This was a real nice clambake, We’re mighty mad we came. The villains we thought Were tough, were not The company was insane. Our hearts are cold, our bellies are churned, And we’re not feeling prime. This was a real nice clambake, And we all had a real bad time.
“The task in front of you requires absolute focus. Prioritize your obstacles to your end goal. Eliminate them…one at a time.” So spake Master Satoshi at the beginning of last night’s Revenge. He was offering her a battle plan: Her original clockwork vengeance plot has become senselessly complicated by unforeseen variables. In a funny way, Satoshi was also describing a solid business model for a growing business. When Emily initiated this tale of bloody revenge, she was like a start-up engineer: A one-woman vengeance organization, unwilling to work with anyone else.
At the start of last night’s Revenge, the young men of the Hamptons were engaged in a fierce game of beach volleyball. Now, I’ve always considered volleyball the most relaxing of the intense sports – as opposed to ping pong, which is the most intense of the relaxing sports; or golf, which is the most heartbreaking of the silly sports; or soccer, which is the most interesting of the boring sports.
Emily Thorne is nothing at all like Emily Thorne. Emily – our Emily, the star of Revenge, the one that used to be Amanda Clarke, the serene philanthropist orphan who is secretly the vengeful daughter of a wrongfully accused man – is still, after eight episodes, essentially a cipher. We know she hates the Graysons, but we don’t really know what she wants to do with them. (Destroy their empire? Put them on trial? Bury them alive and screaming in the catacombs underneath Sagaponack?) We don’t know her true feelings about Daniel.
It’s a stunning testament to the general bananagrams insanity of last night’s episode of Revenge that one of my favorite characters got killed off and I don’t even mind. The ensemble cast of this show is like HYDRA: Cut off a head, and two more takes will take its place. So last night’s fast-paced hour alleviated the loss of one character – farewell, Frank the Passive-Aggressively Romantic Security Guy – by introducing two fascinating new characters: Warden Stiles, who is apparently the Mr.
I would imagine that most people who watch Revenge don’t have a ton of experience playing first-person shooter videogames – although if you watched last night’s episode of Revenge as a break from a Call of Duty deathmatch, then you’re a total weirdo and/or me. So roll with me on this for a second, fellow viewers, and trust that what I’m about to say connects back to last night’s thrilling episode. In first-person shooters, there are essentially two types of players: People who are good with a sniper rifle, and people who are good with a shotgun.
How can you not love Frank the Investigator? As played by journeyman character actor Max Martini – who, according to his IMDB page, should be familiar to anyone who has watched any television in the last decade – Frank radiates terse calm, ninja badassery, and pure military discipline. He’s not too different from Emily. They’re both trespassing in a society where they don’t really belong. They both keep secrets. They’re surrounded by leisure, but they can never stop working.
A little bit of continuity goes a long way with a soapy melodrama. I was worried that the first few episodes of Revenge seemed oddly walled off from each other: In episode 3, nobody seemed to remember the Leering High-Powered Hedge Fund Dude who threw $2 billion down the drain in episode 2.
There’s something oddly comforting about how old-fashioned the horrible rich people are on Revenge. Last week, Emily targeted a Wall Street banker whose worst crime was a little bit of wink-wink insider trading, which seems positively nostalgic in our post-Too Big To Fail era. This week, the poor sap in Emily’s Sniper-Scope of Convoluted Vengeance was a shady politician who clearly had to have a secret.
It is difficult to tell if ”Revenge,” the fourth novel published by Stephen Fry, the British actor, is a daffy update of ”The Count of Monte Cristo” or a droll joke about it. Our hero, upstanding young Ned Maddstone, is in possession of a bright future, a lovey-dovey girlfriend…and half an ounce of hashish. Schoolmates jealous of ”floppy-haired, goody-two-shoed, squeaky-clean, doe-eyed, prefect-perfect” Ned planted the dope. That the cops also find evidence implicating the lad in an IRA plot is simply one ridiculous twist in a novel that constitutes a parade of them.
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