Revenge has always placed a high importance on family. Avenging her family is, after all, the sole motivation behind all the havoc Emily has been wreaking across the Hamptons. The combined power of the Grayson family has been her biggest, and so far, insurmountable obstacle to that end. And just last week Victoria used the illusion of family as a show of strength. This week, however, we got a glimpse of the power parents play in shaping their children, no matter the distance or the regrets between them.
This season has seen Emily extremely off her game and for the first time becoming reckless in her actions. It is the exact downfall Takeda predicted for her; she has let her emotions take control and has lost focus on her goal. And what has made her so emotional is the prospect of reuniting with her mother. It more than just that, of course. Emily spent her childhood believing her family consisted only of her father and has spent her adulthood seeking revenge for his downfall. Now she is forced to accept that it wasn’t an inevitability that she’d end up on this path. She still had a mother who could have cared for her and given her the life she so bitterly wishes she had.
What’s ironic is that the loyalty she has shown her father would have been impossible if not for the traits she has inherited from her mother. In last season’s epic showdown between Emily and the White Haired Man, he managed to escape with a pulse because Emily realized this wasn’t what her father would have wanted. From everything we know about Papa Clarke, through blue-lit, soft focus flashbacks, it seems he was man who trusted unconditionally and loved whole heartedly. He was a man who wrote down every shred of evidence that he had been framed and ruined, but then implored his daughter to forgive. Emily has dedicated herself to everything in those journals besides that very pointed plea.
What we know of Mama Clarke, through Gordon’s remark and what we’ve actually seen she’s capable of, she is one tough chick, a fighter, and more than a little crazy. Which one of those sounds more like Emily? You can take all the ninja training courses you want, but to be able to coldly and calculatingly take down your opponents with little regard to collateral damage takes someone already predisposed towards sociopathic tendencies. It is a strong case for nature versus nurture because even without her mother raising her, Emily has fulfilled every woman’s nightmare; she has become her mother.
Of course, getting a front row seat to the immorality of your parents doesn’t spare you the fate of becoming them either, as Daniel is proving. Every week Daniel (along with the rest of the audience) waffles between which of his parents is more depraved. This week he is dedicated to taking down his father, by means of exposing his fraud. He may hate the way his parents manipulate, but he has the Grayson Method of lying and sneaking down to an art, right down to the elaborate ploy to check up on his girlfriend, who of course he doesn’t trust (but with good reason). Score another for nature, or in this case is it nurture? If you grow up surrounded by lies and manipulation, perhaps you don’t even realize you’re falling into the same trap.
Where does this debate leave the newest little soul born into the Revenge world? If Amanda doesn’t make it, Emily as the Godmother will be somwhat responsbile for rasing it. I can think of very few people less equiped to raise a child than Emily. But, the baby also has the nautre of sweet, if simple minded, Jack and the loving, if sometimes homicidal Amanda. Will that nature be enough to outweigh any manical nurture Emily would provide?
Our other parental revelation of the night belongs to our moral center, Nolan, and comes at the hands of his CFO turned girlfriend, Padma. Going through old mail, Padma came across information that Nolan’s father died. The fact that Nolan was unaware of this suggests a rift (perhaps “Cat’s in the Cradle”-ish) between father and son. Yet, going through his storage unit proved that he held onto many artifacts from his son’s life. It was all very touching, especially in the face of the horribly disjointed families we’re used to in the Revenge universe. At least it seemed that way. But, this was a storage unit, not a house. That lovely scrapbook of Nolan’s accomplishments wasn’t sitting on a coffee table, ready for some covert bragging to any visitors. No, it was locked away with a bunch of other junk. Nolan is an odd bird, to put it mildly, but at his heart he is someone looking to be accepted and that sort of deep need usually stems from childhood. I have a feeling this won’t be the last we hear about Papa Ross. Plus, there was also a framed note with the Grayson letterhead (and a $50,000 check from Papa Clarke) among the forgotten knick knacks, and whenever that name shows up something sinister is sure to follow.
But enough of my Freudian analysis of fictional characters, lets discuss the real shock of the night. They pushed a pregnant lady off of a balcony. And by “they” I do not mean Emily and Victoria figuratively threw her off by tugging her back and forth in their own demented power struggle (which also, yeah. In case that blood on Victoria’s hands wasn’t obvious enough. That also is true). By “they” I mean the writers. I mean somewhere a group of writers, for a popular, primetime program, sat together and said, “You know what would be a great visual? A heavily pregnant woman tumbling from a balcony and landing in a pool of her own blood. Yeah, let’s do that.” Of course this is still network so Amanda is only in a coma and the baby somehow survived, but still. (Of course, if Revenge followed its own logic and a fall from a penthouse balcony onto a taxi results in a coma, than after that relatively minor spill from the second floor Amanda should have popped right back up, dusted herself off and went back to opening extremely metaphoric gifts).
And while the absurdity of someone falling off that second floor balcony may have made some eyes roll (like my boyfriend, who happened to be in the room at the time) it only reaffirmed everything that I love this show for. Revenge has found the perfect balance between quality and pure guilty pleasure. It offers enough substance that I can come up with a complete psychoanalysis, but it also understands that it’s a soap and embraces it. And I hope they take it further and make coma’s their “thing”. Every season a new person falls off something and lands in a coma. Please Revenge, do this. It will only make me love you more.
- Devin Mainville