'Revenge' Review: 'Victory'
ABC's promo departments love to tease the last five minutes of their dramas. I remember ABC would promote the hell out of the last five minutes of LOST during its peak. The promo voice would say, "And don't miss the final five life-changing and series-defining minutes of next week's LOST." The last five minutes would be really cool because LOST is the best series of all-time, but those heavily promoted final five minutes would hardly be life-changing or series-defining (well, except for the ending when Naomi lands on the Island, which indeed changed the course of the series forever). On Once Upon A Time, Henry would eat bad strudel in the last five minutes, and I'd want to forget I ever watched the show in the first place. ABC hasn't promoted the last five minutes of Revenge until last week's episode. I should've known better than to expect an unexpected ending. ABC promised an 'unexpected' ending. The ending has been used in many soap operas, daytime and nighttime, and I had the added thrill of finding out ABC will air a brand new episode on Easter Sunday.
I'll give ABC credit where it is due because I looked forward to the final five minutes of "Victory." I was expectant of something other than the typical faux-surprise Revenge ending that I'd seen coming. The ending is the typical faux-surprise Revenge ending, but I didn't see it coming. I'll give Mike Kelly and the ABC promos department credit. Truthfully, I don't spend my days speculating about Revenge, because I never think about Revenge other than for the 2-2.5 hours I spend on Sunday nights watching and reviewing what I watched. The revelation's going to change things up, but I'm doubtful the story moves beyond the brick wall it has been slamming into since the premiere. So Victoria has another son? Who cares? Emily smiles because she'll use the information to get at the Graysons.
Revenge can be inconsistent with Emily. Late last season the show dwelled on Emily feeling too much for people to get anything done revenge-wise. Emily went back to her roots in the early part of the season, but her feelings get in the way of her plan. I've gone over the problem of the essence of Emily's character in past reviews. Emily cannot be cold because the audience won't identify with the heroine, and if the audience doesn't identify with the heroine of a story, the story is dead in the water. Emily would not only alienate characters in the show but also the audience watching from home. It has been well-established her feelings for others get in the way of the basic tasks for Revenge. Eli James is a character we've seen before only he's dressed differently and has a different back story. Otherwise, he's the character Emily used to care about and won't hurt because of their past.
The best development of the episode is the revelation about Emily's past. Emily chose the path she's currently on after five years in juvenile detention, after years of thinking her father hated her and was simply a monstrous terrorists, and a knowledge that she burned down her foster home and left her best friend, Eli, alone and an orphan. David loved her, though. Eli set the fire and blamed Emily. Emily thinks her life could've been different had she gotten the letters from her father and had she known she didn't ruin Eli. Eli gets by because Emily thought she hurt him, but he played her. Eli leaves but not until making some amends with Emily, which he does by telling her Mason has her father's old letters, among them a revealing letter about another child with Victoria. Eli, at least, genuinely wanted to make it up to Emily for what he did. The duo also got revenge on their horribly cruel foster mother. At least Emily got to cross off another name from her list of enemies. Something was accomplished.
Other things were accomplished tonight actually. It's not fair to write that the rest of the episode was a waste. Jack learned about Conrad putting the hit on Fake Amanda and himself from Kenny Ryan, and then he joined Conrad's campaign upon learning the truth. Jack can't trust the police or anyone else in The Hamptons, so he'll trust himself. Nolan and Aiden failed to protect Padma during the exchange of Carrion for her father. The Initiative took the 'unimaginably dangerous' program as well as Padma. Nolan was crushed, and Aiden frustrated. Emily felt guilty, though her presence wouldn't have made a difference. The Initiative's no longer a shadowy organization with vague plans. They're in possession of powerful software that could cause damage, and they've hired Falcon, Nolan's hacker superior. The Initiative arc has been a drag but "Victory" gave the arc needed definition.
As a whole, the characters deal with damage control in "Victory." Victoria and Conrad plan in case Daniel wants to spill his secrets to Emily. Victoria sends him a picture of the two along with two bullets to scare him. Victoria's the same character who had her son beat up in season two. Aiden planned to kill Trask after the exchange but he was unaware The Initiative would plan for that, so Nolan needs to crack their code and hope to hell he's able to save Padma before she's killed, as well as stop Carrion from being used before its used. Emily's overt narration about victory uses the art of war philosophy to contextualize the use of victory. A person, an army, need not fear the enemy if the enemy is known. Victories are followed by defeats. Characters triumph and then fall in "Victory." The true victor should be Emily in the end. She knows all, and everyone else knows nothing. Above all, she knows herself now, completely and totally. She need not fear anymore.
-Revenge received criticism for its depiction of foster homes in the past. The foster mother is singled out, is an exception, so I wonder whether or not Revenge will receive the same criticism about their depiction of foster homes. The foster home story had elements of Matilda. I started thinking about an alternate Revenge wherein Emily has Matilda abilities.
-Emily Vancamp's hair is not the color of pound cake anymore. Her hair is back to its natural brown. Very good.
-Game Of Thrones returns next Sunday. I won't post Revenge reviews until Monday afternoons, because Game Of Thrones is better.