ABC’s Revenge continues its sweeping tale of a young woman determined to even the score with the people that destroyed her father in The Complete Second Season, now available on DVD. In these 22 episodes, the protagonist’s own past catches up with her, complicating her mission.
The Complete Second Season begins with the remains of a boat wreck, and then jumps backwards in time several months, slowly allowing the action to catch up to this devastating scene over the course of many installments. This is the same formula used in the freshman year, and unfortunately becomes less effective each time it is pulled out, an unwelcome trope at this point. Thankfully, it is only a small part of the larger story.
Season one ends with Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), the series’ main villain, dead in a plane crash. Fans of the show could not stand for the wicked witch to be taken out so easily, and neither could the writers, so it will surprise no one when she rears her head again early in this run, alive and mostly well.
Victoria isn’t the only obstacle for Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), the aforementioned leading lady, this season. There’s: the White Haired Man (James Morrison), a member of the Grayson’s social circle; Takeda (unfortunately recast, as Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa doesn’t look much like the original actor, Hiroyuki Sanada), Emily’s mentor who sends his pupil, Aiden (Barry Sloane, Hollyoaks), to keep Emily in line; Emily’s messed-up mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) resurfaces; and a variety of smaller players stand in Emily’s way.
Some have criticized Revenge for getting too complicated in the second season, adding in too many characters and subplots, distracting from the central arc. I disagree. Life is messy, and in a situation like this, there would be many moving parts, some unpredictable and coming in at inconvenient times. This makes sense.
However, Revenge isn’t as sophisticated or adept at juggling the balls as many other current series, especially those on cable. It’s bread and butter is gossipy, drama-infused, soapy interplay, which is does an adequate job at. When it tries to build a larger mythology, which goes perfectly well with the plot in theory, Revenge is lacking and isn’t quite up to the task. When it sticks to shifting loyalties, bed hopping, backstabbing, complicated romance, family secrets, and twisted friendships, it does quite a good job, most of the time.
Revenge is enjoyable, popcorn entertainment. Overall, the flow is fine, and there are some terrific, juicy moments, especially involving Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) and her parentage, and anytime Mason Treadwell (Roger Bart) shows up. Revenge may not be the highest quality show out there, but it mostly knows its own identity and can serve it well.
All of this builds into a startling climax in a two-part season finale that not only results in the tragic, regrettable death of at least one main player, but brings to a close a number of the year’s stories. It also allows Emily to refocus and decide what she wants. There is a cliffhanger, of course, but viewers should be left satisfied with this part of the tale, and be ready for the next bit when it premieres in September.
The bonus features in this DVD release are not as good as the first season’s. As usual, there are audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and bloopers. What the set lacks are any strong featurettes. There’s a bit on the score, which is interesting, but won’t interest a broad audience. The bonus about Ashley Davenport’s style will probably appeal more to the core fan base of Revenge, though wasn’t my cup of tea. Lastly, the book feature seems like an advertisement more than an extra to reward buyers.
In short, I’d say check out Revenge The Complete Second Season for the episodes themselves, not so much that bonuses, though there may be a piece here or there that you’ll enjoy.