One of the new shows on ABC’s roster is the guilty pleasure Revenge. Based on the novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Revenge is a story of, you guessed it, revenge. The story unfolds as we follow Amanda Clarke (played by the convincing Emily VanCamp), as she tries to avenge her father’s death.
Amanda’s father, David Clarke, was framed for a crime he (allegedly) didn’t commit when she was very young. He ends up going to prison where he later dies, and Amanda is passed around from foster home to foster home until she lands a stint in juvie. When she’s released years later, she finds out her father has passed, and that she is now a billionaire because of a lucrative investment he made with a tech savvy Mark Zuckerberg type named Nolan. Nolan gives Amanda a box her dad left behind for her, revealing he was setup by people he considered friends, and provides what she calls a ‘roadmap’ to avenge his death. Amanda restarts her life as Emily Thorne and moves to the Hamptons where the so-called friends of her father live. She starts plotting, calculating, manipulating, and one-by-one starts to ruin their lives.
When I first came across this series, I didn’t pay much attention to it because it looked ridiculous and overly campy. However, after giving it a one episode chance, I was hooked. Revenge is a cross between Kill Bill and Dexter. There are a few things this show does really well that keeps it interesting. In the series opener, there is a quote from Confucius, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” The opening credits have a voiceover of Amanda telling us this is a story of revenge and nothing more, and so far the show has not disappointed.
This isn’t an after school special where Amanda’s character embarks on a journey of revenge, only to go down a journey of healing self-discovery (atleast, not yet. And for the sake of the show, hopefully never). She goes into this knowing there is a good chance it will destroy her, but she truly doesn’t care. She has sociopathic tendencies, showing no remorse and going full throttle so to speak. If you’re a fan of the serial-killer drama Dexter, you’ll appreciate rooting for the bad guy. Yes, even though she is avenging her father’s death, she is clearly flawed; we root for her even though she is a heartless machine who uses and discards people without batting an eye. There are some interesting loose ends that have serious plot potential. Amanda’s father didn’t plan for her to go after his ex-friends with a vengeance…, or did he? Is he really the bad guy and is she the one being setup? Is he even really dead? In TV land anything goes.
Hopefully the show will stay true to its tone, though I’m not convinced it will ‘go there’ on ABC. It has a definitive dark streak that I think would be better suited to Showtime or HBO, but time will tell if it stays true to the story. For now though, definitely worth the watch.