I feel like we just had an Arrested Development “S.O.B.s” moment. Last week ABC promised in their tease of “Victory,” the latest flame-out of Revenge, that we’d be in for an episode so shocking, with a final five minutes so revelatory, that we wouldn’t be able to contain ourselves. And what was the revelation? That Victoria has a secret son! Yes, an opportunity to add yet another character to whom we have no emotional connection. Since it was revealed that Victoria was 16 when she parted with this secret son, years before she seduced Conrad Grayson, it stands to reason that this kid is a good 8-10 years older than Daniel. By my reckoning there’s absolutely no male character on this show who could fit that bill, unless they decide to reveal that Kenny Ryan is secretly Victoria’s child. It has to be a new character.
The new character to whom we had no previous emotional connection who was introduced last week, Mr. Eli James, is an incredible rookie when it comes to the art of revenge. Most of the plot of “Victory” concerned his efforts to publicly expose and humiliate Ms. Haywood, the evil foster mother who’d lock him and Emily in a dungeon. The evil foster mother whose house Emily was accused of burning down. The evil foster mother who had kept the letters from David Clarke, intended for his daughter, for herself. Eli was still under the impression that Emily hated her father, since all he could remember was her frantically reading Mason Treadwell’s The Society Connection with a flashlight under the sheets. (In one of the flashbacks to little Amanda reading that book she even put the inaugural red X over a picture of her father. Sad.) He told her that those letters—he was able to steal back one—made it sound like her father really did love her. Basically Eli is like Donny from The Big Lebowski—he’s just waltzed in to our story without any awareness of what’s already transpired, like a child wandering through the wilderness. You really just want to tell him to “Shut the f*** up.”
The Graysons thought they could use the Amanda Clarke Foundation to increase their stature in the race for the governor’s mansion. Not that Conrad’s attitude was going to help them achieve victory anytime soon. Upon getting poor poll numbers he declared the people who gave him a high unfavorability rating “bores sitting by their rotary phones.” That’s the kind of thing you say to get votes!
Making us wonder even more if “Victory” is the most ironic episode title Revenge has ever given us, Nolan and Aidan began their quest to trade Carrion to the Initiative in exchange for Padma’s father. The plan was that Padma herself would give the flash drive with the program to Trask while Nolan and Aidan waited atop a roof and acted as snipers to kill all the Initiative members and rescue Captive Daddy. Nolan was a little taken aback at the idea that they’d actually be killing people, but, as Aidan put it, “they’re not people, they’re terrorists.” It’d also mean, if they were successful, that Padma and her father would have to go deep into hiding. So deep that they’d have to end their romance. At least until the Initiative is destroyed. That seemed like a step in the right direction. That plot would be resolved, Padma would be sent packing, and we could tighten our focus on Emily’s main goals, such as they are. He promised his former CFO, though, that the moment the Initiative was destroyed he’d be running to her on whatever beach she’d be lounging. Going into hiding means a cushy lifestyle, I guess, when you have billionaire tech mogul friends.
Jack hasn’t been too convincing at hiding his simmering rage. He’s obviously planning something big against the Graysons. Why the hell else would he accept being the Grayson campaign’s “Joe the Plumber”? (Could there ever be a more demeaning request of someone than to ask them to be your “Joe the Plumber”?) His assertion to Emily that he needs to focus on Baby Carl—and, anyway, he has no leverage over the Graysons once that laptop was stolen—was none too convincing. His main objective in “Victory,” though, was to find Kenny Ryan so he could pump him for information about what really happened on the Amanda that fateful Labor Day weekend. Declan used some of his wharf rat skills to pocket the phone of the prep school kid who first got them in league with the Ryans, and, presto, there was his number. Jack tracked down Kenny to a playground. Either Kenny was there with his kid or we now know he’s a sexual predator. Jack confronted him about supposedly owning that boat that rescued him. Kenny denied it, but gave him the videotaped conversations that went on between Nate and Conrad. Jack could see for himself that Conrad all but ordered a hit on Amanda. His hatred will turn into an icy chill that can only be expiated by…revenge.
NEXT: Revenge proves once again that the ultimate payback can only take place at a press conference.
So it seemed like Eli was actually double crossing Emily by working with Ms. Haywood to get a big Grayson-funded payday. Which, from the start, didn’t really make sense because he already turned down $100,000 from Emily last week. The writers of Revenge were basically just asking us to forget what happened last week, so that this could somehow make logical sense. We also knew he was triple crossing Ms. Haywood because he didn’t tell her his partner in this endeavor was really Amanda Clarke.
Nolan and Aidan launched their ridiculous sniper scheme. It failed, of course. Trask didn’t bring Padma’s father to the rendezvous site and instead threw her in the back of his trunk. Nolan prevented Aidan (or “Lee Harvey” as he called him) from taking a shot at Trask, so the Initiative goon got away Scot free, with Carrion, Padma, and Padma’s father. Total failure. “You really need to consider another line of work,” Nolan told Aidan. Indeed.
Victoria and Eli held their press conference for the Amanda Clarke Foundation. And as expected Eli hijacked it to expose Ms. Haywood’s history of abuse and neglect. He even went so far as to include other alums of Haywood House who’ve since turned to drugs and crime. Haywood immediately took the stage, said, “Even as a boy he was pathological,” which isn’t exactly the thing you say to make yourself look good. She revealed, however, that it was Eli who burned down her house and let Amanda take the fall for it, something that caused her to spend five years in juvie. She, like her father, was forced to spend time in lockup for a crime she didn’t commit.
So that forced Eli to up his ante even further. He would kidnap Ms. Haywood, throw her in her own dungeon and force her to give back David Clarke’s letters. Only problem was, she had sold those letters years ago. Guess who was the purchaser? Mason Treadwell. Now the jailbird bon vivant journalist had leverage over Emily. She visited him in prison and he told her the first of undoubtedly a whole bunch of tasty morsels from those letters: Victoria gave up a son she bore when she was 16 to the foster care system.
Wait…that was the shock we were promised? Another red herring? Sigh. Were you as disappointed by that “reveal” as I was? And when will the writers of this show realize to stop adding new characters?
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC]