Has Revenge Been Rejuvenated? Our Thoughts On the Season Premiere
‘Fear,’ Revenge’s season three premiere, opened last night with the juxtaposing images of a deceptively serene post-nuptial sunset cruise and a bullets-to-the-bustier assault upon Emily Thorne.
That’s just in the first forty-five seconds.
Okay, Revenge, you’ve got our attention! What’s next?
Let’s see … how about Jack blackmailing Emily, Conrad being diagnosed with a neurologically degenerative disease, and Nolan joining Hackers Anonymous? Need more to fuel your revengines? How about three alluring newcomers replacing three who have been given pink slips, and the resurrection of the only person alive (yes, Aiden’s alive!) with the knowledge and skill to undermine Emily’s revengenda once and for all?
Revenge took some critical heat for the complicated nature of its second season. Their mission in this, their junior year, is to prove that last season’s complexity gamble will pay off big in the personality, relationship, and motivation stakes for each of its key characters. Last night’s ‘Fear,’ executive produced by newly-named showrunner Sunil Nayar, foreshadowed an elegant and dynamic delivery of plot, character development, and intrigue while maintaining equal parts bite and bark.
Gone Are The Complicated Distractions
We pick up six months after the Grayson Global bombing. Carrion and The American Initiative are gone for good; Emily and Nolan make a pact to never mention them again. No love interests other than Daniel and Jack remain. The Grayson fortune is gone (?), but Conrad is Governor of New York. Charlotte has miscarried and grown up. Nolan has been cleared of all charges and released from the pokey. And, Victoria has been left alone at Grayson manner to recuperate from the stress of the Grayson Global bombing.
The Good Stuff Remains/Returns
The Revengenda. The red sharpie crossing off of a traitor. The symbolism behind the infinity sign. The simple yet deliciously conniving take-downs. The catty repartee between Emily and her nemesis, Queen Victoria. Conrad’s hilariously absurd delusions of grandeur. Daniel’s vulnerability in front of Emily and his disdain for the family business (PTL!). Emily’s engagement to Daniel, while appearing to pine for Jack (somewhat convincingly this time). Nolan’s loyalty to Emily and her plans. All of these remain in spades. Oh, and the to-die-for dresses. Those are still center stage. (Thank you, wardrobe people!)
But don’t be fooled. The winds of change are whipping up a frenzy in new ways as well, as can be seen in the following play by play of our key characters.
What’s new about Emily (Emily VanCamp) this season is that though she’s retained her vengeful edge, she’s displaying a vulnerable side to a degree we haven’t seen before – when she faces Jack upon his return, and later when she pleads with him as she justifies her actions. We learn in ‘Fear’ that she’s still engaged to Daniel, but avoiding setting a date. Why is that? Is she flinching? Despite her vengeful shenanigans, she has never taken a human life; this we know. Is it possible she doesn’t have the heart to take a human heart if it means crushing it—even if it is a Grayson heart? The infinity symbol made an appearance this episode in clever and unexpected way. Emily sets the wedding date for —> August 8th —> that’s 8/8 which, turned horizontal and overlapped, is a double infinity sign.
Nolan ‘Two Point No’ Ross
Nolan’s (Gabriel Mann) devotion to Emily’s revengenda, a mantle he now shares (almost) equally after the hell the Graysons put him through last season, remains firm. What has changed—and this is huge—is that he’s going old school. No more techy stuff, per the FBI’s order. Okay, really? I mean—really? How long will that last?! We’ll have to wait and see, Revengers. This week’s Nolan surprise was his drop-from-the-sky arrival at Emily’s party followed by a ‘Magic Mike’ removal of his jumpsuit (Ha! Awesome!), all a clever ruse with which to deliver Conrad’s poison to Emily. Now, that didn’t require any high-tech stuff, did it? This could be interesting. You know what would be really interesting? Some flashbacks of Nolan’s childhood or the early days of his business … or more about his interactions with David Clarke!
