IN TWEET: THE INITIATIVE? WHAT INITIATIVE? “REVENGE” TRIES TO REBOUND FROM A SOPHOMORE SLUMP BY GOING BACK TO BASICS.
NOTE: This post contains spoilers from the season three premiere of REVENGE.
Previously on REVENGE...
It’s no secret that a good chunk of the REVENGE faithful found other ways to occupy their Sunday nights last season. Ratings were down, griping from fans was up and a palpable funk was in the salt-kissed air. Things just weren’t as deliciously wicked in the Hamptons anymore.
I never thought season two of REVENGE was a total loss but there were enough stinkers in the mix to make it easier to skip episodes and lose interest. I don’t know anyone who cared a whit about the “bad guys take over Jack’s bar” subplot and I’m still at a loss to explain the odd trajectory of the storyline involving Kara Clarke (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Plus, I think we can all agree that the name “Padma” should never be uttered again…ever!
On the flip side, we did finally get the demise of Faux-Manda (Margarita Levieva) in an unexpectedly poignant mid-season shocker. The World of Jack (Nick Wechsler) was downsized further when annoying younger brother Declan (Connor Paolo) bit it prior to things wrapping for the summer. Even better, Daniel (Josh Bowman) was eventually allowed to shed the douche bag shroud that he had been saddled with for much of the season.
As the ABC promos have revealed, Emily (Emily Van Camp) is indeed shot twice by an unseen assailant within the first minute of the season opener. She ends up in the drink, floating Jesus on cross style in her wedding gown. True to series form, we then flash backward two months prior to the incident and will spend the first half of the season re-living the events that lead up to Emily taking those bullets.
Within five minutes, you’ll also know the show is serious about going back to the format that made it such a buzzy hit in season one. Nolan (Gabriel Mann) is sprung from the pokey and, in a sharp bit of dialogue, Emily makes it clear that we have heard the last of Carrion and The Initiative. We also find out that the Grayson fortune has gone poof and the poor saps are down to the manor house and whatever salary Conrad (Henry Czerny) draws from his new job as Governor of New York.
Wrapping up bits of story left hanging from last season, we see grating skank Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) go bye bye and Victoria’s recently revealed son Patrick (new hottie Justin Hartley) already fully in the mix, sans shirt. The Patrick stuff seems a little too neat and tidy but the scene where Victoria (Madeline Stowe) and Emily send Ashley packing is classic REVENGE. After verbally berating the conniving harpy, she makes her exit not on the sleek jet that has been in the background the entire time but, instead, on a crappy propeller plane that is revealed just as Ashley turns to do her walk of shame into the night. Meow!
The first target of Emily’s revenge is, of course, the Grayson family. Her plan involves a garden party, spiked water and an elaborate medical malady scheme. Emily's end game is forcing Conrad into a situation where he has to give up the governorship. With some help from Nolan (who parachutes into the party in a silly, throwaway moment), her plan is executed without a hitch. Emily, already re-engaged to Daniel, tells him she is now ready to set a date. Her preference: August 8th (8/8). Fans will recognize the significance of that choice. Two interlocked number 8s form the double infinity symbol that is central to the series.
This feels like the REVENGE you knew and once loved. There’s plenty of bitchy banter and gloriously fake green screen sunsets. Nolan’s witty in-jokes and wordplay are back in all their glory. Emily Van Camp is still the most stunning vengeful femme fatale on television. There’s even a neat twist at the end of the hour that sees Aiden (Barry Sloane) making a surprise return. Let’s just say he’s not back to shower Emily with hugs and kisses. (UPDATE 10/13: Surprise! Aiden never really left Team Emily...yay. We don't like him not liking her).
On the potential downside, Christa B. Allen still plays Charlotte as a one-note prig and Jack returns in full grouch mode. The latter may grow tiresome in the coming weeks but, for now, is well played in a scene where he kisses and then rejects Emily (brutal to watch) as well as an encounter involving a potentially game-changing ultimatum. Overall, it’s a strong start to the season.
REVENGE airs Sundays at 9PM E/P on ABC with next day streaming on Hulu.