Revenge recap – 1×07: ‘Charade’

Courtesy of ABC

Emily, nee Amanda’s (Emily VanCamp) “roadmap to revenge” hits another stumbling block as ex-security  head Frank (Max Martini) digs up her criminal past, while Nolan engages on a solo take-down mission on Daniel Grayson’s (Joshua Bowman) mysterious friend, Tyler Barrol (Ashton Holmes). And we have our first official fatality of the season.

In our recent “He Said, She Said” tvangie suggested that Ringer should take a cue from Revenge. At the time I defended the Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle because I felt that it had upped its game in recent episodes. And then I watched “Charade” and promptly ate the first crow that I could find.These last few weeks have really cemented for me that Revenge is well worth sticking around for. Early in the season, the narrative relied pretty heavily on viewers suspending our disbelief that Emily could dispatch her adversaries with a few hacking skills and some tech provided by frienemy, Nolan (Gabriel Mann). Then something changed: Lydia (Amber Valletta) took a tumble off her roof at the end of “Guilt” (1×05) and in last week’s “Intrigue” (1×06) Frank zeroed in on Emily even as she managed to discredit him and get him fired. Suddenly the stakes seemed higher and more real and Emily wasn’t simply taking revenge on one-off characters. Her plan was coming apart, new players were entering the game and, naturally, there were all those pesky feelings for Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler). So the show has really raised its game and become appointment television for me.

This week was another standout as each storyline served to dramatically advance the overall narrative. Oh, except for the every yawn-worthy Declan Porter (Connor Paolo) / Charlotte Grayson (Christa B. Allen) tween love affair. The biggest problem with knowing where this is heading is knowing that those two will still be on the show come week 15 when we reach the engagement party. If only those two could be sent off on the Amanda and capsized off-shore. I’m officially over the rich girl/poor boy story unless one of these two gets a personality (preferably a three dimensional one).

No, the real meat and potatoes of the show was the build-up to the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary dinner party for Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) and Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny), and Frank seeking out Emily’s past. Disgraced Frank will do anything to redeem himself in Victoria’s eyes, so clearly he was going to bite it. He might as well have had a note taped to his back that read “Kill Me” when he said he would clear his name or die trying. Then again, lady cop stripper didn’t come off too dangerous while she spilled the beans on her decision to trade identities with our Emily. At least not until she asked Frank if anyone else knew he had found her, then it was clear Frank was going to end up on the wrong side of a tire iron in the ditch off the freeway. But hey, at least he got to meet CCH Pounder in her role as Emily’s Warden Sharon Stiles before he become the first official fatality on the show. Here’s hoping we find out more about how Warden Stiles taught Amanda to become Emily and destroy a few Hamptons rich-bitch lives.

Speaking of rich bitches, we got more insight in Victoria and Conrad’s tortured marriage as they spent the episode prepared for their annual marriage ceremony. I liked how New York Times reporter Melissa Robbins (Alicia Coppola) gently ribbed them for hosting a small dinner instead of one of their famously lavish parties. Not only did it give event planner Ashley Davenport (Ashley Madekwe) a chance to ease off the clipboard for a week (poor girl must have been getting carpal tunnel), but it ensured that I didn’t confuse it with The Vampire Diaries which seems to hold a ball, or a party, or a bonfire or a magical ritual each week (I kid because I love those crazy Mystic Fall teens). Instead we just had a good ole’ fashioned shit storm of a dinner party which Declan crashed, Tyler ditched, Conrad drank through and Emily’s Independence Day pier activities with Jack were all addressed. In true Brothers & Sisters style, it all ended in tears (for Victoria) and stormy departures (first Declan, then Daniel, Emily, Ashley and finally Charlotte – it was like a game of reverse musical chairs!). Thankfully Victoria still got a whole host of alternately bitchy or overly melodramatic moments (I’m torn between her arrogant mockery of Declan for suggesting she cooked and her explosive admission to Conrad after dinner that “We’re drowning in lies!”).

Courtesy of ABC

And then there was the missing pieces of the puzzle: Nolan and Tyler. After blaming his psychotic self-mutilation on Daniel’s drunken bender, he eavesdrops on Emily and Daniel’s conversation and purposely sends the NY Times reporter to out Emily as Daniel’s girlfriend. This is clearly unacceptable for Emily, who has no time for the rogue Harvard bestie (literally: she delegates his fall from grace to Nolan). This resulted in either a scene that confirmed your suspicions, or made your skin crawl just a touch (or both). Tyler not only revealed that his family is flat broke (a fact we guessed when Emily shot holes in his story a few episodes back), but that his potential job interning for Conrad is his family’s only financial hope. And then things got steamy as Nolan (rated 3, or bisexuelle, on the Kinsey scale) and Tyler hit the sheets for man-love, which we caught only a glimpse of on Nolan’s screen after he called Emily post-coitus to coyly indicate that he’ll “keep up” taking care of Tyler (that’s what she said!).

For many this simply confirmed that both Nolan and Tyler were a touch queer. For me, it just gave another great exchange:

Nolan: Seems you made Leslie a very nervous…man. Tell me, what’s a gay hustler doing posing as a Harvard student?

Tyler: Gay? Meh. Hustler? Maybe

This pairing does produce some interesting developments for the future, though, especially in light of the recent announcement that *SPOILERS* the resolution of engagement party murder has been pushed back two episodes (to Episode 15) so that producers can tell more story, principally involving Tyler *END SPOILERS* And so, with Frank dead, Tyler on the blackmail end of a new sexual relationship with Nolan, Victoria and Conrad on the outs and Daniel admitting he’s fallen in love with Emily, where do we go next?

Other considerations:

  • How long will our Emily suffer real-Emily now that she’s shown up at the beachhouse after killing Frank?
  • What will Lydia say now that she’s regained consciousness? Or will she conveniently have amnesia as Darren Franich on speculates?
  • How much should we read into Ashley’s response to Tyler that she wants to be a player in the game and that they’re “more alike than she thought” after he confesses his financial status in penance for standing her up at the Grayson dinner?
  • Can we all agree that Nolan should never been seen half-naked with strategically placed sheets covering his naughty bits? Gabriel Mann is a good actor, but there’s something vaguely Alien about his body that gives me the heebie-jeebies
  • Conversely, can we get more Ashton Holmes nudity? Sure the Talented Mr. Ripley vibe is strong with this one, but that’s a good thing right?
  • And finally, how are you enjoying the show now that it’s moved beyond its “revenge of the week” formula?

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy