Welcome back to the elaborate hedge maze formerly known as Revenge. It’s a hedge maze increasingly thorny and from which the story of our nighttime soap seems less and less likely to emerge without a few scrapes.
“Collusion” began with Emily seeing Aiden on the beach. Her old boyfriend has been a bit lost ever since finding out from the Initiative’s Helen Crowley that his sister, Colleen, is still alive. And he’s been even more lost ever after seeing Emily kiss Daniel. Wasn’t Aiden the one who was supposed to prevent her from getting emotionally compromised? Physician, heal thyself! She tells him that Daniel has invited her to lunch at a new oyster bar. “Oysters,” says Aiden. “Subtle.” Daniel just happened to forget to mention to Emily that said oyster bar is located in Los Angeles, because he wants to invite her to accompany him as he bids to acquire the disaster-relief organization Stonehaven United.
Helen Crowley, however, thinks that Aiden is working with Victoria to undermine Daniel’s stewardship of Grayson Global. He tells her he’s working alone. So she shows him new video of Colleen on her phone. What does he have to do to get his sister back? “Kill Victoria Grayson,” Helen says. “You have 24 hours.”
If Daniel were to acquire Stonehaven, his cache among the Grayson Global investors would raise significantly. So that’s why Victoria flies out to Los Angeles herself…to help Daniel’s arch-rival Jason Prosser win the bid. If Daniel were forced out of the company, the Initiative would lose interest in him, and he’d be safe. Conrad signs off on this idea. But the would-be politician does introduce his wife to his new communications director before she leaves: Ashley. This prompts one of the more Dynasty-worthy exchanges Revenge has given us in awhile. Victoria says to Ashley, “Well, it seems that the cat has dragged itself back in. Don’t you know that politicians tend to keep their concubines in the closet?” To which Ashley responds, “Spoken like a woman that no one is sleeping with.”
Victoria knows that Jason Prosser has a thing for her. Not only is he one of Conrad and Daniel’s biggest rivals in business, he wants to steal away their wife and mother as well. She knows that she might be able to get him to bid on Stonehaven just to impress her.
Unfortunately, her swift departure meant leaving Charlotte in the lurch for her 18th birthday. No trip to the ballet this year! Poor Charlotte. She's abandoned on her birthday, her boyfriend works at a bar that’s become a mob front, her boyfriend’s brother is fighting drug charges, and her sister Amanda is caught in the middle of it. Funny. Don’t you think either of them should have mentioned by now how odd it is that both the Clarke sisters should be drawn to the Porter brothers?
NEXT: Daniel invites Emily to feast on oysters with him. But in the least sexual way possible.Since Conrad got Jack released from prison last week, Fauxmanda decides to open up to him about what’s really going on. She reveals that the real killer of the Ryan brothers’ father is Matt Duncan, not Daddy Porter. She then gives Charlotte a handprint of her baby, Carl, for her “sister’s” birthday. Charlotte’s all down on her family once again, so Amanda cheers her up by saying she’s more a Clarke than a Grayson really. Because being the daughter of a notorious terrorist is better than being a part of the familial looney-bin that is the Graysons.
Daniel reveals that his idea of lunch is in fact a six-hour flight to Los Angeles! All the better for Emily to help him acquire Stonehaven. She agrees, but no sooner does she check in to her LA hotel, who should call from the lobby but Aiden. He’s now seriously gunning for Victoria after he got that directive from Helen Crowley, and basically that means he and Emily are working at cross purposes. So Emily tells Aiden to get to Prosser and dissuade him from pursuing Stonehaven. Of course, if he just kills Victoria, that would probably solve that little problem too. But, he does as his girlfriend asks and tells Prosser that a friend of his at the Department of Justice said Donna Carlyle, the daughter of Stonehaven’s founder, was looking to unload the company in advance of a lawsuit. A lawsuit that the lucky winner of the bid would then inherit. But will his fear of litigation overcome his horniness? No! Victoria shows up at Prosser’s hotel room and says that the people who went after David Clarke are after her son, all but begging him to bid on Stonehaven. To quote Rock Hudson’s Rex in Pillow Talk: “Ma’am, that is a direct question. It deserves a direct answer.” And Prosser’s direct answer to her request? “All I want is you.” Little did either of them know, that right at that moment, Aiden had Victoria in his sniper-rifle sights, ready to pull the trigger. Except he hesitated, Prosser pulled the curtains, because Victoria’s reply to Prosser? “Do what I ask, and I’m yours.” Prosser’s back in the game and the saddle, yo!
