It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold. ABC’s Revenge proved the opposite by delivering a steamy hot guilty pleasure drama. Beginning with a murder on a beach, much of the season flashed back and built up to the dastardly deed. With twist after twist, viewers were kept guessing as to what they really saw, and as the series eventually caught up and moved past that point, things only got juicier.
The protagonist of Revenge is Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp, Brothers & Sisters), whose real name is Amanda Clarke. She has come to the Hamptons to get even with the people who ruined her father David’s (James Tupper, Grey’s Anatomy) life and reputation, leading to his death behind bars.
But, despite her plan and some help, her mission isn’t as easy as she might expect. The matriarch of Emily’s target family, Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe, The Last of the Mohicans), who was also David’s lover, is not a dumb woman, nor a push over. Emily has met her match in Victoria. The dynamic of these two leading ladies is really what sells Revenge, neither one ever gaining the upper hand for long, and always with a threat of total destruction hanging over them.
Emily’s path isn’t clear, not being the only one who plays dangerous games among the wealthy residents. The real Emily Thorne (Margarita Levieva) is a bit mentally unhinged. A lad named Tyler (Ashton Holmes) gets mixed up with the Graysons, and people who are friends one day can quickly turn to enemies given the proper motivation. Not to mention, romantic feelings can spring up where least expected and drive people to act in unpredictable ways.
Is Revenge the best show on television? Certainly not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. On a network known for delivery scandalizing drama like Desperate Housewives, GCB, Grey’s Anatomy, and the like, Revenge holds its own, and fits beautifully into the network’s existing identity. The stories may not be entirely believable, but fans won’t care; because they are so thoroughly engrossed in what’s coming next, they won’t even notice.
The rest of the outstanding cast, who perfectly execute this hyper-real world, and many of whom are no stranger to the genre, includes Gabriel Mann (The Bourne Identity), Henry Czerny (The Tudors), Ashley Madekwe (Bedlam), Nick Wechsler (Roswell), Joshua Bowman (Holby City), Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl), and Christa B. Allen (Cake).
The only real complaint I have about Revenge is the episode titles. Each installment has a single word moniker, like “Grief,” “Doubt,” and “Suspicion.” But these descriptors don’t mean a thing in reference to the episode, as almost every title could apply to every single episode. This makes them meaningless and a bit annoying. Should that adjective or emotion have a special connection to that week’s story, a la Wilfred, it would make sense, but they do not.
ABC has recently released a five disc set that includes not only all twenty-two episodes of last season’s freshman run, but a slew of bonus features, too. There are deleted scenes, bloopers, and two music videos. Creator Mike Kelley and star VanCamp offer an audio commentary of the “Pilot.” Featurettes include: “Nolan Ross Exposed,” wherein Nolan (Mann) is grilled about his involvement; “Roadmap to Revenge,” which discusses the various connections and plot twists in the series; “Haute Hamptons: Femme Fatale Fashion,” which examines how the clothes make the characters; and “At Home in “The Hamptons,” which has actress Davenport give a tour of the set.
That’s enough to keep any fan busy as they anticipate the season two premiere on September 30th. Revenge The Complete First Season is available now.