‘Revenge’ Recap: Fire, Flashbacks And Fake Charity

'Revenge' Mourns Amanda
Death pushes a few to their limits.
After Amanda’s foster brother Eli (Collins Pennie) showed up at the very tail end of last week’s Revenge on ABC, I was hoping above all hope that the show wouldn’t drag out another reveal with him.

In all honesty, I was expecting it to be that he wasn’t who he claimed; he was just some kid looking to cash in on a dead girl and adopted the position as her childhood foster brother. Who’d be around to challenge that, right? Instead, the show delivered that Eli knew Emily (Emily VanCamp) was actually the real Amanda Clarke based on her infinity tattoo.

But that still doesn’t mean he is who he says, and with a show so heavily steeped in deception like this, it seems a bit shortsighted just to take him at face value! Even Emily herself pointed out they knew each other before they were even thirteen. She has no idea what he would truly look like now.

Note: Spoilers ahead if you have yet to see Sunday night’s “Illumination.”

Not much else went down on “Illumination” than what I have begun calling “the Eli problem,” so it was easy to stay too hung up on our my own crazy theories.

… Actually, wait, that’s not entirely true. Nothing much went on in present day, but “Illumination” played with a lot of flashbacks of Young Amanda and Young Eli in their foster home. It turns out Young Amanda had terribly thick, unrealistically dark hair and liked to play with matches. Normally, I wouldn’t point out a character’s appearance, but I kept waiting for her to set her own hair on fire and then watch her head explode as that cheap flashback wig was surely highly flammable.

She was an angry girl who incessantly carved infinity symbols into everything, too, to remind herself that her father lied to her. It was enough to etch itself into Eli’s brain, and even though years later he is a wanted criminal running “rare book” scams on rich people, he came back to see how things turned out for Amanda. Emily didn’t admit to him everything; she simply told him that she wanted to put her old life and her old name behind her, hence the switch, and she bribed him with a new life if he just started over elsewhere. She’s been distracted enough; she didn’t have the patience for this gnat buzzing around her ear.

Unfortunately for Emily, my instincts about Eli proved to be better than most people’s on this show. He took Emily’s “get out of here” money and donated $100,000 to the new Amanda foundation — to make him co-chair. He entangled himself more permanently not only in Emily’s life by doing this, but also the Graysons. Anyone want to place odds on just when he’ll become a casualty, too?

Meanwhile, Jack (Nick Wechsler) set up a life insurance fund for poor Baby Carl just in case he happens to become orphaned as his daddy dives into the dark side, Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) was setting up a fund to help children like Amanda, in Amanda’s name. Yes, Jack, “like a charity” — only “like” one because it’s secretly an account for the Graysons to squirrel away some funds in case their accounts get frozen. Declan (Connor Paolo) was hung up on why Nolan (Gabriel Mann) had told him Jack and Amanda checked into their honeymoon hotel all fine and happy. Clearly, Declan wanted to ride his big bro’s coattails down Revenger lane, but Jack wasn’t having it. Thankfully. Because, neither would I.

The dark side I spoke of above for Jack was spurred by the fact that his own investigation into his ocean rescue led to Nolan paying someone off and saving his life. Well, to be fair, he is told a “sandy haired” rich guy did it, and Jack immediately thought of Nolan, even without the guy being called “impeccably dressed.” The secrets around what went down on the ocean really started to get to Jack, and he ended up giving a rambling, emotional speech at the (yet another) gala for his wife’s new cause. Nolan managed to cover his ass by claiming it was actually the remaining Ryan who saved Jack. With Teen Wolf up and shooting, J.R. Bourne isn’t available to set the record straight on Revenge. Still, all of this manipulation will only tear Jack further apart, of this I have no doubt! But, Bipolar Jack is at least Interesting Jack.

Poor Daniel (Josh Bowman) was drowning his despair in drink. When this show started, they implied he was an addict. He had certainly been a party boy with at least one stint in rehab. It’s such a shame no one around him now cares enough to keep an eye on him. I would at least think Victoria would want to keep him sober, so he doesn’t accidentally spill the truth about Helen Crowley to God knows whom! He confided in Emily about the Initiative and dropped hints that he might have to sacrifice someone else to save himself. If he were smarter or as “in the know” as he thinks he is, he would have only been testing her, planning to set her up. But he’s Daniel, so all he got out of it was Emily telling him she cares about him — which is one of the only thinks he probably really wanted to hear anyway.

Buzz Moments

OMG!: All this talk from Emily and Eli about “Invisible Children” and — they know that’s already a real charity, right? Come on guys, research; get on that. The internet doesn’t make it hard.

Thank you, TV gods.: I love Nolan a lot, but I have to say I smiled really hard at seeing him get tripped up during one of his usual hacks. He’s good, but he’s been so head and shoulders above everyone else that it’s just nice to see 1.) he’s human, and 2.) he’s about to have an adversary — and a real story of his own.

Awk-ward: Amanda and Eli had a pact to not leave each other when they were in foster care. But all these years later, at the Graysons’ gala, they took passive aggressive shots at each other, all while he was pocketing her hush money.

Hotness: Jack trying to get to the bottom of things and take his life in his own hands (even if he’s not quite succeeding. Yet.) is a welcome change for the character. There is nothing attractive about a doormat. He is finally no longer one.

Fab-u-lous: Aiden’s special sanctuary for/with Emily is a place in which I want to spend more time.

Can. Not. Wait.: Is it possible this “Falcon” is someone we’ve actually already met!?

Celebuzz Meter (1-10): 6 — While I give the show major credit for not dragging out Eli and Emily’s interactions, there was a lot of repetition as the episode told multiple characters things that the audience only needed to hear once. It felt like filler when these conversations could have happened off-screen in order to actually move the story forward. Jack has been dancing around directing his anger over his wife’s death (for example) for two episodes now. There needs to be less talking and more action!

What did you think of “Illumination”? Let us know in the comments below!

Danielle Turchiano

Watch again below: Amanda’s funeral

Celebuzz Single Player No Autoplay (CORE)
No changes are to be made to this player

Tags: ABC, Revenge, TV Recap