‘Revenge’ Mid-Season Review: How many revenge plots does one show need?

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The mid-season finale culminated in secrets, affairs, and lies, leaving viewers with numerous quests for revenge that will carry over into the second half of the season.

Quite a handful of significant stories came to a head this week, resulting in person A getting revenge on person B and person B getting revenge on person C and so forth. It was exhausting to keep up with it, mostly because it wasn’t even that entertaining. Everyone basically hates everyone and everyone is waiting to stab a knife in the back of the person standing next to them. It’s become rather basic, really.

This week, the Grayson men battled it out for the helm, out-conniving and outsmarting one another down to the very last second. Nolan brought Marco back into the fold. Jack learned just who he had allowed to become partners in his bar. A sex tape of Ashley’s scandalous one night stand with Conrad was released. Daniel ended his relationship with Ashley because of an entirely different scandal. And poorly named baby Carl was blessed by God.

It was by no means a boring hour of television, but this show has yet to find the pacing it had in the first season. Perhaps that’s because of instead of it being about Emily’s revenge, it’s become more about those around her. The games she played – you know, the picture of the Grayson Global employees she had planned on knowing off one by one – have faded to the background in favor of everyone else’s plots and schemes. At times, I find myself wondering why she even cares about going after the Grayson’s anymore, especially when it’s clear they’re enough of a mess with or without her tampering.

The Initiative, whomever and whatever they may be, have forced their way to the forefront. The connection does exist because it’s the reason they sold out David Clarke, but it’s not enough to hold my interest. This week they warned Conrad about the outcome of Daniel getting the board seat. It meant that he would be forced to knowingly take his father’s place in the initiative and be used the same way Conrad had. Of course, they warned Conrad and Victoria that they couldn’t let their son in on their existence.

Conrad and Victoria fought to hold onto his board seat. When Emily revealed Ashley’s one night stand with Conrad, Daniel’s mother did what she normally does and used it to her advantage. Poor former call girl Ashley was forced to return to her old ways and sleep with Salvador Gorbet, the man whose vote would decide Grayson Global’s CEO. They turned Ashley into a complete tramp and tried to make us feel sorry for her when she begged Victoria not to tell Daniel. Are we supposed to believe Ashley was so desperate to hang on to her relationship with Daniel that she was willing to sleep with this man? It just screams pathetic, which is basically all they’ve built Ashley’s character up to be.

This entire season has been two second glimpses of her being Daniel’s arm candy, running around and doing his bidding at Grayson Global, never giving viewers the slightest hint that either of them actually loved each other. The real surprise would have been if Ashley hadn’t done Victoria’s bidding. Remember when she stood up to Conrad a few episodes ago? What happened to that strong, independent woman? Then again, she did bone Conrad, so her relationship with Daniel would have ended either way. You were never going to survive this Ashley. You and Daniel are never ever getting back together. Like ever.

Unfortunately, Aiden and Emily were steps ahead of Victoria and Conrad. Aiden went straight to Daniel – not with the sex tape, but with the knowledge that Ashley was sleeping with Salvador. He stormed the hotel, snapped a picture of the two together, demanded his vote, and told Ashley to get the hell out. That scene was actually quite glorious.

Daniel won the Grayson Global CEO seat, booted Aiden from the company board, and unknowingly received a gift from the initiative with a camera installed in it. Two seconds on the job and he’s being watched, a part of some revenge on his father, and I just cannot bring myself to care.

It’s almost as if the existence of the initiative has divided the show – like Revenge itself has split in two – or in some cases even more than that.

Take for instance, Jack’s story with the Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee brothers. At Carl’s christening, a friend of his father’s, Matt Duncan made an appearance and warned Jack about working with the brothers. Later, he stopped by the bar to see Jack and the brothers beat the living hell out of him. Bleeding on the ground, he confessed about murdering their father with Jack’s father’s gun and hiding the gun in his boat. Sure enough Jack found the murder weapon after the brother’s basically admitted beating Matt up. This story has completely segregated Jack in every way from the rest of the cast. There’s zero integration unless there’s going to be some random thread that pulls it in with the larger picture down the line. For now, Jack is on the outside dealing with revenge for something his father didn’t even do, and again I just find myself unable to care.

Meanwhile, Nolan is plotting revenge of his own for the loss of Nolcorp. With his former partner, both business and romantic, Nolan has a plan to destroy Grayson Global Trojan horse style. And we have, yet again, another revenge plot resulting in another side story.

The show used to have a rhythm, threads that wove every story together, even the smallest of characters like Charlotte and Delcan, but it’s lost that. Every character seems to have their own story, their own quest for revenge filled with plot points and new characters (how many new additions have been made this season?!) and miscellaneous unworthy things. More importantly, the stories are becoming more about everyone else and less about Emily. That is a problem when the show is supposed to be about her life.  In some ways, she’s become a supporting character amid the bigger stories. I appreciated the arrival of Aiden and his past with Emily, but she’s become smaller while standing next to him. Maybe it’s the vulnerability that he brings to her character, which we haven’t seen thus far. He’s quiet and supportive – almost too supportive – and I fear, borderline Mary Sue. Sometimes he is just too damn understanding. David Clarke is enough of a Mary Sue. Please don’t turn Aiden into one as well.

I understand Aiden is supposed to “get” Emily and her issues, her hang-ups, and her past. After all, he knew her when she was still Amanda Clarke. I guess I just liked him better when he was throwing her around the room and yelling at her, not cuddling up and telling her that she makes him happy. Honestly, typing that just made me want to break out in hives. Love is just so gross sometimes, you guys.

Anway, the winter finale left us with plenty of cliffhangers. Ashley has moved out. Jack found his father’s gun. Daniel is being watched by the initiative. Victoria called Emily for help with Daniel (who is secretly staring at photos of Emily on his laptop). And I’m left wondering just how much of the second half of the season is going to be about all these revenge plots and if Emily will continue to be a supporting character in a show that is supposed to be her life story. Can we get back to her bringing down the big, mean rich people? Can the initiative be forgotten? And most importantly, can Daniel and Emily give each other sexy eyes for longer than a few seconds. I’m not asking that much.

What did you think about the winter finale? How do you feel about the initiative? Are you Team Daniel or Team Aiden? Sound off in the comments below and I’ll see you here next year when Revenge returns – and hopefully fixes some of these issues.

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