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'Revenge' Review: 'Illumination'

Christopher Monigle Christopher Monigle
March 18th, 2013 10:09am EDT

Emily and Nolan chat

As Daniel Grayson reacted badly to Conrad's honesty about the true purpose of the Amanda Clarke Foundation, I imagined different scenes in which Daniel's surprised by things that shouldn't surprise him. Every episode seems to include a scene in which Victoria and Conrad cause their son dismay because he hasn't learned their deceitful scumbags without a conscience. The latest instance involves their gesture of kindness towards Jack and the memory of his deceased wife and the tough life she had. Conrad and Victoria don't care about improving the lives of children who need improvement. They're protecting their assets in case an investigation's launched that freezes their own assets. The power couple created a charity after framing David Clarke because they couldn't very well become poor now could they.

Anyway, so I imagined Daniel reacting with disgust when he realizes the apple he picked up and bit into was actually a pare, or the plum he eyed in the produce area of the local grocery store was actually a picture of a plum on display, or that the shoes he puts on in the morning for work are actually sneakers, and he just loses his mind and then goes to tell Emily how his life is a lie. Daniel's crisis should be interesting but it's not because he makes the same mistakes over and over again. It's like his increasing and consistent stupidity is supposed to transform him into a tragic figure, a puppet--his fate given up to higher powers such as his parents and Trask. Daniel goes to Emily in a moment of agony over the truth he learned about the new foundation. Emily soothes his soul because she's very, very good at putting people into the places she wants them.

The news about the Amanda Clarke Foundation catches Emily by surprise. It just fell onto her lap. Emily Vancamp's reaction is excellent, like she received a totally unexpected gift. The Graysons plan to use the cash in the event of frozen assets, so Emily and Nolan plan to bankrupt the account. Money's the way to hurt the Graysons. Without money, they lack power, and without power they are nothing. They are the broken statue of Ozymandias. The best laid plans, even if they fall on your lap, usually don't go the way you want them. Emily's perhaps foolish to expect bankrupting the Graysons so easily; however, whenever a door shuts, another one does open.

At this point in the season, I'm interested in Revenge showing some forward momentum. The season has improved in the last few episodes (since the boat stuff finally went down), and "Illumination" is another step in the right direction. Indeed, the episode illuminates story threads and character motivations. Emily's old foster brother comes to town and immediately makes a nuisance of himself. Emily tries to buy him out of town, but he takes her check and donates it to the charity, intending to stick around and see what plays out. Emily is, in a word, annoyed. Daniel struggles to follow his parents after the death of Fake Amanda. He wonders how they're able to shrug off deaths. Conrad delivers two speeches explaining why, and I sort of tuned out. Conrad can be a bore.

The best development of the episode is Jack's growing awareness of what's happening around him. He learns more about who rescued him. Nolan's able to convince him Kenny Ryan saved him and then talks him down from going after Kenny in the interest of his newborn son and younger brother. Jack's not sure who to trust. One second he's in the embrace of Victoria; the next he is in the embrace of Nolan, remorseful. Eli tells him something about Fake Amanda that contradicts what he heard on the boat. Jack's trying to piece together what happened. In the end of the episode for him, he's alone in the boat, watching the wedding video. She's gone. No matter what happens, she won't come back to him. All he has is the memory of her.

I think the idea of illumination isn't limited to the fire metaphor in the episode. Emily mentions that playing with fire might start a fire or might get one burned. The purpose of Emily's mission is to illuminate the true innocence of her family and the Graysons role in his downfall just as Jack responds to the illumination aspect of the charity wherein her memory will help 'invisible' children (as Eli calls it) have better lives than she did. Love drives Emily and Jack. They aren't friends right now. Jack doesn't think he can trust her, but she's still the girl he loved as a boy, and he's the boy she loved as a girl. Their shared love for different people may yet unite them.

Back to the 'one door closes and another opens' thing: Nolan recognizes the name Falc0n in the Grayson account. The hacker is legendary. Nolan thinks he's responsible for dooming Emily's father. If they figure out the hacker's identity, they unravel the puzzle. They, more or less, take control of everything. Of course, one door is closed and the other door is hard to open. It's refreshing there is another person involved other than the horrible Initiative

Revenge is seemingly back on track for the rest of the season. Nolan wondered whether or not Eli is comparable to Tyler, which means the writers want Eli to be a kind-of Tyler for the foreseeable future--a problem Emily will solve while the narrative stands still with the Important Stuff; however, ABC promises a SHOCKING final five minutes next week. I assume the shocking final five minutes will be Daniel discovering pineapple life savers and pineapple the fruit taste different.

Other Thoughts:

-I never knew either of the Ryan brothers name. They were Nate and Kenny. I'm sad I know their names.

-Declan and Charlotte are fighting again. I never wrote about their relationship drama last season. I will not write about their relationship drama this season. I have no idea what caused the drama.

-We got a look at Nolan's Carrion software. Revenge's invented internet browser looks terrible; its invented video technology is terrible; the brilliant hacking software of Nolan looks better at least. I liked the flashing 'FIREWALL' text on the screen.

-Ashley still throws kick-ass parties. I'm still hoping for Emily and Ashley to be best friends.

-Michael Foley & Sallie Patrick wrote the episode. Bobby Roth directed it.

Photo Credits: ABC