Revenge Review: The Surprise of The Ice Queen

revenge identity 2One would hope that after a three week absence of all the drama, schemes and scandals of the pretty folks of the Hamptons on ABC’s Revenge, a new episode would come back smarter and sleeker than ever. But no. Last week’s new episode of Revenge is made of the same failing stock that seems to characterize most of the show’s sophomore year. It’s painful to see, and here are the reasons why…

Hacker Wars
Last week, Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann) had a quick reversal of fortune. After beginning the episode under suspicion in the death of his ladylove Padma Lahari, by episode’s end Nolan (along with Emily) gets some vindication by not only tracking down the elusive Falcon but effectively hanging a noose around this birdie’s neck. It all starts with an email Nolan sends to Victoria outing her forged medical records as a fraud. Victoria panics, because she’s just ready to put this first baby business behind her and calls the Falcon out on her shoddy work. Falcon assures her that no one knows the secret of her first child. But when Falcon follows Nolan’s hand placed trail she finds a challenge issued: Nolan wants to meet face to face.

This Falcon does, and after losing a video game challenge she agrees to do Nolan a favor: erase all traces of sensitive information he has stored on a flash drive. Left with no choice but to help or lose her hard-earned hacker cred, the Falcon agrees and gets to work. Soon after she plugs Nolan’s flash drive into her computer the Falcon discovers that she’s been hacked, well actually she doesn’t so much “discover” as Nolan calls her to gloat that he now has access to everything on her computer, and oh yeah, he’s also sent the police after her. Since Falcon’s wanted for a series of cybercrimes, she’s understandably upset and swears vengeance. But if she was so gullible to fall for this stupid scheme, I’m not too concerned about the merits of such threats.

In fact, I wonder how in the world this woman managed to be this master hacker if she is so incredibly gullible to fall for the tainted flash drive scheme. Heck, I know nothing about hacking and my first thought was ‘She didn’t plug that into her computer, did she?’ But of course she did. Lately, Revenge has been heading towards the most expedient way out of every situation rather than proving the cunning and brilliance of its once complex characters. This victory is undeserved and as such rings hollow. But a hollow victory is still technically a success, so the Falcon’s been taken care of… for now.

The Re-Engagement
But taking down the Falcon is not the only agenda, as Emily (Emily VanCamp) and Nolan plan to reveal Victoria’s secret son. To that end, Conrad proves quite helpful scheduling a LIVE TV interview. I think we can all agree, with this family, that isn’t the best way to go. This proves true as during the interview Nolan emails the host with an anonymous tip about Patrick, the son a young Victoria abandoned at 6 months old. The host confronts Victoria with this and in front of a shocked Conrad, Victoria admits that it’s true.

Emily, of course, can’t show outwardly that she’s pleased by this work. So perhaps it’s fortuitous that Daniel (Joshua Bowman) managed to angle her into appearing on the show with him where he backdoors her into hinting at the possibility of the two getting engaged again. Daniel asks the host to ask Emily about the possibility of wedding bells, and trapped on air Emily vaguely answers that there’s “no greater honor” than to be a Grayson.

To prove he’s not all talk, Daniel follows up telling Emily that he hopes the next time he sees her she’ll be wearing her engagement ring. He goes even further by calling in Aiden’s boss Mr. Takeda, hoping to get a little intel on the competition by reading Aiden’s employment file. Takeda pulls Aiden aside to warn him about the possible threat and to suggest Aiden move on from Emily. He’s just clouding her mission, Takeda says as he explains that Emily will never be satisfied until she sees her plans through. Aiden sees it differently, after avenging his sister’s death he knows that there’s more to life than getting even. More than revenge, Aiden counters, Emily needs to know that she has someone by her side the whole way through. And that’s what he’s going to be. He later proves this by telling Emily to marry Daniel, destroy the Graysons, and then come back to him. It’s kind of touching actually, in a weird way.

And now for the good…

revenge identity 1Victoria
Last week was undoubtedly a shining moment for Victoria Grayson (Madeline Stowe). As is the case with trial by fire, we really got a peek into the vulnerable side of Victoria. It’s beautiful and touching to see that she’s capable of so much more than we’ve come to expect. Even though it seems like Victoria’s ambivalent about the son she gave away, we see from flashbacks and a surprising end that this is anything but the case.

In flashbacks, we see a young Victoria clearly enamored with her baby. She’s taken to walking him around the commons of a prestigious school where she catches the attention of one of the faculty. Impressing him with her knowledge of Art History, the teacher gets Victoria a place in a study abroad program. Victoria’s excitement is quickly dimmed when she sees that there’s only one ticket. Perhaps there might have been two had she explained that she was Patrick’s mother and not his au pair, as she so poshly described herself. More likely though, there wouldn’t have been the first. And so from there we know, Victoria gave up Patrick seemingly forgetting about her baby boy as she went on to live this glamorous life as the Queen of Mean.

Seeing Victoria’s early attachment to her baby shows a different side of Victoria that viewers have never seen. Sure she loves Daniel, but that relationship is heavily based in manipulation and distrust. With this look back it’s nice to see that Victoria is capable of an innocent kind of love, it’s a surprising touch to the Ice Queen. And it turns out that maybe that’s not all gone, because when questioned by the reporter on her son, Victoria doesn’t even deny it or try to prevaricate. She immediately says “It’s true,” much to Conrad’s chagrin. But if Conrad’s got a problem with that he’s going to explode at Victoria’s next move. At the end of the episode, Victoria goes to Nolan and promises to put him back in charge at NolCorp if he does one thing for her. My assumption is that she wants to find out who exposed her secret, but she doesn’t. Instead Victoria wants Nolan to find her son.

Overall, Victoria’s trip to maternal lane is the only bright spot in this episode. And even though it’s lately feeling like we’re trudging through mud, I can’t wait to see how this storyline develops.

Other Random News:
Declan and Charlotte seem to be heading to Splitsville after Charlotte blows him off to hang/make out with the girl she decked at her mom’s party. This friendship seemed to come out of left field. But who really cares about these two, anyway?
Another odd pairing: Jack and Ashley-dear team up to take down Conrad and find him setting up secret meetings with his opponent’s wife. Conrad doesn’t have the highest fidelity track record, but this meeting seems illicit in a non-sheet tangling way.
With the re-engagement of Emily and Daniel, Jack denounces Emily and strips her of her godmother duties.

Season 2, Episode 19: “Identity” (original airdate April 28, 2013.)

Revenge airs Sundays at 9/8c on ABC.

Images courtesy of Vivian Zink/ABC.

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