Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Revenge" - "Duress"

Spoilers for the latest Revenge after the jump:


Revenge returns from its mid-season hiatus with an episode that's simply terrific. Indeed, "Duress" may be my favorite installment of the show to date. It's an hour devoted mostly to concluding Tyler's storyline, and it does so in riveting and incredibly well-paced fashion. Though the series finds room for (among other things) a few key scenes advancing the increasingly hostile divorce proceedings between Conrad and Victoria, in the end this is pretty much Tyler's episode. And it's a pretty good one if I do say so myself, from the very first scene in which he holds a gun on the small group of people gathered for Daniel's birthday party to just about every sequence from the two days leading up to that confrontation.

Consider me a bit surprised, because I thought Tyler would be around for a while longer. But off his medication, his meticulous planning ceases. He leaves the evidence he's been using to blackmail Conrad lying around where Emily can easily find it, and then spirals even further out of control once she does. "Duress" does a great job of ratcheting up the tension as it goes on, with Tyler's actions growing more and more violent and unstable. Particularly effective is the scene in which he threatens and eventually injures Nolan with a knife, which I personally found downright terrifying. And the party scene is almost unbearably tense, not because we think Tyler's going to kill someone (just about every person at that table was seen alive and well at the engagement party, after all) but because of how close Conrad comes to admitting the truth about David. Of course Tyler's brother shows up before that can happen, but it's still a very well-done moment. More importantly, it could lead to some interesting things happening down the road, particularly if Emily/Fake Amanda continues to press Jack (who didn't look convinced, but that may change) about the possible veracity of Tyler's statements.

In other news, the impending divorce between Conrad and Victoria continues to grow less and less amicable, not that it was ever that friendly to begin with. I don't know about you, but I'm loving the way this storyline is progressing . Madeline Stowe and Henry Czerny are stellar individually, but their scenes together are even more superb. And they get better each week even as the character interactions themselves continue to become more strained: a trend that reached its highest point yet in this episode. Based on what we see here, all of this is clearly going to get seriously messy, with a custody battle and possible perjury on the part of Victoria looming. And it's proving to be brilliant television.

Emily was a bit sidelined this week, although she did make up with Nolan. Our dynamic revenge duo is back together, which is definitely where they belong. Seriously, I love these two. They have by far the best chemistry among any of the characters in the series, and their scenes together are always a highlight. I'm expecting great things as they get further and further in over their heads, and of course as we get nearer to the fateful events of that engagement party. Overall, this was a somewhat less dense and more straightforward episode than this show usually gives us, but it was still plenty eventful and always enthralling in typical Revenge fashion: maybe even more so than usual because of its tight focus. And as always, I can't wait to see how everything plays out in the coming weeks.

Other Thoughts

- I highly doubt Tyler's gone for good. Odds are he'll be back at some point to try and get even with Emily, particularly after she framed him for Frank's murder.

- Am I the only one who gets the feeling that there's more to Victoria's lawyer than meets the eye? It's possible he'll simply be another revenge target for Emily, but here's another theory: that they're working together to take down Victoria. We didn't see enough of their initial meeting to know anything for sure. But Emily could very easily be blackmailing him. Or perhaps he volunteered out of guilt over what he did to David. I'm probably wrong, but it's worth considering. After all, he's about to get her to lie under oath.

Grade: A-

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