Episode 15: Retribution
Episode 16: Illumination
By: Carlos Uribe
Revenge is a show about Emily Thorne and her quest of revenge.
The immediate consequences of Amanda's death are felt in this week's episode. Emily is more determined to bring down the Graysons. She is angry at them and knows that they are indirectly responsible for the attack on the boat. She also has to protect Jack. It's a poor episode to be Jack. He not only believes that his wife was seeking revenge on the Graysons but he finds out that Emily knew about the plan all along. He doesn't know that he actually has the whole situation in reverse but this major betrayal only hints at how he would react if he knew the truth about the identity switch,. He might not feel like he knew who Amanda was all this time but he does his best to find the laptop and get into it. To his credit, he does find it but he can't guess the password to get in. He has no idea about the infinity symbol. Emily and Aiden are able to retrieve the laptop from him and it's thrown into the water. There might be a lot of evidence to throw away the Graysons but Emily considers that to be a distraction. She wants to bring them down personally and that means no more distractions. This gets complicated because Charlotte felt sad that nobody from Amanda's past was coming to her funeral. She managed to get into contact with one of her former foster brothers. There is no doubt that he's going to be an obstacle to Emily.
There were some movements with the Initiative as well. Daniel is sick and tired of the Initiative so he decides to undermine them. He threatens to fire Nolan if the carrion program still exists and he gives away the clock with the camera to his assistant. When Aiden tries to make a move to join the board, he decides to give Aiden a test. This is because he doesn't know if Aiden is a member of the Initiative or if he really has his back. He doesn't suspect that Aiden is merely using him to get to the Initiative. His test is to have Aiden conduct the sales that the Initiative is seeking. The idea is that the members of the Initiative don't want to get get their hands dirty. Aiden won't conduct the sales and he would be revealed to be working for them. If he does conduct the sales then they know that they don't have to worry about him being in the organization. Aiden passes the test with flying colors when he puts his hands all over the sales. He might have earned their trust and a place on the board but it might come back to haunt him. If the Initiative succeeds in their plan then the Grayson family is going to have an easy fall-guy. Since Aiden is the one who conducted the sales, he's going to be the perfect person to frame for any blame they might incur. He became their insurance policy for when things go inevitably sour.
The bad news for Daniel? Nolan ignored his warning. He wants to do his best to help Padma. Once they confirmed that the finger belonged to her father and (presumably) was cut off while he was still alive, he finished carrion and gave it to her. He does give her his own warning when he tells her that the Initiative isn't very good at keeping it's word. It's a small plot development but it's pretty significant one. If Padma goes through with it, then the Initiative will have what it needs to accomplish it's goal. Retribution was a pretty good episode that seems to promise that it will return to the focus of the first season. Whether the promise is fulfilled or not will be up to the future episodes but I'm pretty excited for the next episode...
Amanda's death reaches into even this episode. The Grayson family decide to set up a charity in her name that's going to help disadvantaged kids get better futures. It's a nice way to honor her memory but their intentions are less than pure. They're using the charity to channel their money in there so that when the Initiation goes through with their plan they don't have to worry about frozen assets. This is just so dastardly but it fits Victoria and Conrad so well. They're so interested in protecting themselves that it makes sense they would set up a fake charity to protect their fortune. Emily and Nolan do get the idea of hacking into the charity and bankrupting them but they get foiled when the world's best hacker protects them. It's a bit of bad storytelling when you build up the carrion as the world's best hacking device but the first time it's used it ends up failing. There is nothing wrong with having it fail but at least have it succeed once or twice before doing so. It's always better to show how effective it is than to simply tell us. At this moment, it seems to be more hype than anything. It also makes sense that the only hacker in the world that's better than Nolan would be able to stop carrion but it feels a bit sudden to introduce this hacker. It would have helped if at least one previous episode had a mention of the Falcon so that it doesn't seem like a random plot obstacle was thrown into the narrative. Which is really exactly what it feels like: as if the writers wrote themselves into an area they weren't prepared to go to so they fixed the problem with a last-minute idea.
The Falcon isn't Emily's only problem as they keep adding up in this episode. Her foster brother, Eli, quickly figures out Emily's real identity. Emily basically tries to get rid of him in the same way that she tried to get rid of Amanda: wiping the record clean and giving him money. This predictably backfires as Eli isn't interested in just cashing out and leaving. He claims to be sticking around because he suspects Emily is up to something but it's likely that he's hoping to use the advantage for a larger check. He's named the co-chair of the foundation after he donates the money that Emily gave him. He's going to be sticking around for at least a few episodes and that's promising. So far I like Eli's character but I'm wondering what his real motive in staying is. I'm sure that will be revealed eventually. The one criticism I have is that some of the flashbacks rang a bit false as the kid playing them couldn't sell his lines but that's certainly forgivable.
The other problem Emily has is Jack. He's not happy that his wife was a part of the revenge plan and he's displeased that Emily refuses to tell him the truth. He's even losing his faith in Nolan. He's even starting to play the Graysons as he insincerely gives his blessing to an Amanda Clarke foundation. Jack has always been a character whose life has remained relatively separate from the Grayson world but his anger is guiding him on a straight collision path. He has questions about what happened that night and he wants revenge for what happened to his wife. It's surprising to say this but Jack's agency is actually really building up the narrative momentum the most. Eli's brother was doing a fine job of his own and the serialized plot was moving along decently but it's Jack that really makes me want to see the next episode. Illumination is a good episode of Revenge that sets up the latter half of the season with Jack and Eli while continuing the Initiative plot.