In honor of Thanksgiving, the day of turkey, thanks, and every embarrassing family story your most outspoken relative can muster, Revenge took us on another time warp. This time, the destination was Thanksgiving 2006. And while the flashback in certainly an easy plot device, it’s only fitting that we finally learn how Aidan and Emily met and, more importantly, how Victoria became such an unrelenting shrew. To no one’s surprise, it’s her mother’s fault.
The Making of the Shrew
It’s amazing that we managed to get all the way to the eighth episode of Season 2 before Revenge delivered an explanation of Victoria’s rotten outlook on life, and while this one needs very little explanation, it sure packs a whollop.
During Thanksgiving 2006, a holiday which didn’t include Charlotte for some reason, Daniel brings two unexpected guests: his grandmother Marion and her new lover, Ben. Victoria is furious at this sudden change of plans, but manages to turn the situation around for herself. Between her own vicious quips and her sudden storytelling session during a palpably uncomfortable turkey day dinner, Victoria reveals that her mother has only ever chased men for their wallets.
Through a series of flashbacks within the flashback, we learn that 15-year-old Victoria made her mother jealous with her presence. Marion constantly displaced her insecurities on her poor daughter, blaming her for luring suitors away from her. During Victoria’s 15th Thanksgiving, Marion is told by her suitor of the month, Thomas, that they won’t be getting married. Marion immediately blames Victoria and her youthful beauty instead of the real culprit: Thomas’ status as a married man. She bashes Thomas on the head and convinces Victoria to shoot him and say it was self-defense, assuring her that she’ll get off scott-free.
Unfortunately for Victoria, she is sentenced to six months of psychiatric therapy, and upon what should be a happy homecoming, Victoria is molested by her mother’s next meal ticket. And whereas most mothers would transform into a mother grizzly and throw the man who hurt their little baby to the curb, Marion creates one of the most vicious women known to beachfront communities. She throws Victoria out for stealing her man, choosing a man/ATM and a comfy life in lieu of protecting her daughter or exhibiting any traits known to most humans.
And with one little Thanksgiving dinner story, Victoria exacts her revenge: Ben quickly flees, leaving Marion penniless and desperate. And while Victoria has an entire mansion of rooms at her disposal, she does exactly what her vindictive mother did to her: she kicks her out into the cold. For Victoria, it’s a revenge plot that’s a bit mild. She usually likes to up the ante a bit, but in this case, it’s the only form of punishment that could speak to her witch of a mother. Still, it doesn’t seem to sit well with Victoria; when Conrad asks her if the deed gave her closure, she simply says, “Ask me tomorrow.”
It’s an interesting turn of events, considering the entire show is based around one life-long revenge plot. Even when Emily finally finishes her vengeful mission, which doesn’t seem to really have an endgame at this point, will she really feel satisfied? Can the revenge ever truly end? Even when she finishes the prescribed steps, might the consequences reflect inward instead of simply inflicting pain upon her enemies? Perhaps in revenge, there is no end.
The Plot That Never Ends
And the notion of revenge as endless quest is exactly what Emily’s flashback journey teaches us. At the end of the episode, when we come back to present day, Emily stares at her double infinity tattoo and tells Aidan that it means “a journey with no end.” That used to be a hopeful turn of phrase, but after the episode’s trip down Origin Story Lane, it takes on a new, dismal meaning.
We’re forced to do a little math and realize just how long Emily has been on her war path. We’re thrown back to 2006, long before she knew Ashley (who turns out to be a girl she rescued from joining a prostitution ring linked to the Initiative) or any Hamptonites and, as it turns out, before she knew her Takaeda Camp buddy Aidan. She meets her British hunk while performing a sting operation on the Russian prostitution ring as Takaeda has inexplicably instructed she do before she seek revenge on the Graysons. It turns out that Aidan’s there on a mission of his own: He wants his little sister back and she’s been taken into the ring’s core of working girls.
He tries to convince Emily to leave and save herself, but she insists on moving forward with her plan. He has no idea she’s the revenge super spy that Takaeda has trained her to be. He pulls a gun on the Russians and gets locked up, leaving Emily to disobey Takaeda and rescue the bloke from his captors. When she’s unsuccessful, the Russians take Aidan and Emily out of the back room into the busy club, only to meet Takeada. In a seriously unfair fight, the trio takes out most of the goons before Aidan and Emily break off to chase Dimitri, the ring leader.
Next: Why Are Aidan and Emily After the Same Man?We find that Dimitri took Aidan’s sister Colleen as a part of some deal connected to Aidan’s father’s involvement in the plane crash David Clarke was blamed for. They discover both of their fathers were used and that they both have family members whose lives were unfairly ruined by outside forces.
When we come back to present day and see the two of them rolling around in bed together, we learn that Emily convinced Takaeda to take in her kindred spirit, explaining why she was so deeply hurt by Aidan’s decision to leave her at Takaeda Camp.
Luckily, they’ve made up (and then some), but it’s when Aidan whispers “Amanda” into Emily’s ear that this relationship goes from being a hot little piece of the past to keep us occupied to a game changer. We’ve been thinking all along that Jack is Emily’s true love, her one and only. But along comes Aidan. He may not have the benefit of being her connection to the happiness she knew when her father was free and alive, the way Jack is, but he’s the connection to the adult she’s truly become. He knows her as the revenge artist, martial arts expert, and deeply scarred woman she is. She doesn’t need to hide a thing from him. She’s truly herself with this partner in crime, and isn’t that worth more than a string of happy memories?
The Boys Are Blue
But of course, an episode of Revenge deals in more than just Emily and Victoria storylines. This week, we see Daniel’s potential as a poet die a silent death in Conrad’s hands and Nolan’s fatal mistake with his former CFO/lover (apparently the CFO title always comes with benefits).
After bringing the Grandmother From Hell to Thanksgiving dinner, Daniel drops another bomb on his family: he wants to be a poet. He tells Conrad he’s switching his major to Creative Writing so he can be a poet (a.k.a. the quickest way to make a titan of industry want to strangle his son, Homer Simpson style, in 2.5 seconds). Conrad says he supports his son and offers to put him in touch with publishers, but all he really plans to do is burn Daniel’s beautiful works and send dummy rejection letters so he decides “on his own” to study business and take over Grayson Global. In the present, of course, the tables have turned completely and Conrad has decided that keeping Daniel out of the CEO spot at Grayson is “safe” (see: best for old Conny’s ego) and Victoria blindly agrees. Where’s Conrad’s origin story? Or has he always been such a miserable bastard?
Nolan, however, served up a dish six years ago that’s going to make stopping Daniel’s rise to power almost impossible. His original Nolcorp CFO, Marco, was also Nolan’s then-boyfriend, and like Padma, he discovered something suspicious in the Nolcorp books: a staggering amount of money had gone missing suddenly. It is, of course, Emily’s inheritance which she had just withdrawn and laundered, but when Nolan tries to explain this to his lover, all Marco can hear is “Mass Murderer” despite Nolan’s claims that David Clarke was innocent and that his daughter needed Nolan’s help. Nolan is disarmed by Marco’s unwillingness to listen and Marco is disgusted, spelling the end for the relationship and Marco’s employment.
Unfortunately, losing his job won’t keep him from talking to Daniel, who’s finally found the person he needs to talk to. Of course, because Marco knew about the Amanda fund, it’s only a matter of time before this trail leads to new Amanda. But what will happen when Daniel discovers that she doesn’t have any money and she never did? Could he be the next to join Mason on We-Know-Who-Emily-Really-Is Island?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: ABC]