After the mess that was Season 2, for the third time around, the writers and producers of Revenge
have decided to pattern the first half in pretty-much the same way they
patterned the first half of Season 1, which by far was the best series
of episodes the show has done up to this point. Every episode in Season 2
was the worst. I didn't know how the show would recover, but echoing
the first season is good. I wonder, however, if they're again painting
themselves into a corner.
The way the first season began was with a gun-shooting. It was a shooting that interrupted Emily and Daniel's summer engagement party. The first season then flashed back several months to show us what led to that shooting. The way this third season begins is practically the same. There is a gun-shooting that interrupts Emily and Daniel's summer wedding. It then flashes back several months to show us what led to that shooting. In Season 1, the person presumed killed by the shooting was Daniel. In Season 3, this current season, the person presumed killed is Emily.
The premise of the show, which the first season revealed, is that Emily Thorne, played by Emily VanCamp, is actually Amanda Clarke, the daughter of David Clarke, a man who died in prison after being framed for an act of terrorism, the take-down of a passenger plane. Emily learns that a rich, New York family living in the Hamptons named the Graysons was responsible for the frame job and ultimately her father's death, so she wants to exact revenge against them, but in secret.
Her plan in Season 1 was to trick them by marrying into the family, gather evidence to use against them and then send the two heads of the family to prison. Victoria Grayson, played by Madeleine Stowe, and, Conrad Grayson, played by Henry Czerny, are the two heads of the family. Victoria and Conrad are married and they conspired to frame Emily's father, so most of her hatred is focused toward them. Yet, the Graysons have two children, a son named Daniel, played by Joshua Bowman, and, a daughter named Charlotte, played by Christa B. Allen. Emily is not as hateful toward Daniel and Charlotte, but she's no fan either.
Emily's plan was to marry Daniel and use that position to take down the Graysons from the inside. That didn't exactly work out in Season 1. Things got messy and wacky in Season 2, and now in Season 3, Emily is again trying to marry Daniel. Nobody knows who Emily is, except her gay best friend and computer genius, Nolan Ross, played by Gabriel Mann, and her childhood first love Jack Porter, played by Nick Wechsler. They help her but they really don't want her to be doing this. The only other person who knows about the real Emily but who supports her and has no moral qualms about it is Aiden Mathis, played by Barry Sloane, who has developed a genuine romance with Emily while she's developing a fake romance with Daniel.
Victoria Grayson doesn't know the truth, but she does suspect Emily of being up to no good. She does suspect that Emily's feelings for Daniel are possibly fake but Victoria can't prove it. It doesn't stop her form trying to expose Emily as a fraud. Every attempt that Victoria makes to uncover Emily fails because Emily is always brilliantly one step ahead of Victoria and all the Graysons. She does have her stumbling blocks, but the beauty is seeing Emily constantly outwit the Graysons. It's delicious to see the scenes between VanCamp and Stowe. It's clear that their two characters hate each other, but the way the two actresses play it is always with smiles on their faces and comments that are both polite and snide. It's always great dialogue and interplay.
In Season 1, the structure was such that each episode focused on one person close to the Graysons who helped them or was complicit in their dirty dealings. Emily would then make it her mission to take that person down. She wouldn't kill anybody. Even though she was highly trained by a Japanese samurai, she won't kill anyone. She just ruins their lives financially or socially. In Season 3, the structure is somewhat the same.
With some, Emily takes down a person all in one episode. Other persons take a few episodes. One character who has a few episodes before he's counted out is Patrick Osbourne, played by Justin Hartley, the soap stud from Passions and superhero from Smallville. Patrick is actually Victoria's eldest son by another man before her first son with Conrad. There's a little bit of tension because Patrick has not been a part of the family but he does love his mother. Daniel and Charlotte don't take to him all that much. Patrick is a painter, but he does have his dirty dealings and secrets. Once he crosses Emily's path and unknowingly interferes with her plan, she wants him gone. It's awkward because Patrick has fast become the gay lover of Emily's best friend, Nolan, and Nolan doesn't want Patrick counted out by Emily.
With the gun-shooting in Season 1, it was a monkey wrench that was thrown into Emily's race track. In Season 3, the gun-shooting may not be a monkey wrench. It might be the race track itself. The show is great soap opera but it subverts expectations, so that it's not exactly doing the same thing as the first season. Yet, I feel like with the pending gun-shooting and its aftermath, the show is reaching a tipping point. It should either end or it needs to go in a completely different direction. Unlike Homeland, which reached its breaking point very fast, Revenge is making me eager not anxious to see how it will conclude this third season.
Five Stars out of Five.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Sundays at 9PM on ABC.