Much is new as ‘Revenge’ returns, but not Emily’s thirst for payback
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org September 27, 2012 8:31PM
BARRY SLOANE, EMILY VANCAMP, CARY-HIROYUKI TAGAWA
ABC’s SUNDAY OF SIN
‘ONCE UPON A TIME’
7 to 8 p.m. Sundays on WLS-Channel 7
8 to 9 p.m.
‘666 PARK AVENUE’
9 to 10 p.m.
Updated: October 29, 2012 6:54AM
On the season finale of ABC’s hit drama “Revenge,” Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) was presumed dead after her plane exploded while the Hamptons socialite was en route to testify against her ex-husband.
As we gear up for Sunday’s season two premiere, here are three reasons I don’t think cold, calculating Victoria is dead:
1. This is a soap, where meticulously coiffed characters drink liquor out of decanters and have an uncanny ability to resurface after everyone assumes they’ve bit the dust.
2. I spied Victoria’s personalized stationery on her desk during a summer visit to the L.A. soundstage that doubles as the Grayson mansion.
3. At said visit, I also got to chat with “Revenge” creator and showrunner Mike Kelley, a Winnetka native who seemed both smart and sane — making it highly unlikely he’d kill off one of the best antagonists on broadcast television.
Kelley, of course, was mum when reporters asked about Victoria’s fate. But he and some of the cast members milling about the set did drop a few hints as to what’s in store for the sophomore season of “Revenge,” the tale of one woman’s quest to take down the people who destroyed her father.
A quick refresher: Emily VanCamp (“Brothers & Sisters”) stars as Emily Thorne, or at least the woman pretending to be Emily Thorne. Her real name is Amanda Clarke, whose dad was betrayed years ago by the filthy rich Graysons when they conspired to frame him as a terrorist. Amanda’s father was killed in prison, leaving his young daughter with a boatload of money and a seemingly unquenchable thirst for payback.
After honing her high kicks and other useful vengeance-seeking skills at “revenge school” in Japan, Amanda shows up to the Hamptons as Emily to infiltrate the Grayson clan and wreak havoc on her enemies.
“As we left it, the Graysons were sort of in ruins,” said Gabriel Mann, who plays Emily’s confidant and comic relief, Nolan. “You’re going to see the expanse and scope of the revenge broadened to include more people and further conspiracies. Emily’s plans have definitely taken a turn.”
That turn came as a result of Nolan dropping one of the biggest bombshells of the finale when he discovered a video suggesting that Emily’s mother is alive. Jennifer Jason Leigh joins the cast this season as Emily’s mom.
“It’s almost inspired a new quest for [Emily] to find her mother,” VanCamp said. “She’s flashing back to what happened to the mom, and that’s how she’s trying to trace where the mom could be. It’s going to bring out a whole different side of this character.”
More new faces will join the show in the second half of the season, Kelley said, with the introduction of the family Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny) had before he married Victoria.
This being your classic sudser, several new love interests will emerge, including one for Nolan. This time, it’s a woman.
“He’s an equal opportunity lover,” Mann said about his character who heretofore preferred men. “He’ll take it where he can get it. If you’re nice to him, great. Bedroom’s open.”
English actor Barry Sloane guest stars as Emily’s latest object of affection, Aiden.
“You meet him in the first episode; we don’t keep you waiting too long,” VanCamp said. “Their dynamic is going to be interesting.”
Emily ended last season heartbroken by her childhood sweetheart, Jack (Nick Wechsler).
“He was the one person she was willing to sacrifice this quest for,” VanCamp said. “That may be the only man she can truly and wholly love, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”
A big change this season is “Revenge’s” time slot. It moves from Wednesdays to Sundays.
“We kind of see that night as good vs. evil,” ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee told TV critics this summer.
The programming block kicks off with the fairytale-inspired “Once Upon a Time” at 7 p.m. (another huge hit returning for its second season), followed by “Revenge” at 8 p.m.
Capping things off will be the darkest of the night’s dramas, a new series called “666 Park Avenue.” Starring “Desperate Housewives” alum Vanessa Williams and “Lost’s” Terry O’Quinn, it’s about a swanky — and scary — Manhattan apartment building controlled by supernatural forces. The pilot is decent, but I’m skeptical about there being enough tension and intrigue to last a whole season.
As for “Revenge,” Kelley called the show’s move to Sundays “a real honor.”
“It’s a historic time slot,” he said, “and a lot of pressure.”
Like last year, Kelley and his writers have a clear road map for the first two-thirds of the season.
“I know exactly where I’m going through episode 14,” he said, adding that the last eight episodes are a work in progress. “I liken it to a trip cross-country. You don’t have to plan it exactly as long as you know where you’re headed.”
One thing Kelley has known since the pilot: “The last line of series,” he said. “I’ve already written it.”
And he hopes he doesn’t have to use it anytime soon.
“Next year, if we come back for a third, we’ve got even more plans,” he said. “It’s just going to keep mushrooming until people tell us to stop.”