“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
The second installment of Enlightened continues Amy and Tyler on their journey to uncover the ugly truths of the system they have both unfortunately been victimized by. Only this time Amy realizes that her holy crusade will have some casualties along the way. Last week’s premiere did an amazing job at establishing this season’s story and this episode continues to reveal exactly what Amy and Tyler are getting themselves into. Sometimes one has to do a few awful things in order to do a single monumental good and that’s where “Revenge Play” shines. Amy--our hero, the fighter for the fallen, the one to slay the poisonous dragon that has been pillaging the kingdom and the one who is leading this crusade to win one for the little guys? She might be the little guys’ worst enemy as this entire story plays out…
Still on the high of finding out that Abaddonn Industries’ execs have been paying off federal officials from her new partner in this crusade, Jeff, our flawed protagonist, Amy continues to push Tyler in order to get back into the company’s system so they can find even more incriminating details that might help in Jeff's exposé. Tyler is still nervous about taking a big part in this take down and figures that Amy must still be hung up on what Abaddonn and the creeps who run the place have done to her. It has essentially ruined Amy’s life. After being one of the big wigs in the company for more than a decade, Amy had gotten caught up in corruption and the poisonous environment, which led to her downfall. And then she tries to make her big return just to be stuck in the basement. It makes sense that Amy would be as bitter as cold coffee after all of that and no matter how much she might dismiss that accusation, it is true. Amy can be extremely self-interested, as we saw in last week‘s episode. She focuses so much on the greater good that she forgets those around her, which is a dangerous trait for a leader to possess as they venture out on a crusade of the magnitude Jeff insists it is. Personally, I know I would be rather pissed if I were in Amy’s shoes.
But Amy isn’t one to let it be publicized that she’s doing something for what most would look at to be a negative reason, so she’s going to continue reverting her bad energy as though it isn’t there. Amy might feel as though she’s wholly fighting the good fight to "win one for the little guy", but it is very evident that she’s holding onto quite a bit of anger, which is also dangerous for a passionate leader like herself to hold onto. Exposé expert journalist, Jeff lights even more fire under Amy’s flame when he meets Amy and Tyler at a jazz bar and informs her that Abaddonn was once under Congressional investigation for dumping toxic waste in the Santa Ana River and then the case was dumped for some inexplicable reason. Jeff thinks CEO of Abaddonn, Charles Szidon (James Rebhorn), has something to do with it and wants Amy and Tyler to figure out exactly what happened. Of course, this gives Amy even more zeal to get the job done!
Later that night, Amy enjoys a victorious dream sequence in which she recasts those from the jazz bar as her allies who help her successfully execute the take down of the corporate poison that is Abaddonn. The glorious visual is heightened with an ominous chanting music score that eggs on Amy and her team. The big wigs at Abaddonn can only scream as they are exposed and rightfully punished. It’s all the validation and inspiration Amy needs to confirm that she is in this mission until the end. However, this dream sequence also does well to highlight those feelings of anger and vengeance that Amy has been harboring for quite some time, even towards someone who is not directly responsible for her current misery: Krista.
Seeing as how Krista was given Amy’s former job position in such a short time while Amy was in rehab, there are bound to be some unsaid hurt feelings that have been growing. Amy may not realize that she is blaming more than just the bosses in charge. Amy wants revenge on those that sat, considerably complacent and let the corporate parasite they work for humiliate her and then silence her by stuffing her in the basement. Repressing the anger by forcing fake smiles and having small conversation with her former assistant, Krista is only conflicting Amy even more than she realizes. Amy decides she isn’t going to play nice anymore. She tried that in Season 1, and it didn't pan out too well. The time for peace is over and Amy will do whatever she has to do in order to achieve the victory she has so meticulously imagined in her head. The only thing is that Amy is sort of living outside of reality, which is where she occasionally slips up, besides her frequent self-importance and vanity. All of that bad energy Amy hasn’t dealt with is being directed in every way and there is only so much a smile can do to contain the fiery vengeance eating at her. A vengeance that may have indirectly and unintentionally hurt Krista. Amy’s speech to Tyler about utilizing vengeance as a tool to help achieve something good gives Tyler a new sense of direction--a direction one that Amy does not foresee the consequences of.
Cogentiva co-worker, Omar gets tangled in the drama when he picks up on the how excessively secretive Amy and Tyler are being around the office, staying in the office late hours and having secret meetings behind closed doors. Omar’s suspicions do not only worry Amy and Tyler, but this also means that others might be zeroing in on what the partners in crime are up to. It doesn’t help that Omar totally insults Tyler during his curious interrogation, as it comes back to bite him ten fold when Abaddonn techies hunt down who is responsible for a log-in error/security breach that is ultimately Amy’s fault for not logging out of an Abaddonn exec's e-mail. Our protagonist is too worried about her already flattened friendship with Krista that she doesn’t realize Abaddonn Industries is beginning to sniff out what she and Tyler are doing. Tyler may have diverted the issue by vengefully framing co-worker, Omar, but he has also caused another problem in doing so. Omar swears to put in a lawsuit against Abaddonn and boss of Cogentiva, Dougie, is quite adamant in finding out who framed Omar. Amy is the one who promoted using vengeance as a weapon to do the “right thing.” However, as we see, the “right thing” can in many ways be a completely wrong thing for others. Krista and Omar are the just the first casualties in this crusade to overthrow Abaddonn, and there are bound to be many more.
When the reality of this reaches Amy, it’s too late to go back. She can’t even take into account that Omar and the rest of the Cogentiva workers are going to be fired soon anyway. It’s that shocking to her. Reality ruins all the fun. But Amy only has herself to blame. She’s the one who brought Tyler into this conspiracy and introduced him to the power of vengeance. Tyler has had his first taste of revenge, and he likes it. He is literally beaming as he informs Amy of his dastardly deed, which gets a co-worker wrongfully terminated. Is this the beginning of something awakening in Tyler? Clearly Amy has tunnel vision and can only see the end of her journey, being a glorious victory. But just like in every epic war, there are causalities, and sometimes those casualties are incidental and undeserving. Even more so, this episode serves as a warning to Amy, as she begins to walk into the battlefield and fight dirty. Maybe it’s better for Amy to realize her angry feelings and deal with them, maybe even embrace them to help her take down the poisonous beast that humiliated her and nearly ruined her life.
As Amy sits and prays for Krista with co-worker, Connie, she wonders if her good intentions will only lead her and everyone she knows down a world of hurt. How can one call themselves a social justice crusader and leader--someone who intends to do good, if on the way they cause bad things to happen to those she is sworn to protect? Staring at Omar’s empty desk, Amy is left to deal with the fallout of her crusade, still in its beginning stages, but already bringing down the little guys. Being the overzealous whistle-blower is not all good intended fun and games. It’s troubling work! At the end of the day, Amy is still doing the big job we're all scared to do for obvious reasons. But at what costs?
Enlightened continues with very good intentions and its certainly paying off! Excellent in switching between hero and anti-hero, the series details these flawed, complex characters attempting to do the impossible and shine light on the injustices that are very real and reflect our world. Mike White and Laura Dern have crafted an important, ominous and even humorous underdog story that is one of the best shows on television that everyone should be watching, but unfortunately isn’t. “Revenge Play” gets 5 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013