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Revenge “Control” Review: Keep Your Enemies Close & Your Allies Closer

By on October 28, 2013
Emily VanCamp

(ABC/Richard Cartwright) EMILY VANCAMP

Holy tailspin, Batman! Last night’s Revenge episode was choc-full of tension as an embittered Aiden helped Victoria set a trap for Emily, a lovelorn Daniel called off the wedding, a forthright Patrick confronted and stunned Nolan, and a floundering Emily dug deep to regain control of her players.

‘Control’ opened with Emily’s voiceover warning that control over one’s allies is the single greatest threat to success in a quest for revenge. This episode demonstrated that sometimes it’s those secondary characters (allies) whose trickery can cause the greatest upset for those with devious plans. Most of the treachery was believable and clever, but two instances involving Victoria were a little over the top. We’ll get back to that in a moment. Front and center, however, were the machinations of Aiden Mathis (Barry Sloane) which threatened to permanently land Emily in the mud.

It’s often said that one should keep one’s friends close, but one’s enemies closer, but no one ever wrote a pithy warning about the potentially duplicitous nature of allies. Allies are dangerous because of their access to the inner circle and the assumption that their allegiance is absolute. Emily faced this harsh reality when she learned that Aiden had been going off-book, countering her efforts for revenge against the Graysons.

Aiden, enmeshed in the Grayson snake pit and still smarting from learning Jack was in on The Big Secret, offered Conrad Charlotte’s renewed love by opening her eyes to Jack’s true murderous nature. Conrad, of course, took the bait and ordered Aiden to make Jack disappear. After Aiden scared the bejeezes out of Jack, telling him to leave town and never contact anyone there again, Victoria professed she needed Jack to stick around to unnerve Emily and derail the wedding. Take care of it, man, she commanded from her throne of iniquity. Snap!

So … Victoria and Aiden hatch a plan to catch Emily choosing Jack over Daniel. Victoria tells Emily Jack is in danger, hoping Emily will run to his aid and miss Daniel’s very important party. Meanwhile, Aiden is dispatched to follow Emily’s every move and report back. While it is quite believable that Conrad would put out a hit on Jack, Victoria telling Emily she was concerned for her because she’s almost family was in direct violation of the vitriol she spewed earlier and throughout the rest of the episode. Not that Victoria wouldn’t show two blatantly opposite faces, but that Emily wouldn’t suspect something wicked was bizarre. I half expected Emily to blow a raspberry right in Victoria’s face. This just goes to show you how out of control Emily has become.

In response to Aiden’s threats, Jack closed shop and questioned what happened to that sweet little girl he used to know, visibly upsetting Emily. Upsetting further, however, was the revelation that it was Aiden, Emily’s own ‘ally’, who threatened Jack.

Emily confronts Jack. (ABC/Richard Cartwright) NICK WECHSLER, EMILY VANCAMP

Emily confronts Jack.
(ABC/Richard Cartwright)

Shortly after that, a nasty argument between Emily and Aiden ensues wherein Emily realizes how great a threat Aiden has become, a threat that must be handled in any way possible. More on that when we get to a discussion about Nolan’s insights in ‘Control.’

Vic’s plan to trap Emily goes awry when Aiden lies to her about Emily’s whereabouts.

Aiden displays his duplicity elsewhere when he lies to everyone about who was responsible for Conrad’s accident.  We are lead to believe Aiden told Victoria it was Charlotte, but we heard him tell Emily it was Patrick. Aiden has no grudge against Patrick (?) so maybe it really was the long lost bastard child who tried to kill Faux Daddy Dearest.

Charlotte, never hearing about the Ferrari’s being sabotaged, believed Victoria’s lie that Conrad was convinced Jack cut the brake line and deserves to be brutally punished. Charlotte, of course, will do anything to protect the brother of her miscarried baby’s father, so she she agrees to confess to causing the accident herself. Charlotte’s act was astoundingly convincing, But is Charlotte really that gullible? Yowsa.

