Revenge, Season 2, Episode 16: “Illumination”
Written by Michael Foley and Sallie Patrick
Directed by Bobby Roth
Airs Sundays at 9 pm (ET) on ABC
Since the beginning of Revenge, Emily’s old life has always threatened to invade her new one and expose her plans for the Graysons. With the arrival last week of Eli, her foster brother who she hadn’t seen for 14 years, it seems like her past is finally closing in on her.
Emily’s biggest problem has always been her past. For someone who seeks control, she loses it the moment anyone from her past steps into the picture. When Amanda arrived in the first season it affected Emily deeply. Eli proves an even more emotional connection to her past, however this is the new Emily and her cynicism warns her that the Eli is “a wild card”.
Eli’s an interesting character. The parallels between him and Amanda are almost immediately recognizable. He’s a con artist, a loose cannon, and he knows all of Emily’s deepest, darkest secrets. What Emily plans to do with Eli, considering her “faux-brother” is now sticking around, could lead to one of the more emotionally daunting challenges she’s had to face.
“Illumination” is really about the emotional collapse of Revenge’s central characters. When Jack lost Amanda it sent him into a tailspin. This episode finds him putting at least some of the pieces together and aligning himself with the Graysons. It’s a dangerous choice considering he doesn’t have all the facts and there’s a good chance that his quest for revenge could lead him to the same place as Amanda.
Daniel’s emotional struggle is shaping up to be more of a pity party. From the moment he learned of his parent’s lies he has been struggling to find his footing. That’s been changing, especially in “Illumination”. It seems like everyone has an angle this season and oddly enough Daniel’s seems to be the only semi-moral one on the show. When Conrad tells him, “we do what we do not for ourselves but for something bigger than us”, the viewer quickly gets the idea that he’s talking about Daniel’s new path, fighting the Initiative and his parents.
The most thrilling moment of the night is the reveal of Nolan’s one time hero, the hacker Falcon. “The man, the myth, the Falcon is back on the Greysons’ payroll”, Nolan warns. The Falcon should be a good addition to the show now that it’s getting back to its roots. The Falcon was the only person that the Grayson’s couldn’t buy and he was the one who helped destroy Emily’s father. What he’s doing working with the Graysons again could have a massive effect on Emily.
Revenge has had a great string of episodes, especially since its return from hiatus, but “Illumination” is one of the best. The scenes reminding us why fan favorite Nolan is fighting so hard for Emily are important and rather moving, considering it’s easy to forget why he would so willingly put his life at risk. And it finally seems like Daniel is finding a place in his parents’ world. It is a strong and genuinely intriguing episode that’s going to propel the season towards a thrilling end.