Sunday, January 05, 2014

Revenge "Homecoming" Review: The Name of the Game is Frame



Rating: **½/4

Season: 3
Episode: 11
Original Airdate: Jan. 5, 2014
Director: Matt Earl Beesley
Writer: Ted Sullivan
Starring: Madeleine Stowe,  Emily VanCamp, Gabriel Mann, Nick Wechsler
Guest: Justin Hartley, Amber Valletta, Karine Vanasse
Channel: ABC
Genre: Soap

It was probably inevitable that a prime time soap that has been proudly embracing those roots more and more as the series progressed would take on the soap opera staple: amnesia.  I was seriously doubting for the majority of the episode that Emily actually was suffering from it, since her thing is usually implementing the most convoluted plan ever for the simplest of gain.  She is the Rube Goldberg of avengers who'll likely have a 10 year plan just to you get you back for budding in a line at a McDonald's.  The girl needs her Big Mac, after all.

This isn't a criticism though, even if it sounds like I'm laying on the sarcasm, because this show's entire appeal relies on the convoluted and complicated nature of the story.  It is half the fun trying to connect who is on whose side and who is in line for some good old fashioned revenging.  Aiden has likely flipped about 50 million times now, and even then, all of them seem to be some master plan implement by Emily.  So, I hope one can forgive me if I was holding on to the chance that Emily's loss of memory appeared to be some elaborate act and I was distracted for the majority of the episode trying to figure out what she had to gain from the charade.  The final sequence where she flashbacks to her holding the dying fake Amanda in her arms and then calling out to Jack, seemed to make it very clear that amnesia has truly hit Revenge.

The big thing sort of kept me in the land of "this is all a very ridiculous ploy by Emily" was the opening scene where Nolan was toasting to the news that Emily got shot.  Now, maybe this is just me being lost in the two thousand plots that hit every episode, but it seems like a rather unfriend-like thing to happily chug back a glass of wine after just hearing the news a dear friend's body has gone missing.  It all sort of made me think the Daniel shooting was a maste rplan, but now it just seems like Nolan likes to have a giant smile while putting back some alcohol after hearing his best friend could be dead.  I knew the man was eccentric, but this just seemed to jump up to near level of nuts.

I must be kind to Nolan, because he is still the best character on this show.  Plus he has apparently developed an app that allows a smart phone left on a desk be able to sneak into important hospital records, so I'd hate for him to use that against me (though him being fictional cuts the chances of that happening significantly).  I wasn't sure why no hospital employee didn't move the obviously discarded phone, but maybe the other part of the app is to be invisible to people in scrubs.  Anyway, there isn't much point to getting over analytical on the science of Revenge, because essentially, technology and hacking are magic perpetuated by the wands disguised as a keyboard and mouse.  It is just an easy plot point to unveil information and allow Nolan to be useful.

I can't pull an Emily and forget the main theme of this week's episode, which was every other character not named Daniel or Emily trying to sort out who shot her.  Emily wasn't trying because she was too busy revealing her real identity to a clueless Charlotte and well, Daniel already had a pretty good idea that he was the shooter.  Luckily, the showrunners figured out rather quickly that a mystery where we already know the culprit isn't all that fun, and so it quickly jumped into melodrama and the characters trying to figure out how to blame someone else.  Except for Daniel who was trying to do us all a favour by having himself written out of the show by turning himself in, but Victoria and Conrad think we have to endure him for at least to the end of this season.

Speaking of being written out, are we to assume this is yet another exit of Lydia ?  If this was her swan song, what was the point of having her not have a much cooler end with the plane explosion of season 1.  Her character was largely pointless in the return other than to alert Victoria to Emily's plans of taking down her family, but it isn't like Lydia had to be the only person to do that.  It did end in Conrad and Daniel giving each other angry faces, but again, it isn't like tension and hatred hasn't been a game they've played before.

Of course, Lydia may not actually be written out, since Emily conveniently remembered who shot her by show's end.  The frame job being done by Victoria to save Daniel has a chance to be short-lived, but then again, this is Emily so she might want to drag it out for 3 more seasons before revealing it all.  Plus with Lydia being gone gives her the house back, and also ends the rather tiring Conrad loves having affairs story.  Even if Emily tears apart Victoria's framing of Lydia and saving of her son, this doesn't discount the great manipulation Victoria perpetuated on Conrad.  Victoria really is the most fun when she is concocting dastardly plans, and it was pretty devilish how she essentially forced Conrad to betray and frame his true love.

Even is this plan falls apart for Victoria, she had some new ammunition thanks to her little helper in Patrick.  She now can tie Nolan to Emily and also is aware of the secret box.  This will likely makes life a bit more complicated for Emily, especially since she currently doesn't even know where she left her keys.  Victoria with this incredible upper hand and Patrick willing to betray Nolan, sets up some intriguing things for the future.  This essentially was a placeholder show trying to kick start the big stories for the second half.  Though I guarantee you I won't be able to follow or connect all of them, I do hope it is a bit more entertaining than tonight's episode.  Not that things were necessarily boring, but it just lacked the sizzle and intensity of the best episodes, because it mostly was just people trying to solve a crime we all knew or others discussing how they knew who did the crime.  It just wasn't what one would be primed to see after the final sequence of the episode preceding this one.

Speaking of the prior episode, it seems like the rag used to knock out Victoria had some amnesia dust as she seemed to forget it being shoved in her face but nothing leading right to it.  Of course, she needed to forget about the rag, because she then continued to not know if anyone was working with Emily and thus forced to find a way to save Daniel after he confessed to her about being the shooter.  Of course, she also now knows that Nolan was behind some of the things, and she'll be out for revenge (you may have noticed a theme in this show) against Nolan for daring to be all lovey dovey with her beloved son Patrick.

I'm not going to try to do any future predicting, because last year, I was convinced Aiden was short for this world, but then Declan bit it instead.  A death that isn't too shocking since he was becoming a useless character, but also ended up having a death lot less significant than one would have thought when it happened.  I do want to weigh in that this episode was the final giant bat signal that Aiden and Emily are destined to just be a side road, and that Jack will turn out to be the permanent love for Emily.  I also still think Aiden will have a less than noble end, but again, I seem to suck at predicting his fate.

After this episode, I'm really wondering how they're going to prolong the final act against the Grayson's for another season or more.  Sure amnesia helps slow things down, but again, Emily seems to have recovered already.  Victoria's now ready to figure it all out and if she is going to remain cunning and smart then she really needs to put the puzzle pieces together soon.  Essentially, this means Emily needs to wrap things up in a swift fashion.  But then where does the show go?  Emily start going after the valet who dinged her car?

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