Revenge recap – 1×21: ‘Grief’

Courtesy of ABC

With only a single episode remaining in the season, Revenge bids farewell to one of its most beloved characters as it sets up storylines for the finale. Oh, also, it’s cribbing from every “vast conspiracy” show out there. This could get ugly…

Let’s bitch it out…As Carrie Raisler elaborates in her recap on The AV Club, there’s a certain amount of warning-light flashing/ doom forecasting that accompanies any kind of shadowy conspiracy on television (see also: Awake, Alcatraz, The Event, Flashforward, every season of 24). As much as TV audiences love a good arc with a ‘Big Bad’, recent years have taught us to fear a large scale (often government) conspiracies. These are the plotlines that turn fun shows into “Oh God, no!” shows. So it is, as Raisler suggests, a little worrying that there appears to be much, much more to the terrorist plot that downed the plane and led to David Clarke’s (James Tupper) imprisonment and death. Sure, I’ll admit I’ve always wondered why a man like Conrad (Henry Czerny) would get into bed with terrorists (especially since we learned last week that it wasn’t until after Clarke’s death that Grayson Global became flush with cash). However, now that Revenge seems to be moving in that direction…I’m not so sure I care to see it anymore.

But that’s not the big story of the night. Depending on who you are, there were a few “Oh Snap!” moments, including:

  1. Emily (Emily VanCamp) kissing Jack (Nick Weschler)
  2. Ellis Ashley (Ashley Madewke) watching Em kiss Jack…because she has nothing better to do than hang out in the cold and spy
  3. Nolan (Gabriel Mann) getting kidnapped by the White Haired Man (James Morrison) after infiltrating his clock filled house OR
  4. Sammy, the dog, dying

Clearly, if you’re me, #4 is the big deal. That magical, everlasting gobstopper of a dog has moved on to the Hamptons in the sky. Bonus points to Jack for acting as the audience’s voice piece when he moans to Emily that he thought Sammy would live forever (fans have actively debated the dog’s age). Also, boyfriend points for Jack when he breaks down and cries (so sensitive! so plaid!).

You may think it’s silly to consider the dog’s death as the centerpiece of ‘Grief’ (in which case a) you missed the title and b) you’re dead inside), but let’s consider: Emily is about to go Rambo on White Haired Man (WHM) until Nolan snubs her and she finds the dog (Side Note: Writing WHM makes me feel like we’re discussing Twin Peaks, which is kinda awesome, but not at all relevant).

By this time, Emily has already had two people discuss how she’s lost her childhood. The first instance is nicely evoked by Tess Harper’s Carole, who runs interference when Nolan texts Emily the wrong address for WHM. Carole reminds Emily that it was her parents’ responsibility to protect her, and that she’s not alone. Then, after Sammy is gone, Jack confides that he thought Amanda would be with him at that moment and that Sammy is the only tie he has to her. Both instances once again reinforce the importance of humanity and its connections – something Emily has forgotten in her quest for REVENGE! It’s also more-or-less the reason why the character of Jack even exists. And that’s why it’s so meaningful when Emily kisses him.

Because that’s the kiss of true love (and I’m not just saying that because she admits it in the promo for next week’s season finale). If Emily were still (the real) Amanda, she would be with Jack. It’s REVENGE! that brings her back to Daniel (Joshua Bowman), and at this point, that’s more of who she is (Amanda is like a repressed memory). With Sammy gone, that connection to the past has been almost completely severed. She’s now the “black belt in karate, impeccable dresser and certified sociopath” Nolan describes her as, and we see this at episode’s end when she eyes Daniel’s briefcase full of incriminating Grayson Global evidence (so much so that the show even slows it down for us…in case we’re too dumb to figure out that that’s what she’s looking at).

Courtesy of ABC

And so now, there’s nothing else to do but make the final move (final for the season, of course, since the show is coming back next season and Emily will clearly not get her REVENGE in a single episode).

Other Observations:

  • The big cliffhanger is Nolan being kidnapped by WHM. It’s a little unfortunate, too, since Em has just congratulated the billionaire bisexual on a job well done for sneaking the camera into WHM’s house (and Nolan looked so proud of himself, too!). Ah well, there’s no doubt in my mind that Em will go after him – we know because she said he’s a good friend, and because of these spoilery photos from next week’s episode.
  • Were we meant to fall for the “36 Hours Earlier” title card as a sign Em had taken out WHM? It seemed pretty obvious that the grave was for Sammy, though apparently Em plans on tossing about a half-dozen more bodies in there because that sucker is HUGE.
  • I realize that “new prep school classmate” chick only exists so that Charlotte (Christa B Allen) would think Declan (Connor Paolo) has moved on (to which I say: good riddance to pill-popping rubbish!), but I kinda liked the sass. Plus anyone willing to give an up Econ poster board in favour of seeking a missing dog is plus one in my books.
  • Lydia (Amber Valletta) returns! I like that Lydia is so self-serving. After seeing her initiate the affair with Conrad back in 2002 in last week’s flashback ep, it’s become evenmore clear that she really is the gold-digger with the not-so-heart of gold. I especially liked how she lied to Conrad’s face about trying to stop Victoria (Madeleine Stowe).
  • “I like…, but I need…” = the drinking game/therapy session cross-over you’ve all been waiting for. Great for parties and awkward family reunions. Pre-order your copy now!
  • Daniel, despite attempts to villainize him – thereby making him more interesting – remains bland and boring to me. Oh sure, he can rock a three piece suit like nobody else on TV, but the yawn factor is high with this one
  • Fun Ashley moment: “Your heritage is still a little bit of a mystery, Emily.” Quickly followed by her quietly cleaning up the wedding pamphlets as Em and Daniel bicker.
  • Bad Ashley moment: “Don’t bother apologizing to me because you don’t really mean it.” Ugh…get a life. Also, newsflash: you’re clearly still just a party planner. Zing!
  • Anyone else notice that ABC helpfully included random footage from the finale in the promo for this week, ‘Grief’? I kept waiting for Emily to get the snot beaten out of her and Charlotte to off herself (clearly she’s “the hand dropping pills on the ground”). Strangely done, ABC…

So that’s it. Only one more episode of our favourite watercooler show to go. Will Em succeed in taking down WHM? Will Victoria be able to get Daniel back on her side, or is he officially a Grayson Global mole? If a character no one likes overdoses in her bedroom and no one cares, will she return for season two? So. Many. Questions. REVENGE!

Revenge airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on ABC.

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

2 thoughts on “Revenge recap – 1×21: ‘Grief’

  1. OMG! As I watched this episode, I thought it was the finale. I was getting so pissed. As a set up episode, I thought it was great.

    • Thank goodness it’s not the finale! I think things are going to get significantly crazier this week, but we should all prepare ourselves for a mother of a cliffhanger!