As much as we love this salacious show, we've got to admit that up until this point, Revenge has been a bit tame. The biggest surprises have consisted of Nolan's unnecessary corporate side plot and a new actor taking over as Takaeda without explanation. The British guy, who we've since learned is named Aiden, was a bit out of the blue, but it's obvious he's new romantic thread for Emily, so his presence isn't all that surprising either.
But here we are, at episode three, and we finally have a few things to make us go "Huh?" including the long-awaited appearance of Emily's elusive (and very alive) mother. But first, let's take care of this sexy new manfriend of Emily's.
Emily and The History of Her Manfriend
It was clear from the moment Aiden wanted to follow Emily to make sure "she stayed on course" that there was more to this story. These two had a history, and just as we suspected hoped, it involved romance. We jump back in time a few times this episode, to visit Emily's memories of Takaeda's School For People With Family-Related Vendettas, where she and Aiden trained (and made out on occasion). We find them navigating a maze with attack dogs of the extremely cute and not-at-all terrifying variety. Aiden cheats and wins their little race, momentarily causing Emily to spurn him until he kisses her and agrees to let her help him on his mission to find his sister. We later learn that the mission was not only a failure, but he left without Emily, leaving her to feel betrayed while Takaeda did an I Told You So dance.
Back in reality, Emily is furious that Aiden took out the man with a knife to her neck. Obviously, she’s upset that the information about her mom seems to have died with Voldemort, but she may be more upset that someone is wounding her pride by “babysitting” her. And that that person is Aiden, the man she trusted and who left her behind without so much as a word.
Still, they manage to work together for a second, taking items off of Voldemort's dead body and discovering his real name: Gordon Murphy. (He sounds like a guy who owns a string of a TGI Friday's restaurants, not a spy-assassin, so we'll stick with Voldemort for now.) As they try to figure out if Voldemort's cell phone can be salvaged, Aiden swears he's only there to help her. She doesn't believe him, and she's clearly growing weary of his sexy British accent, so she knocks him over the head with a wine bottle. When he wakes up in a dumpster with a one-way ticket to Japan strapped to his chest, he takes it upon himself to do a little recon of his own. Using the key he swiped off dead Voldemort, Aiden visits the motel he was staying at, where he finds a flight information recorder and Emily's mom. He poses as a police officer, but Emily clearly gets her distrust of all living things from someone, and Mama Clarke calls up the local police station to verify that Aiden was, in fact, a liar.
Later, Aiden demands that Emily trade the box of Voldemort's personal effects for the flight recorder box, and she obliges, with exception of his pocket-watch, which holds a picture of Emily's mother. From this (and the "I love you" voicemail at the end of the episode), we can deduce that Mrs. Clarke not only knows Voldemort, but is working with this man who was the architect of her husband's undoing.
Speaking of Dark, Handsome Men, How's Jack These Days?
He's not doing great. Everyone's favorite dock-side bartender is stuck with a woman he doesn't love because she's peskily carrying his unborn child. And to boot, his little brother is running around with his rich friend, Trey, stealing things from Hamptonites. Let's deal with the trouble-maker first.
Declan has taken the Charlotte route this season: go bad in a matter of seconds. Last week, we saw him regretfully "holding on" to Trey's step-mom's jewelry for a $500 stipend. This week, he's in full-on burglar gear, taking valuables off some rich man's desk with Trey. It took no time at all for him to go from doing his friend a "favor" to grand larceny. And it takes even less time for it to all come crashing down with a visit from the victim. Thanks to Jack's excellent mediation skills (a little "our dad died, give us a break"), the man says as long as Declan returns the goods, he won't press charges. The unavoidable "duhn-duhn-duhn" comes when Jack offers the guy a favor someday in return and the wronged man says he will, "Barkeep." The deliberate call to alcohol practically promises that this guy's favor won't be a free beer.
And then there's Amanda. After putting her through the ringer with the paternity test, the results came out in Jack's favor, and his guilt carried him through to this point in their relationship. But it can't last, and Emily finally found a way to drive a wedge between her playmate and Jack. When Jack finds that Charlotte, Amanda's "sister," gave them a $5,000 gift certificate to a baby store, Jack blows up and refuses to allow her to use it. It's pretty archaic of ol' Jack, but he sticks to it. Then later, when Emily asks Amanda to visit her sister and deliver an annotated version of David Clarke's journal during the Graysons' press event, Amanda does it even though it will make Jack furious. Of course, she isn't able to stay out of sight, as planned, because Victoria reveals the secret of her affair and Charlotte's paternity during the press event and calls Amanda onstage (and onto the television) as a result. Jack later tells Amanda he understands, but it's the final straw. He can be the father to her baby, but he can't be with her. Emily finally figured out how to break them up, and she didn't even have to do a thing.
Next: Queen Victoria's Royal Announcement awaits...
Nolan, Why So Mopey?
