Oh, Revenge, that's more like it. If season two has been missing something, it's the balls-to-the-wall, flat-out craziness that so endeared us to the first run of episodes. But my goodness - this week's instalment featured a fatal sword fight, a shock pregnancy announcement, ridiculous amounts of scheming, catty comments and the best television blackout since Friends.
I could tell this would be a good episode almost immediately, given that Emily has now accepted Daniel's engagement - and suggested that they move to Paris. While I'm not sure what her endgame is here - how is a French home for the pair going to bring down the Graysons? - what it does do is pit her deliciously against Victoria, for plenty of snide remarks and passive aggression.
But every action has a reaction - or, in Emily's case, a series of reactions she has absolutely no control over. Unable to pursue his relationship with Emily, Aiden's already at something of a loose end, so when Daniel discovers via Takeda that he's actually the son of the Flight 197 baggage handler and fires him, he makes the questionable decision to go rogue. Convinced that revenge won't satisfy Emily, he decides instead to drain the Amanda Clarke Foundation's bank account and, well, flee.
With Nolan concerned about Emily's well-being, he's easily recruited and figures out the easiest riddle ever from Falcon to hack into the account (seriously - as soon as she gave him the riddle I knew it would relate to the Street Fighter game because that is all we know about her). Luckily for Daniel he's already withdrawn his money from the account - ever so coincidental and handy - but when Emily discovers what the pair are up to she's horrified. Still, she's unable to stop it, and the account is drained with one touch of the enter key from Aiden.
This would be enough drama, I suppose, but Revenge wasn't doing anything by halves this week, so before we even got to this point Aiden had confronted Takeda about his motives; he's keen to be set free to pursue a life of love with Emily, but Takeda wants her to focus on her revenge. It all results in a rather magnificent sword fight - seriously, a sword fight - and just when it looks like Aiden's done for, he of course switches it around to do a bit of sensei-slaying. I could only watch this with my mouth open at the sheer audacity of introducing a sword fight slap bang in the middle of a Hamptons soap, but Revenge makes it work by having absolutely no sense of irony.
There are plenty of other things going on in the episode, of course - Victoria's still supposedly searching for her long-lost son, though Falcon reveals that she previously paid him $5m to disappear. As Emily points out, he's either grateful or pissed about that, and God I hope it's the latter.
Elsewhere, I'm not entirely bothered about Conrad's gubernatorial campaign by this point, though Jack's still doggedly trying to avenge Amanda and so - on the advice of Ashley - he visits Victoria to show her the damning image of him and the incumbent's wife having a secret meeting. So of course Victoria goes to find out what's really happening, only to discover that Mrs Stoddart is leaking campaign information to Conrad because her husband has a degenerative heart condition and she's worried that if he wins he'll end up popping his clogs.
This is all so utterly ridiculous that I love it, and though it seems as if Victoria's eyes might be brimming with emotion, really I think they're close to overflowing with evil juice. Because while she might be the image of sympathy and concern, you can practically see the glimmer when Alison Stoddart warns her not to let Conrad keep the job for two terms in case it kills him. She duly leaks the recording of her conversation with Stoddart to the media, thereby priming voters' minds with the news that Governor Stoddard isn't fit for the job and practically handing Conrad the election and - she must be hoping - an early grave. This is the kind of scheming Victoria excels at, and it's lip-smacking fun to see it back.
But Victoria also can't resist a chance to meddle, and unhappy about Emily's reunion with Daniel, she lets slip to Jack that the reason Emily and Daniel really broke up was because of the kiss Mr Porter shared with Miss Thorne. This is thrilling, if only because I've missed the romance between Emily and Jack, and I'm a little bored of his anger towards her; their confrontation on the porch sizzled with anticipation, as it became clear that Jack might hate her but he also loves her. Given that next week's finale is titled 'Truth', and given that Jack is tired of hearing Emily promise that she'll explain everything some day, I can only cross my fingers and hope for some serious revelations before the season is out.
Still, that would be ignoring the fact that we've had some serious revelations already, like oh, I don't know, the fact that Charlotte is pregnant. PREGNANT. There's nothing like a shock pregnancy to get everyone grinning, and given that I basically wrote a series of swear words in my notes at this point, it's fair to say I enjoyed the surprise. The rest of her storyline was a little nothing - Regina and Declan battle for her affections - but it was worth the payoff. And hey, now that Regina and Declan are stuck in an ATM vestibule together, maybe they'll learn to get along.
Oh wait, did I not mention that? As if enough drama hadn't been packed into a superbly enjoyable episode, the climax came as the power across New York City began to shut down. We'd had a little refresher about Carrion as Nolan met Falcon earlier, though with her safely ensconced in jail and with the sole power to activate the destructive code, everyone thought they'd be safe. Oh well, that's not the case. Falcon's little smile in her cell as everything went dark was brilliant, and watching the lights flick off is a thrill, too. "It's started," Emily whispers. Finally. Bring on the finale...
- Emily's private dinner with Daniel was cheesy as hell, but my goodness she looked amazing. She was rocking the sleeked back pony, right?
- Emily telling Victoria that she and Daniel are planning to live in Paris was great, if only for the insane string music that accompanied it. I mean, they might as well have used the Psycho theme.
- Also, Victoria's reaction to the engagement news: "How... repetitious."
- "We've both made mistakes. The difference is, I don't make them twice." "Except bastard children, I guess." Oh, BURN, Daniel. For once you are useful.
- To be fair, the Daniel-Aiden face-off was kind of incredible, right? Amazing! I especially loved the 'ignored handshake' and Daniel's smugface when Aiden was fired.
- "The sins of my father are not mine - you of all people should understand that." "WE HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON, MATHIS." Ooh, the more I think about it the better that scene gets.
- I loved the moment in which Emily sees Jack having a secret meeting with Victoria and has absolutely no idea what it is and no way to control it. Her freak-out is ace, as is her 'oh my God' face. Revenge is always at its best when Emily isn't entirely running the show.
- Emily took no prisoners with Victoria this week, whether it was her not-so-subtle reminder that Victoria went to art college in Paris or her ever-so-concerned discussion of how Victoria must feel sitting on David Clarke's porch swing. Nice.
- Mind you, Victoria held her own. That engagement party speech had so many layers that my head was spinning.
- Jack's played Victoria the tape of Conrad discussing Amanda, now - how will that play out?
- "I tried to tell you, Jack, but then Amanda was there and she was pregnant and suddenly you had this whole new life ahead of you." "Not any more." Oh God.
- "You could be my bodyguard - I could be your Whitney."