Conrad ‘Future Presidential Candidate’ Grayson
At Emily’s Memorial Day Party, Conrad (Henry Czerny) unveils his gubernatorial portrait, but collapses at the podium before delivering his speech. He’s then diagnosed with Huntington’s disease—not by Jesus Christ, but by an actor who played him on TV, Diogo Morgado (The Bible). Here on Revenge we’ll just call him Dr. Jorge Velez—or, Dr. MacDelectable, if you please! Conrad’s diagnosis is, of course, a ruse parlayed by Emily and Nolan who spiked Conrad’s water, and then faked his test results. As a result, Conrad’s Governorship is in jeopardy. Hey, wait a minute, did anyone else notice a funny look on Victoria’s face when she first spied Dr. MacDelectable at the Memorial Day party? What’s with that?!
Victoria ‘Can I get a Valium’ Grayson
OMG! The queen appears to have spent the last six months gallivanting around the countryside on a Valium pony alongside our first newcomer, her dashingly adorable long-lost son, Patrick Osbourne (Justin Hartley, Smallville). Now, Patrick doesn’t do much this episode other than fawn over Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) and walk around bare-chested in a towel in front of his half-sister, Charlotte—not that we’re complaining, mind you!
Emily has sworn repeatedly to take Victoria down, but Conrad framed David Clarke, and then had him murdered in prison. Is breaking a man’s heart a graver sin than taking his life? Also, surely we all noticed the brief, but authentic moment of shared … joy, was it? Yes, it was! Victoria exuded a moment of actual warmth for Emily after their joint booting of Ashley. Whoa—I think I need to lay down for a moment …
One can’t help but like Daniel (Joshua Bowman). Is anyone else disappointed that Bowman can’t display his fabulous British accent in this role? I digress. In ‘Truth: Part Two,’ both Daniel and Aiden survived the bloody tussle at Emily’s beach house despite the presence of a firearm. So, one must ask one’s self if Aiden spilled the jellybeans about Ems’ revengenda? What would Daniel do with that information? Maybe he has a his own revengenda, too! Keep your eyes trained on Daniel this season. #ThatIsAll
Aiden ‘Et Tu, Brute?’ Mathis
Still smarting from the realization that Emily once broke-up with Daniel for Jack, though she refuses to do it for him, Aiden (Barry Sloane) appears on Victoria’s balcony in the last thirty seconds of the episode and offers to help her take down the girl next door. Holy sh*t, Batman!
When the show opens, Jack (Nick Wechsler)has closed up the Stowaway, packed up Carl Jr., and headed for the hillbillies. Upon his return, Emily visits to apologize for lying. Jack then professes to understand. Then, despite a boatload of sexual tension, heavy breathing, and kissing that could peel the paint from the walls, Jack decides he’s just not that into her. Later, Jack threatens to hang her dirty laundry from the nearest flagpole if she doesn’t get ‘er done by the end of the summer, and disappear—permanently. Now, Jack has always convincingly carried a torch for Emily, but the chemistry, despite the intent of the plot and dialog (and the dead dog scene), has never felt authentically returned. However, the fireworks between Emily and Jack in this kissing scene was—OMG—toe-curling hot! So, what now?
Goodbye, Ashley Davenport!
Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) attempts to blackmail Emily—but doesn’t have the ‘ovaries’ because, well, she just never has—and therefore finds herself Daven-Deported by the team effort of none other than—gasp—Victoria and Emily—together! Get back! Is this the beginning of a potential sometime alliance by the two vixens? Regarding Ashley, this was a good move by the Revenge writers as there really was no where else for this character to go.
Patrick ‘Oliver Twist’ Osbourne
Victoria says she hasn’t seen her first born since he was six months old. Ouch—that had to hurt! Maybe this guy has a revengenda of his own? Vickie, get a maternity test, for crying out loud!
Another newcomer is Margaux (Karine Vanasse, Pan Am), a sultry Francophile publisher with daddy issues and a flirtatious history with Daniel. Note how different Margaux is from the other Hampton women. Instead of long tresses, a sassy short hair style; instead of pencil dresses that cling to every curve, chic understated shifts that leave what’s underneath to the imagination. Emily, beware! It may have been the Anglophiles who wrote ‘The Joy of Sex,’ but ‘The Art of Seduction’ was created by the French!
Has Revenge Been Revenjuvenated?
So. A rejuvenated Revenge. Do we buy it? Will we watch it? Yes. If you watched tonight, you will watch next Monday, October 6th, when Victoria makes a bold move with Patrick, Margaux goes after Daniel, and Emily might get religion! Check out our first look images of ‘Sin’ courtesy of ABC!
Revenge returns with ‘Sin’ on Sunday October 6th (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on ABC.