On another note, Victoria believes she’s just protected Patrick from certain imprisonment by ‘hiding’ his crime of trying to kill Conrad. Now, she’s going to believe he is under her control, dang it all. IF she confronts him, I hope she finds out she’s been lied to. Don’t we all want to see Patrick and Nolan happy and in love? Speaking of which …

Next up are the most startling happenings of the episode, and perhaps the reason we come back to spend an hour with these characters every week. Nolan. God bless Nolan. Nolan and Patrick, who still looks like a good guy all around despite the aspersions cast upon him by his ex-wife, delivered the most startling scenes of the episode  I myself blushed crimson when Patrick confronted Nolan about digging for dirt on Patrick’s past. Nolan was visibly shaken and devastatingly embarrassed. However, Nolan takes full responsibility for being, in Patrick’s eyes, a turd. The tension during this scene was thick enough to cut with an ax. Yes, without asking for a teaspoonful of sugar, Nolan takes his punishment like a man. Because that’s the kind of guy he is. That’s what integrity looks like, folks. And great acting. Take some notes.

But wait, there’s more. Later, Nolan visits Patrick and goes further yet, revealing his pained past and his difficulty trusting people, in a genuine display of humility. What makes this scene even more exquisite is that Nolan never begs or even asks forgiveness. He simply leaves the door open, and excuses himself. Classy.

Meanwhile, Emily shows up late to Daniel’s party and he comes dangerously close to eviscerating her right there in front of everyone. I feel like I’m playing a role in a story you’re writing, he professes, stopping Emily in her tracks. I haven’t wanted to admit it, but I can’t marry you. Whoa. There it is, people. Plain and simple. How on earth is she going to get herself out of that mess and back into his good graces? I thought for sure her scheme was completely derailed at that point.

Back to Nolan. A billionaire with a 170 IQ, Nolan not only had the cojones to admit when he was wrong, he knew how to take that experience, learn from it, and deliver it to Emily in her time of need, revealing her only hope at turning around her Titanic. He counseled a destitute Emily that the only way to get Daniel back is to give him the one thing he wants and needs–a part of herself. People want their partners to be honest with them, and if they aren’t they catch on, he explains.

Unfortunately, what Emily hears him saying is that people want to believe their partners are honest with them. As a result, she takes that advice and uses it to get Aiden back in line, telling him that he’s the only one that matters to her. Because he loves her, and he wants to believe her, Aiden swallows the lie. Then Emily does the same with Daniel, sharing a picture from her childhood with him and again professing that the only thing she wants is to marry him. And, voila, the wedding is back on.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this … so hand onto your hat … but the gratuitous bare-chesteness of this episode felt, well, gratuitous. Confused in purpose, unnecessary. It didn’t advance the plot or the relationships. Hey, guys, I’m all for a little skin, but in moderation, and where it serves a purpose. #ThatIsAll

How long can Emily keep Aiden under her thumb, Daniel on track to the alter, and Jack from falling in love with Margaux? This episode provided a load of tension and some profound wisdom from an always reliable source. What on earth is going to happen next week?

Just an aside, there was no red marker cross off and no big take-down, but it wasn’t at all missed with all the other hoopla going on. What would have made this episode even more stellar would have been more screen time involving Emily and Nolan together. And perhaps some joint mayhem. Revenge’s forward momentum is satisfying enough, so perhaps we should put our remotes on the coffee table and trust the Revenge fairies to do what they do best, and we’ll just wait (im)patiently for next week’s installment, ‘Disillusion’.

‘Dissolution’ will see “Roadblocks mounting for Emily” as Daniel’s attention is focused elsewhere and Grayson Manor may actually cease to exist. Two of the most important people in Emily’s life start turning on her – leading her to do something very uncharacteristic. Who do you think that will be?

Catch Revenge’s “Dissolution” Sunday November 3 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET), on ABC.