Revenge would make a fascinating case study in game theory.
With such shrewdly intelligent players in varying degrees of conflict and cooperation, the outcomes are always in flux. To every action there is an equal or opposite reaction ... or sometimes several.
This was one of those weeks on Revenge where it felt like not a lot happened until the final five minutes, when the pieces finally came together and gave the entire episode a different perspective.
"Resurrection" marked the second coming of Madeleine Stowe's Victoria Grayson, whose return to life is now complete thanks to a complicated plot only the calculating ice queen could pull off.
As usual, Emily Thorne was working her own shadow agenda, putting wheels in motion that influenced Victoria's actions, then nearly watched her plan spin out of control and get her killed.
The show always does a terrific job of crafting a multilayered narrative to keep you guessing the truth (or lack thereof) behind every statement or the hidden meaning behind almost every detail.
Let's break down tonight's developments and how they changed the game:
Emily gained the upper hand on the White-Haired Man (thanks to Clam Cam), and with it confirmation that her mother is alive. WHM was going to eliminate her as part of the David Clarke frame job, but he doesn't always follow orders. Before she could find out any more, Emily somehow let her guard down and had to be bailed out by Aiden.
You can understand why the producers want to keep her hands clean when it comes to full-blown murder, but it was a little disappointing to see her caught helplessly off-guard by the White Haired Mannibal Lecter.
WHM takes more than a few secrets to his grave, most notably why he didn't follow orders. That he and Emily's mom had a connection of some sort seems like a safe bet, but what did he do with her instead?
Takeda's mysterious pupil, seen briefly earlier in the Grayson Global boardroom, will presumably now assume a bigger role in the Revengenda, especially with relations between Emily and her fashionably-dressed, tech-savvy sidekick strained a little. NolCorp business, and a new CFO, may occupy more of its owner's attention.
Nolan was hilarious as always (and pants-less to boot, as an added bonus this week), but we finally saw a glimpse of him at work, and it wasn't all that pretty. His accountant-turned-CFO, Padma is clearly being set up as a possible love interest, and it'll be interesting to see where that goes, both personally and professionally.
NolCorp being audited proves that the eccentric Mr. Ross may want to pay a little more attention to his company (especially with the iPhone 5 release and all), and now that he and Emily both have new Hamptons interlopers taking on roles in their lives, we get a sense that the dynamic duo may be drifting apart for a time.
Emphasis on for a time. Romances come and go, people die and rise again, but Ems and Nolan are forever.
Victoria learned of Conrad's plot to commandeer Charlotte's inheritance, then schemed up an almost equally sinister plot to return to society. Her endgame is far from clear, but you can't underestimate her. Ever.
The Devil himself didn't want you, Conrad says. Please.
The Devil probably feared being outfoxed and cut her loose. Yet there's still something endearing about Victoria, maybe because she appears so unsure of her own actions, past and present, and is stuck in a loveless marriage to someone even more reprehensible than she is. You know he enjoyed hitting her way too much.
How will Emily respond to Victoria's "Resurrection"? Will Charlotte's growing bond with her influence matters? What is Emily's plan for the Graysons at this point exactly? Does even she know the answer to that?
The first flashback certainly hinted that Kara Clarke was not stable, and may have even kidnapped her own daughter. Yet the full story behind her institutionalization and Victoria's role in that has yet to unfold.
Emily needs Victoria to find out the truth about her mother, yet also wants payback times double infinity. What comes next between the two could raise the stakes - and lies, and duplicity - like never before.
All we have to say is thank goodness the b!tch is back.
Daniel was the only Grayson in the dark tonight, or so it appeared. He did the right thing for the right reasons in helping out Charlotte, even if he didn't know the half of what was going on behind the scenes.
It was also nice to see Daniel and Emily teaming up, albeit with different motives.
Ashley sneered a lot. Especially following Conrad's "family-only" remark.
Jack is the father! Only he's not ... only he totally is! You have to love Emily's maneuvering on this one. Is she hoping FauxManda will come clean and peace out, because she doesn't want to "lie" to Jack? Amazing.
Declan just wants to save money so he can go to college and doesn't have to live in Montauk for the rest of his life, man! Sucks to be him, until his rich classmate offers to ... pay him cash to harbor stolen property?
A little After-School-Special-ish, but we'll see where that goes.
Not the absolute best episode this week, but still plenty entertaining, with enough developments to keep you invested and setting the stage for what will most likely be even more riveting chapters to come.
Here's the promo for next week's all-new episode, "Confidence" ...
What did you think of tonight's Revenge? Comment below!