Recap: ‘Revenge’ returns with familiar faces, familiar places
Once upon a time in a land known as 2003, a soapy drama premiered on network television to rave reviews and very high ratings. That show was ‘The OC.’
But if you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance you know a thing or two about television, and therefore, you know how that sad story ends. After four seasons the show was axed due to falling ratings and a growing sense of ennui from one-time loyal viewers.
So it was with trepidation that I approached the second season of ABC’s hit drama ‘Revenge.’ Just as its Fox predecessor had done, ‘Revenge’ was an overnight success, attracting millions of viewers who eagerly tuned in week after week to find out who would end up on the chopping block of Emily Thorne.
I truthfully believe that series creator Mike Kelley never saw it coming. It’s very hard to predict which shows will prosper and which will falter (remember ‘Lone Star?’), but if anyone had told me last year at this time that ‘Revenge’ would be a breakaway hit, I’d have probably laughed awkwardly and quickly dismissed myself from the conversation.
On paper the show shouldn’t work. I mean, how interesting could this show be? How long before Emily runs out of enemies to take down? And how long until we’re bored by her taste for revenge? I mean, after awhile, wouldn’t it get old – the same setup every single time? Worming her way into some fancy party while planning an elaborate take down of some well-to-do person who had some vague connection to the Graysons? And how can you keep the central mystery (last season it was who died on that beach during Emily and Daniel’s engagement party, this year it’s whose corpse is in Jack’s boat) engaging and exciting?
All of these questions were asked by people the world over, and the answer simply came to be: awhile. Sometimes you strike gold right out of the gate, as was the case with both ‘The OC’ and ‘Revenge,’ but once that happens, the question changes from, “Will this show make it?” to “How long can we keep this going?”
For ‘The OC’ it lasted roughly the first two seasons. By the time the third season rolled around the luck had run out. Viewers were tired with the over the top drama, with the constant woe-is-me attitude of Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton), and people were showing signs of 1 percent fatigue. There’s only so much you can expect your viewers to sit through before they say enough is enough.
But if last night’s second season premiere, titled “Destiny,” is any indication, ‘Revenge’ doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, and viewers don’t seem to be showing any signs of fatigue.
The show picked up a couple of months after last season’s finale. Charlotte is 60 days clean and sober, Victoria’s funeral has come and gone, Nolan has taken up boxing in order to prepare himself for any future encounters with the White Haired Man, Emily has resumed her revenge training with a new and improved Takeda (the original actor, Hiroyuki Sanada, is filming ‘Wolverine’ and the role was recast with Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa of ‘Johnny Tsunami’ and ‘Mortal Kombat’ – and yes, those are his two credits that I’ve chosen to highlight and I’m sticking with them) and Daniel has hooked up with the scheming Ashley.
And let’s not forget about Fauxmanda and Jack, who seem to be having a rather rocky rekindling of their romance, with Jack spending most nights on The Amanda sans his purported baby mama. And more importantly, he appears to still be dwelling over that kiss he and Emily shared – you know the one, the Kiss Seen ‘Round the Hamptons, the one that ended Emily and Daniel’s engagement.
And speaking of Daniel, he’s extra mopey this season, as he’s wracked with guilt over his mother’s apparent demise. And if his late night porch sessions are any indication, the dude still has a thing for his one time fiancée. And you know what? I still ship it!
Sadly, that doesn’t even begin to cover everything that happened in the season premiere.
In addition to all of the above, we also found out that Conrad Grayson is even slimier than originally thought, as he’s paid off Charlotte’s rehab counselor to falsify her blood test results so he can attempt to receive her half of the inheritance now that Victoria has supposedly passed on.
And speaking of the evil queen, there’s no way that Mike Kelley actually expected us to believe he’d killed off one of his biggest known players, right?
Apparently Madeleine Stowe’s name was even removed from the opening titles as if that would matter. Come on, Kelley, have a little faith in your viewers. If you really wanted us to believe that she wasn’t returning to the show, you probably shouldn’t have included her in the season two promotional images.
All that said, I do, however, think that Kelley’s method of reintroducing the Grayson matriarch was genius. Not only is Victoria alive, but Charlotte knew about it (and just before she was carted back to rehab, she whispered as much in Emily’s ear), and the US government has her locked in a safe house until they can build a case against Conrad.
Now, I have to admit, that one, I did not see coming. I thought for certain that Victoria would show up with all the bells and whistles, as laying low is not even remotely her style, but I like where this story is headed. The opportunities, including the possibility of at least a civil alliance with Emily, are endless and I’m excited to see how Victoria, The White Haired Man and Emily interact in coming episodes.
Oh yeah, and we’re also introduced to Emily’s once-thought-dead mother, played by the always wonderful Jennifer Jason Leigh. It’s now obvious that Victoria probably had something to do with Emily’s mother’s disappearance, and I cannot wait to see more of Jennifer as the season progresses.
And if you thought for one second that there was even the remote possibility that I wouldn’t mention Nolan and his toned down, but still totally fabulous, wardrobe, then you don’t know me at all.
My favorite character, who’s selling his beautiful glass house by the sea, is now homeless at the Hamptons and is crashing with a reluctant Emily. I wish she’d stop pretending that he’s not her bestie and just own it. I know several people who’d kill to have Nolan as their best friend/partner in revenge, and that number includes me. But perhaps the best part of Nolan crashing at Emily’s house? We get to see his pajamas. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, those are crabs.
What did you think of the season premiere? Were you even a little bit surprised at Victoria’s return, or were you, just like me, just biding time until she popped up to wreak havoc on the lives of everyone around her? And are you as excited about Nolan and Emily being roommates as I am?Note: Photos courtesy of ABC.