Revenge Review: Sympathy For the Devil

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Just as her perfectly orchestrated plot unraveled before her eyes, an embattled Victoria Grayson pulled a rabbit out of her hat and successfully reascended to her throne as Queen of the Hamptons ... for now.

All it took was a convincing aura of "Confidence" and a high-wire PR act.

The resurrected Grayson matriarch still has plenty of obstacles - and enemies - in her path after Aiden and Emily forced her hand before the press conference, but this woman is darn near impossible to break.

Grayson Family

Largely relegated to the shadows in the previous two weeks, this was Madeleine Stowe's night, and she delivered in typically captivating fashion. The actress is so perfectly cast in this role, it's uncanny.

Stowe's facial expressions are priceless and make it hard not to love her, or at least love to hate her, even as you root for Emily Thorne. It takes a brilliantly complex character to achieve that.

This is a woman who framed her true love and the father of her daughter, sent his other kid to the foster care system, faked her own death and lied to everyone imaginable about ... everything.

Yet somehow her sad, depleted look still gets to you when she's under duress, and that calculating stare when she's plotting her next move makes you so glad she's alive. Props to Stowe all around.

On the cusp of losing control of the family, and more importantly the perception of solidarity she longed to keep intact, Victoria copped to her affair with David and welcomed Amanda into the fold.

Wow. The puppet master does it again. Charlotte, Amanda and especially Daniel may not buy Vicky's display of unity beyond this week, but that was an all-time save with her back to the wall.

Conrad? He's even more unabashedly evil, with no qualms about getting into bed with The Initiative - or telling the media that he and Victoria will re-marry - just to keep her under his thumb.

Diabolical, really, and one of many new twists in this increasingly tangled web. Revenge creator Mike Kelley has hinted at two weddings this season, so it looks like the Grayson Tuscan Sham is #1.

For now, the White-Haired Man (real name Gordon Murphy) still looms large over the show, which is fun in that only Emily, Aiden and Nolan know he's been dealt with. Where did they hide the body?

He may have breathed his last, but Gordon played a major role this week thanks to a pair of phone calls: 1. His proposition to Victoria before she got on the plane, and 2. Kara Clarke's voicemail.

Kara, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and making her first present-day appearance, apparently knew WHM well. So well that he carried a pocket watch with her smiling face inside. How creepy is that?

Her run-in with Aiden was a surprise, immediately preceded by his looting of the flight recorder from the air conditioner (Dexter would be proud of WHM). Can you imagine if he knew who that was?

If Kara does go dark, it may be awhile until he and/or Emily put the pieces together. Playing her message at the end will only reinforce Emily's desire to track down her long lost mother, of course.

Also, Victoria's "if that" comment about Charlotte and Amanda's familial bond was telling, not unlike Conrad's "you're a Grayson" line in Season 1. Is there something more she's not telling us about WHM?

Emily Crushes Aiden

This week also offered us more insight into the back story of Emily and Aiden, beginning with their training under Takeda and ending with him choosing his "mission" over their romantic relationship.

Having failed to find his sister, is he back to help Emily complete her mission? To make up for breaking her heart in 2008 and win her back? He's certainly a skilled ally, but what's Aiden's endgame?

Through his machinations so far, Daniel is now distrustful of his mother, Amanda gives Emily even greater access to the Graysons (though she's always a wild card), and a certain psychopath is dead.

He can also absorb a wine bottle to the head - always a good sign in any partnership. It will be interesting to see where the producers take Barry Sloane's character in the future, considering his past.

Our protagonist fell for him and was crushed that he left her in Japan. Years later, she's still not over it, and no all-knowing Japanese mentor is going to turn Emily Thorne into an emotionless robot.

Takeda wants Emily to let go of her heart and be utterly ruthless, a precision-focused instrument of destruction in her quest for vengeance. Four years later, she's still struggling with his directive.

That hint of innocence, compassion and human decency make her one of TV's most beloved female superhero, even as she's putting people in dumpsters. If she lost it, she'd be a lot less compelling.

Elsewhere tonight ...

  • Nolan got his clock cleaned by Aiden, but was clearly more hurt emotionally by the presence of Ems' new right-hand man. Poor guy. Fear not, he'll be back. And he still got in some good lines.
  • Amanda is proving tougher to control than Emily planned. Despite constant scheming to keep her at bay, nothing quite works out the way she draws it up when it comes to FauxManda.
  • Jack no longer trusts his baby mama-to-be after the Grayson charade, and kind of broke up with her. At some point soon he's going to figure out that Emily's really Amanda, right?!
  • Dec robbed people and got caught, then was let off the hook by his mark.
  • Ashley wore a pretty green dress, but Emily's fashion was still tops.
  • The promo for next week looks even crazier than tonight!

Revenge still has more work to do in terms of weaving so many storylines together, but if you look at constructing the overall narrative as a season-long endeavor, it's off to a terrific start this fall.

Before turning it over to your comments, here's next week's Revenge promo ...

