TV Review: Revenge Episode 19 “Absolution” – A Beautifully Understated Episode

Written by Regina Berengolts May 08, 2012

This episode’s plot really boils down to a few key elements. Daniel is released from jail, Victoria sets the SEC on Conrad, and Emily finds a few more clues regarding the man who killed her father. Yet, despite all the momentum driving action, the strongest moments of the episode come from small scenes between two or three characters.

The prevailing theme of this episode is protecting family and loved ones to the detriment of others. As we’ve seen, the Graysons frame their actions as protecting their family. Victoria protected her son from prison by ensuring he was beaten almost to death. Conrad protected Daniel by killing Lee Moran. By the end of the episode, even knowing the atrocities that his family has committed, Daniel himself protects his family by publicly backing Grayson Global and keeping his family’s crimes a secret. All of these actions resulted in death and suffering over the years, not just limited to David Clarke.

As a nice parallel to the choices made by Daniel to protect his family, Nolan also protected his family by keeping one of David Clarke’s journals a secret from Emily. The journal contained information on people who were helping David, one of whom was Nolan’s aunt. The show makes it pretty clear that his aunt and David filled a parental void for Nolan and he would do anything to protect them and follow their wishes. Despite his altruistic motives, Nolan had to pay a price. After I noted last week’s pleasantness of having Nolan and Emily working together and trusting each other without hiding anything, I was almost heartbroken to find out that Nolan had a couple more secrets up his sleeve. Emily’s anger and hurt quite accurately portrayed how I was feeling. I don’t think Emily Van Camp gets enough credit in this role. She plays Emily very close to the chest as she never makes her thoughts, feelings, or actions explicit to the audience. Our only clues come in the form of minute facial expressions that I’ve only recently come to appreciate and admire.

Another example of these small moments occurs in my favourite scene of the episode. Emily goes to check on Charlotte and her drug abusing ways. Emily sees that Charlotte has begun her own investigation into their father. Together they talk about David Clarke and the audience can see how truly alike they are in their sadness, strength, and insight. Charlotte shows Emily a picture of David Clarke on the day he died and asks if he looks like a monster. Emily replies, “he looks scared.” With those three words, I could really hear and feel the sadness and pain that Emily must have experienced growing up without her father and constantly thinking about the suffering he experienced at the hands of the Graysons.

At this point, Charlotte is a complete wild card in terms of what change she can effect. She’s proven herself to be smart and perseverant by finding clues that even Emily hasn’t seen before. She already suspects that he can’t be the monster everyone claims he is. At this point, I’m just waiting for Charlotte to ask the big questions. She’s going to start putting the pieces together soon and I’m dying to know what she’s going to do about it. Daniel knows the truth and chose the path of his parents (to Emily’s displeasure). But Charlotte is a whole other ballgame. I can actually see her going down Emily’s path to perhaps try to clear his name but at the same time she does love Conrad, so I’m very excited to see what she’s going to do.

Helping many of the beautiful and understated moments in the episode is the gorgeous snowy backdrop. The softly falling snow along the white landscape emphasizes the coldness, sadness, and isolation that so many of the characters must be feeling.

Despite all of these beautiful elements, I do have one issue. Daniel’s decision at the end to side so firmly with his father despite knowing the truth is pretty out of character. So far, his actions and feelings about his family and the Grayson name were pretty clear and even Emily thought he would do the right thing. To be fair though, this was a rather stupid decision which perhaps isn’t so out of character at all. Either way, it looks like Emily no longer seems inclined to protect him and his lying ways. Good luck with that, Daniel.

My Rating: 9.0

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