Episode 13: Union
By: Carlos Uribe
Revenge is a show about Emily Thorne and her quest of revenge.
One of the greatest strengths of a network broadcast series can also be a crippling weakness. A large episode order basically means you can concentrate more on creating character-specific stories. It might not advance the overall plot but it can at least be fun to spend time with the characters. The perfect example of this is the Parenthood episode “Road Trip”. It's an episode that couldn't have existed where the episode order is too small to really deviate from the serialized plot. The problem is that this requires those filler episodes to be good on their own and this can be a difficult endeavor. Revenge is a show that should be perfectly able to present episodes that don't really advance the plot. This is because it has a procedural element where Emily gets to take people down. The issue is that this season has barely had episodes where Emily gets to take out her red sharpie. It's been largely content with presenting episodes where barely anything happens. The writers have created a season where the narrative momentum tends to be very inconsistent. One episode can excite me a lot while the next one deflates me. It's definably created a second season that's definably weaker than the first. This is an episode that hopefully changes that because a lot happens. The writers create a Revenge episode that brings the narrative momentum to life and makes me excited to see the next episode. If the rest of the season can keep the momentum alive then maybe this season can salvage itself. On the other hand, I'm slightly cautious because this season has proven to be so uneven.
So what happens? Characters decide to challenge the status quo and stuff happens. Victoria decides that she can't allow her son to be manipulated by the Initiative like Conrad. She takes matters into her own hands. She goes to Daniel with concrete evidence that Helen Crowley is to not be trusted. She happens to tell him this in his office, which means the Initiative heard her. This would have honestly been good enough for one episode but there's more. They send Helen to deal with the problem. That's when things take a turn for the crazy when Victoria takes the opportunity to point a gun at Helen. Okay, but she's not going to murder Helen in cold blood, right? Victoria is a lot of things but she's not a cold-blooded kill-oh, wait what's that? Victoria kills Helen!? Talk about a jaw-dropping twist. This is a huge plot development that has a lot of potential consequences. I can't imagine the Initiative is going to be too happy with Helen's demise and it does beg into question what's going to happen next. When Conrad enters the room and sees what Victoria did, his question of what Victoria has done is perfectly delivered. He realizes that he shot her but he's talking more about how she has provoked the Initiative. Revenge is a show that works best when it's characters are doing stuff so it makes sense that Victoria's actions are the most memorable part of the episode. Victoria shooting someone is a plot twist so big that it literally caught me by surprise. I would have to state that while I'm liking where the show is going with this direction, it's not the highlight of the episode. This might be what I remember about Union but there's other plot developments that work even better.
I've gotta state that the best part of the episode is with the Stowaway. The writers have managed to turn a story that was dragging the whole show down into something that's become the show's best performer. What happens in this episode? Emily finds out that Conrad now owns half of Jack's bar. Emily can't have this so she decides to give enough money for Jack to buy the bar back. Conrad doesn't want to accept the money because he has plans to develop the harbor. Jack threatens to fight back but even he realizes it's a lost cause. Conrad has too many money, lawyers, and political connections. There's no way Jack stands a chance. What he doesn't realize is that Amanda is a greater weapon. She's able to easily break into Emily's laptop and blackmails Conrad into selling the bar. Conrad gives up his dream (for now) of developing the docks but he basically gives the shady Ryan brother subtle hints to attack the Porter family. So the shady Ryan brother sneaks into their boat as they leave for their honeymoon trip as he clearly intends to attack them. Sadly we don't see the attack as this serves as an effective cliff-hanger for the next episode...and what is likely the event that the pilot foreshadowed. I can't wait!
In other news, we get a LOT more plot developments. Nolan finds out that the only reason Padma is working for the Initiative is because they kidnapped her father. I guess this move was made to keep Padma as a viable romantic interest for Nolan and to allow him to become a white knight and save her dad. Emily shows real emotion when Aiden mentions that he can't just flip his emotions on and off. She also helps him to deal with the loss of his sister, who turned out to have died six years ago. These were some really great character moments that helped to bring them closer together in a way that really made sense. Not only that but it allowed the viewers to better understand Emily's character. We always knew she wanted revenge but now we understand that she needs it because it's the only reason she's able to live. It's insanely tragic and sad but it makes for a compelling character. As I said, all the characters were doing something as the show stopped stalling and allowed the plots to actually move forward in significant ways. It was about time.
Union was a good episode of Revenge and it's one that gives me a lot of hope for the future of the series. The plots were all strong as they all started to actually move at a brisk and tolerable pace. The characters started to affect the universe again which was a nice way to allow the viewers the instant gratification that this show became famous for. I have no idea if the rest of the season will be able keep this pace but it should at least try it's best to keep the narrative momentum going.
Amanda being able to guess Emily's password as “Infinity” was the weakest part of the episode. This is EMILY we're talking about. There's no way her password is “Infinity”-it would be something even Nolan has difficulty cracking.