'Revenge' recap: The calm before the Thorne
The "Revenge" winter finale felt strangely flat. A lot happened -- most of it revenge-related -- but it seemed like water-treading, set-up for 2013 episodes. Emily didn't have much to do, the Ashley-Conrad sex revelation sort of fizzled, and while the Ryan-brothers Stowaway subplot finally got moving, it's…still a Stowaway subplot.
Let's start with that one. It's time for Little Carl's christening (and yes, the characters are still calling the baby "Little Carl," because apparently he's indistinguishable from Dead Carl otherwise), and Jack decides to invite a bunch of Dead Carl's old friends, as he's unearthed Dead Carl's address book.
He also invites Homeowner Kenny Ryan and Nate Ryan as a show of gratitude for everything they've done for his family; the fact that it was Kenny's idea for Jack to invite his dad's buddies, along with Kenny's vulpine staring and pointed remarks about family, somehow fails to raise any alarms with Jack. Then again, he still hasn't figured out that Emily is the real Amanda, so perhaps we doth expect too much.
Dress for suck-cess
Naturally, Duncan -- the dude who used Dead Carl's gun to shoot Ryan Sr. -- turns up to the christening. (Wearing a henley top. Neither of the Porter brothers is wearing a tie to the event, either, and this family thinks it's an awesome idea to install Emily and Declan as godparents, so…we give up.) Duncan spots the Ryans lurking and warns Jack to get out of the deal. Jack asks Nolan to look into the Ryans for him.
By the time Nolan gets back to him with the news that Nate has done time and these are bad dudes, Duncan has visited the boat looking for Jack, gotten himself beaten to a pulp by the Ryans, and confessed that he killed the Ryans' pops -- and Dead Carl's little book has gone missing. Duncan croaks that the Ryans want revenge. Jack stares really hard.
Later, the brothers drop by to return the book and hint around about whether anyone saw the beating. Jack finds Duncan's name crossed out and stares really hard some more, and we like the actors playing the Ryans, so could the writers give them and Nick Wechsler an interesting storyline maybe?
One like Nolan's, for example. Marco is back, and bent on revenge; he tips Daniel to the Caymans account, which allows Daniel to take a controlling interest in Nolcorp and make Nolan stay on as CEO by blackmailing him with the threat of criminal charges, interest payments, and so on. E.J. Bonilla as Marco is terrific, looking both victorious and mortified as Nolan glares at him.
Marco wants back in as CFO, too, since getting the boot before Nolcorp's IPO ruined his career. If Nolan doesn't go along, Marco will tell Amanda (the fake one) where her money went. Nolan doesn't want Emily's real identity revealed, so he goes along, and while Padma isn't happy about it, he assures her that he has a Trojan-horse contingency plan. We aren't happy about it either -- we were really hoping Emily's spot would get blown up this week -- but we do love a good Nolan scheme.
Speaking of Nolan schemes, it's he who captures the video of Ashley and Conrad in flagrante. Emily deploys it because Ashley is turning Daniel against Aiden, so they need to turn Daniel against Ashley first. Victoria gets the video, but that doesn't exactly work, as she and Conrad assume it came from the Initiative in an attempt to divide and conquer. It's also a missed opportunity to make Ashley truly evil instead of just kind of manipulative and whiny, as she protests that Victoria had just fired her, Victoria and Conrad were divorced at the time, she hadn't started dating Daniel, and it was just the once. Ashley does point out that Victoria would have done exactly the same thing in her position, which is funny because it's true, but Victoria, desperate to avoid a Daniel takeover because it means the Initiative has no further use for her or her husband, blackmails Ashley with the video. If she doesn't want Daniel to see it, she can work it off by sleeping with board swing vote Salvador (the hammily delightful Joaquim de Almeida) to get him to vote with Conrad.
In terrycloth veritas
Salvador has switched his vote several times already, but looks set to vote with Conrad -- until Daniel, shown the video by Aiden, bursts into Salvador's hotel room to find him and Ashley in bathrobes. Dun! Enraged, he snaps a photo of them and says that unless Salvador wants the most expensive divorce in history, he'll vote with Daniel the next day.
He does. Daniel wins; a last-minute request from his parents to stand down fails when Victoria can't adequately explain why taking control of the company will put him in "unspeakable danger." Daniel's first act as jefe is to tell Aiden super-insincerely that the board closed ranks to new members, while Aiden smirks all, "You can't punch your weight in this scheme class, little boy." His second act is to admire a fugly new desk clock that came with a note saying "Welcome to the fold," and a built-in cam that lets the Initiative watch him in a smoky screening room (?). Initiative Lady, looking up his nostrils, murmurs to her compatriots, "Shall we put the plan to a vote?"
Em's plan is stalled, mostly. She spends most of the episode not responding very warmly to Aiden's cuddles; staring sadly at Amanda and Jack kissing; allaying Aiden's suspicions about Jack; and reassuring Amanda for the umpteenth time that she's "not destroying lives" but "righting wrongs." The episode closes on her curling up on Aiden's chest while he makes the mistake of thinking the good times can last. Meanwhile, Jack finds Dead Carl's gun under a floorboard, Daniel deletes pictures of Ashley from his computer and moons over his engagement photos with Emily, and Victoria calls Emily to talk about Daniel. "Well, that was unexpected," Emily says, and when Aiden asks what that means, she muses, "Leverage."
Odds and ends