Revenge: “Commitment”

C: As the show has been teasing for the last few weeks, the time was ripe for Daniel Grayson to pop the question. Not that he and Emanda have been dating all that long, but we’re counting down to his engagement party and murder here, and – let’s face it – he’s an impulsive romantic with poor judgment. The big question is, how did he get that way? Neither nature nor nurture can explain.

E: So true!  It’s quite inexplicable.

M: You two are way over-thinking this.  It’s a fairly smart guilty pleasure show, but I’m guessing that in writing this piece you guys have just spent more time thinking about the origins of Daniel’s impulsive romantic nature than the creator and writers of the show have.  Just go with it, on the importance scale it’s a 3 out of 100.

C: …and we only devoted a few sentences to it! But thank you for thought-policing.

M: While we’re on the topic of over-thinking things, there’s one I’ve been over-thinking.  Is it just me or does Revenge‘s version of summer in the Hamptons seem more like winter in California?  Everyone’s always wearing pants and long sleeves, no one’s tan, it’s never hot.  Maybe it’s just me.

E: I thought that was particularly odd when Fauxmanda got off the (boat) Amanda wearing short shorts, to be greeted by Emily in long pants and 3/4 sleeves.

C: Silly M, they’re New Yorkers, why would they want to be tan?

M: Because most of them are incredibly vain, duh.

E: To get back on track: the thing about this episode is that it really brings home what’s at stake.  Somehow we forgot the vision the season opened with: Daniel, shot point blank and presumably dead on the beach, dragged off into the dunes by Jack.  Poor, doomed, deluded Daniel.

M: Speak for yourself about forgetting that.  I can’t wait for them to get back to it!  I keep thinking back to the party, trying to remember who I did and didn’t see at it, trying to mentally rediscover clues.

C: It’s definitely in the background for me all the time. For instance, knowing from the pilot that Em will accept his proposal, the episode’s other big question is whether she will show any shred of compunction while ruthlessly agreeing to marrying a man for the sole purpose of destroying his mother’s life. In fact, she did. Em’s actions were a little hard to follow, but overall “Second Thoughts” would have been an accurate title for this episode.

M: I thought they did a good job of displaying her mixed emotions in this episode.  The looks on her face when he asked and as they hugged in the rain after were really mixed, you couldn’t tell if she had actual feelings for him.

E: How fantastic was that proposal?  I mean, wow.  I know he’s got money for the musicians and perfect dinner set up and the flower be-decked boat deck, but that’s not what made it so sweet – or so painful.  “I can be myself with you,” he says, while we can probably count the moments she’s been honest with him on one hand.

M: I agree, that was one of their best scenes, both visually and emotionally.

C: Yeah, they are really rubbing in his status as a lamb to the slaughter. Speaking of sacrifices, I’m still not sure why Em wanted to set up the fake Amanda Clarke as the arsonist from last week’s episode and thief of the interview tapes. It’s typical Em trickiness when she first informs Fauxmanda that Victoria is likely to pin the fire on her, and then hands Victoria a reason to do just that. But given how ready Fauxmanda was to do anything Emily asked when it came down to it, I’m just not clear on why she needed to orchestrate such pressure on her to begin with.

E: Well, but Fauxmanda’s a liability, and she’s also refused to leave.  You say she’d do anything for Emanda – she says that too, in this episode and almost every other one – but when Emanda practically begged her to go before, she didn’t.  I don’t think she remotely intends for Fauxmanda to go to prison for the arson (waaaaaaay to many questions and possibilities for danger there); this is just a stronger push to get her to actually leave.  And to leave Jack well alone.

M: Yes, it was leverage to get her to go, which has dual purposes.  First, like you said, she’s a liability because she’s inconsistent.  Emanda wants control over the situation and ALL the players in it.  She want to be dictating the action, and she couldn’t do that with Fauxmanda.  Second, though, was the other theme of the week, which is that she doesn’t want collateral damage.  She doesn’t want Fauxmanda to get hurt.  Her being far, far away is the best way to ensure both purposes are accomplished.

C: Speaking of people getting hurt, a side-effect of all this manipulation is that Jack gets beaten up when he encounters a thug rifling through Amanda’s things – stealing the tapes for Victoria, I guess, only when did Em plant them there to begin with??

E: What do you mean?  When Jack caught her sneaking in to the apartment, of course.

C: Crap, I forgot that.

M: It was sooo poorly handled.  Yeah, I was just sneaking around your home in the dark looking for your girlfriend.  Yep, sticking with that.  It was weaker than Leonard’s attempts to deceive Sheldon when returning to the apartment at 3am in this week’s Big Bang Theory, and that was intentionally ridiculous.  Here, it was the weakest part of a very strong episode.

E: What’s going to happen to the one tape that Victoria’s goon didn’t get, I wonder?  Maybe when Jack finds it, he’ll remember that Emily showed up unsolicited, and he’ll put two and two together.  But poor Jack.  He’s just getting wrecked from all sides.

M: Just a guess, but I think that’s going to happen to be the one tape that has the “favorite aunt” discussion on it, and it will end up in Charlotte’s and/or Daniel’s hands.

C: I was interested by how deeply the thug invasion distresses Nolan. I know Jack is his hired friend, but he seems more angry at Em than I think we’ve ever seen him – contemptuous even – due to all the collateral damage she’s causing.

E: I loved Em’s crack about Nolan being passive aggressive, because he absolutely was.  Of course, it doesn’t mean he’s not right.

M: He’s been passive-aggressively meddlesome the whole season.  He keeps trying to horn in on the plan, trying to help, but rankles at how cold Emanda is being.

