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Eat My Dust: Revenge’s “Surrender” Review

By on December 9, 2013
(ABC/Richard Cartwright)


Ya-Wowza! This week’s Revenge installment, “Surrender,” sent tremors through the Hamptons bedrock with several pockets of intrigue, but none so much as Victoria’s shocking refusal to attend the lynchpin wedding of Emily’s revenge plan. Did you see the look on Em’s face when she read Victoria’s RSVP? It was like a cartoon character mosaic crashing to the ground. One. Piece. At a time. Classic.

Before I forget … the ‘Fantasy’ Wedding Gown by Monique Lhuillier was breathtaking. It looks like it’s not the one she finally chooses, but it was beautiful in the photo shoot. Enough said. Onward.

VanCamp’s Emily’s exsanguinated response was priceless, though also of note were several other performances in “Surrender.” Conrad’s twitterpated response when he learned Lydia was again in the pink was a giddy pleasure to watch. He was as smitten as a teenage virgin who can’t believe his good fortune—“Golly gee, you’re beautiful. Can I touch you?”

How wonderful was Aiden’s dashingly romantic and heartfelt proposal? It was simply divine, hands down. For all my yammering about Emily playing to Aiden’s affections just to keep him in line, I have to admit she looked genuinely happy in that moment. Please, TV fairies, we beseech thee, please let Emily be happy. And while you’re at it, can you return Daniel to Sara for us? You see, folks, this is what happens when we get attached to characters … we want them all to be happy. But happy doesn’t make for good entertainment, dang it all, or record-breaking ratings, so it’s a good thing we aren’t the ones writing these scripts.

Once again Margaux ‘Dissuasion-Is-Not-An-Option’ Lemarchal proved she has the steel ovaries to rival the Hamptonites’—even the most conniving—when the pixie magazine mogul adroitly fired the fickle vixen, Ms. Lydia ‘Don’t-just-stand-there-zip-me-up’ Davis (Returning star Amber Valletta). Kudos to Margaux (Karine Vanasse), ever the firecracker in a tiny chic wrapper, who showed number two who’s boss! That was an Austin Power’s reference, by the way. Look it up.

Also of note was Margaux and Jack’s final scene in the subplot revolving around the pursuit of the Grayson story opportunity. Margaux’s clarity and declaration was precious and true. Let’s just hope it stays that way. Our Jack deserves a little Happy.

As for Victoria’s Eat My Dust coup, it was more brilliant and unexpected than Lydia’s return to the set. It would be even more so, if not for the next episode’s preview showing Victoria sitting in the audience during the fateful faux-fatal nuptials only two moments later. What the hell? Again I say, what the hell?

But wait, I’ve saved one of the best for last. Daniel’s angry tirade against Victoria was Im-pressive. Joshua Bowman’s acting prowess has never been in question, but his performance in “Surrender” proved he’s got the chops for dramatic acting like nothing he’s done so far on Revenge. What’s been frustrating about his storyline is that despite his assurances to the contrary, Sara ‘Make-Up-Your-Damn-Mind’ Munello (Annabelle Stephenson) is the true love of his life and he Just. Can’t. Have. Her. The ‘My Heart Will Go On’ Titanicesque necklace toss scene was difficult to watch for precisely this reason. Daniel is a good guy, for the most part so far, and we want him to be happy. Because he’s the focus of Emily’s revengenda, his options are severely limited, leaving his character stilted and doomed. There has been no evidence that he’s wise to Emily’s plan and seeking revenge himself, but he hasn’t seemed in love or happy in this coupling since I can’t remember when. So, what are the options here, folks?

We can’t forget three other memorable events in Revenge’s pre-wedding episode. First, Lydia smacking Emily to the ground. Major Bitchage there, folks #Major. Curiously, Daniel didn’t go nuclear on his fiancé’s assailant when any other man would have been on the warpath. Maybe they didn’t have time for that? Oy. Then, there’s Charlotte’s whiplashing allegiance. One minute she’s assuring Sara that Daniel’s in love with her, the next she’s making amends with Emily and entreating Victoria to stop sabotaging Daniel’s life. This continual vacillating has unfortunately weakened her character, and the fact that she plays all the parts convincingly doesn’t help. If she’s plotting something devious, she needs to come out with it to the viewing audience.

Finally, Daniel’s character also suffered from whiplash in “Surrender.” His confrontation with Emily in regard to her knowledge that he was with Sara was a good move, but his statement that Emily is the one he wants almost immediately followed his effusive riverfront conversation with Sara. Are the writers trying to leave their options open, or are they setting these characters up for a visit to a facility with rubber rooms?

There have been many twist and turns this season, Victoria’s wedding jilt being the delicious masterpiece of all, and anything could happen in THE WEDDING OF THE CENTURY as ABC Network is calling it. The pressure is on for first year showrunner Sunil Nayar and his stable of writers and directors to bring their A Game to next week’s “Exodus” episode.

In many cases, the first year of new management brings loads of messy upheaval and attrition making a great chunk of the season feel like a throw-away period. Just like any new president or CEO, Revenge’s new showrunner has had to sacrifice precious screen time ‘cleaning up’ and explaining away what some critics and audiences considered a convoluted second season.

However, in the case of the United States government and any large corporation, the suits use that crucial first term with an eye to landing a second term, or, in this case, a next season, during which the real work can be accomplished. In primetime television, it is the same. The question is, does the show have a solid enough following to stick it out?

While some viewers were turned-off by season two’s departure from the established and highly successful formula of grand takedowns, that season added a great deal of depth to the characters and successfully illustrated how truly relentless and heinous the whole David Clark cover-up was. I, for one, enjoyed it.

Catch THE WEDDING OF THE CENTURY in Revenge’s “Exodus” Sunday December 15 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET), on ABC.