Revenge Recap: Back From The Dead

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“For those who believe in resurrection,” Amanda tells us, “death is inconsequential.” I don’t believe in resurrection, but I do believe in great television, so I get the concept. There will always be fake-outs and flashbacks: on Revenge, characters die only so they can delight us even more when they pop up again. Maybe I’m saying this because Victoria is back and better than ever. Maybe I’m saying it because I’m not ready to bid adieu to the White-Haired Man. The point is, Revenge knows how to satisfy its audience, and everyone loves a comeback.

Emily’s mommy issues are still front and center: the episode begins with a wacky dream sequence in which Little Emily and her mother go for a drive. Aside from this brief foray into Emily’s subconscious, we’ve still only seen Mom in nuthouse flashbacks: here’s hoping the present-day version shows up soon so Jennifer Jason Leigh can go Single White Female on Victoria’s ass. As fun as it is to watch Emily and Victoria lock horns, we could use another female adversary: at the moment, Amanda’s too preggers to be much of a threat.

But there’s plenty of Emily and Victoria action in “Resurrection,” which has the two women manipulate Charlotte back and forth over the course of the hour. After all, the best thing you can do for a recovering drug addict is jerk her around endlessly. We learn that Victoria is using the White-Haired Man to make a getaway with Charlotte, but she needs to pay him off with Charlotte’s inheritance. And Amanda is determined to throw a wrench in those plans, because Charlotte is her sister. Perhaps more to the point, it’s always a thrill to see Victoria’s angry face.

Also pulling Charlotte’s puppet strings: Conrad, who needs to get his hands on his daughter’s inheritance even if it means having her declared mentally incompetent. In this economy, you can’t afford not to be a sociopath. There’s a lot of one step forward, two steps back for Charlotte in this episode – she gets sprung from the sober living house but she loses her entire inheritance; she finds out her fake half-sister is having a baby but Victoria tells her to get lost. That poor girl spends “Resurrection” as a virtual pinball. Be careful, or you’ll send her right to a life of pills and booze. Again.

Charlotte may have spent Season 1 as filler, but she’s become Revenge’s most sympathetic character. OK, the only sympathetic character. More than anyone else, she’s a victim, which probably explains why she’s always either making a stank face or holding back tears. Outside of being mean to Declan, Charlotte’s never been anything but a pawn in the grown-ups’ plans. And who cares if she’s mean to Declan? He’s as useless as Season 1 Charlotte.

Of course, there’s always gentle, kind-hearted Jack, whose only real fault is having questionable taste in women. We did see his human side – namely the fact that he totally wants to ditch his babymama. That’ll be harder to do after the paternity test: congratulations, Jack, you are the father. Emily tells Amanda she faked the results, even though the baby really is Jack’s. When she’s not trying to take down the Grayson family, Emily’s interests include sowing the seeds of doubts in other people’s relationships. Also, crochet.

The “who’s the father” storyline brings back the show’s soapy side. See also: amazing lines like “Victoria took my mother away from me; it’s time I took her daughter away from her” and “You stole my husband, you whore.” But the episode’s best exchange goes to the happily reunited Victoria and Conrad. Upon seeing his previously dead ex again, Conrad snarks, “Even the devil himself didn’t want you.” To which Victoria responds, “The only devil here is you.” Look, it’s not actually the best comeback, but the woman has been fake dead for two months – she’s rusty.

With Conrad in the know, the secret life of the American Victoria is over. But in order to make her big reappearance, she has to get rid of the White-Haired Man. That means forcing Conrad to beat the crap out of her so she can frame her former conspirator for kidnapping. The new story is that Victoria was being held for ransom by the White-Haired Man, which everyone seems remarkably OK with. Even Daniel, despite being somewhat unnerved, just seems kind of angry that his dad let him think his mother was dead. The only one who’s really pissed is Emily, because Victoria outing herself as a member of the living totally screws up her plan to steal Charlotte.

As nice as it is to have Victoria back in the open again – she can scheme a lot better when she’s allowed to be seen publicly – it’s sort of disappointing that she didn’t get to carry on her fake death longer. At the very least, pretending to be a ghost and scaring the crap out of individual family members would have been a hilarious prank. But with Victoria back in the picture, Conrad is a lot less in control, and people who aren’t in control do awesomely stupid things. What’s next for the Graysons? And I’m not just talking about the inevitable “I’m Not Dead After All” mixer.

With everything else going on, it’s easy to overlook a couple of the other storylines “Resurrection” introduces. First, we have Nolan being forced to hire a CFO for his company: enter the charismatic Padma, who’s probably a love interest, but is obviously just a rebound for Nolan because she’s not Tyler. Then there’s Declan getting asked to hold on to some jewelry for an ill-intentioned rich kid: this has bad news written all over it, but unless it ends in Declan’s death, it hardly seems worth paying attention. (On second thought, maybe there’s a reason these storylines got overlooked.)

The episode ends with Amanda contacting the White-Haired Man for a trade: she’s got footage that will exonerate him, but she’ll only turn it over if he spills about her mom. And so, we get another flashback, in which we learn … well, not much. Victoria and the White-Haired Man sprung Mom from the loony bin with the intention of killing her. But rather than tell Amanda anything else, the White-Haired Man takes a knife to her – only to get shot by Aidan in the nick of time.

Ah, yes, Aidan, the mysterious man from Amanda’s past. Because if there’s one thing Revenge needs, it’s more handsome dudes. And so, once again, we’re left with questions: is the White-Haired Man really dead? What’s Aidan’s endgame? And when will Victoria find the time to catch up on her DVR?