Revenge 1.11, “Duress”

Revenge is a night-time soap with high standards for absurd melodrama, but this week’s episode, which began with Tyler waving a gun around at a clambake, took the proceedings up a notch. When your hour starts with a slow-motion swing of a handgun to point at your protagonist’s head, you know you’re in for some nonsense. Delicious, beautiful nonsense.

Basically: Emily and Nolan make up; Emily finds Tyler’s meds and watches him melt down; Emily uses the meds to set Daniel against Tyler once and for all; Nolan calls Tyler’s brother in San Francisco and tells him to fetch his psychotic sibling; and Emily conceives a plan to finally push Tyler out of the picture.

Three examples of the amped soap factor: Nolan was twice as Nolan as usual, in particular being bitchier than ever on the phone call to Tyler’s brother; Tyler stares at a fractured mirror in the poolhouse (seriously) after he finds that his meds are gone; and, most of all, the music. I can’t even describe it. I’m not good at writing about music. I’m not even good at listening to it. But I can tell you this: the score was insane. Like out of control. Like someone bet the composer “you’ll never get away with that.” And lost.

Not that I’m complaining! You don’t watch Revenge for subtlety and insight into the human condition. You watch it for the Revenge Hoodie and awful greenscreen work and strip-club murders. This episode? This was “welcome back from hiatus” in a big way.


Let’s talk real quick about continuity. Nolan tells Tyler’s brother “you can’t come tomorrow, I’ll have a plane at SFO ready and you’ll be here by nightfall.” Response: “I’m on my way to the airport now.” Then? Tyler’s brother doesn’t show up until the next night. For this to be so glaring that it distracts from a show as over-the-top as Revenge is not an accomplishment I’d recommend repeating.

Also, the mental health thing. Emily’s targets are bad people who’ve done bad things. They’re sociopaths, but they’re undiagnosed and we hand-wave their severe illness because we like feeling good about beating them up. The writers made the dubious decision to have Tyler be literally psychotic, which makes it harder to cheer when he gets his comeuppance. Is it even comeuppance? He needs medical care, and Emily’s made that harder by framing him for murder. Instead of his family making a decision for his own well-being, the criminal justice system intrudes. Are we happy about this?

The writers didn’t leave this totally unaddressed. Ashley snaps at Emily, who’s gloating, “He’s sick and needs help,” but this comes in the middle of the episode and it’s more about Ashley and Emily’s fractured relationshp than any confrontation of the issues.

I’m not saying the writers shouldn’t have taken this road. It doesn’t really matter in the long term because Tyler is gone. But … it’s a tough row to hoe. Revenge is best when the audience is not thinking because we’re absorbed in the plotting, the clothes, the cast, whatever.

Deleted scenes

  • Uh, about the clothes. Holy mother, that dress on Emily at the clambake. We’ve kind of seen her naked now, bettys, dudes.
  • Ashley/Nolan slash! Get on it!
  • Tyler repeatedly calling Conrad Grayson “Connie” is pretty much my favorite thing this show has done.
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About Jason Wojciechowski

I do law
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