It turns out 2006 was a pretty pivotal year in the lives of our Revenge-ers. In fact, every event of Thanksgiving ’06, in each of their vastly different, barely connected lives was the turning point that has taken them to the point they are now at. Funny how that worked out. Joking aside, this was an exceptional flashback episode (and much better timed than last season’s momentary trip to the past in the midst of the final three episodes of the season) and perfectly set the stage for next week’s (tear) winter finale.
So, let’s journey back to 2006, a time when bandage dresses were first introduced in the Eastern Bloc, Harvard encouraged poetry, Charlotte wasn’t even invited to Thanksgiving dinner and Jack’s storyline was still dull (even with Molotov cocktails and murder). Our trip down memory lane is started by newly reinstated lovebirds Emily and Aiden remembering how they first met. It’s a classic story; boy is posing as Russian bartender in order to exact revenge for his sister, girl is posing as prostitute in order to… do something revenge related, and together they take down a nefarious human trafficker and bond over their mutual sociopathic need to destroy anyone who ever wronged them. Look for the animated Disney version this holiday season!
The major surprise of this flashback was the glimpse into the murky, but now immensely more interesting backstory of Ashley. Turns out her first run in with Emily wasn’t some boring museum committee, but when she was working as a prostitute and Emily saved her from being sold into the sex trade. Of course Ashley doesn’t know that it was Emily who saved her and afforded her new freedom to plan parties and sleep her way to the top (in a more traditional and self-serving sense), but clearly Emily recognized her, an easy mark indeed. (Side Note: it took until this episode for me to realize where I recognized Ashley Madekwe from; the Showtime comedy Secret Diary of a Call Girl in which she played the extremely likeable baby pros, Bambi. Therefore, it is clear all the annoying traits of Ashley Davenport reside in the character and not in the actress and I apologize for ever thinking otherwise. End Side Note.)
Elsewhere, Nolan, still as adorable and ageless as ever, called in his entire staff on Thanksgiving to announce they were taking the company public. Then he let them all get home to their families (although, they had probably already planned on missing their festivities and likely hadn’t purchased plane tickets or made any of the necessary plans to celebrate with their families, but still. It was a nice gesture). But who did Nolan have to spend the holiday with? CFO/boyfriend version 1.0, Marco who seemed perfectly matched for our favorite eccentric billionaire (how adorable was that Galaxy Defender? I’m half hoping these two crazy kids can work in out in the present day). But unfortunately Marco wasn’t so comfortable knowing the company had been jumpstarted by a convicted terrorist and half a billion of its assists belonged to said terrorist’s daughter. And so Nolan made his first major sacrifice for Emily. If anyone ever questions who the heart of this show is, just look at how much Nolan has sacrificed for Emily and how bitter he isn’t about it.
Even in 2006 The Stowaway was a magnet for uninteresting blackmail. But back then it was Papa Carl who was facing the wrath of a local thug (which in Montauk can’t really be that intimidating). Why this brute was targeting The Stowaway remains a mystery (at least to me), but the end result was the thug got killed by some other random dock worker and Carl helped cover it up. What does this have to do with the current storyline? Well, the son of this wannabe gangster is the current co-owner of the bar, Shady Kenny. What does this have to do with anything else that is going on in the show? Absolutely nothing.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Revenge Thanksgiving without a family dinner full of dirty little secrets and perfectly executed vengeance. At the Grayson residence we were introduced to Victoria’s mother, Marion, a woman who made Victoria look like mother of the year (and keep in mind this is a woman who paid for her son’s prison beating and publically announced she wished her daughter had never been born). But those minor transgressions pale in comparison to having your mother frame you for murder, allow you to be institutionalized for the crime, allow you to be molested and then throw you out of the house all when you were fifteen. Too bad Charlotte was exiled from the family in 2006; she would have understood just how easy she has it with her mom.
Indeed, Marion was a horrible mother and her treatment of Victoria explains a lot. Victoria had to grow up fast and learn to take care of herself, something she seems to have done quite well. But still, it’s hard to let go of a grudge as long burning as that. And so it was discovered that the entire evening had been constructed and plotted by Victoria in order to strip her mother of everything; her boyfriend (provided and paid for by the Graysons), her home, and most importantly, her dignity. The scene in which Victoria threw her mother out was some of the most deliciously delivered lines Madeline Stowe has ever given. If Takeda ever needs some supplemental staff at the School for Vengeful Ninjas he couldn’t find a more suitable candidate than Ms. Grayson.
So let’s recap where we are going into this mid-season finale; Emily is still seeking revenge on the Graysons, The Graysons are hard at work derailing their son’s career, Daniel is attempting to steal Grayson Global from his father with help from Marco who is seeking revenge on Nolan, Nolan is ready to demolish his entire empire to protect Emily, Kenny is seeking revenge on Jack and The Amanda might be taking its final voyage. That’s a lot to cover in one hour, but I would never doubt Revenge can’t pull it off.
– Devin Mainville