Revenge has a rather complex premise for a television series. The show stars Emily VanCamp as Emily Thorne and Amanda Clark. Emily Thorne is a rich and beautiful young heiress spending her first summer in the Hamptons. Amanda Clark is a former juvenile delinquent whose father was framed and possibly murdered by Emily’s new Hamptons neighbors.
Amanda/Emily has hatched an elaborate revenge plot that, in the premiere episode, includes infidelity and a very intriguing murder that Amanda/Emily may or may not have committed. The opening scenes of Revenge featuring the murder are well shot and create the first and likely most intriguing mystery of the season, who pulled the trigger and why?
The murder will come back around later in the season but for the premiere, we flashback to the arrival of Emily Thorne in the Hamptons. Taking over the home of a recently divorced socialite, Lydia (Amber Valletta), Emily has a great view of the ocean and of the palatial home of the Grayson family, the people responsible for her father’s imprisonment.
Victoria (Madeline Stowe) and Conrad (Henry Czerny) Grayson are the uncrowned Queen and King of the Hamptons. Conrad is a Wall Street bigwig while Victoria rules their rich folk kingdom with an iron fist of shame and humiliation. Victoria is the main target of Emily’s vengeance but first she must take down those around the Queen, beginning with Lydia.
I won’t spoil the delicious fun of Emily’s premiere episode take down. All I will say is that Victoria and Lydia have made the mistake of violating the legendary ‘Henry Czerny rule’ which states: When cast in any role, Henry Czerny cannot be trusted. The rule was most recently well applied on the TNT series Falling Skies wherein Czerny traded children to aliens to save his own backside.
Emily VanCamp is a terrific actress best known for her multi-season run on the soapy drama Everwood. Once again, immersed in a soap opera world she thrives and raises the material given to her above its inherent quality. In the hands of a less interesting actress, Revenge could be just another dreary Days of Our Lives clone in primetime.
VanCamp’s vampy mischievous quality has an edge of darkness to it that leads you to wonder just how far she will go with the plot. It’s rather fascinating to consider a series that proceeds from such a morally ambiguous perspective. I fully believe Emily/Amanda is capable of anything and I’m eager to find out if indeed she is responsible for the well crafted murder that opens the premiere.
No pop drama would be complete without a love interest and Nick Wechsler’s Jack Porter offers both romantic opportunity and a little danger. Nick has a role to play in the opening murder though again, the show cleverly keeps the actual identity of the killer a mystery. Equally intriguing with Nick is his connection to Amanda Clark, a childhood crush that has lingered for years and now reappears as an unexpected threat to our heroine.
Finally, there is Gabriel Mann as a Mark Zuckerberg style mogul and oddball. Mann’s Nolan Ross is the first person to recognize Emily as Amanda. Nolan is willing to go along with Amanda/Emily’s ruse but when she says she doesn’t want a partner, Nolan enters a gray area that many of the characters in Revenge occupy.
Revenge is soapy yet highly intriguing. Whether it can sustain the intrigue for a full season and beyond is a question almost as interesting as the show itself. I guess we’ll know the answer in the coming weeks.
Revenge premieres on ABC Wednesday, September 21st.