‘Revenge’: Penance Meets Product Placement as All Secrets Are Revealed

Emily VanCamp in "Revenge" (ABC)

This week’s episode of “Revenge,”  “Penance,” was the strongest of the season, as everything hit the fan. The fan is available for purchase at your neighborhood Target, but I’m saving the discussion of this week’s product placement commercial extravaganza for the end.

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We open with Conrad (Henry Czerny) cutting himself shaving (eew) as Emanda (Emily VanCamp) voices over about this week’s episode title, “Penance.”  She watches Grayson Cam until Mason (Roger Bart) drops by for a visit. He uses every single SAT word he knows as he probes why she is friends with lowly stripper Amily. He shows her a photo of the two of them at juvie, suggesting they are lesbian  lovers, rhapsodizing about how America will love his book about “felonious Sapphic blondes and their vendetta against one of the wealthiest families on the planet.” He’s right. I would read that.

Cara (Jennifer Jason Leigh)  tells Victoria (Madeline Stowe) she plans to leave town and asks Victoria for a credit card number for the reservation. Victoria, in a moment of stupidity,  is happy to oblige. She and Conrad chat about the Initiative’s impending visit.  He says what they enter the Grayson house, they will stay forever like the undead. Vampires are the one thing this show is lacking.

Watch “Penance”:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/Revenge/7878683525689254112/2303193850/Penance/embed 580 476]

Emanda tells Aiden (Barry Sloane)  he has 24 hours to get Daniel (Josh Bowman)  installed as CEO of Grayson. She thinks the Initiative is sending an envoy to the Investors Meeting. Aiden tries to get handsy as he expresses sympathy for her mother leaving town. Daniel asks Cara about David’s investments. She professes to know nothing.

Jack (Nick Wechsler) finds Amily’s (Margarita Leveiva) dream wedding list, which includes a Narcisco Rodriguez dress because as a child she was obsessed with JFK Junior and Carolyn Bessette’s wedding. Could that be some really dark foreshadowing to the watery grave we saw in the season premiere? While Daniel isn’t half the man that JFK Junior was, he sure drinks like a Kennedy. Mason phones to invite Amily to lunch, revealing he knows she and Emanda were cellmates. She lies to Jack that Mason wants to give her David’s journal. She tells Emanda that she is getting married and will not let Mason screw it up for her. Emanda warns her not to get violent and tells her to cancel lunch and get a restraining order. Mason drops by the Stowaway with the juvie photo. She tells Mason that “Emily” is obsessed with her and she will tell him more when they are in private.

Kenny and his brother Nate have a boring vendetta against the Porters and there’s something going on with the boats on the waterfront. ZZZZZ

Nolan (Gabriel Mann) finds Aiden waiting in his office He wants Nolan to give NolCorp to Grayson in order to save Emanda. Nolan lets out a truly hilarious grunt-groan. He gives Aiden the original check from David, then asks Aiden what his motivation for helping Emanda is. Aiden says he hurt her once and is trying to make up for it. Our hero Nolan vows to make him pay if he hurts her again. He’s quite convincing despite their differences in physical strength.

Nolan has the line of the night when the tells Emanda she might have mentioned, “this one time at revenge camp” when she met Aiden. She is aghast that he gave Aiden proof that Grayson owns his company. He said he would never do anything to hurt the only real family he ever had. Awww… Jack calls to ask for Mason’s number revealing that Amily is with him. She tells Nolan she is going to need him. The dynamic duo is back.

Mason shows Amily all his research. She says it’s good to finally tell someone about Emanda’s stalking. Mason: “Confession is good for the soul, and book sales.”  He brings up the murder of Frank Stevens. She is about to bash in Mason’s skull when Emanda arrives and orders her to leave. Emanda tells him he missed one thing. Amily is not Amanda Clarke. He realizes that Emanda is the real Amanda. I actually assumed he figured that out last week and was using the lesbian angle as a smoke screen to fool the women. She tells him she thought she could trust him when he wrote the book about David but he betrayed her. Nolan phones to warn that Cara did not get on her plane and has gone rogue. Emanda tells Nolan it is time to make amends. Mason calls Cara to inform her he has information about Gordon’s murder. Mason gives Cara Gordon’s pocket watch and tells her to go far away to honor his memory. Then he ignores Emanda’s plan and tells her that David is innocent.  She flees. Emanda phones Aiden to warn him that Cara is coming after the Graysons.

Helen of the Initiative shows up at the investor meeting. Aiden hands Daniel the NolCorp check. Conrad is peppered with questions about his upcoming imprisonment. Daniel tells the investors that Grayson has a multi-billion dollar stake in NolCorp and makes the pitch that he should be CEO. Cara gets  Victoria to lure Conrad into her bedroom room and pulls a gun on both of them. They tell her that Gordon killed David and send her to Victoria’s jewelry box for the photo that proves it. They tell her he was in the Initiative. She’s devastated, but still orders them to put on blindfolds so she can shoot them. I’m not sure why the blindfolds were necessary. Maybe they are on sale at Target. Aiden grabs Cara from behind and knocks her out before she can shoot. She comes to in Emanda’s car.  Aiden gives Cara back her pills and advises her to get help. Emanda asks her what she wants to tell “Amanda.” Cara says she wishes she could have been a better mother and leaves. So much for that storyline… for now.

Nolan rips his picture off of Mason’s wall. Cara sneaks back into the house.

Mason gets home to find the cops looking at his wall of red string. One finds the flight recorder, to Mason’s shock. Emanda has framed him for the plane crash. Emanda visits Mason in the jail interrogation room and offers him a deal: he confesses to all of David’s crimes. He isn’t interested. She points out that she is the only one who can exonerate him. She will free him when her vengeance is complete, and give him an exclusive on the book.

Victoria and Conrad conclude that the Ininitative spirited Cara away. He sincerely kisses her goodnight. Nearly being murdered has put the spice back in their marriage of convenience.

Emanda goes home and makes out with Aiden.

Now let’s talk the “Gift of Revenge.” The show is not the obvious choice for product placement. Yes, its characters are rich and glamorous, but they are also despicable. They are the one percent held up for the audience in a way that invites derision and feelings of moral superiority. Do you really want to be a Grayson? Neiman Marcus and Target think so. They sponsored Sunday’s Twitter-trending “Gift of Revenge,” a series of commercials featuring the characters on the show. The ads are pretty cheesy. Someone wearing a Zentai suit menacingly wraps gifts than creepily puts them in a car and drives. They are first delivered to  to Jack and Amily. Inside are a dress and a hat that you can buy at your local Target! The second commercial features Charlotte trying on dresses. Yes, we are focusing on the B-list cast. I am perturbed that Charlotte and I appear to own the same bathrobe. Commercial number three features Declan receiving what appears to be his old blazer from “Gossip Girl.” Everyone and some random models shows up at an empty warehouse at the appointed time. Inside there’s a party featuring a singer that I don’t recognize. Then Nolan takes the stage because he has thrown a surprise party for his friends, but not invited his BFF Emanda or annoying girlfriend Padma. So if you want to be Nolan and throw a party that excludes the people who mean the most to you, shop at Target or Neiman Marcus!

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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