Before we move on to Victoria's dramatic press wrangling, we must deal with Nolan. Sweet, yet ever-changing Nolan. After a season of having absolutely no sexual or romantic tension with his best bud, Emily, the series decided their relationship clearly needed that awkward element added in. So, in the wake of Padma becoming Nolan's CFO, and teenage-level admirer, his relationship with Emily gets a few unnecessary bells and whistles to make Padma jealous. First, we witness Nolan unable to speak for once. When Padma asks him who Emily is, he can't even muster an "old friend" explanation. He simply mutters some cohabitation nonsense, which signals some sort of unresolved romantic issue. Then, he refers to Emily's plan as "something hot," which of course sends Padma's poor little brain into a fit of sexual jealousy. Remind us again: Why this is happening?
Nolan is also being pulled out of Emily's little revenge operation by his own accord. After Aiden takes him down as an intruder, Nolan finally decides it's time to do as Emily asks and move out. It's a bittersweet farewell, as all Nolan wants in return for all his invaluable tech help is for Emily to find her mother. Let's just hope this isn't a plot device to let him explore his new CFO. Nolan belongs alongside Emily, not arbitrarily romancing a cute, new character.
Last, but not least, we have Queen Victoria's Royal Announcement
In a final moment of their solidarity as mother and son, Daniel and Victoria are looking out at Emily’s house. Daniel, who's clearly not over his former fiancé, says she’s cleaning because that’s what she does when she can’t sleep. (Yeah, cleaning up a big ol’ pile of Voldemort blood.) In an incredibly clunky segue, Daniel asks Victoria what her story behind her disappearance is as as newscopter flies over, sending her into a momentary reverie. We see her on the private plane, where she receives a call from Voldemort, who tells her to get off the plane and split Charlotte’s inheritance with him or he’ll kill Charlotte. Daniel does our job and starts to poke holes in her story, before plainly saying he doesn't believe her. And just like that, the battle begins.
When Victoria calls Emily over to discuss how the former love of her son's life should proceed with the press, she basically excommunicates her from the fold, even pulling in security to escort Emily out. She's banned from Grayson Manor. And in no time, Victoria and Emily's battle is back on too. But wait, Victoria doesn't have quite enough people warring against her. Why not add Charlotte, who is upset with her mother for keeping Daniel in the dark, but Victoria doesn’t trust him (likely because he distrusts her so greatly). Charlotte's anger only escalates when Amanda finally delivers the journal, detailing Victoria's sordid affair and selfish actions during her time with David Clarke.
Enemy number three is Conrad, who just helped Victoria fake her own kidnapping and torture. He's right back on the opposing side, suspicious that Victoria is working with Voldemort since she seems to have no fear of the man. His adversarial thirst only increases when he gets a call from Voldemort's agency regarding the accusations against him.
With this set of dominoes all set up, all it takes is the right push to bring them all down. For Charlotte, it's the diary, which sends her into one of Victoria's interviews, screaming about her mother's affair and her own paternity. The second is the phone call Conrad received. And the third was the most painful: Daniel. Right when he thinks he might just come around to his mother's side, a messenger drops off Victoria's fake passport, with a typed death threat stuck inside. It confirms everything terrible Daniel has ever thought of his mother. It's clear all this ammo leaves Victoria backed into a corner armed with only her signature barbs like "I'll put your head on a pike" and the element of her surprising audacity. She uses the press conference to her advantage, confessing her affair with Clarke, Charlotte's paternity, and bringing her whole family onstage, including Amanda.
Afterward, Conrad decides to play nice in front of reporters, offering up sugary stories, playing the obtuse version of Daniel's play nice game. Per Emily's advice, Daniel does the same thing, only he plays it better. He convinces Victoria that he's truly back on her side, clearly taking Emily's advice on how to defeat his mother very, very seriously (because he's still eating out of her hand like a little, baby bird). Man, this girl has racked up the admirers. Even the guy she jilted is still staring after her like the one that got away.
With Victoria back to being the big bad, and Nolan out of the picture, Emily is going to need a sidekick. Enter Aiden, back on Emily’s porch. He says he was the one who sent Victoria’s passport to Daniel and it’s undeniable that their efforts worked seamlessly together. He clearly thinks so, and he’s almost turned on by her ability to capitalize on the opportunities his secret ploy served up, because of course he's still in love with her too. Emily Thorne is a man-magnet. But she remembers his betrayal at Takaeda's camp and she's still stinging from that loss of trust. He begs for his forgiveness with pounds of British earnestness and leaves the flight recorder as proof of his commitment. Emily listens to the voicemail on Voldemort's phone since she realized she could switch the SIM cards: It's a voicemail from her mother, telling Voldemort about Aiden's visit and telling him she'll shut "it all down" if she doesn't hear from him. It comes with the kicker of Mrs. Clarke telling the man who took down her ex-husband, "I love you." Emily's strained, distraught face says it all. This is the kind of twist we were waiting for. A delicious reversal of the woman Emily thought she knew, coupled with the possible rekindling of a romance burned to ash by betrayal, and all in the face of Victoria's Eye of Sauron looking out from her Hampton's balcony, ready to strike at any moment is what we've been hoping for this season.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/ABC (2)]
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.