Starring: Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe, Gabriel Mann, Henry Czerny, Ashley Madekwe, Nick Wechsler, Joshua Bowman, Connor Paolo, Christa B. AllenRating: ****
Apparently revenge is a dish best served cold, but in this case it's served beachside in the Hamptons. The pilot episode weaves a sad tale of love, betrayal, and vengeance. Those elements are sprinkled alongside elaborate charity fundraisers, designer dresses, and fancy yachts. The show operates on the premise that vengeance feels harsher when it glitters.
Emily Thorne (VanCamp), is the new kid in town. She's rented a modest oceanfront home in one of the country's most posh areas of real estate. She puts on a friendly face to her new neighbours, but not all is what it appears to be under her rosy smile. She has ulterior motives that might have something to do with, wait for it...revenge. The latter part is expected, but unravelling those motives is where the interesting part of the series lies. VanCamp is a highlight of the show, playing all sides of her character to a tee. She transitions easily from the sweet but wealthy girl trying to make friends in an exclusive, snobby society to cold and calculating manipulator.
Her new digs are next to the glamorous Grayson manor. The societal queen of The Hamptons, Victoria Grayson (Stowe), resides there. Though Stowe adds an elegant air, the character falls into every rich woman stereotype that exists. She's well-dressed, severe, fake, and seemingly incapable of forging human connections. Victoria knows the lives of everyone on the island but has no idea about the issues plaguing her family and household. Her friends can't really be called such because they're scared of her. Emily manages to attend a Memorial Day charity event held by Victoria and catches the eye of her son Daniel (Bowman). It's like she wanted to place herself firmly on Victoria's radar. Not surprisingly, Victoria takes an interest in Emily, and it isn't long before she's trying to dig up all the information she can about her neighbour.
The pilot introduces those main characters and without giving too much away, familiar faces from Emily's past keep showing up. The episode moves back and forth through points of time to tell the story and explain Emily's motivations. It's a tad jumbled, but after a few of these jumps, the picture becomes clearer. As mentioned above, the backstory is the more intriguing part. Emily has a list to get through... It will be entertaining to see the methods she uses and how she avoids being caught. However, if they can manage the flashbacks properly, the telling of events that drove Emily to her angry state will propel the series.
That being said, the first episode runs the title of the show into the ground. Someone should keep a running count of how many revenge or vengeance cliches come up over the season. The series has potential for fun, especially if you've ever experienced the tiniest bit of schadenfreude (thanks Avenue Q). Still, the premise is self-limiting and it will be interesting to see what happens when the hit list runs out.
Revenge - Promo