Episode 18: Masquerade
By: Carlos Uribe
Revenge is a show about Emily Thorne and her quest of revenge.
A few weeks ago Emily promised that there would be no more distractions in her journey for revenge against the Grayson family. There was a small derailment into getting revenge on Emily's foster mother but it did lead to the delicious reveal that Victoria had given up a son when she was sixteen. Emily is able to use this information to maximum effect in Masquerade. It would be simple for the writers to have Emily track down the son and end with her having found him. That's what a lot of shows would have done but the writers decided to make it more interesting than that. Emily doesn't find Victoria's son but she does begin her search at the end. She has to find the trail before she can go on it. The best way to find it is to manipulate Victoria into accidentally giving away who she gave her baby to. This leads to a pretty great plot where Emily pretends that Victoria's son is coming to visit her at her masquerade party. It's a great way to freak Victoria out because she doesn't know it's a ruse. She feels guilty over what she's done. It does so much emotional damage to her that she actually faints when the person she believes to be her son manages to get away from her. A person that was really an actor paid by Emily. It was pretty much one of the most entertaining methods that the writers could come up with in order to have Emily begin the search for her son. They could have just had her search the internet or use her detective skills but the road they traveled paid a lot more dividends when it came to creating conflict within the scenes. It allowed the writers to develop the serialized plot while giving the viewers some revenge. It's about time.
The Intitiative plot doesn't work as well because it really doesn't make any sense. They have kidnapped Padma and held her for six weeks. Why? We don't know but only with mysterious hints at their plan. I have a feeling that the writers didn't figure it out so they're hoping to resolve this in a later episode because it really doesn't make sense. There is no reason to keep her alive. Her death just happens to come at a time when Aiden is convinced to sell all of the shares that the Initiative wanted Daniel to buy. Daniel is scared at first because he thinks he's going to die but the Initiative decides that they're instead just going to sell all of they Grayson assets or something. I thought they needed Grayson Global? This whole plot makes no sense because there's no real consistency. It feels like the Initiative just acts based on what the writers want them to do that week. Before he parts ways with Daniel, Trask does reveal that the person who sent the threat was actually Victoria. The reason that Aiden sold the stocks was to draw out Trask. He succeeds and has Trask take him to Padma by gunpoint. Only she was conveniently killed that day. The plan seems to be that Aiden will be caught over the dead body but he easily gets away before the police enter the scene. This is after he kills Task in anger. The Initiative needs to be more firmly established because right now they're not credible villains. They're inconsistent, illogical, and incompetent. This is the second Initiative member that has died. I understand our main characters are competent but this doesn't excuse how shoddy the Initiative really is. The only good thing this plot led to is how Padma's death affects the Revenge universe.
This is a show that has always been good at showing consequences. The first season was so great because we got to see the short and long-term effects of her actions. The second season has been able to do this even if the effects are more subtle and sometimes even less exciting. Padma's death might not have a big effect on the audience but it does to our three protagonists. Nolan is grieving losing the love of his life. There's also an implication that he's under investigation for her murder because the detective just happened to get called by Nolan the morning Padma died or something. I'm not really clear on why they're looking into him. I guess the detective has an axe to grind with rich people. Still Nolan's grief is good especially because of how it comes into play with his friend, Emily. The two have bonded over the course of the series and it really shows when Emily tries to comfort him. She even offers to ditch her current revenge plan in order to be there for him. The characters were already motivated by Amanda's death but now it's been doubled since the blame their own failures for Padma's demise. Getting to the body might have been a rocky road but the emotional fallout truly allowed the actors to display their talents.
The final plot has to do with Jack. He has joined the Grayson campaign to try and find a way to expose him as the killer that he really is. He doesn't seem to be getting a lot of results as he's actually helped Conrad get within four points of his opponent. Jack has managed to find a way to get Conrad to be likeable to ordinary people. That's quite a skill and if he wasn't so focused on revenge then he could have a future career as a political campaign manager. He does make a subtle move against Conrad when he plants a question about Daniel Clarke and his wife's demise. He uses this to play the recording that Kenny gave him to try and get Conrad to slip up. Conrad doesn't fall for it but Jack is able to maintain his position in the campaign when he publicly appeared to try and save Conrad from answering the question. Conrad's answer actually surprises people because he promises to work for a full pardon from the President. An answer that gets him into trouble with his current supporters as they're more worried about tax cuts than a dead terrorist. An answer that lands Ashley into trouble as she's not only unable to contain the fallout but she tries to blame everyone but her for who could be behind it. Conrad chews her out so Jack decides to recruit her into his mission of revenge. I really wouldn't trust Ashley if I was him but this could lead to some good results. Overall, the plot works because Jack is able to maintain his sense of agency. He remains angry and committed so he's going to do what it takes to bring down Conrad.
Masquerade is a pretty good episode of Revenge that I found to be exciting. The revenge takedown on Victoria was simply Emily at her finest as she was able to perfectly manipulate the situation to get a lead into who Victoria's son might be. The emotional fallout from Padma's death was very strong and Jack's campaign plot is leading to promising places. The weakness of the episode came from the Initiative as the organization is quickly becoming a confusing joke rather than a mysterious organization that is a credible threat.