... and a quick poll: Who has the best chemistry with Emily Thorne?

What did you think of tonight's Revenge? Comment below!


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (323 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


Eventful night on Revenge! I think Emily /Amanda has the most chemistry with Nolan but it's just not sexual! Aiden is hot but just as with Jack the real heat was with Daniel! And even the I'm with Ashley now comment doesn't fly, He wants Em and bad! And I'm beginning to think that eventually Victoria will want him to be with her too! Vic obviously knows who the real Amanda is by now as well!
I sure hope they don't go thinking they are going to take Nolan and make him straight now with the cute little CEO! Even if she is cute as hell!!! Dear writers Gay men just don't wake up one day and say she's hot!


I think we will be yelling at both Aiden and Nolan in just a few episodes because when you strip back their outward guises, they seem to both have the same opinion of Emily's whole deal and if a gun was held to both heads, they want her to drop it. Nolan because he thinks of her as his little sister and Aiden because I don't think he actually left her in 2008, I bet Takeda kept them from leaving together and decided breaking her heart would help make her who he needs her to be. I think Takeda is actually the real threat to Emily here, he obviously (to me) is after the Inititive and I have a feeling that Grayson Global is the only public face of the organization. He had been working with Aiden who might also be Anti Initivive, but just has a personal vendetta. But, Amanda Clarke has a vendetta against Grayson Global which is a better avenue for Takeda. Now that she is all focused on her mother, Grayson Global is recovering and she does Takeda no more good than Aiden does. I imagine the one thing Takeda did not count on is that Emily is not over Aiden and Aiden actually was the one whose heart was broken.

Drea xoxo

n ps nolan and amanda are strictly platonic he just didn't want to call her best friend in case emily/amanda denies it and brushes him off as per.

Drea xoxo

I still say WHM is connected to emily/amanda via a bloodline somewhere and most likely tried to kill her because of the mum's mental issues. And Lydia who knows let alone care, she was just a sideline to pass airtime. But to further that theory of the plane I do think it will be interesting to find out in the coming weeks as to what happened if whm had the capsule....
Emily needs to remain alone and stop falling in love which seems to be her weakness and reason why she can't move on in her quest for vengeance. I just want more flashbacks of the 1992 crash and explanations why of all families and corporations, the graysons were chosen.

Steve marsi

My guess was that the plane did in fact crash, as seen on the news at the end of Season 1, and that Victoria simply walked off before takeoff, while Lydia did in fact die. How Victoria left without raising suspicions among the other passengers, or whether she knew it was going to crash, who knows, but that was my interpretation (obviously, this being Revenge, you can never be 100 percent sure). As for Emily and Nolan, I agree their relationship might be the best thing about the show. However I always viewed it as more of a friendship, or even brother-sister relationship, rather than a romantic one, therefore he's not in the poll above. But make no mistake, Nolan rules.


daniel is so handsome and hot!!! i seriously hate jack!!! oh i aiden is so muscular,love him,hot guy!! and finally emily thorne love her,revenger!!!!!!!!!!!


To my knowledge Lydia IS dead. The producers said at the end of season 1 that of the 3 possible deaths at least one would indeed be fatal.
Since Char and Queen V are ok, Lydia has to be dead. I think Victoria survived by getting the heck off of that plane after WHM called her (as seen in this episode).


(continued) Is Lydia dead??? We still don't know. And did the plane really crash? How the hell did Victoria ACTUALLY survive?? Nolan and Ems still have that info, here's hoping they can still bring down part of the initiative.


I think Victoria's comment about "if that" is more about her suspicions on FauxManda. Not Ems and WHM. Two things that disqualify him as her mom to me as the "you must have gotten that from your mother" (disparaging her father) about her fight, and the fact that he DID end up trying to kill her. If he IS her father, he sure as hell didn't know it. He likely only met her after Amanda was born when the hit was put on her. WHY he took to her is beyond me. I understand why Ems would be mad about him being killed b/c there go her leads. Aiden was pretty sloppy I think in his handling of it. I hope Ems finds her sooner than later - would make a more interesting arc. I do NOT want an Ems and Nolan romance. True male-female friendships are awesome and they don't ALL need to be ruined that way. I still like the yearning chemistry between Jack and real Amanda/Ems, and don't hate the Porters. LOVE Victoria even as I wish I could hate her. Is Lydia dead??? We still don't know. And did the plane really crash? How the hell did Victoria ACTUALLY survive?? Nolan and Ems still have that info, here's hoping they can still bring down part of the initiative.


Emily has much more chemistry with Nolan than any of these other guys...

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Revenge Season 2 Episode 3 Quotes

WHM: After the ding of the seat belt sign, the next thing you hear will be 14 ounces of plastic explosives detonating. My proposition: Conrad's demise is mutually beneficial. All it requires is splitting Charlotte's inheritance. Decline and your daughter will be joining you in the Grayson family plot.
Victoria: I'm listening.

Victoria: News hounds won't stop until they get my story.
Daniel: What exactly is your story?