C: When he’s not cheering her on, glutted to the gills with schadenfraude, that is…

M: He wants to know more, but gets queasy with the things he finds out.  Generally he’s right, but what she’s doing is still necessary.

C: “Necessary”?

M: In her mind, at least.  I’ll admit it’s up for debate, but can you envision her actually succeeding in bringing down the Graysons without being this cold?  It doesn’t work.

C: Not without being cold, but surely she could do it without victimizing Daniel so completely.

E: The real victim of this episode – though I’m sure we could debate that point – was Charlotte.  Poor unwanted Charlotte, turned out by her beloved father, who can hardly look at her.  Poor Charlotte, who still doesn’t know the secret which will make all the sense in the world of Victoria’s ambivalence about her birth.

C: I couldn’t believe Conrad’s rejection of her. I know he’s a bad man, but he’s never been bad to her before! That was stunningly cold.

E: Well, he’s clearly devastated.  I hope he finds it in himself to be the bigger man, to know that she’s still the child he’s loved and raised, and it’s not her fault.  I think it’s certainly excusable to be thrown, but to make her move out?  We knew he wasn’t exactly the self-denying type before, but it pretty much removes the only thing that made Conrad even remotely likable or relatable.

M: Actually, you can argue that in a way he was looking out for her.  That he knows that he will never get custody of her, so he told her she needs to patch things up with Victoria.  Now, even if that is the case, which is unlikely, his lack of tact or compassion was horrendous and indefensible.  Just when she was starting to be happy, living with the parent that actually cared for her, having a “downtown man” boyfriend who has turned out to be pretty sweet to her, and then boom.  And it’s only going to get worse, because she’s going to find out.

E: Didn’t your heart break when she saw the massive ring on Emily’s finger, and hugged her, saying that she’d always wanted a sister?  Okay, I know it was completely predictable, but it was still effective because Charlotte is just so young and guileless and sweet.

M: And is ACTUALLY her sister!

C: Hence the predictability.

E: To go back to someone who is not guileless, why did Victoria think to have Amanda DNA tested?  Good thing her lawyer is Emanda’s ally!

M: That was an excellent twist.  As soon as they showed the spoon (which was ridiculous, who licks a serving spoon?) I knew a DNA test was coming

C: Yes, and I was mystified when somehow it came back okay! That was a great twist.

E: I am still absolutely convinced that Fauxmanda is going to be Daniel’s killer/attacker; now that Emanda has told her about the conspiracy to frame David Clarke, I think it’s a safe bet that Fauxmanda will use that as an excuse to kill again.  Plus, why else would Jack be there, helping out?  He wouldn’t do it for Tyler.  I don’t like the scenario, but it seems the most reasonable at the moment.

M: I’m not convinced, I just don’t see the motive.  I feel like it’s going to be something more sinister, tying into the divorce, or something like that.

E: And wow, Victoria.  Just when you think she couldn’t sink any lower, she makes Daniel believe that David Clarke raped her.  That is just beyond low.

C: I didn’t even understand why Daniel was responding the way he was, until he spelled it out to Em.

M: As it was happening I was struggling to put together what she was doing, but I did before the end of that scene when he hugged her.  And ohhhh, when I did?  I felt like I wanted to become part of the show and help ruin her.  It’s funny, they had spent a lot of time recently making her seem a lot more sympathetic to the audience.  That’s all out the window now.

E: And it solidified Emanda’s wavering resolve; now she’s convinced that only the most terrible, personal vengeance can balance out Victoria’s betrayals.

C: Too bad that entails Daniel getting caught in the crossfire.

M: It really is, he has become a very likable character.  However, as  said above, I can’t wait for them to get back to it!

C: And by “it” you mean his shooting? This show really does turn us all into terrible people.

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2 comments on “Revenge: “Commitment”

  1. thepresidentrix says:

    My favorite part of this review is the part about the serving spoon. Because I noticed that, too! But my thought was, ‘If I were trying to explain this show in general and Fauxmanda specifically, I would lead with: “Fauxmanda is exactly the kind of person who licks your serving spoon.”‘ Bleh! I thought Victoria’s play with the strawberries was a little bald, as well, given that it showed open, unsubtle hostility. Who announces that she went to great trouble to bring you a basket of freshly-picked strawberries, because the last time she saw you eat one, you nearly died… or whatever? Mean! Not even mean-in-disguise!

    I don’t know if this is a confession in the same category as ‘I actually like Edith from Downton Abbey,’ but Nolan is by far my favorite character on this show. I love how completely inconsistent he is and how permeable and how basically earnest. One minute he totes wants to be the Robin to your Batman and sate himself on your schadenfreude (good call!), the next he’s getting all snippy, because he remembers that you haven’t turned out to be a nice person, and you’re hurting people and debasing yourself. Maybe I identify with him, because that’s probably the exact kind of crappy revenge-sidekick I’d make? Ping-ponging between my glee at the catharsis of it all and just wanting to be included, only to remember that I have moral compunctions? Also, I always enjoy it when tv characters have surprising, unconventional reactions to displays of violence, and in that episode where Nolan got beaten by Tyler and tied up to a chair, Nolan’s reaction really hit me in the gut. His fear and frustration and pain were incredibly raw and incredibly ordinary at once. Plus, at some point he has used the word ‘seersucking’ as an insult. What’s not to love?

    Also have huge soft spot for Daniel. Don’t die, you big, goofy lug! You poor, naive, well-meaning bastard (except actually legitimate by birth, so far as we know…)! Somehow, don’t die!

    • thepresidentrix says:

      Also, on the subject of the strawberries: who wants to bet that Emanda has built up an immunity to strawberries before coming back to the Hamptons? She can’t afford weakness!

      (Either that, or the strawberry you see in the first act goes off in the third?)

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