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TV Review: Revenge – “Scandal”

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With the plot now caught up to the flash forward shown in the “Pilot,” ABC’s Revenge begins treading into new territory with “Scandal.” Daniel (Joshua Bowman) is the prime suspect in Tyler’s (Ashton Holmes) murder, and the Graysons close ranks to defend him. Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) uses the chaos to grab the spotlight, becoming a press darling. Jack (Nick Wechsler) looks to be the most likely patsy to pin the killing on, since he is present on the beach that night. However, only Emily (Emily VanCamp) knows what really happened, and that Takeda (Hiroyuki Sanada) is responsible.

Revenge had quite a quandary, as the series sets Daniel up to die midway through the first season. As Daniel has become such a popular character, solving this dilemma became a priority, and solve it the writers did! Instead of getting rid of Daniel, Revenge has made him the center of a flashy murder trial, which gives his character even more to do. Brilliant move!

Revenge is a product of its time, and “Scandal” proves that on a number of levels. While many Americans seek a battle with the rich 1%, Revenge is the story of taking down those who can buy their way out of any situation. Daniel’s trial is a flashpoint for that sentiment, and even though fans like Daniel, and know he is innocent, it plays wonderfully into the theme. This theme, of course, is also evident in Emily’s larger story of ruining the people who destroyed her father (James Tupper). But the murder trial is an extra delicious layer that enhances this.

Ashley is also a character that speaks to people. In the age of Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, and others who become famous for seemingly nothing, she is a product of a generation that would like to be in that position. Ashley may have career goals, but that is superseded by the desire for fame and fortune. Sensing an opportunity, Ashley leaks photos of Daniel to the press, than steps up as spokesperson for the family, showing public grace in a crisis.

Nolan (Gabriel Mann) is the only one who figures out what Ashley is up to, and calls her on it. However, as seems to be typical of the characters in Revenge, it’s better to hold something over someone than to expose them outright. Thus, it looks as if Nolan will let Ashley get away with her stunt, for now. That is, until there is something that she can do for him in return for keeping her secret. Can’t wait to find out what favor Nolan will call in!

Jack and Declan (Connor Paolo) undergo a role reversal in “Scandal.” So far in the show, Jack has been Declan’s protector and caretaker. Jack is an older brother, not a father, so this role isn’t complete, but there’s an obvious bend to their relationship. Now, with Jack’s freedom in danger, Declan steps up to protect his brother. How might he go about this? Will Jack really be framed for a crime that he didn’t commit?

Emily is the center of Revenge, but the events of “Scandal” prove that she is not in control of everything. For instance, she would never frame Jack for anything, since she actually cares about him. She didn’t intend to get Daniel into such trouble, either. Yes, she uses him as a pawn, but many viewers like to think that Emily has shown signs of actual affection for Daniel, despite who his parents are. It’s hard to tell the extent of messiness this brings at this early juncture, but surely the whole trial thing has thrown Emily’s machinations into disarray.

Why has Emily strayed off of her path? The murder is something that she can’t control, but Tyler would never have been on the beach trying to expose her lies to Daniel had Emily not grown careless. She is very lucky that Takeda is there to finish off Tyler, and knock Daniel unconscious before he hears something that Emily doesn’t want Daniel to hear. Takeda has been Emily’s mentor, and now he acts as her savior.

Yet, Emily and Takeda’s relationship is far from stable or certain. Why is Takeda employing Nolan separately to keep an eye on Emily? Is this about protecting her, or does Takeda have ulterior motives? Why would he possibly care so much for Emily that he is willing to kill a man, as well as make Amanda (Margarita Levieva) disappear? Takeda has been a fringe character, and suddenly, he is being thrust to the forefront of the story in “Scandal.” This is a cool move, but at this time, Takeda is far more an enigma than a predictable player in the larger game.

Now that some secrets are exposed, Emily and Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) know that they are sisters. Well, Charlotte actually thinks Amanda is her sister, since Emily is the real Amanda. What implications might this have? Can Emily still bring down Charlotte’s parents, knowing that she will hurt an innocent relation? Not to mention, Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) is soiling Charlotte’s opinion of their father, and Emily can’t speak up about it without telling Charlotte the truth. How painful it must be to listen to Charlotte complain about the “lousy” man who gave her life! This is a juicy subplot that has to figure into the main story, but, like other elements, it’s not clear how it will yet.

Revenge has done a superb job setting up a complex story with an intertwining web of characters. Sixteen episodes in, as of “Scandal,” the series is just getting started. There isn’t even time left in the first season to tie up all the major arcs, and new ones keep getting added in! As long as the quality of the acting and writing, which has been excellent so far, stays consistent, Revenge has many happy years ahead of it.

Watch Revenge Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • D>R

    Great review!

  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com/ Jerome Wetzel

    Thank you very much!

  • http://jeromewetzel.com Jerome Wetzel

    Thank you so much! What a nice thing to say. :)