Revenge, Ep. 1.13, “Commitment”: I’ve Always Wanted A Big Sister!
Revenge Review Season 1, Episode 13, “Commitment”
Written by Mark B. Perry & Liz Tigelaar
Directed by Kennet Fink
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on ABC
Louis Godfrey: Since the beginning, we’ve known that Revenge is headed towards Emily and Daniel’s engagement party at the end of the summer, at which Daniel will be shot on the beach (possibly by Jack, although we can’t be sure just yet). If last week set the pins for that eventuality, this week’s episode, “Commitment,” gets the ball rolling. And if you are going to have an engagement party, naturally you have to have an engagement. Daniel proposes to Emily in the rain and, with her chest heaving like she’s about to have a panic attack, Emily accepts without hesitation. The scene is fascinating, mostly because Emily’s reaction is both controlled and revealing – where is that anxiety that she’s fighting coming from? Is it excitement at finally seeing her plan coming together, or some pang of foreboding dread?
But far more intriguing is the fallout from Emily and Daniel telling the individual members of his family. We can come back to Victoria and Conrad’s equally inappropriate reactions, but the one that matters is Charlotte’s, her blurting out that she’s “always wanted a sister!” Because, of course, we now know Emily and Charlotte are sisters, half sisters, with Charlotte as the love child of Victoria and David Clarke. That revelation has already started to wreak havoc at Grayson manner, with Emily leaking the information to Conrad, who uses it to take the upper hand in the divorce, taking the negotiations from casually cruel to Thunder Dome.
Cléa Major: When Conrad finds out about Charlotte’s real father, he is incredibly harsh with Victoria, telling her that if she doesn’t want the truth about Charlotte’s real (and presumed terrorist) father to come out in a very public trial, she’d better settle for whatever meager sum he “deigns” to give her. It’s an upsetting scene to watch, especially since for once, Victoria looks emotional and deeply vulnerable after being shown a video of David Clarke explaining to Mason Treadwell his reasons for suspecting that Charlotte’s his daughter. After a while of Conrad verbally beating up on her and asking how it will feel for the media to know that Charlotte’s real father is a terrorist, Victoria finally snaps and snarls at him that David Clarke was not a terrorist, he was twice the man that Conrad will ever be. It’s one of the only times that we’ve seen Victoria acknowledge how strong her feelings for David were and are, and it put me thoroughly in her corner.
In her corner, that is, until her last scene of the episode, in which any sympathy we might have had for a more humanized Victoria evaporates. When Daniel tells his father about his engagement, Conrad goes on a rant about how all love is doomed and then lets slip the implication that Victoria has been hiding a terrible secret from the family. When confronted, Victoria admits to Daniel the truth about Charlotte’s father. Before Daniel can begin to react, however, she goes on to explain that the pregnancy was a result of David Clarke raping her. “I just don’t want you to think less of me,” she says to him in a choked off, quivering voice, and of course Daniel does not.
Objectively, Victoria’s participation in a huge conspiracy that locked David Clarke up for life was a far worse betrayal than this could possibly be. But somehow this seemed so much more horrible. Seeing her frame her affair with him as a rape in order to save face, after the episode has already reminded us of how deeply in love they were, illustrates the chilling lengths that Victoria will go to further her own interests more than any previous moment in the show. It sets her up once again as a worthy and formidable arch-nemesis for Emily, as well as mirroring the single-minded ruthlessness of our heroine.
LG: Yeah, there is a sort of bitter irony in that Emily was about to cool her revenge plot, call off the engagement with Daniel (and, unbeknownst to her, save his life), and regroup. But as soon as she hears Daniel relay his mother’s story, there’s a flare in her eyes (Emily Van Camp has been coming on strong lately, after being the clear second fiddle to Madeline Stowe), and she is back in the vengeance game. It’s an interesting moment, because even after the woman publicly destroyed her father and made sure he died in jail, it is this lie between her and her son, which presumably no one else would know about, that sends her over the edge. She can’t stand the idea that there would be one more lie said about him.
And then there is the pretty quiet resolution to the Amanda subplot. After it looked like Emily was going to frame her for torching Mason Treadwell’s house, going as far as planting the tapes Emily stole from Mason in Amanda’s backpack, that fizzles. Victoria sends a goon to retrieve the tapes, but in the process he also kicks the shit out of Jack (who no one thought to, you know, take to the hospital afterwards). This threat gives Emily the leverage to get Amanda to skip town. Kind of a letdown, but in classic soap opera fashion, it leaves the door open for Amanda to return at exactly the wrong moment.
CM: And I do kind of hope that Amanda returns, if only to keep Jack from mooning over Emily all the damn time, because said mooning is totally boring. I’m surprised to hear myself say this, considering how often I bitch about the inanity of Charlotte and Declan’s relationship, but I hope we get more Charlotte next episode. As it stands in this episode, even with all her teen angst she’s the least broody member of the Graysons and her moment with Emily is both sweet and sad because of her total obliviousness to the fact that Emily’s a touch too sociopathic to make for a good big sister. I’m assuming that at some point, Charlotte will find out about her real father, and I’m interested to see how she will react.
Louis Godfrey and Cléa Major