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Revenge “Sin” Review: Regrets, They Have a Few

By on October 7, 2013
ABC/Richard Cartwright)
JOSH BOWMAN, EMILY VANCAMP

ABC/Richard Cartwright) JOSH BOWMAN, EMILY VANCAMP

The arrival of a silver-tongued Grayson Global executive-turned Man of God in ‘Sin’ is the catalyst for two of the most startling U-turns in Revenge history.

Emily Thorne, thanks to Nolan and the priest, Father Paul Whitley (James LeGros), finds herself reconsidering her mission of vengeance for the very first time.

Wha? Yeah. Not only does she genuinely regret her take-down of the priest, she vows to reverse it. She claims her solution will further her cause, but it may also be an ingenious continuation of the developing vulnerability we witnessed in Emily last week.

For Revenge’s allure to be sustaining in the long view, a mere plot device is insufficient to secure the franchise. Taking down a target during a glitzy lawn party every week isn’t going to cut it, despite the fabulous dresses, the devastatingly good-looking characters, and the matriarchal sparring we’ve all come to love. Convoluted story lines are a bust as well (cough-SeasonTwo-cough, cough). To sustain redeeming value, our protagonists have to learn, grow, pursue the Holy Grail—whatever they define that to be.

The depth of character portrayed by VanCamp’s Emily Thorne in the premiere looks to be more than a glancing vulnerability, and much more than a mere plot device. In ‘Sin’, Emily was forced to recognize that, a) people can change, b) she’s failing her father, and c) perhaps her campaign is more about Amanda Clark than David Clark. Through confrontation by Nolan and a moving scene with Father Whitley, Emily thaws her frozen heart and begins to see herself for what she is becoming. Wow.

Conrad, our other surprise potential reformer, finds himself destitute and in fear of facing his final days alone, miserable, and in Gollum-like stupor. Having lost the governor’s seat due to the faux-Huntington’s, he’s had plenty of time on his hands for reflection, but maybe that’s a good thing. Usually idle hands do the devil’s work, but in this case, Conrad may be doing the opposite: rediscovering religion. And it actually seems genuine. For now, at least. Don’t expect this to last. This, my friends, is a plot device, albeit a decent one, because, surprisingly, it works. For now.

(ABC/Carin Baer) HENRY CZERNY, CHRISTA B. ALLEN, EMILY VANCAMP, JOSH BOWMAN

(ABC/Carin Baer)
HENRY CZERNY, CHRISTA B. ALLEN, EMILY VANCAMP, JOSH BOWMAN

‘Sin’ remained true to the formula that served Revenge well in season one: a single newcomer tied to David Clark’s misfortune, Emily’s takedown scheme with Nolan helping her, the appearance of the infinity box, and the deconstruction by Ems and Nolan at the end. Did you notice the subtle red-sharpie cross out? It was in the beginning, but it was the Salisbury Steak on The Stowaway’s menu that Jack gave the boot too, not a face in a photo. With this one alteration, the writers are both taking an interesting risk, and sending a message: This is a new season, a new era; expect the unexpected. Kudos, Revenge!

To summarize how it all went down, Emily targets Father Whitley despite Nolan’s warning that he’s transformed himself into the Mother Teresa of the Bronx. In a touching scene at the church, Whitley strikes a nerve when he comments on the happiness Emily’s father must have wanted for her, and the tragedy of missing a lifetime of unconditional love when one is an orphan. Emily gets Whitley fired by exploiting him, then regrets having done so.

Nolan confronts Emily about her father’s true wishes, refusing to participate in her scheming if she stoops to torturing small woodland creatures (metaphorically speaking, though he did mention kittens). He professes to love her and want her to be happy. Listen to him, Ems, he is your last hope. Charlotte snubs Emily, Patrick slams a door in her face, and Jack accuses her of valuing punishing the guilty over helping the innocent. It was a bad couple of days all around for Emily Thorne.

Aiden breaks into Emily’s house and steels the deed to Nolan’s house which Emily paid for. At first it was questionable if Aiden’s efforts were a ploy to accelerate Emily’s plot, but when he told Victoria that Emily took her money and God knows what else … I’d say he’s decidedly anti-Emily at this point.

Margaux (Karine Vanasse) attempts to seduce Daniel, who chivalrously demurs, then decides to work for her provided they headquarter closer to home. Victoria introduces Patrick to her recalcitrant family, insisting they welcome him, and he holds his own despite their disrespect. Are we buying Patrick as a straight arrow? (No pun intended.) In this episode, he comes across as more well-grounded than crazy or devious. Which—if Frank didn’t give him the $5 million—makes perfect sense. Expect Patrick to be around for a while.

Jack reveals Conrad responsibility for the bomb that killed Declan to Charlotte, who then marches home and basically disowns Conrad. Emily lights a candle at St. Francis church and apologizes to her father, then bumps into Conrad. Conrad admits to having made a mess of so many things, and makes noises like he might be ready to pay for his sins.

In the final scene, Emily admits to Nolan that he was right about Fr. Whitley’s goodness, and vows to right the wrong she did him because Whitley can do what Emily can’t … get Conrad to confess.

Final notes: Who to watch in the coming episodes … Daniel, Nolan, and Patrick. We still don’t know what Aiden has told Daniel, so he may be plotting against Emily. Nolan is Emily’s moral compass. We’ll see how long he can sustain that, and how far he’s willing to go to help her figure out her Holy Grail and go for it. Patrick, he seems normal, but we have no idea where he’s from or what he’s up to, but he’s able to hold his own amid the drama of the Hamptons.

In ‘Confession’, next week’s Revenge installment, an unexpected guest at Nolan’s housewarming party leads to a showdown that sends shockwaves through the community, and Conrad takes inventory of the stains of treachery on his soul, fearing the damnation they will bring down upon him.

Tune in Sunday, October 13 at 9/8 c on ABC.