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TV Review: Revenge – “Duplicity”

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ABC’s Revenge continues its mission to get even with “Duplicity.” This week, Emily (Emily VanCamp) turns her attention on Dr. Michelle Banks (Amy Landecker, A Serious Man, Dan in Real Life). At a mother / daughter charity benefit, a video plays of confidential taped sessions between Dr. Banks and her patients, including Emily and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe). This ruins the doctor’s practice, and she is locked in a shed for awhile which terrorizes her on a personal level. Of course, Emily is behind the whole thing, but by putting herself in the video, does she keep suspicion away?

The episode title is meaningless, as in other installments. Issues of “Duplicity” occur in every episode, as do “Trust,” “Guilt,” “Betrayal,” “Intrigue,” and “Charade” which are all other episode titles. There is no discernible quality in each episode that chooses which of these go with each outing. This makes for a less than satisfying lineup, and gives no clue about what will happen in the upcoming weeks. Plus, there are only a finite number of such words that will fit the show, so someone is going to have to rethink this strategy soon.

Of the many things expected from Revenge, a procedural element is not one of them. Yet, for four episodes now, Emily has taken down four different people connected to the trial of her father, David (James Tupper). Is this the formula Revenge will be following? If so, certainly they will run out of targets for Emily to go after soon. Yes, David’s ordeal is large and complicated, but by two or three seasons down the line, she has to have gone after all of the people who were involved. More likely, the procedural format is a first season gimmick to hook lazy television viewers who want their stories wrapped up in an hour, and the series will grow out of it relatively soon.

Banks is a more personal attacker of Emily than previous guest stars have been. Victoria actually pays off Banks to institutionalize young Emily / Amanda (Emily Alyn Lind), so that Emily can’t spoil the case against David. As such, Banks does something bad to Emily, not just David. Perhaps that explains why Emily steps the game up a notch, kidnapping Banks instead of just humiliating her. Emily doesn’t go as far as hurting Banks, but she does want her to suffer more than the previous offenders.

All of this casts doubt on whether or not Emily is involved with the shooting at the beginning of the series (which is set a few months in the future from the main storyline). Up until now, Emily only engages in personal attacks. But in “Duplicity” Emily does something highly illegal, and causes more than just a little embarrassment or career ruination. However, Emily stops short of physical harm. Will she continue to escalate things, culminating in a murder or attempted murder? Or, will Emily be shown to have limits, and will someone else be responsible for the gunshot?

As for Victoria, she gets a little more sympathetic as Revenge goes on. Yes, she commits horrible actions, such as getting Emily locked up and stealing a laptop, but she also tries to get David’s name cleared because she truly is in love with him. This adds a layer to every one of Victoria’s moves. It is probably not enough for Emily to leave the woman alone; Victoria seems to be the ultimate target. It may be enough that Emily could find an ally, rather than an enemy, should she give the older woman a chance. If Emily does, it will be because of extenuating circumstances that force the two together, or Victoria uncovering the plot and blackmailing her way in. Either way, a team up would be delectable!

Emily’s love triangle with Daniel (Joshua Bowman) and Jack (Nick Wechsler) continues. Obviously, Emily is after Daniel for less than authentic reasons. But, Daniel is actually quite a good guy, who deserves a little happiness. Maybe Emily will soften towards him? He may be sympathetic to Emily’s machinations and willing to help. However, the reveal that Daniel is responsible for injuring a girl might be enough to harden Emily for falling for him that much. Considering the fact that she will soon be getting engaged and marrying Daniel, as shown in “Pilot,” there are a number of questions to be answered before making any conclusions.

Daniel’s roommate, Tyler (Ashton Holmes, Nikita, The Pacific), screws up things between Daniel and Emily in “Duplicity.”  It is hard to see what happens as more than a small, and admittedly fun, stumbling block to keep the story going a little longer. It is possible that Victoria even put Tyler up to it to try to break Daniel and Emily up.

Jack is a much more suitable suitor for our heroine. Or is he? He carries a torch for Emily / Amanda, caring for a childhood dog, and naming his boat after her. He also has an interest in her as an adult, even if he doesn’t realize he’s falling for the same girl a second time. He decides to keep his father’s bar open, in part so he can stick around town and keep open the possibility of being with her. But Jack is a very good man, a family man, and surely he will eventually learn of Emily’s revenge tactics. This could kill any chance of them being together. Despite being sympathetic for what happens to David, it is unlikely Jack would condone Emily’s behavior. More likely, as with David, Jack would argue to forgive and forget. If Emily did that, there would be no series. But it’s probable that Jack can’t be with her, long-term anyway, unless she does.

The really sweet love story unfolding in Revenge involves Daniel’s sister, Charlotte (Christa B. Allen), and Jack’s brother, Declan (Connor Paolo). Charlotte has a sort-of boyfriend, who is a real jerk, and cheats on her. Declan offers innocent overtures of real romance. Even when the other guy beats Declan up, and Declan gets evidence of the jerk’s cheating ways, Declan holds off on giving this information to Charlotte. It would cause her to dump the boy, but it would also hurt her. Declan is far from perfect, and he has the rebellious nature of some youths, but he is not cruel, and will not hurt Charlotte when he doesn’t have to. He’s playing things smart, which is probably why he will win her in the end.

Nolan’s (Gabriel Mann) part in the situation is still quite murky. Why does he want to be involved in Emily’s plot so badly? Yes, he has affection for David. But that would only go so far. Might he be interested in Emily? If so, he isn’t showing it. He’s offering help, but no real flirtation or overt moves on her. Maybe Nolan has some personal, hidden reason he wants to see the Hamptons elite crowd go down? If so, that would explain why he is willing to throw his money at the problem. What did they do to him?

The only serious (slight) complaint I have about Revenge thus far is that it seems awfully convenient that Emily is rich, as is Nolan. Might it not have been neater, albeit harder for the writers, if these people were poor, a condition they would more likely be in? I like the fact that David seems to trade his innocence to buy Emily a life, a clever twist, but would it have been one as luxurious as the one she is living? Would any pay out really be that large? Perhaps there is further explanation coming on this front, but for now, it just seems like an easy way to get the story going.

Watch Revenge Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • Kelsey

    I liked it initially, but I’m starting to get a little bored. It’s starting to feel repetitive.

  • Kristy

    Revenge is a great new show! This is my guilty pleasure show! I’m loving every minute of it! The only problem I have is the dog Sami. For a dog that is suppose to be 16 years old, he sure is energetic! I had a large dog (Dalmatian) who lived to be 15 & was not moving around very well the last couple of years of her life. Maybe if they had said it was 12 years ago & not 16 I might not be questioning this one little thing. Lol. Other than that this show is awesome!

  • Z

    MY ABSOLUTE NEW FAVORITE TV SHOW!!
    i AM HOOKED! ;D