TV Report Card | 'Revenge' Season 2 Review

Overview: The Hamptons were the center of more backstabbing, lies and very little revenge as Emily Thorne continued her plot to destroy the Graysons.

Storyline Direction: The second season of “Revenge” is the reason the term ‘sophomore slump’ was coined. Poorly constructed the whole way through, the beginning of the season quickly gave way to, the fact, this season was going to fall disastrously short of its first and barely hold on, as entertaining in its own right without any other comparisons.

The convoluted mess seemed slapped together at the last moment. Plot lines seemingly sewn together with no thought as to the domino effect it would carry through the season.

They attempted the flash forward/flash back plot device that was used to great effect in the first season and this time it just didn’t work. The stakes didn’t feel as epic. It turned into a twisty guessing game this time, the reason being that they had obviously re-written killing Daniel off in the first season and it seemed like they'd kill off Jack to stay true to the tease.

Maybe it was because of that they thought it would be more shocking to kill of faux-Amanda instead. Once again the logic behind the show was so convoluted it was hard to imagine the motivations of the writers. Quite frankly, it felt as if they weren’t giving their reasoning as much thought as the viewers were. 

The introduction of the new character Aiden Mathis was a disaster. We weren’t invested in his plight in the slightest and then they thrust us into his reveng-da. His revenge saga didn’t even intersect with the overall umbrella storyline of getting revenge on the Graysons for almost the entire season. The writer's tried to do damage control by revealing that he was the son of the baggage handler in the David Clarke conspiracy, a desperate attempt to tie him into the Grayson arc.

His relationship with Emily was beyond forced. She’d spent so much time keeping her relationships at arms’ length and the assumption made by the first season was that she had never given her heart to anyone. Then we learn that she had an epic love with Aiden and they were together playing ninja for an extended period of time. It made no sense and it cheapened the dynamic between her, Jack and Daniel.

This is another thing, having a quadrangle that exists solely around one character is pushing credulity. Having two men after this woman was a bit of a stretch but three? I don’t think so. She isn’t that warm or interesting.

Plus, she had all of this supposed love for Aiden and had no problem baring her soul to him, when the previous season she had gone on and on to Nolan about remaining focused on her revenge so she couldn’t allow herself to be softened or distracted by a genuine romantic relationship.

The Graysons were the bright light of the season. They remained clever and the repartee between Conrad and Victoria was at its best. Their dynamic was incredibly entertaining to watch. Poor Daniel was running after Emily like a puppy and playing little Trump with the family business. His character developed somewhat. The show can’t seem to decide what to do with him. The execution of his character insinuates they weren’t prepared for him to be fully fleshed out.

Nolan was another character they couldn’t seem to grasp. He was still fun to watch, there was just something missing. His banter was still as sharp, he was less roguish this season, more subdued. The over the top incarnation from last season was better. He seemed more daring and grander. A show like this, needs bigger than life characters and Nolan is just that.

His nemesis "The Falcon" had all of this build-up to a massive showdown and her takedown was dealt with in one episode, a huge letdown. His romantic pairing with Padma didn’t sizzle and it seemed rushed for Nolan to have so much emotional investment in her. 

"The Initiative" was a joke. That whole angle seemed to be a lame attempt to get the Graysons off the hook and it came across as what it was, a deus ex machina to redeem them. The redemption should come from something organic and character driven, not some cartoony secret collective. As it was universally panned, there is no reason to beat a dead horse on that one.

Production Caliber: The production was better this season. They relied less on the green screened beaches and the show benefited from it.  The set design was still marvelous. The Hamptons still felt like California and the reason isn’t obvious. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why. The costuming was also top drawer. The overall look of the show felt richer this year.

Performance Quality: Madeline Stowe (Victoria) and Henry Czerny (Conrad) were spectacular as always. Their bitter battle of words was divine and the verbal jabs kept coming. They portray how well this couple knows each other and the buttons they know to push. The show was worth watching for their chemistry alone. You wanted to see them stick it out together.

Stowe portrayed Victoria’s vulnerability with Conrad superbly. Without having to write a bunch of backstory between the characters, the actors translated it off the page with their performances. Joshua Bowman’s characterization of Daniel seemed more mature this season. His performance as Daniel is so good-natured and kind, it makes his inevitable fall into darkness, tragic.

Nick Wechsler (Jack) was given powerful material throughout the season and he excelled with it. Last season’s very moving episode where Sammy, the dog Jack and Amanda had shared as kids, passed away remains one of his best moments and he had echoes of that this season.

He and Bowman have such a "good guy" quality that the first season made the decision that Emily had to make between the two of them understandable, a rare triangle where both options were equally as appealing. Gabriel Mann handled the toning down of Nolan’s character with skill. Having to tame down his incarnation of Nolan was unfortunate. Hopefully the producers will let the character have freer rein next season.

Musical Score: The twisty and ominous score that is definitively “Revenge” was still as effective this season.

Overall Grade: D, the season was directionless, a ship that was sailing without a rudder and ended up running aground. The urgency of the entire show was lost and the momentum never gained any traction. Hopefully they can pull it back together.

The concept of the show, to be fair, would’ve been better served as a mini-series. From the outset it seemed difficult to carry it on for another season, given the short-term aspects of the original plot line and it proved to be the case.

[Image by ABC]