REVENGE Debriefing: Long live the Queen

Courtesy ABC

Revenge left us last season with its entire world flipped upside down. Emily seemed to have finally won her match, Daniel was busy losing his family’s company through blackmail, Charlotte was traumatized to find out her kidnapper was none other than brother-in-law Jack, Victoria was locked up in the psych ward, and Conrad was (apparently) murdered as soon as he escaped from prison — by no other than presumed-dead wrongfully accused terrorist David Clarke! If you had any doubts that this show was a soap, then last season would have sealed that deal.

So here it is, back for its fourth season, and “revengier” than ever, as Nolan would say. There’s a new queen in the Hamptons, but how long will she reign? And will her crown have enough room for a red sharpie or ten? Buckle up, folks, because it’s a wild ride when Emily Thorne is in the driver’s seat.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

To say that I love that the episode opens with Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) giving an Emily-esque voiceover is an understatement: we get our first clue that someone else is going to be taking over the quest for vengeance this season! Victoria may be a lot of things — adulteress, liar, perjurer, manipulator, blackmailer, murderer — but psych-ward mentally ill isn’t one of them, and you better believe she’s scheming to get out of there. She gets by with a little help from her friends, including a staged fight with The Simpsons’ Yeardley Smith to swipe a nurse’s cell phone to call for help. If anyone fell for Victoria’s monologue about turning a new leaf, they surely haven’t been reading the newspapers.

Meanwhile, Grayson Manor is now in the hands of Emily (Emily VanCamp), who’s made it her mission to erase every trace of her enemies from their former crowning glory, and throwing parties there to boot to rub salt in the wound. She’s almost serene, vowing to Nolan that she too has left her plotting days behind to fill in the role of Queen Socialite in the Hamptons. Nolan (Gabriel Mann) is giddy that his bestie finally seems to be at peace, but it’s obviously naive to assume there’s nothing left in the tank for Emily. Especially after he states, “The girl who gave up revenge? She lived happily ever after.” Oh, Nolan, don’t you watch your own show? There’s no way that’ll last — but more on that later.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Elsewhere, Jack (Nick Wechsler) has given up bar tending and joined the police academy, never mind that as his partner reminds us, he’s been questioned for the class B felony of kidnapping Charlotte (Christa B. Allen). He wants to uphold the law instead of break it, after his crisis of conscience last season. On the other hand, Charlotte proves vengeance runs deep in the Clarke bloodline, and unbeknownst to her emulates her sister Emily in her quiet attempts to get back at Jack by “kidnapping” baby Carl from daycare — if only for the afternoon. (I have to say, I found Charlotte’s attempts at being scary laughable, but maybe that’s the point — she’s in over her head.) She’s also predictably become a cokehead, because what else is a disgraced heiress supposed to do? Daniel (Josh Bowman) is spending money he doesn’t have, to keep himself and Charlotte in the lifestyle to which they’re accustomed, selling cars and who knows what else to keep the tap flowing a little longer. Margaux (Karine Vanasse) is busy running the LeMarchal empire, and brother Gideon (Daniel Zovatto) is busy being creepy in the background. That about covers it, right?

When Emily “accidentally” backs into a townie’s car, Nolan complains about her driving skills, but a person as calculating as Emily wouldn’t be so inattentive in a parked vehicle. The big reveal at her house party is that she has not, in fact, given up her revenge-y ways at all; she’s merely putting her specific set of skills to use to carry out vengeance for others. She’s a revenge subcontractor! It turns out the woman whose car she dinged, Nancy (Alicia Lagano), was the fiancée of a man who died in a yachting accident. The person for whom Emily is throwing the party is the actual culprit, whose wife provided him an alibi in the hopes of saving their marriage. When the name of the man’s mistress is “accidentally” painted on his newly-christened yacht, for all the town to see, the truth comes out, but Nancy is devastated. Emily tries to tell her that at least her loved one’s killer will be properly punished now, but Nancy spits back that she’s sick of hating people, and that, “What’s it all for? Nothing can bring back the people you love.” Except on this show! (But more on that later, too.)

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Nolan rightfully reads Emily the riot act, accusing her of being an addict — and really, isn’t that exactly what she is? Emily is furious at him in turn for needling her, but she admits the truth to him: she can never go back to being Amanda Clarke, as Nolan hopes, because Amanda has no one to go back to. The life of revenge is all she has, and that’s the way it’s going to stay. Now, Emily is usually unapologetic about her own sociopathic tendencies in her vengeful pursuits, but I thought this fight with Nolan, along with their later conversation over the phone, illuminated what drives her character. Or, I guess I should say, I think Emily demonstrated a self-awareness of the futility of her quest that I wasn’t sure she possessed before. I have been firmly on Team Emily since the show began, but I was pretty disgusted when she decided to take on Nancy’s revenge herself, especially once we found out Nancy had no idea who she was or what she was doing. So to see Emily admit that she knows she’s got a problem, but she can’t stop herself, was welcome. I like seeing her conflicted, rather than become an out-and-out villain.

Luckily, it doesn’t seem like Emily’s outsourcing is going to last long, because in the last minute, who should appear at her front door but Queen Victoria, doing a pretty good impression of Morticia Adams if I do say so myself. The former Mrs. Grayson is back to rule her roost, even if her castle’s temporarily occupied by her archenemy. She’s out to expose the real Amanda Clarke, but Emily doesn’t seem too worried, giving her her trademark smirk.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Just when Victoria leaves on her merry way (to where?! How did she even get to the Hamptons without being caught?!), she’s pulled into the bushes by none other than David Clarke (James Tupper), who’s doing a pretty fine impression of Boo Radley himself. Victoria is understandably shocked that her supposedly-executed former lover is not only alive, but now silencing her in front of her own home, but before she can react any further, David chloroforms her and it’s lights out, just like any good soap opera should be. We have no idea what his deal is, but I’m going to take a leap and guess it’s revenge?

I gotta say, I love when the show embraces its total absurdity like this; I checked out around season 2, because I didn’t find the conspiracy plot all that enjoyable, but I hopped back on the Revenge train last season, and I’m so glad it’s embracing its melodramatic roots. It’s pure brain candy, and that’s fine with me: it’s the best way to cap of the weekend, and kick off the next week of television. I can’t wait to see Victoria and Emily duel it out for supremacy in the Hamptons, and it should be a fun exercise.

How much do you want this dress? / Courtesy ABC

How much do you want this dress? / Courtesy ABC

What did you think of the Revenge season premiere? Do you buy Jack as a cop? (Is Emily going to screw him over in his new job at some point?) Is it time for Charlotte to get over herself? Is Daniel evil like his dad, or merely a poor little rich kid? Does Margaux have any real purpose? (I ask that seriously — I adore Karine Vanasse, I just don’t know what Margaux’s role accomplishes.) Is Emily on the path to enlightenment, or is she the New Victoria? Is Victoria going to hide out all season while the looney bin chases her? And what is going on with David? Most importantly, is there enough Nolan on your screens? (Answer: Never.)

Best Nolan lines this week:

  • “So there won’t be any poisonings? Blackmailings? Arrests?” Etc. re: Emily’s party.
  • Coins Gideon LeMarchal an “Enfant Heir-ible.” (Line of the night! Of the season, even!)
  • “You’re a snowflake. A unique, bloodthirsty snowflake.” Re: Emily.
Nels
Nels knew how to operate a TV remote control before she knew how to talk. As a result, she has spent an inordinate amount of time pretending she actually lives on a soundstage. When she isn’t watching whichever show is currently capturing her heart, she is writing about how said show is currently capturing her heart. She loves pie.

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