For two episodes now, I’ve had a nagging concern in the back of my head that Revenge was suffering from the dreaded sophomore slump. Storylines weren’t really connecting and Emily (Emily VanCamp) seemed unfocused. Things simply weren’t the same as the deliriously awesome first season.
And then there’s the scene in ‘Confidence’ that absolutely kills it. Suddenly I feel like an a*s for ever doubting my favourite night-time soap. Way to make me eat crow, Revenge
Let’s bitch it out…The scene I’m referring to is Victoria’s (Madeleine Stowe) press conference late in the hour. It’s not quite as memorable as the immortal scene in which she hugged Lydia (MIA guest star Amber Valletta) and told Lydia that the warmth she felt was Victoria’s hatred for her, but it’s pretty darn amazing nonethless. In front of a large assembly of jaded Hampton journalists (Henry Cznery’s Conrad refers to them as vultures descending for the feast), Victoria assembles her “perfect family” of Barbie-like figurines one-by-one on the stage, praising and thanking them even as she exposes their secrets and hypocrisies. Earlier, Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) wanted Victoria to admit to her infidelity with David Clarke (James Tupper), so naturally Victoria announces her as Clarke’s bastard child to the congregation. Conrad thusly becomes the cuckolded husband. And then she calls on Daniel (Joshua Bowman) – the only family she seems legitimately interested in holding onto – suggesting his loyalty “knows no bounds” (little does she know that both Conrad and Daniel are already plotting REVENGE! – Conrad with an expose that they’re remarrying and honeymooning in Tuscany; Daniel taking Emily’s advice to mask the haterade in an attempt to beat Victoria at her own game).
And then the game-changer: Victoria calls Fauxmanda (Margarita Levieva) to the stage, welcoming her “to the fold” in a tour de force moment that Emily has helped to orchestrate by blackmailing Faux into staying at the Grayson’s, even though it ultimately costs her the love (and let’s be honest, the respect) of Jack (Nick Weschler, looking quite fit in a tank-top earlier in the hour). The big question is whether or not this fits into Emily’s plan. Did she force Faux to stay for this humiliation knowing that the preggo former stripper would factor into Victoria’s plans, or did she simply know that something was about to go down and Faux might be useful? Either way the truth is out there and Em has successfully (subconsciously) broken up Faux’s relationship with the barkeep. Which likely means there will be h*ll to pay: a pregnant scorned woman is a scary prospect (so many hormones, amirite?)
The reason that this scene is so effective is that it returns the show to the realm of lurid melodrama. And I meant that in the best possible sense. What Revenge has been lacking in its first two episodes back has been a sense of controlled ridiculousness. Emily has clearly been preoccupied with finding her mother, Kara (Jennifer Jason Leigh) while Nolan (Gabriel Mann) met-cute his Single White Girlfriend CFO, Padma (Dilshad Vadsaria) and Victoria played Clue in a cabin in the woods. In ‘Confidence’ we don’t get a better sense of where any of these disparate storylines are headed (the season continues to lack a centralizing conflict that unifies everything in the way the “Who got shot on the beach?” flashforward did in S1), but things are coming together. If we can continue to get some b*tching and backstabbing in the same vein as this PR scandal, that’ll be enough for me until Revenge gets its house back in order.
- Another reason things seem to be coming together: Aiden (the generically named Barry Sloane) is given a prominent role as Emily’s male equivalent in the REVENGE! game. This guy can do everything: get knocked unconscious but still wake up alert enough to avoid death by garbage truck, lie badly and pose unconvincingly as a police officer at the Psycho-esque Pinecrest Motel where Kara works AND put a sleeper hold on Nolan. Plus the “failed-sister-rescue-mission” backstory is just intriguing enough to merit revisiting without taking the focus away from Emily’s Hamptons revenge
- Crap storyline of the season continues to go to Declan (Connor Paolo, who has yet to find a storyline he can’t convincingly sink). Last week we assumed possibly-gay “friend” Trey’s (Michael Nardelli) suggestion to fence stolen jewelry would end badly and – lo-and-behold! – this week it does. Way to deliver a shocker, Revenge! On the plus side, the owner of the jewlery, a Mr. Ryan, is played by none other than the awesome JR Bourne. Hopefully Mr. Ryan is operating some kind of white slavery racket and he’ll ship Declan to some questionable location to put us all out of our misery
- I seriously can’t stand Padma. Do not like her “sexy librarian” CFO outfit. Don’t like her listening in on Nolan’s conversation with Emily and assuming that Nolan is schlupping her. Unless this ends with her finding out about the REVENGE! plan and Hamptons Batman or Kinsey Scale 3 kills her, dismembers her and buries her with Sammie the wonder dog, I won’t be happy. I want her off the show asap
- So I guess Ashley (Ashley Madewke) really isn’t going to do anything on the show ever? Because she sure seems to be stuck in party/PR planner mode. Totes disappointing
- Are you pregnant and desperately seeking a substitute family? Cosy up to Charlotte Grayson because this dumb b*tch is giving out $5000. That trust fund isn’t going to last long at this rate!
- Best moment of the night: Em rolling her eyes after Victoria tells her to take a hike for her own protection. Totally priceless
- Most confusing moment of the night: the black box flight recorder from Victoria’s plane crash (of which we get a brief flashback snippet) is red! Bwah?!
- Finally, the episode ends with a not-quite-cliffhanger as Em hears her mom leaving “I hope you’re not dead” messages for dispatched killer WHM (nee Gordon Murphy). Safe to say that mommy dearest is down on some kind of take considering she mentions radio silence if she doesn’t hear from him. Still not quite sure how I feel about this, but I can’t wait for the awkward conversation Em is going to have when they meet: “Sorry I killed your luvah, mom. Where you been for twenty years? Here are your anti-psychotic meds.”
- Conrad (at the breakfast table, asking for bread): “Someone please pass the pain de mie?” Daniel (in response): “It’s toast” Lol – love those “nouveau” riche jokes
- Nolan (after Aiden nearly kills him): “Why does this keep happening to me?”
- Ashley (as Victoria’s assembles her “perfect family” Barbie family on stage): “Oh my god they’re stronger than ever.” Yup, and it’s amahzing
What did you think of the episode, Revenge-rs? Did Victoria’s speech sell you like it did me? Are you dying to know how and why Kara shacked up with WHM? Are you a fan of Aiden and his butter-melting British accent? And if you could only kill one person – Declan or Padma – who would you kill and how would you do it? Hit the comments below
Revenge airs Sundays at 9pm EST on ABC