Thursday, October 27, 2011

Revenge: Duplicity & Guilt... and The Count of Monte Cristo (the book)

Duplicity: Episode 4

This would probably be one of my least favorite one out of the four for a simple reason despite being one of the more emotional episode. Still, it dealt far more in line with the title and theme of revenge. The first three episodes had more of where each individual’s personal choices brought their own downfall: Lydia for cheating with her best friend’s husband, Bill for his greed and insider trading, and Kingsley for having an affair and impregnating his mistress. Here, it was more deliberate where Emily truly wanted Dr. Michelle Banks (Amy Landecker) to pay for putting young Amanda Clarke locked up.

What this episode did even more was to illustrate how no one would be free of the choices they’ve made and the past always had a way of returning. Dr. Banks was in charge of
Emily took the recordings Dr. Banks made for her personal notes and let it all leak out to destroy her relationships and credibility. The part where Dr. Banks was held captive truly was a vengeful move for Emily to want those responsible for her suffering to feel exactly what she did. It was powerful and justified, but not in a “good job” way – at least not for me. It was important that this episode also confirmed how Emily had been setting things up one by one for the Graysons (especially Victoria) to take the fall and be destroyed much the way they did to David Clarke. It does reaffirm last episode’s revelation that Victoria truly loved David Clarke and what a horrible mistake she knew she made.

Frank, the loyal head of security for the Grayson’s makes more of an appearance. I do wonder how his role will play out. Nolan, although becoming more and more of an ally for Emily, continued to be much of an enigma as well in how his character will develop. If this had been any other show, I could probably predict the outcome of the love-triangles, the plots of revenge and the possible storyline. In this case though, I do wonder how grim the outcome would be if it followed through with its title.

The whole situation with Tyler had some sort of build-up, but I am currently not very interested. Let’s see how it develops.

“The greatest weapon anyone can use against us is our own mind, by preying on the doubts and uncertainty that already lurk there.
Are we true to ourselves, or do we live for the expectations of others?
And if we are open and honest, can we ever truly be loved? Can we find the courage to release our deepest secrets, or in the end are we all unknowable even to ourselves?”

Guilt: Episode 5
“In revenge, as in life, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In the end, the guilt always fall.”

Ok, last episode was not so bad compared to this one, not that this one was a complete loss. There were great parts in terms of Nolan. He has really solidified as a character in that his motives were clear. He wants to care of Amanda at the request of his mentor, David Clarke. Ergo although trying to help her take the revenge she wants, Nolan had been trying to steer her away towards Jack Porter. Even so, the side-kick wannabe, but slowly coming to the realization of how much would be at stake.

In truth, although Emily could be sympathetic, I am very glad they’re not playing that up in the series so far. Instead, she’s the hero you’re not quite sure if you want to root for, but the anti-hero with a truly sad past that made her seek the wrong path. Still…I’m not really invested in her per say, more interested in what she’ll do next. I will admit to be very invested in Victoria Grayson. Yes, Madeleine Stowe really was that great in the series. Absolutely brilliant. She really was the only character drawing me back to this episode, the only one with depth and a conscience. Victoria, Victoria… Actually, I should say Madeleine, Madeleine… *sigh*

After Lydia requested a large sum of money from Conrad for her silence, she returned to the Hamptons wanting her old life back. Of course, we already saw what happened to her at the beginning of the episode, which was rather annoying. If you’d asked me, I think having the timelines play out linearly would have been much more shocking and had more of an impact on what Nolan must now live with.

The development of Daniel-Emily/Amanda-Jack has now become annoying. As good of guys as Daniel and Jack were portrayed, this tension of future friendship/love rivals, or even symbolism for the Emily/Amanda conflict (should she continue the path of revenge or move on and return to a better life much like before the tragedy) does not resonate with at the moment. Maybe later on. Right now, it just seems like a pity how we already suspect more and more people will suffer because of the choices of a few, whether it be greed, or to save themselves. Most likely greed.
Also, in the line, I kind of saw Emily’s quest for revenge now seemed more like a punishment to herself for not believing in her father. That rather annoyed me as well. Oh well…we’ll see how it goes.

Jumping away from the tv series itself and contrasting with the book, so far, I’ve recognized a few partial incarnations:

Conrad as Mondego

Victoria as Mercedes Mondego

Bill Harmon as Baron Danglar

Kingsley as Gerard de Villefort

As the creator of the show said, this series was inspired by Monte Cristo and not an adaption. Ergo, from what I can tell, this would be more of what happened if Edmond Dante (David Clarke in this case) died while imprisoned and instead his child returned for vengeance. Also, it was hard to say that David Clarke was completely innocent as he was having an affair with a married woman…his business partner’s wife. Eh…

Also, I loved how the writers started driving in the point that revenge isn’t all sweet early on. Despite the vengeful part of me really enjoying people getting their comeuppance, the writers all very nicely point out that there will always be unexpected consequences. As the very Pilot episode begins with a great phrase from a rather annoying man, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig tow graves.” Confucius. What? I’m not a Confucius fan. I’d rather follow on one of the other school of thoughts that weren’t horribly destroyed back in the day, but oh well, it does not mean he doesn’t have some moments of keenness.

Oddly enough, given that the feel of this series was to be on the more realistic side, I do hope it follows through to the end. There really are consequences to every action, choice, and decision. Even inaction in the face of something can come back to wrought vengeance. At the same time, the book (although very satisfying in its 1000 pages) allowed redemption to play into the storyline, the villains always got what they deserved. The series so far has made a great contrasting difference in giving other motives behind our villains.

Despite some recent events in my life, this series brought a few ideas into the forefront as I had to deal with unsavory choices made by others. It made me wonder about vengeance and justice and how very often, justice really is blind. Those in power, with money and backing, or even just very manipulative self-serving individuals never have to pay for the crimes. The suffering caused by their decisions almost blind them to their own responsibilities. In these moments, vigilantes and acts of vigilance would seem almost justified and probably very very satisfying. At the same time, there are checks and balances for a reason. Unchecked acts of vengeance would cause more hurt and detriment to all parties involved.

Well, I kind of went on a tangent, but back to the book. Edmond Dante finally realized that his actions were causing innocent people to suffer. Even so, he justified away the guilt and continued his path to vengeance. It was not until his former ex-fiancé recognized him and begged for her child to be spared did he finally pull back. In the karmatic scheme of things, even though he was getting revenge on those whom wronged him, innocent people were still hurt and he was not held responsible because it was someone else that started it. It made this awesome genius seem irresponsible. In my opinion, he got off easy. As much as I enjoy this series, I do hope it follows in a more realistic manner like it has been hinting. :)

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