Writing characters that viewers will actually want to invite into their home on a weekly basis is a tricky business. Ideally, they are imperfect, but strive for self improvement. There is an oh-so-fine line between creating characters who are a little bit naughty and characters to root for. Revenge took a stab at perfecting the former though even in its prism of enchanting darkness, I am not sure we should blindly buy into this scenario.
Childhood memories are sunny days on the beach for Amanda Clarke. Hers was one anyone may envy. But that was before her father’s former business associates ruined him, before every one of his friends turned against David Clarke (James Tupper). Now, close to twenty years later, Amanda has disappeared. In her place steps Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp).
Wealthy beyond her years, Emily has an unlimited trust fund and is the must-know-new-girl summering at the Hamptons. Renting the elaborate summer home of the recently separated Lydia Davis (Amber Vallenta), Emily falls in love with the home. Despite Lydia’s claim she won’t let her ex sell, her life is ruined when her affair with Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny) comes to light. Married for 25 years to his wife, Victoria (Madeline Stowe), not only are the Grayson’s one of the Hampton’s most powerful families, Conrad is a successful businessman.
Following last summer’s tragic accident, Daniel Grayson (Josh Bowman) has returned. His mother expects her beloved son to keep to his “agreement” (not to drink) while his father wants him to go into the family investment business. It isn’t until Daniel meets Emily that everything changes. What no one knows is that Emily is that little girl, Amanda, and she is out for revenge on anyone who wronged her father. The one snag in her otherwise perfect plan is Jack (Nick Wechsler), the boy she once loved.
Wow. That was my reaction after watching an entire six-block of episodes of this first season of ABC’s soapy nighttime drama in one sitting. The intrigue of this glues my mother and I to the screen; we didn’t intend to watch more than two episodes, but we did. The writing is clever as each plot twists and thickens though this won’t be a show is for everyone. From a story-telling perspective, this could be brilliant, and in fact, in more outlets than one, it is. Based off of or perhaps I should say “inspired by,” the Dumas classic tale of revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo, this Mike Kelley creation has so much going for it.
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The first five to eight episodes structure nearly exactly alike. They spotlight a victim for Emily to target, and along with her trusty red Sharpie marker, she “ruins” them. Amanda believes one thing all her life, only to reinvent herself as Emily when she learns through her father’s legacy something very different. Speaking of the characters, there are times when I love the tense romanticism between Emily and Daniel to pieces, but I detest what they ultimately do to Daniel. (Not to mention the rumored season two developments.) There is one moment when we think Emily is about to forget everything and actually live her life but her vendetta is too far in by then. Also an interesting character is Nolan. Some fans ship he and Emily, but sorry, no.
To be honest, I will say that I found this show fantastically good, judging the mystery, this can hold its own and then some. If you are looking for a narrative that gives its audience warm, fuzzy characters, this isn’t it, but it’s good (in the beginning). The cast likewise is fabulous and the actress cast as the young Amanda is a perfect choice. This is a show worth seeing because I like a good mystery but I didn’t watch it blind to the misguided themes. I cannot recommend it easily because some Christian’s will likely not appreciate the subject material but if you don’t mind wading through the whole revenge plot, you might find it entertaining. In the end, there is no promise Emily will learn anything – and that is, unarguably a depressing prospect.
CONTENT: There are about half a dozen bedroom scenes [removal of clothing, movement beneath sheets] and passionate kissing. Two characters are bi-sexual, one is homosexual [there are three same sex kisses]. Plenty of references allude to extra-marital affairs [more than one]. There is some immodest clothing. One character is an alcoholic, another a drug addict. A main character is killed off, and four others are murdered. Other scenes involve hand-to-hand combat and people are roughed up [one man is beaten in prison]. Profanity is infrequent but there are a few instances of it. The show is TV14.