a show about Emily Thorne and her quest of revenge.
A good scheme on this show doesn't need to be convoluted. It can be remarkably simple but devastating to the victim. Emily can use information and people in order to rip what a person cares about away from them. These plans are good not because it required some ridiculously complicated scheme but because of the damage that they cost. The show might keep the viewer guessing on how Emily is going to take down someone but we know this is going to mean something because it's personal. She'll destroy a person's reputation, career, or family in order to get her revenge in a crippling manner. This allowed the first season of Revenge to get it's reputation as being a good show. A large problem with the second season is that the opponent isn't the Grayson family but a mysterious organization we know little about. Seeing Emily use her skills to take down Victoria and Conrad was delicious drama because we understood and saw the damage she was dealing out. The Initiative is such an unknown foe that it's difficult to ascertain when they have been dealt an actual blow or how to hurt them. Having a shadowy enemy might have seemed like a good idea on paper but it's hurt the show because it can't use it's unique strength of showing the consequences of Emily's plan. Take away these consequences and the show is forced to come up with ridiculous plots for Emily to use in order to try to accomplish her goals.
The plan this episode is to get Helen to come out and talk to Aiden. It's unclear why they can't just wait until she contacts him but they're impatient. So what does Emily do? She works with Daniel to set up a charity and ensures that Helen agrees to go. Helen does go but it's really a trap. When she's leaving in an elevator, Aiden steps in and Nolan has rigged it so that it would stop and knock them both out with some kind of gas. This is all to stage a kidnapping where a disguised Emily and Nolan pretend to interrogate them. Aiden gets to fake his escape while taking Helen with him. The goal was to get Helen to trust Aiden but it simply feels a bit convoluted. On the other hand, what else are we supposed to do? We don't know anything about Helen nor do we discover anything new this episode. She might be the face of the Initiative but she's just as unknown to the audience as the organization. With episodic villains or the Graysons, the audience got to know them as Emily was taking them down. The series didn't need to employ a complicated plan because we knew the stakes and enough cards that it was made unnecessary. There is nothing for the characters to use on Helen in order to scheme against her so they pretended to kidnap her. It's ridiculous, so many things could have gone wrong, and it doesn't carry the punch that Revenge schemes do. This is all because Helen is all but a mysterious figure. The Initiative might be the long-term enemy but the audience and Emily need to learn more about it so that simple but effective take-downs can ensue.
Nolan wasn't just busy having to assist in a kidnapping but also dealing with corporate drama. That technology that Marco had been bragging about in the previous episode is taking on a relevance. The Initiative practically points Daniel to the existence of this program. What is it? Some software that Nolan had worked on before ditching the technology and scrapping it off the books. Nolan believes that Marco is the one to have once again betrayed him to Daniel but in reality it's Padma. She's working for the Initiative. In that stroke, a lot of her actions make sense. She gave the company to Grayson Global because it was the mysterious organization's plan all long. The question becomes just what this program does and why is it so important. It's just a pity that this office drama isn't as exciting as it should be. This is because it's so utterly predictable. Once Padma started talking about the Carrion, I knew she was working against Nolan. The big reveal that she was working with the Initiative wasn't a surprise or anything. Her manipulating Nolan to kick Marco out was just as predictable. It would be nice if this story had a twist or development I didn't see coming but for now it's surprisingly by-the-numbers.
At least it's not Jack's plot for most of the episode. Jack is now in jail which leaves Conrad to deal with the brothers on his own. What do the brothers want? They want full ownership of the bar. Conrad isn't willing to sell because the bar is their father's legacy. It seems like it's heading towards a predictable end when Amanda decides to take matters on her own hand and illegally purchase a handgun. She's hoping to use violence to get rid of these two thugs but she doesn't have to. She can thank Ashley. That's right: Ashley's back and she has managed to find herself under the employment of the Graysons again. Conrad is thinking of running for office and he needs someone like Ashley to keep the dirty secrets hidden. It's Ashley who advices Conrad to get involved and help out the Porter family because it'll look like he's fighting police corruption and cleaning up the backyard. It would help him on his stage to rehabilitation. If there's one way to make the utterly dull Porter drama any interesting, it's to get a Grayson (other than Charlotte) involved. Getting Conrad's snarky wit and devilish mind into the mix should at least salvage this plot into something remotely entertaining. It's a greatly needed course correction for this show.
Sabotage was a good episode of Revenge. The main plot with Helen might have been a bit ridiculous but it still had it's moments. Heck, I was on board with the plot before the whole kidnapping thing. It's when they stepped into the elevator that it became ridiculously convoluted. The Nolan sub-plot might be a little bit too predictable right now but at least the Porter plot is finally heading into a potentially great place. Sabotage might not have been the best episode of Revenge but it was at least one that moved forward the plot a bit.
Helen mentions that she believes she knows who is behind this. Does she mean a rival within the Initiative or another group opposed to them?