"Sabotage" is a largely lackluster episode. Revenge's favorite narrative trick is opening in media res. Accent Guy walked around a darkened space, holding a freshly fired gun. A person in a mask lay prone on the floor, shot dead. The camera panned down to show Emily's tattoo. Accent Guy shot his beloved. Now, how did that happen? Cut to two days earlier when Accent Guy and Emily are in complete cohoots. Emily's impromptu kiss with Daniel happened as a reaction to Daniel's newly discovered emotion for the girl who got away after his heel turn last May. Emily assured her beau the kiss meant nothing. The focus needed to be on the Initiative, specifically Helen Crowley, the nameless woman who likes sitting in a dark room and behaving menacingly. Their plan to bring her to the party and then gas, tie her up, and question her about a shadowy company named Stonehaven, went off without a hitch. Emily used Daniel to correspond with Helen. Aiden hung around, waiting for his moment with the enemy. Aiden's still a character who's alternately a trusted ally or a potentially treacherous foe. The Daniel element exists for two reasons: Daniel's going to lose his mind once he learns he's been used again, and the writers need Aiden to represent the wildcard; that if he goes rogue, it's going to screw things up.
There's a scene at the fundraiser which highlights the writers' totally contrived sense of tension and stakes. Helen shows up. Daniel introduces Aiden and Helen. Aiden and Helen drop the act after Daniel departs, exchange in an uninteresting back-and-forth, and then Aiden tells her he wants to see his sister. Emily watches with worried concern expressed on her face. Nolan strolls up and wonders if Aiden's hedging his bets. Will the plan go off without a hitch? Naturally, it does. I knew from the second it started that the in media res was a ruse to give the impression of something actually happening when nothing actually happens. Helen's supposed to be a smart woman, manipulative and evil, so she should know what happened. Aiden assures Emily the plan succeeded wonderfully. Emily accepts that it does. It probably did, too, because it's too early for Helen to catch onto what's really going on; however, she's smart and notices Emily used Daniel to get her to the fundraiser for Aiden's sake. Stay tuned, I guess.
The Emily/Aiden storyline wasn't the only contrived aspect of the episode. Nolan's increasingly bad subplot with Marco and Padma is going the way one thought it would when Padma met Nolan. The shot of Padma staring at David Clarke's check was deliberately long. Padma's absence doesn't mean the audience is amnesiac about her. Nolan welcomed her with a kiss and a job. Padma had a bothered demeanor, sort of like someone who's done something bad and who's too expressive to hide what that theft/deception is doing to the conscience. Nolan's distracted by The Plan, mistrustful of Marco, and so Padma's secretive shadowy behavior goes over his head. Padma's been up to something since introduction; it's just that she's so overt tonight. The girl doesn't smile, and she looks conflicted--maybe because she is conflicted. Padma's working with Helen. Marco's the fall guy for what she's been doing. Marco's stunning turnaround from antagonist to sympathetic victim took me by surprise. Revenge isn't completely contrived yet.
Declan finally learned why the Ryan brothers are behaving like disgruntled dickheads--it's because the Ryan brothers are disgruntled dickheads. Predictably enough, Fake Amanda got a gun to kill the Ryan brothers for framing the Porters for drugs. Fake Amanda didn't wake up and decide on murder. Conrad denied Jack, the father of her baby and love of her life, the help he would afford Declan. Back Fake Amanda into a corner and she'll react violently. Fake Amanda confronts the angrier of the Ryan brothers and threatens to spill his blood if he doesn't bolt town. Ashley, my girl, shows up at the worst time: Fake Amanda showed her hand, allowing the Ryan brothers to prepare. Ashley brought Conrad, who brought Jack, because he's running for public office and helping the helpless is what he's going to do to manipulate voters into voting for him. Ashley's role as the brains behind the operation, which happens because she essentially blackmails him with every piece of information she has, was a welcomed beat. My ideal ending for the show involves Ashley as the last character standing, triumphant, badass and hot. The Porters, though, are in the same spot they were to begin the episode. Move this crappy story along, Revenge.
As for Victoria, I have no idea what her plan was with Dylan Walsh. I gathered she wants to use Dylan Walsh (character name: Jason) to take her son out of the company before the Initiative destroys him. Their scenes were like watching seaweed on a shoreline, though. Walsh is as charismatic as seaweed. Stowe's facial expressions don't change. The title of the episode comes from Victoria's plan to sabotage, but Victoria just flirts with Jason. Jason gets turned down at the end. I suppose it's just another unnecessarily long Revenge storyline being established.
-Daniel paid $1 million for a bottle of wine. The money went to the organization the fundraiser was held for. The $1 million bottle of wine was bad. I feel like there's meaning in this that I'm too tired to think about and explicate on.
-Charlotte remembered Conrad treating her like shit earlier this season. I really thought Revenge dropped that.
-Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie wrote the episode. Jay Beattie directed it.
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