REVENGE “Intrigue” Review

REVENGE “Intrigue” Season 1 Episode 6 – “Who made the surveillance tape?” That’s the question Conrad and Victoria and Frank find themselves faced with in the aftermath of Lydia’s attack. For the past few weeks, Revenge has been an intricate show about schemes and manoeuvres created by smart people to oust smart people. Sure, it’s had a cheesy outer layer, but at its core the people behind Revenge know what they’re doing and they have a great sense of humor about the kind of show they’re making, clearly aware that if they make it too corny, the show will lose its stakes, while if they make it too serious, it will be open to ridicule, or, worse, it would become dull.

This was the first subpar episode the show churned out. It’s not just the idea that Conrad’s first question after seeing the tape sent from “Anonymous” should have been “who the hell is this?” but you expect so much more from Victoria. It’s not just that Lydia’s coma-inducing accident (not a death, which means she’s still a loose end) never incurred a basic investigation by the police – and by basic I mean they check the surveillance footage the twenty minutes before and after her supposed jump. It’s not just that Conrad forced Victoria to hang up on Frank just as he’s about to mention Emily’s name. It’s all of these things and more which made this episode unequivocally the worst of the bunch.

The structure seemed off. Every character beat, every character action made sense on paper, but on screen it just didn’t work. Take Jack’s declaration of love under the fake fireworks. It makes sense, he is clearly in love with Emily (though who the hell knows why. Aside from the fleeting flashbacks that showed them playing together as children, they have had next to zero connection in front of the audience) but it was just flat and silly. It’s admirable that the writers are willing to move the story forward so quickly, but there was not a second on the dock I believed that Jack, as thinly characterized/acted as he is, would do, never mind having him show up at her house with a toolbox and a plank of wood.

The sub-subplot of the episode continued to be the romancing of Charlotte, a plotline I was kind of charmed by last week, but this week played out like fan fiction as Declan goes lobster diving, survives getting roughed up by a few toughs and smarms his way between Charlotte and (ew) old people, all in the hopes of winning her heart which, she assures him, he already has. It’s the stuff that puke is made from.

There was still a lot to enjoy in this episode: Emily’s takedown of the slimy Tyler was particularly joyful-though I have no idea why Emily’s friend was so annoyed with her for uncovering all of this dirt and it seemed to all be swept under the rug by the next scene, which was weird.

When Nolan talks to Emily, unwittingly putting her in danger as Frank observes-that’s a moment that was quite clever, since Nolan, in such a disoriented state, would obviously be in no state to realize the situation fully.

Now, I’m not hating on the show. Just this episode. There’s so much to enjoy about Revenge, from the performances to the very nature of the plot that I can overlook a poor episode and hope that next week is a return to form.

Random Thoughts:

This may be morbid, but I really had hoped that Lydia would die. The idea she’s in a coma is just too dull and clichéd – she knows about Emily’s past, and with Frank now catching on to the loop, the more people who know about Emily’s past, the less clever Victoria and co have to be.

Tyler is either a poor man looking to take up Daniel’s mantle, or else he’s gay. Those are the only two explanations I can come up with for his inexplicable panto-villain actions.

Daniel is quick to spout rhetoric about his independence, yet he still lives in his mansion in the Hamptons. That scene was so perfectly directed in the way the frame captured both Victoria and the black maid fixing the flowers.

By the way, just to clear up some biases that might be detectable in the review, I’m supporting Emily/Daniel relationship. Not shipping, mind, since that would involve a whole lot more emotional involvement and the show has not reached that level for me. And yes, this is breaking the rule of “go for the guy in the lower class with a rebel(ish) streak” but whatever. Jack is dull, and Daniel has a bit of a spark to him and his line readings.

So how about it? Are there any Emily/Jack shippers willing to defend this couple? Anyone want Nolan to get a spin-off where he just sidles in from party to party stealing hors d’oeuvres? What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.