Revenge, Ep. 1.09, “Suspicion”: Set-up episode lets Stowe shine
Revenge Review, Season 1, Episode 9, “Suspicion”
Written by Salvatore Stabile
Directed by Bethany Rooney
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on ABC
Louis Godfrey: So, episode 9, “Suspicion”, was not the most eventful episode of the series so far – in fact, it felt like a bit of a place-holder after the tumultuousness of the previous episodes. But there are three big things worth talking about: 1) How, at the end of the episode, the show basically turned into Kill Bill. 2) The evolving bisexual love triangle between Nolan, Tyler and Ashley. 3) The fabulousness of Madeleine Stowe.
Let’s start with Stowe. Not only does she have by far the hardest role on the show –the chief villainess, cold, calculating, yet also vulnerable–but she brings such subtlety and depth to it. For instance, if you watch her in the party scene late in the episode, she does a tremendous amount of work with subtle eye movements and twitching of her lips. She conveys all the complexities of Victoria Grayson, and thankfully keeps her from becoming a Cruella de Vil knock-off. That said, I do often expect Daniel Day Lewis to storm the scene in frontiersman garb, hurl a tomahawk into someone’s chest, grab Stowe, and yell “I will find you!”
Cléa Major: Stowe definitely acted circles around the rest of the cast this last episode. I love watching her, because she always looks like she’s having a ton of fun with the role, yet taking it seriously. However, I don’t feel like the writing staff have figured out what to do with Victoria and motherhood–she’s clearly used to trying to protect and control her children by throwing money at problems (usually, this takes the form of bribing poor people not to date her progeny). This is clearly pretty evil behavior, so why is Victoria surprised when her children hate her for it? With one child already in his twenties, you’d think that either she would have figured out some maternal subtlety by now, or that both children would have divorced themselves from her long before the start of this series. All of the Grayson actors do a fine job conveying the complexity of the relationships in that family, but the writing often lets them down.
As for the evolving bisexual love triangle–can we even call it a love triangle, considering that every relationship in it is now explicitly more of a business partnership than a romantic relationship? When Tyler persuaded Ashley to forgive him for making out with another guy because it was necessary for him to get ahead, Ashley and Tyler’s relationship turned into a younger version of the Grayson marriage: a business deal masquerading as love.
This show also added a monetary, calculating twist to the only other relationship in Revenge that’s based on lovey-dovey feelings rather than deceit or ambition. Declan and Charlotte, our boring star-crossed teens, did not let Victoria break them up, but Declan did accept Victoria’s cash–like, a LOT of Victoria’s cash–as a bribe to stop seeing her daughter. Surely, a more traditionally heroic beau would have been outraged at the very suggestion of a bribe and not even touched the dirty money.
LG: Yeah, it is really the first interesting twist in the Declan/Charlotte relationship. And I totally agree with you about the Nolan-Tyler-Ashley situation having much more to do with business than any affection any of the characters feel for each other. When Ashley caught Nolan and Tyler kissing, she was not so much pissed off that her boyfriend was kissing someone else – let alone another guy – but that he had broken their alliance. Ashley then takes the lessons of the incident, and uses them to make a transparent but respectable bid to become part of Victoria’s inner circle.
And finally, of course Amanda has a Japanese mentor. I mean, how did we not see this coming? I don’t know when or why, but cold-hearted vengeance has become inextricably linked with the Japanese in our popular culture. Sure, this is probably problematic (okay, not probably), but if it leads to a training montage at a dojo, or the mysterious Mr. Takeda bestowing Emily with a Hattori Hanzo sword, I will be fine with it.
CM: Yes! Especially if it leads to Amanda ruining some lives in a more violent fashion than she has previously. It’s been too long since she ruined anyone, and while I’m certainly not calling for a return to their initial one-life-ruined-a-week formula (that was fun, but I prefer these longer arcs), this run of episodes without any life-ruining has made me feel bloodthirsty for some more intense destruction.
The other big piece of set-up we got is the real Emily Thorne not only sticking around, but also claiming to be the real Amanda Clarke–to Jack, at least, and possibly to others. This should be fun, since it promises to give Emily Van Camp more opportunities to actually emote, rather than just staring narrow-eyed at the camera over the shoulder of whichever sap she’s hugging. Set-up episodes are never the most exciting ones, but this episode at least did its job, in that I’m plenty excited now for what’s coming next.
Louis Godfrey and Cléa Major