Recap and review of Revenge – Season 2 Episode 12 – Collusion:
Revenge, for better or worse, has always been about the big picture, even if it’s been slow in getting there. Whether it involves bringing down the Graysons or tearing down the Initiative, the thrust of this show’s narrative is about the long game Emily (Emily VanCamp) is running. It’s part of her singular mission to identify the people responsible for her father’s ruin, and seek…well, revenge. In telling this story, the show often adds wrinkles to the narrative, like the presence of Aiden (Barry Sloane) and his own revenge mission, or the Porters vs. the Ryans, a storyline that only now is starting to show semblance of relevance. “Collusion” is an episode that layers on the complications to the one single, focused goal of the series: Emily getting her revenge. This isn’t really a bad thing, since the series is sustained mostly by the obstacles in Emily’s path. However, these new developments threaten to complicate the series to the point where it loses track of that singular narrative. This week’s episode is among the more dense, plot-heavy stories of the season, and I’ll be interested to see if the series can keep its momentum while telling so many different, conflicting plots simultaneously, as such a storytelling approach runs the risk of getting out of hand. As for now, however, the episode mostly works, owing to the intrigue of its corporate espionage plot, alongside Aiden’s climactic break from Emily.
The big development of the episode is Emily and Nolan (Gabriel Mann) apparently discovering what the Initative’s big plan is. They want Daniel (Josh Bowman) to acquire Stonehaven, a disaster relief company, while they have Padma (Dilshad Vadsaria) acquire the Carrion Technology, which has the potential to cause a disaster of epic scale. The idea, I would imagine, would be to cause the disaster, and then profit by cleaning it up. Of course, the question would then be, what’s the point of profiting at all? The only physical representation we have of the Initiative, Helen Crowley (Wendy Crewson), doesn’t seem to do much more than sit around in shadows all day: shadows in a limo, shadows in a boardroom, shadows in a luxury sedan. It’s all she ever seems to do. That, and dish out orders, such as her directive to Aiden: Kill Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe). The incentive she provides him with is a video of his sister, being kept in some dank room or dungeon, being enticed into shooting up heroin. Per the episode’s conclusion, it would appear that Aiden assumes these videos that Helen shows him are live feeds of his sister, yet I’m not sure why he would even think so. The videos all seem to be a continuation of a single video, a film of something that’s already happened. So when Emily talks him out of killing Victoria, and Crowley responds by sending him a video of his sister, dead from a forced overdose of the heroin he’d seen her shooting up in the last video, you’d think he would have pieced together that the videos Crowley was sending him weren’t direct, live feeds. Either way, the videos compel him to do the dirty work of assassinating Victoria, and though he tracks her down to LA, he doesn’t get the job done. First, his shot is compromised when Victoria closes the curtains to seduce Jason Prosser (Dylan Walsh), the other businessman vying for Stonehaven, into not allowing Daniel to close the deal (this all goes to rot when Nolan digs up background info on Prosser revealing his company’s inflated oil prices, post-9/11, which gets the CEO of Stonehaven to back Daniel). Then, as referenced, his other is interrupted by Emily, who insists that there’s another way. I was completely on-board with Emily’s plan, but I guess Aiden saw the videos and thought otherwise. Although, again, I just don’t see how those videos were live.
Of course, maybe I’m hilariously off-base, and they really were live videos of his sister, and he really does have cause to blame Emily for her death. It seems to be where the show is headed, giving Aiden and Emily cause to split, leaving Emily alone in her fight against the Graysons and the Initiative. The storyline works because Aiden actually feels like his own, independent character now, having come into his own over the last few weeks, and feeling like an integral part of the story in a way he hadn’t before. I like the idea of Emily fighting against forces within her own inner circle, increasing the already-insane difficulty level of her schemes, now that she’s short one ally. But hey, all you need is Nolan, right? All anyone needs is Nolan. And on that note, poor Nolan! Our favorite mischievous cad despairs of his relationship with Padma, after he discovers she’s been playing him to get close to his hot technology. The guy just can’t lose for winning when it comes to love. Tyler, Marco, and now Padma. Poor guy (emotionally speaking, that is. He’s actually rich as all get-out, even after having been bought out by Grayson Global).
As for Emily’s love life, she confesses to Daniel that she rekindled her romance with him on the urging of Victoria, as a means of keeping an eye on him. Daniel, in a line too meta to have been anything but deliberate, says “Do you think I’m an idiot?”, and smoothly reveals that he knew all along. He waves off this supposed betrayal, and asks Emily she thinks they’ll ever get back to being the people they were. “Maybe. Just not tonight,” Emily responds. It’s a warm scene, which is surprising given that it basically amounts to two people admitting that they’ve been playing each other. But Daniel is a much more engaging character in his CEO mode, and this run-through of their romance feels more genuine, in spite of the artifice, than the first go-around. It’s to the point where I’d have no problem seeing it continue. Nor would I have a problem with Emily resuming her rivalry with Victoria, as she does at the end of the episode, when she learns of Emily’s complicity in helping Daniel secure Stonehaven. When asked why she helped him, Emily said “I just wanted to see him once.” The “for once” goes unspoken. Victoria then responds that Emily has likely ensured Daniel’s greatest loss with her treachery. The exasperated, “over it” look Emily gives after Victoria says this is outstanding, by the way.
But there’s still the problem of the Ryans. Conrad (Henry Czerny) has used his connections to get Jack (Nick Wechsler) out of prison, and even offers $50,000 to the Ryan brothers to get the hell out of town, even offering Matt Duncan’s full confession for their father’s murder. Nick takes the deal, but Nate (Michael Trucco) won’t hear of it. He approaches Conrad and offers to buy back the Stowaway, suggesting that with Conrad’s backing, and a little of his own musclemen strong-arming the business owners on the waterfront, he could have a casino up-and-running by Memorial Day. The creation of so many jobs in a down economy would help Conrad’s political aspirations immensely, and so he asks Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) to excuse them while they discuss the details. In short, just when it looked like the Ryans vs. Porters story would be finishing up, it kicks into overdrive. That said, at least it feels like a more substantive part of the whole, and not simply a fringe story in the overall narrative of the series. I imagine the person who is at the bottom of the ocean, sunken with The Amanda, will be someone from this storyline, and not simply because it’s Jack’s boat. It just feels like the kind of resolution the show would go for, especially after last season’s flashforward death turned out not to be anyone we cared about, but simply Tyler. I would have no problem with one or both of the Ryans sleeping with the fishes, at this point.
Lastly, it’s Charlotte’s (Christa B. Allen) birthday and everyone’s forgotten. Except for Amanda (Margarita Levieva), who benignly reminds her “sister” that she’s not really a Grayson, which leads to Charlotte announcing that she’s changing her name, and would now like to be referred to as Charlotte Clarke. Oh, Charlotte. Wonders never cease with you, do they?
“Collusion” lays it on a bit thick with the corporate double-dealings, but it’s an intriguing episode for how it moves the pieces around the proverbial chess board. Emily and Aiden are now presumably on different sides, with Aiden off doing his own thing while Emily fends for herself (well, except for the techno-savvy aid of Nolan). And her brief alliance with Victoria is now a thing of the past, while her relationship with Daniel seems more honest and forthright than it once was. Meanwhile, the Ryans are now in league with Conrad, and the Initiative is getting closer to springing their big plan. It’ll be exciting to see the direction the show takes these stories when it returns in three weeks.