‘Revenge’ recap: It’s love or confusion as nemeses resurface in the Hamptons

Sarah D. Bunting
Fall TV

The theme this week on "Revenge," per the episode title, is forgiveness — but we don't know if we can forgive yet another stagnant and confusing episode, especially when last week's exciting outing got our hopes back up for the second season.

Kara Clarke is back in everyone's lives — stopping by Grayson Manor to visit Victoria (read: see if she knows where Gordon is) and tell her how glad she is that she's safe (read: keep an eye on her). Victoria freaks out and calls Conrad; Kara could ruin the Graysons with information she might have! It's hard to believe people this scheme-y wouldn't have dealt with that possibility back when they got her out of town in the first place.

The unlikely changelings

It's just as hard to believe that nobody on "Revenge" who claims to have loved Young Amanda can tell that Present-Day Amanda isn't the same person — but the show's still going with that, as Kara is at the hospital and doting on newly de-coma'd Amanda and baby Carl. (Despite a fall that should probably have killed both of them, Carl is fine, Amanda has not a scratch on her and flawless hair even in the hospital, and they both get sent home about 36 hours after she wakes up.)

Only Mason Treadwell, who shows up at the hospital with a bouquet of flowers and a nose for the "Kara returns" story, has any idea — helping Amanda out of a wheelchair, Mason sees that a scar Amanda is supposed to have, from a fire in a foster home, is absent.

Mason should stir things up by exploiting that secret — but all the other plots in the episode just kind of lie there. The homeowner, Kenny, hooks Jack and Declan up with a good contractor, then offers to buy the bar and forgive Dec's debt, as predicted, but neither of the Porter brothers seems either thrilled or upset. Emily is sad in spite of herself that Kara doesn't recognize her — Nolan insightfully notes that that's "good for revenge-y stuff, but sad for you" — and she tells Amanda to tell Kara the truth, that she doesn't recognize her and can't forgive her. (She also tells Amanda that Kara tried to drown her when she was 5. When Amanda wonders how a mother could do that, we wondered if Kara is Emily's real mother. You never know on this show.) Kara gives a tearful speech about how well Amanda turned out, and Amanda, touched in spite of herself, forgives her, in defiance of orders — but then Emily's kind of like, "Well, it's just as well," and forgives Amanda for screwing it up, so you have to wonder whether Emily even has a plan at this point if it's this flexible. What does she want from Kara?

And then, after apologizing to Amanda for almost getting her killed, Emily admits that Carl is Jack's baby. Amanda forgives her, and is forgiven in turn for getting together with Jack in the first place when she knew Em had feelings for him, which is nice, we guess, but again — what is Emily's endgame here? We're not seeing a vengeance plan, just secrets for the sake of secrets.

David Clarke, still causing posthumous problems

Foxy Aiden is still operating as though Emily's actively engaged in destroying the Graysons. He's embedded at Grayson Global as Takeda's proxy, drinking martinis with Daniel and Ashley and nosing around. But Emily's keeping things from him, like the fact that she has Gordon's cell phone, and being as rude to him when he tries to be supportive as she usually is to Nolan: "I needed someone; you walked through the door." Foxy also tips Emily to the fact that Padma queried Grayson Global about David Clarke's initial investment in NolCorp; long story short, because David invested while he was at GG, GG has a controlling interest in NolCorp. Emily lets Nolan know that Padma blew up his spot, and he turns kind of green, but again, we can't visualize the endgame. Is Padma a Grayson plant? It doesn't make her any more interesting, or give her any chemistry with Nolan — and why is the show adding that intrigue when it can barely manage the ones it has?

As we end the episode, Kara is staying with the Graysons, even though nobody in that triangle trusts any of the others; Amanda is staying with Emily, even though she and Jack have evidently reconciled; and we still have no idea what really happened with Kara, why she tried to drown Emily, what "truth about David" Victoria means, or what the Initiative wants — and it's taking so long for any of these stories to progress that we're rapidly losing interest. The overall feeling is that the "Revenge" writers don't know any of these things either, and have made the various plot strands both complex and vague to buy themselves time.

Next week's Victoria-Conrad re-wedding looks like fun, but "Revenge" needs to stop making things complicated, and start making sense.

Is "Revenge" weaving too tangled a web? Watch "Forgiveness" right here and judge for yourself: