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'Revenge' Review: 'Sacrifice'

February 18th, 2013 8:53am EST

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Revenge showed the sailboat Amanda at the bottom of the ocean way back in its September season premiere. The series did this in season one and the payoff in February was worth the wait. I insulted the show way more than I complimented it during season one, but the payoff to the shooting on the beach during the Fire and Ice party was impressive. It felt planned whereas every story in season two feels unplanned. Conrad's going to run for governor? Of course he is. I may need to stop writing about the show when that storyline begins. The mystery about the sunken boat was the only plot thread I wanted untangled. The sunken boat story has been the only element of season two that had suspense and mystery. It took nearly six months and was not worth the wait.

I think Revenge is caught between two weird things in its second season. Whatever made a show work in its first season isn't necessarily what the show's writers want to repeat in its second season. Everwood and LOST had all-time great first seasons. I will tear up thinking about both, if I'm thinking about both for a long time. That's how much those seasons mean to me. Revenge's first season is far from a classic, but my opinion isn't shared by the people who loved the first season of the show; so, naturally, they want what made the first season what it was. I'm still convinced half of the story choices in LOST's second season were made to piss off fans. Anyway, Revenge is trying to stretch its narrative legs with the conspiracy Initiative plot, which isn't going well at all, and it's fleshing out the secondary characters more. I feel I can count on one hand the number of stories that were about Emily. Revenge is Emily's show, but it has felt so much less her show through fourteen episodes. So, the show should return to what worked in season one. I didn't like the show anyway in season one, but at least it had purpose.

Significant stuff happens in "Sacrifice." Tragedy strikes, circumstances change, and plans get modified. Helen's death is a temporary annoyance for the Graysons. Daniel's learning how to be as horrible as his parents. Victoria and Conrad plan to frame Fake Amanda for the murder of Helen. Daniel objects because of Amanda's Charlotte's half-sister. Daniel, though, gives into the plan after less than a little bit of coaxing. His parents are old pros. They blamed a horrific plane crash on David Clarke without missing a posh party in the Hamptons. The Graysons play-act throughout the episode, especially when another Initiative member appears to investigate Helen's disappearance. The Initiative plot has actual potential with the addition of the new guy, Trask, as portrayed by The Hour's Burn Gorman. Gorman's made it an art to not smile. He was terrific on The Hour, and terrific in his small role in The Dark Knight Rises. Gorman definitely adds a threatening presence to the show--a presence the show lacked with Helen Crowley.

Fake Amanda's set-up to take the fall for the Graysons; however, Fake Amanda dies in Emily's arms as the Amanda sailboat burns and sinks behind her. The tall, angry Ryan brother wanted to kill Fake Amanda and Jack for screwing up his deal with Conrad. Nick makes threats, waves his gun, make demands, but nothing happens until Jack and Fake Amanda try to escape. Conrad made Nick a new deal to get rid of Fake Amanda, get her laptop, and give it to him. Jack's shot during the escape attempt. Fake Amanda stays on ship. Nick knocks her out. Emily eventually finds the boat. Nolan and Emily went to find her after Emily saw a picture with Nick's head in the corner of the frame. Emily's completely badass once on the boat. She basically kills Nick, the boat explodes, and she and Fake Amanda try to keep afloat on the life raft. Fake Amanda dies, though. Briefly the women's close bond and friendship returns. No one will recall this except for me but I wrote a rather long thing about the sexual overtones between Emily and Amanda during Fake Amanda's first episodes. I kept waiting for a reveal about their sexual relationship. There was something there, and that something returns in their final scene together. Emily cradles her, and they look like they're going to kiss on the lips for the final time, like they used to, but they never did. Anyway, Fake Amanda dies, which strengthens Emily's resolve for revenge.

Indeed, Emily needed a push to return to the revenge plan. The writers seemed like they fell in love with the Initiative and just went with it. Emily's been trying to get close to the group. I mean, she should since they're involved in her father's demise. Emily hasn't been pissed off in a long time. When she's pissed off, Revenge is better. Jack's life hangs in the balance, but he'll live. The Graysons stand out on the upstairs balcony and celebrate their own brilliance in pointing Trask towards Fake Amanda. They don't know she's dead. I can't see how Trask will be content with that. I can't see how Fake Amanda's death gets the Graysons off scot-free. The bad folk don't succeed twice on night time soap-operas.

Meanwhile, Aiden spends time with Padma and talks Initiative issues with her. Padma tries to play hard-ball with Trask in telling him she won't do what he, or they, want until she has proof that her father's alive. I don't remember what the result of the story was. I don't know. I don't care about all of The Initiative plot.

Revenge is trying to pull everything together, it seems. Certainly, the A story is the turn of the season. I remember what happened after the turn of episode fifteen last year, when the Fire and Ice mystery was resolved: Daniel turned heel, the narrative jumped forward, and the show sucked even more. Given the poor quality of the second season thus far, one hopes the final eight episodes of the season will be good.

Other Thoughts:

-Jack told Fake Amanda that she slept in. I threw my hands up in the air in exasperation. I understand characters need dialogue. Jack's sleeping in line was a complete waste. He could've said so many different things. Maybe a comment about the beauty of the sea, the color of the sky, etc. Also, we're to believe Nick didn't make a single sound? He was holed up in a wall pretty much as Jack and Fake Amanda made love for many hours.

-Emily Vancamp's grown into her role as badass ass kicker. She rocked it in her scene with Nick.

-Declan failed to fix the air conditioner in the bar. He had a line about time of death which was meant to mean something else to the audience given what was happening to Declan's brother. I don't think that line's intent landed.

-New episodes of Revenge return on March 10.

-Mark B. Perry & Joe Fazzio wrote the episode. Stefan Schwartz directed it.

Photo Credits: © American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.


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