Revenge Review: Rough Day?

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How's that for an episode that will make your head spin? After a slow-building first few acts, Revenge kicked into gear with a fast-paced, intricate series of events that led to the demise of a key Emily adversary.

Mason Treadwell may have a hard time finding "Penance" in the true sense of the word, but the slimy author has no choice but to work on it. After Emily's elaborate scheme, he has little else to do ... indefinitely.

The closer he got to the truth, the more obvious it became that Mason had to be dealt with. Amanda almost finished the job, Frank/Beaver Dam style, until Emily took over and did it her way. Probably for the best.

Not a lot of shows can generate so many rapid-fire twists while having them somehow fit the overall narrative and keeping you invested in the characters, based on what you know of their respective endgames.

The final 15 minutes of tonight's installment in a nutshell:

Emily came clean to Mason! Mason came clean to Kara! Kara went rogue! Nolan framed Mason! Aiden stopped Kara with seconds to spare and convinced her to leave town! Emily coerced Mason into falsely confessing!

As Nolan Algernon Ross would say, it feels like old times.

Aiden Mathis Photo

The above, climactic sequence alone would've given us plenty to talk about, but what truly makes Revenge unique from a plot standpoint is the ripple effect; the sheer number of notable events in motion at all times.

Consider Mason's unscripted mea culpa. That sent Kara off the deep end, prompting genuinely touching displays of solidarity and affection between Conrad and Victoria ... who think the Initiative was behind it all. Amazing.

It's a testament to Henry Czerny and Madeleine Stowe that their characters' hand-holding felt so poignant. Despite (or because of) innumerable unthinkable acts, the two are bonded by much more than a sham marriage.

Consider, as well, the host of reasons Mason accepted Emily's "deal." The dominoes fell so perfectly, even he had to appreciate it. The promise of penning Emily Thorne's future memoirs was nothing if not ironic.

The words "don't keep secrets, you'll only live to regret them" certainly rang true for Mason, who received a perfectly fitting punishment. A crowbar to the head would've been far too easy and un-Revenge-like.

With the Graysons on the ropes trying to conceal their web of lies, and their company and family in shambles, but the Americon Initiative's motives still a huge mystery, who pays the price next is anyone's guess.

In any case, "Benedict Clarke" was in rare form tonight, with her right- and left-hand man providing needed support. She needed all the help she could get with a maddening number of crises unfolding simultaneously.

Nolan was probably the unsung hero of the night. When an emergency beckoned, he broke open the glass and turned over the check to protect the only family he's ever known. Pretty awesome moment.

Rightfully jealous of Ems' fellow Revenge Camper, Nolan's struggled with a diminished role in the Hamptons this fall, but this evening proved he's invaluable as a friend and co-conspirator. He's also hilarious.

As for Aiden, Takeda has taught him well. The chloroform treatment and smooth talk he gave Kara Clarke was a stroke of genius, not to mention the constant playing of Daniel. And then there was the kiss.

Revenge hasn't thrown a hookup into the mix in awhile, and this one was long overdue.

While Aiden initially felt like a superfluous addition added to an already sizable cast this fall, he's quickly developed into an indispensable one. Emily's fellow Revenger adds a new element to the show and its heroine.

After watching their steamy, inevitable makeout session, it's not surprising that she gave in to his advances. Girl's had so many rough days, and no one who can truly relate to them or understand what she's up against.

The accent can't hurt either.

The way the first seven episodes of Season 2 have progressed - and especially with Barry Sloane promoted to series regular, it looks like this could have some staying power. I doubt I'm alone in saying bring it on!

At least for now. Something had to happen there. Whether he has ulterior motives or this effects Jack and/or Daniel in some profound way remains to be seen, but I'm excited to watch it play out this season.

Some additional takeaways from "Penance":

  • Kara is gone, at least for now, and while it was fun watching Jennifer Jason Leigh go nuts for a few minutes, the character felt a bit overhyped and uneven overall. Intense farewell scene with Emily, though.
  • Daniel certainly inherited his parents' penchant for subversiveness. Someone's living up to the Grayson name in a big way this season, although mom and dad may not be proud when they find out. 
  • Ashley was helping him out, we think, while looking more fashionable than usual.
  • The Initiative plays things pretty close to the vest, don't they?
  • The #GiftOfRevenge was ... a different way to advertise.
  • Jack's getting a good workout on stroller duty while Amanda's out scheming.
  • Kenny's been angling for the Stowaway in part because of the value of real estate but perhaps also due to bad blood with the original Carl. More on that to come in the coming Victoria-centric origins episode:

We'll learn more about the queen of that icy glare, always held for an extra second, and how she became the woman she is in two weeks, as you can see from the show's post-Thanksgiving return promo above.

Is it November 25 yet? Before turning it over to your comments on what we just saw unravel in yet another strong installment of ABC's addicting drama, tell us: Emily and Aiden together ...

What did you think of tonight's Revenge? Discuss in the comments!

Penance Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (335 Votes)

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

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