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November 27, 2012 - 9:47am

'Revenge' RECAP: Victoria Grayon's origin uncovered in multi-faceted flashback episode

BY PROMA KHOSLA AND KAYLA UPADHYAYA

ABC

Emily Thorne and her schemes are back for an all-new season of “Revenge.” Daily Arts Writer Proma Khosla and Senior Arts Editor Kayla Upadhyaya recap the flashback episode “Lineage.”

Kayla: So like last season’s 2002-set episode, this flashback episode begins in a club (sadly, there is no 50 Cent playing this time around). This flashback episode is much different from the last in terms of its function, however. A lot of people — myself included — were disappointed with last season’s “Legacy” because when it came down to it, nothing really happened. The challenge of a flashback episode is that everything that happens in it has already happened, so why should we care? The key is to use the flashback to somehow change or add to the dynamics in the present, and this episode does that and so much more. Most importantly, it acts as an origin story for our evil queen, Victoria.

Proma: I was thoroughly impressed with this episode, especially compared to “Legacy,” as you said. I wasn’t particularly thirsty for backstory on Aidan or Victoria, but what we got was intriguing insight into both characters. Of course, Victoria’s storyline trumps Aidan and Emily’s by a long shot, but the writing made those and Nolan’s story coexist neatly.

Kayla: Yes, we now have a much better understanding of Victoria and her layers. Evil takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to her mother, who prioritized rich husbands over her own daughter's well being — husbands who molested a young Victoria, with her mother ultimately blaming her for seducing them. It's a level of twisted we haven't really seen on this show, and it's executed seamlessly through flashbacks within the flashback — another technique that's hard to pull off. The reveal was shocking, and certainly the most revelatory glimpse we’ve had into Victoria’s psychology.

Proma: The casting was excellent as well. Both incarnations of Victoria’s mother were able to portray that maniacal coldness, and the young Victoria was impressive as we see her innocence, fear and the eventual understanding that she is alone in this fight. When Victoria refuses to let her mother stay at Grayson Manor for Thanksgiving, we see that same manic determination in her eyes.

Kayla: Yes, I was struck by how doe-eyed young Victoria was. She wasn’t born with her icy coldness — it’s something that was fostered by her tumultuous relationship with her mother.

Proma: We could have predicted that it was linked to some trauma in her past, but it's such an integral part of her that there was no need to question it.

Kayla: And the show seems to be suggesting that the Grayson family is stuck in a vicious cycle of manipulative behavior.

Proma: That’s interesting. While we were watching, my roommate said during a scene of Conrad and Victoria “aw, they love each other. Kind of.” We’ve said it before, but Conrad and Victoria, despite their turbulent relationship, realize that they are stuck with each other. They’ve shared too much to live apart or with others — they’ve “seen many things that came to pass,” as Victoria said. They recognize that they may be condemned to suffering and making others suffer, and they accept that.

Kayla: I guess I was talking more about parental-child dynamics. Victoria and Conrad are both puppet masters when it comes to their children. But The Victoria-Conrad dynamic, too, is something worth talking about. They did look a little in love, but let's also not forget that the Lydia affair was alive and well at this time. There’s still a bit of an illusion to it all.

Proma: I’m surprised that the revelations about Victoria’s past have gotten buried away in all that happened in the past six years. You’d think Daniel at least would remember and empathize — then again, she hasn’t done much to earn his kindness in between.

Kayla: It’s nearly impossible to figure out what's going on in Daniel’s head — and it’s not a sign of complexity, but rather, confusing writing. He just doesn't seem as well drawn as most of the other Graysons. As for the other revelations in this episode, we also get the origin of Aidan and Emily's complex relationship ... and it’s even more complex than we thought. His own revenge scheme overlaps with hers. The death of his sister is linked to the plane crash. We also see the real story of how Emily first met Ashley, who was working as a prostitute for a Russian mobster. It’s unexpected, and a part of me believes there’s more to the story. Aidan suggested a few episodes back that her friendship with Emily might not be as inconsequential as she believes. But again, none of these revelations really can compare to all of the Victoria narrative we got this week.

Proma: I see Aidan’s backstory as some sort of twisted prequel to “Taken.” I realized how dumb and easy this connection is, but when he said he wanted the “skills” to save others from his sister’s fate, I saw a badass Neeson-esque future for him. I just hope he doesn’t betray Emily Another thing my roommate said was “she can’t have all this happiness.” Sure, she deserves it, but historically it’s never worked out. And even my love Nolan’s story pales in comparison to Victoria’s this week.

Kayla: The only significant thing we really get from Nolan in this flashback is that his CFO — and boyfriend at the time — Marco could end up being Nolan’s company’s undoing.

Proma: Nolan is literally the best person ever. He has been unflinchingly loyal to the Clarke family since day one compromising his own happiness and relationships for their sake. Putting someone else before your own shot at love … that’s tough.

Kayla: Marco knows that Nolan gave a very large sum of money to David Clarke’s daughter, and if Daniel finds that out, he’ll likely start asking “Amanda Clarke” questions about why she and Jack are having so many money problems and start putting the pieces together. Nothing Ms. Thorne can’t wiggle her way out of though, I’m sure.

Proma: I’m glad some light was finally shed on Jack and Declan’s creepy benefactor. We forget with all Emily’s scheming that anyone can seek revenge on this show.

Proma: Exactly. And this week’s elaborate scheme belongs to Victoria, who pulls it off so effortlessly that it’s nearly impossible to see it coming.