Revenge review – 2×01: ‘Destiny’

Courtesy of ABC

After a long, hot summer, it’s good to return to the Hamptons, isn’t it? The second season of ABC’s not-so-guilty pleasure takes us back to the beach, the b*tching and the drama as Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) continues her mission of REVENGE! Oh it feels good to write that again.

Let’s bitch it out…Right off the top I’m going to come out of the gates swinging: the “mystery” angle for the first half of the season is nowhere as good as last year’s “Who Got Shot On The Beach”. Sure there’s lots to be said about why the Amanda has been sunk and whose body is floating in the wreckage (obviously we’re meant to believe it’s Nick Weschler’s Jack because it’s his boat and the presence of his watch, but we didn’t fall for that with Joshua Bowman’s Daniel at the Fire & Ice Party, so why would we fall for it now?) I’m sure there’s plenty of speculation to be had about who and why, but for now the ‘present day’ (aka three months ago) is much more interesting.

Some time has passed, but it’s summer and we’re back in the Hamptons. Or everyone is by the end of the hour. Em takes a breather to return to Japan and resume her training, but its all a ruse to remember information about her mother, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh in brief flashbacks (in a psych ward no less!). Naturally Em’s lack of focus p*sses off Takeda (now played by Mortal Kombat‘s Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). No matter, she gets what she wants, and with a gaunt, skinny-ripped Nolan (Gabriel Mann) in tow, she resumes her mission to get close to the Graysons to discover their role in whatever happened to her mother. As soon as she sets foot back in the Hamptons, ‘Destiny’ loses a bit of its specialness – this could have been any of those middle of the season episode with a bit more of a set-up. It’s a strangely typical episode of the show: characters drink far too early in the day, Ashley (Ashley Madewke) orders party people around and we hit up a fundraiser/memorial art auction.

The big difference is that the “party” is for deceased Ice Queen/Super Beyotch, Victoria (Madeleine Stowe). For the better part of two-thirds of the episode, Revenge desperately tries to convince us that the Grayson matriarch is really dead. Of course she’s not dead. If anyone actually thought that, they need to watch this show (or television in general) more. Naturally the truth is less exciting: she’s actually hiding out from Conrad (Henry Czerny) following the aftermath of the plane explosion that closed out S1.

As for the other characters, they’re in various ‘states’ after the events of last year: Fauxmanda (Margarita Levieva) is officially camped out at The Stowaway waiting to pop out Jack Jr. Declan (Connor Paolo), meanwhile, worries about Jack’s spiraling depression. As always the former Gossip Girl actor and his female counterpart, Christa B. Allen – who plays sad-shack Charlotte – get the worse storylines. On the plus side, at least neither are given much to do that can interfere with the ‘A’ story, which only really kicks in at the end of the hour. It’s here that the episode regains its ‘epic’ status; something that I was expecting from the premiere (since it is launching the entire season).

The big, juicy story occurs when Victoria is overheard putting a hit out on our conflicted protagonist Emily. And to whom does she contract out to: why that would be the White Haired Man (James Morrison), naturally. Now since WHM knows Em is actually Amanda Clarke I’d say that his days are numbered (see also: Frank Martini). Victoria’s use of him – now and in the videotape concerning Em’s mom, Kara – suggests that Victoria was involved in Kara’s imprisonment. And with that, folks, we’re off to the races!

Courtesy of ABC

Other Observations:

  • Sooo…guess Lydia (Amber Valletta) didn’t survive the plane crash? Boo urns.
  • I can’t believe that terrible painting of Victoria is one of the pieces being auctioned off. I never want to return to the days of 1×17 ‘Doubt’ and stupid Dominik Wright, terrible painter extraordinaire
  • So far Ashley remains a peripheral character, but just seeing her b*tch and boss around her replacement party planner makes me yearn for her to become the show’s secret villainess. It is a joy seeing the “delightfully frothy Miss Ashley Davenport” (as Conrad misogynistically refers to her) perform a series of double-takes upon Emily’s return to the Hamptons. Poor Ashley…clearly your relationship with Daniel is not going to last long with the blonde siren settled back in next door
  • Expect a ton of ohhhing and ahhhing about Emily’s beaut of a red Memorial Day dress (glimpsed in the image above). I know that there was a ton of coverage on the fashion in Revenge last year and it looks like this year will be no different. If you want a sample, be sure to check out Tom & Lorenzo
  • Please note: ‘Clam Cam’ is the new Shamu Cam. Spread it around!
  • I do love the scenes between Faux and Em because they’re like sisters who kinda love each other, but would also stab each other in the back for the slightest gain. Loved Faux’s face when Em proclaims herself the godmother of Jack and Faux’s unborn child. Totally priceless!
  • Finally, perhaps The Stowaway didn’t pass the safety inspection because it has a small waterfall flowing behind the walls? That’s not a leaky pipe, boys – that’s a faucet left on full. Hopefully water is included in the rent or else the Porter brothers must be paying a fortune in utility bills!

Best Lines:

  • Nolan (when Em proposes an investigation): ‘Sounds vaguely revengey
  • Nolan (echoing my perception of Daniel, to Em): ‘Ever since you broke poor Spaniel’s heart’
  • Ashley (to assistant): “Please check the sound system. I won’t tolerate feedback”. Are we sure she’s talking about the sound?
  • Nolan (about Victoria, during Ashley’s tribute): “She would be whirling like a dervish in her grave”

And so Revenge is back. What did you think of the premiere? Are you excited to find out what sunk the Amanda and who perished? Did you love the delightful discomfort that accompanied Em’s presence at the art auction? Do you care about the Grayson children’s inheritance in Grayson Global and Conrad’s schemes? What’s the true story behind Emily’s mom’s stay in the psych ward? And how will Em dispose of WHM? Hit the comments below with your thoughts on the premiere.

Revenge airs Sundays at 9pm EST on ABC

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

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