Of course, Daniel isn’t going to give up his own bid without a fight. So he gets Nolan to dig up a little dirt on Prosser. Emily tells him to do it, and she’ll buy him a house for his efforts. (Yeah—Boring Subplot Alert!—Nolan’s trying to find a new 50,000 sq. ft. Hamptons home. Getting assaulted and tied up by white-haired assassins can really make you want to leave your current digs.) So he agreed. Meanwhile, Padma’s been looking for the carrion program in NolCorp. She came up with an excuse for being in his office—that she was going to hide a new set of “Avatar” keys (because he’s a geek!) for his house and see if he could find them—to search for the program. But, remember, she’s dealing with Whale-Cam Guy, who knows all about making excuses for covert surveillance.
So Nolan’s talking to Padma and just happens to mention that Marko, who told him Padma was bad news, wanted him to use an old computer program. Padma’s like, “Oh yeah! Carrion!” Now, mind you, Nolan had never mentioned it by name. You’d think an undercover agent working for a terrorist organization as powerful as the Initiative wouldn’t be so stupid, right? Wrong! Nolan reveals Padma’s villainy to Emily and says, “Carrion has the ability to knock Manhattan off the power grid in less than a millisecond.” So…what? It’s the GoldenEye device? He developed it for Gen. Ouromov, the corrupt head of Russia’s space program, in the early ‘90s? What would be the point of developing such a code? I just really hope that Nolan will shortly make a grand, Bond-villainesque statement that his plan in his youth was to bring about “economic chaos in the West.” Of course, Nolan only keeps the final sequence of Carrion in his head, so the Initiative won’t be getting it anytime soon. “Play her like she’s playing you,” Emily says, referring to Padma.
NEXT: Charlotte finally gets her birthday party. It’s pretty bad. But at least Tyler isn’t there brandishing a gun. Oh, and Aiden gets some really bad news about Colleen.Oh yeah, there’s the whole Montauk mob scene subplot that I know you don’t really care about. Jack tells Matt Duncan that Joe Ryan’s murder is going to be pinned on him, implying that Matt should do the right thing, come forward and take responsibility for his crime with the Ryan brothers. Maybe then they’d finally go away, the Porter boys could be rid of them, and, more importantly, we could be rid of this lousy storyline. So Duncan does the right thing, and Conrad shows up at the Stowaway. In addition to his drink order — “I want your oldest Scotch. Neat.” — he brought Matt Duncan’s signed confession to the Ryans and offered Ken $50,000 for their swift departure. Ken takes the offer. Only problem is, that means the Porters are now business partners with Conrad Grayson! And. Nate Ryan didn’t exactly want to go along with his brother Ken and sell his share. Nate wants to buy Ken’s share back from Conrad, and says to the would-be politician that he could have roulette wheels spinning in months. We all know how communities love the revenue-raising power of roulette wheels. Call this “Montauk: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling.”
Anyway, Nolan digs up the dirt on Prosser for Daniel, and, oh, it turns out Prosser colluded to inflate gas and oil prices after 9/11. Naughty boy! So Donna Carlyle was definitely not going to accept his bid. She would be going with Daniel instead. The Grayson scion knew there was only one way to celebrate: a trip to the Azores to renew his romance with Emily. They may be friends, but they’re not resuming their romance just yet, Emily says. Daniel tries to put on this whole thing like “I was using you as much as you were using me,” but it was all just macho bulls**t.
