Who: “Revenge” currently airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, Sundays at 9:00 PM.
What: “Revenge,” a serial drama in which a young woman, born Amanda Clarke (Emily Van Camp), engages in a high stakes vendetta against the morally corrupt and financially endowed family who framed her father for an act of terrorism, leading to his imprisonment and ultimately to his death (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/revenge/summary.html).
When: The Season 3 premiere aired on Sunday, September 29, 2013, on ABC at 9:00 PM.
Where: The show is primarily set in New York State, in Montauk and the Hamptons where these affluent people reside, though sometimes the action travels to the city, specifically Manhattan, when the show’s business-types need a place to work.
Why: I initially passed on this show, but the buzz surrounding it was overwhelming, particularly from trusted TV critics, including Michael Ausiello and writers at TV Guide, as well as from trusted friends. While I don’t normally go in for soapy thrillers that hearken to the days of Dynasty and Dallas, Revenge layers hints of those old prime-time soap operas with the high octane thrill of 24. The result is equal parts addicting and frustrating at times, particularly, as in this viewer’s humble opinion, the writing of the show continues to deteriorate. I caught up on season 1 thanks to Netflix and began watching the show regularly at the start of season 2.
How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)
Revenge is in serious danger of becoming a mockery of itself, in that it feels very one-note. Emily Thorne, the alias for Amanda Clarke, and her vendetta are creating more harm than good, and perhaps that’s the point that the producers/writers are trying to make. Yet, it doesn’t produce good drama. Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) is still hell bent on preventing Emily from marrying her son Daniel, who now suspects Emily of double crossings with Aidan, who we found out in episode 3 is still working with Emily. Nolan remains loyal, though he is now broke. Conrad Grayson’s (Henry Czerny) successful bid to governor has been interrupted by his diagnosis of Huntington’s disease, and Emily is machinating for him to come clean about her father, David Clarke’s, role in a public fashion. Charlotte Grayson, the biological product of Victoria and her affair with David Clarke, no longer trusts anyone in her family or Emily and prefers to watch over Jack. Jack now knows Emily’s secret, discovers that he was in love with the girl formerly known as Emily Thorne, and finds himself too repulsed by Emily to even look at her, having given her an ultimatum in the season premiere to finish her vendetta and leave, or he will expose her. Meanwhile, Emily appears to legitimately hang onto hope for being together with Jack while simultaneously nursing feelings for both Daniel and Aidan.
The third episode found Emily trying to convince a former co-conspirator turned Catholic priest to, in a quest for atonement, aid Conrad in his public confession. Meanwhile, Victoria’s biological son Patrick (Justin Hartley, formerly the Green Arrow on Smallville) is hanging around and is posing as Victoria’s only ally within her family, given all of her lies, deceit, and acidity toward just about everyone she meets. Charlotte has learned of her father’s lies (though not the key one pertaining to her biological father, David Clarke), and Nolan seems to be flirting with Patrick, even as he resides in the house Emily bought for him.
The season opener, which for this program, often portrays a scene to be viewed in the mid-season cliffhanger, showed Emily being shot point blank by an unidentified shooter. What the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3 have established is that there are plenty of parties with motive, potential or actual, to shoot her. The hallmark question of the season is whether her vendetta can survive, even if she survives this fateful event. And if her vendetta doesn’t survive – what would be the point of a show called “Revenge?”
Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
1) I think the creators of this show have concocted their own “Who shot JR?” or “Who shot Mr. Burns?” scenario. The primary question is “Who will shoot Emily/Amanda?” Of course, the bigger question is does she really deserve it? After all, haven’t her antics placed her at the same level as the Graysons? How would her father look upon her if he were alive?
2) I think Jack’s reaction is spot on. I want Emily to have that love she so desperately seeks in Jack, but Jack is a good man, and it can’t really be said that Emily is a good woman. She may have her reasons, but her tactics have created destruction, though not necessarily loss of life, which is where she, Conrad, and Victoria differ. Still, since Jack may be the character with the best of intentions and the purest of hearts, is it fair or right for her to want him or to expect him to want her back? And should the viewer sympathize with her plight?
3) Victoria is deliciously evil – but her world view is so askew, that I still cheer for Emily’s quest against her. Particularly since she seems to be beyond redemption.
4) Declan, Jack’s younger brother’s death in season 2, was a blow. Jack is a broken man, and Charlotte’s relationship to him is going to present an interesting dynamic, given all they have in common.
5) Will Emily reveal her secret to her biological sister Charlotte this season? I think she should.
6) What is Patrick’s endgame? I don’t believe he is present purely for re-connection with his mom. I’m not even convinced he’s the Patrick that she gave birth to and gave up for adoption.
7) Nolan continues to be the comic relief and promiscuously bisexual. Now that he’s broke, however, what part will he have to play? And really…doesn’t it seem like he and Patrick are flirting?!
8) I must admit, I was convinced that Aidan was out for revenge against Emily – but now that he’s on her side, what does he want? Something to do? Is he holding out hope that Emily will be his one trule love in the end?
9) This show is messy. Most soap operas are, but this show and its story lines are particularly messy.
Revenge started off as a thrilling, addicting, impossibly voyeuristic guilty pleasure that brought the lives of the rich and wealthy into a world of intrigue, greed, and corruption. Emily was a sympathetic character with, at least, a pure motive – to avenge the death and reputation of her beloved father. Yet, her journey has rendered her character as morally ambiguous as the rest of them. This would, in and of itself, provide some intriguing story possibility except for that the story, right now, feels like it’s circling the drain in a rather protracted manner. It is this viewer’s hope that the build toward the scene in which Emily has been shot is satisfying, and that the season’s second arc becomes the launch pad for a whole new landscape. After all, how much more relevant can the “Revenge” of the title stay when Emily appears to be floundering, confused by her emotions and clouded by her anger, as her mentor Takeda suggested prior to his death in season 2.
Revenge was automatically ordered for a full season, as it is one of the network’s highest rated shows. Yet, the program is not as solidly interesting or inventive as its lead-in, Once Upon a Time, so the future of the show is somewhat in question, though ABC will, no doubt, stick with it for now. This viewer, however, sees a high probability of shark jumping and ratings declines in the near future if the current direction of the program is any indication.