Tonight's Revenge took us back ten years, and in addition to showing us how Emily started down the path of vengeance, also filled in a few pieces of the puzzle. We also got to see the start of not one, but two affairs. Maybe I've been exposed to too much sci-fi, but this flashback felt more like an alternate universe. One where certain characters are still alive and everyone's hair is longer.
With the exception of the last few moments of "Legacy," which pulled us back to the present and reminded us that Emily is firmly at Daniel's side and pretending to be the devoted and loving fiancé, the entire episode took place in the past. Most of it was in 2002, however there were some flashback-in-flashback moments when we saw the first meeting of David Clarke and Victoria. Oh my, did the sparks fly between those two ten years before the 2002 New Years Eve party, back when David Clarke had only just recently purchased the beach house. He and Victoria even had a little bonding moment over their kids. If they only knew what the future held.
In 2002, Amanda Clarke was living it up, getting drunk at clubs and beating up on guys that pissed her off. At the start of the episode, Nolan tracked her down and reminded her about her father's journals. Given how apprehensive Nolan is about Emily's current revenge-scheming now, it's kind of amusing to see that he's the one that sort of pushed her into it in the first place, though he didn't mean to. It seemed like he was just trying to get her to see the situation and understand what happened to her father, though I'm not sure what he hoped to accomplish with that, if not to motivate her to get revenge. Maybe he thought she'd stop throwing her inheritance around? ($10,000 seems like a high price to pay for a cigarette in 2002.)
Emily eventually started to look at the journals, which led her to the Graysons and inevitably inspired her to crash their new years eve party so she could snoop around some more.
In 2002, things with Conrad and Victoria were strained but functioning. Conrad found Victoria flash-backing in David Clarke's old beach house, which they owned at that time, and decided to put the place up for sale. Who bought it? Lydia and her husband! And so begins the affair of Lydia and Conrad. That beach house is an affair haven. Or maybe Conrad just felt it fitting to start sleeping with his wife's closest friend, who's now the owner of the house that once belonged to his wife's old lover.
After receiving a creepy blood-spattered note that said "Shame," the Graysons tasked Frank (remember Frank?!) to investigate. He decided to use their New Years Eve Party as a way to snoop around and see if any of the guests, many of whom were involved in what happened to David Clarke, were acting suspicious. Also snooping around was Mason Treadwell, who was looking for material for another book. But it was Roger Halsted who put the target on his own back. It was probably there anyway, but he made it bigger by making a show of avoiding the Graysons' table and drinking too much at the party.
Since Emily found information in her father's journal that said Halsted was a true friend, she approached him for help. He was going to help her too, but Frank got to him first. At least, that's what I'm assuming happened. Following a conversation with Frank, the next time we saw Halsted he was dead and soaking in a blood-filled bathtub. Emily found him there when she went to the pool house to see what he had to tell her. And that seemed to trigger her decision to get revenge for what happened to her father.
In 2002, Jack had a girlfriend who was whining about being "stuck" in the Hamptons. As Jack put it, there are worse places. Jack's hair was longer, Declan was just a little kid, and Poppa Porter was (obviously) still alive and already going through financial difficulties. That's where Nolan came in. When Nolan learned that one of the houses he bought as part of a business venture was the Porter's, he offered to drop the deal, but Mr. Porter admitted that his ex was making some financial demands on him and he couldn't afford not to sell his house. During this, it also came out that Jack and Declan's mother doesn't really care about them. Jack's girlfriend (Kai?) was listening in on that conversation.
I'm not entirely sure what happened with Jack and his girlfriend. One minute she seemed unhappy but they seemed ok. The next minute, she's kissing Nolan at midnight after saying she and Jack don't see things the same way. This happened not long after she overheard the conversation between Nolan and Jack's father. The only thing I can think of is that she found out he was rich and decided to make a really obvious and public move. Jack witnessed the kiss and responded by punching Nolan. I'm going to assume that all of this is set up for something that'll come later because it felt really unresolved and sort of out of nowhere.
Over all, this was a very telling episode. It didn't come together as seamlessly as we've seen other episodes play out, but it was especially interesting to see the contrast of who Amanda Clarke was to who she became (Emily Thorne). Amanda Clarke showed barely a trace of the poise and cool demeanor we see in Emily Thorne in the present day. We know the same tough-girl is in there, but she seems to have transformed more than just her hair and her clothes in her attempts to ease her way into the Grayson's inner most circle.
Just a couple of episodes left!
For some spoilery pictures from the season finale, set to air in a couple of weeks, click here.