In his spare time, however, Nolan’s been tracking Emily’s other boyfriend, and saw on Aiden’s phone a video of Colleen being forced to shoot up. That makes Emily realize he’s been tasked to kill Victoria. A life for a life and all that jazz. Aiden has Victoria in his crosshairs a second time, except this time Emily appears and asks, “Why didn’t you tell me?” She wants him to find his sister on their own terms, not the Initiative’s, and hey, they should be happy that Daniel landed Stonehaven. Aiden relents. Nolan also decided to take Emily’s advice and play Padma. He invites her in his office to look for his platinum card—the perfect opportunity for her to steal the Carrion Code! But when she sticks it into her iPad, it displays “Welcome to Carrion!” Now she knows that Nolan’s onto her. But how dangerous will she be?
So everyone gets back to Home Sweet Hamptons for Charlotte’s belated birthday party. “We’re celebrating you, sweetheart, not the Gregorian calendar,” Conrad snarked. Fair enough. Also fair then? Charlotte’s changing her name to Charlotte Clarke. Jaws are slacked.
The only thing more shocking to end Emily’s night was to find a distraught Aiden. He showed her another video the Initiative had left him: this of Colleen supposedly dying. And Aiden was none to happy that Emily’s advice had led to this. “If she’s dead, this is on you,” he said.
Damn. A lot happened in this episode. Do you think Revenge is getting back on track? Or is the show about as sunk now as we know the Amanda is going to be?
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: ABC]
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
Even though the 61st edition of the Cannes Film Festival officially ends this weekend--and most of the buyers and sellers have left town (a lot with nothing to show for it)--the stars (not to mention the sun which has finally come out after too many gloomy days) can still be found.
Robert De Niro, star of Barry Levinson’s closing night Hollywood satire What Just Happened?, is arriving today and will be put to work at Sunday’s closing ceremony by presenting the biggie--the prestigious Palme d’Or--for best of fest as voted on by a jury led by Sean Penn and including actress Natalie Portman and director Alfonso Cuaron, among others.
What Just Happened? is one of many films still for sale as it went home from January’s Sundance Fest without one. It’s been reported Levinson has re-edited the film for it’s Cannes unveiling Sunday, so critics--thinking they may have seen it already in Sundance--will have to go again to see how he has fixed the poorly reviewed film about the film industry.
A walk through the market finds several others in the same boat: some still without (at least announced ) U.S. distribution deals including My Life In Ruins, a reunion between Nia Vardalos and her My Big Fat Greek Wedding producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. They have served up a Love Boat-like story in which Vardalos plays a tour guide in Greece, trying to balance romance and a group of looney supporting players. Sound familiar? They are clearly trying to bottle the Greek Wedding box office magic a second time, but no takers as of yet
As for the aforementioned Jury, some of them--like Portman and actress Alexandra Maria Lara--turned up Thursday evening a few miles out of town at Le Moulins Des Mougins restaurant for the glamorous hot ticket event of Cannes: Cinema Against AIDS, which Weinstein Co. head Harvey Weinstein started 14 years ago at Cannes to raise money to fight AIDS. Last year, they made $7.5 million, a record which they hope to at least match this year despite tougher economic times.
Harvey used the occasion to lobby the jury members present to vote for Che, the nearly four and a half hour movie(s) he saw the night before and labeled “a masterpiece, the most ambitious project I have seen in 25 years of coming to Cannes”. Sounds like he’s in the hunt to buy it.
As usual, Sharon Stone and Madonna ran the celebrity auction which drew $350,000 for a private two-song Madonna concert in the fall, and $500,000 for a Porsche Stone and her brother restored among many other big ticket items. Stone also jumped into the audience to try and make out with Sean P. Combs if he would bid $320,000 for a personal Julian Schnabel portrait painting. He didn’t budge.
Mary J. Blige performed a brilliant three-song set that had the very well-heeled tony crowd dancing like teenagers. As Harvey told us at the pre-dinner cocktail party, this hot ticket event (Chair Kenneth Cole said they could have sold it out three times over) is so successful year after year because of one word.
Warner Bros. plans to expand its franchise business with plans for as many as seven Harry Potter movies, additional Superman and Batman films, Looney Tunes cartoons and new properties including Wonder Woman, Catwoman and follow-ups to this year's hit Cats and Dogs, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Monday). Warner Bros. chairman Barry Meyer told the Times, "It's a very long-term business we're developing now. ... We're devoting more resources toward the early development of these properties and it involves every part of our company."