'Revenge: The Complete Second Season' DVD Review: More Twists, More Turns, More Fabulous Victoria Grayson
Easily one of the most popular nighttime soaps in recent television history, Revenge continues with the thrilling, quick pace storytelling fans expect and love in its second season. Revenge offers viewers the chance to escape to the almost-fantastical setting of the Hamptons, where money, power, sex and greed can get you almost anything and where the Bad often trump the Good. What makes this setting so enticing is that the viewer can almost taste it. With the right moves and manipulations, they too could end up with a Long Island seaside mansion or attending invite only, black tie affairs.
Continuing the winning strategy from the show’s premiere season, episodes are jam-packed with plot twists and frequent reveals and realizations. The writers of the show seem so concerned with following this strategy that they seem to forget at times that too many story lines can dilute the quality of the show. This certainly impacts the caliber of the beginning of this second season.
Revenge was made for season DVD sets, as it is almost mandatory that every episode be watched in order to truly know the in’s and out’s of the plot lines. Miss an episode? You will no doubt be confused while watching, with the characters firing out story points and references you will not understand. After stumbling in the first few episodes with the hatching of dozens of schemes and story arcs, the season gains footing and becomes the captivating suspense drama it wants to be.
Season Two begins eight weeks after the Season One finale, in which it was revealed that Emily's mother is still alive and Victoria was presumed dead after boarding a plane that Conrad had arranged to be blown up. The second season premiere’s first scene shows a diving expedition a few days after Labor Day in which the divers uncover Jack’s boat. "The Amanda" is sunken off shore with a body alongside it, setting an eerie and intriguing tone for the season.
Emily Thorne, played by the striking Emily VanCamp, had left the Hamptons for the fall/winter/spring, after almost confiding to her true love, Jack, her real identity as Amanda Clarke and finding out about her mother. It is now Memorial Day in the Hamptons, so she and the rest of the gang have all gathered back to spend their summer in Long Island revenging, scheming, and breaking hearts. Emily is joined this season by Aiden (Barry Sloane), a mysterious man from her past, to assist in her mission to uncover truths, stop the Americon Initiative, and find her mother. Together, with comic relief Nolan, played by the wonderful Gabriel Mann, they hatch plans to draw out the Initiative through Grayson Global, with Aiden infiltrating the company through work, Nolan through his computer, and Emily through other, more personal, arenas.
Meanwhile, the Grayson family remains entangled in dark schemes, rivalries, and family disputes. With Victoria presumed dead, Daniel (Josh Bowman) appeared to have gone over to the dark side. He is working for Grayson Global and plotting to wrangle control away from his father Conrad. Daniel is also now dating the conniving and charming Ashley Davenport (Ashley Madekwe), as well as trying to deliver Nolan’s company Nolcorp to Grayson Global. Daniel is strong holding Nolan with the discovery that Nolcorp gave 500 million dollars to a mysterious fund, which Daniel believes was the terrorist attack of Flight 197, but was in fact a fund for Emily. Daniel switches between the light and the dark sides often in Season 2, which is no surprise considering who raised him. And his role at Grayson Global soon has him poised against the Initiative. As for Ms. Davenport, Season Two finds Ashley first acting as the new Queen of the Hamptons. But her position is short-lived, with Ashley eventually devising a revenge plan of her own.
It is quickly revealed in Episode 2.01 that Victoria is, alas, not dead, and she remains her usual, manipulative, yet somehow sympathetic self throughout this season. We can thank the skills of actress Madeline Stow for keeping viewers aligned with Victoria. Despite some of her more despicable acts, Victoria is wickedly enjoyable to watch.
The show’s resident cutie pie, Charlotte, who survived her Season 1 finale suicide attempt, continues to struggle to come into her own in her crazy, mixed-up life. This season, Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) finds enjoyment in having Amanda (Margarita Levieva) as a big sister and Declan Porter (Gossip Girl star Connor Paolo) as her lovable, reliable boyfriend. Charlotte dabbles with the paparazzi and less-than-ideal friends, and has some difficult decisions to make towards the end of the season.
Conrad Grayson continues to be the miserable scum viewers love to hate and actor Henry Czerny continues to portray Conrad with a devilish grin, proving this was the role he was born to play. Conrad is going up against his own son, Daniel, for control of the company while running for Governor of New York. Conrad continues to be aligned with the Initiative and to act in ways that no one with a conscience ever could, making for a fabulously fun TV villain.
One of my favorite elements of Revenge is the witty, nasty repartee between Victoria and Conrad, which is always a treat. After slapping Conrad across the face, and being asked by him what for, she responds, “Take your pick.” She acts perfectly for the audience in this moment, and we all appreciate her for it. Their tumultuous relationship continues to confuse and bewilder in Season 2, but it is clear that Victoria and Conrad need each other at times and remain a team when faced with their family's potential undoing.
Declan and Jack were the characters with the weakest story line for the first half of the season. The first half of the season finds Jack and Amanda living together and expecting a baby. Their relationship is one of the most impactful and relatable on the show. The Porter brothers’ plot first entails the dangerous past of their father and Declan dabbling in deviant behavior. But Jack (Nick Wechsler) finishes strong as an integral part of the Grayson/Emily/Initiative story. Jack will also join the list of characters acting to avenge wrongdoers.
Another interesting relationship that viewers get to see this season is the one between Emily and her estranged mother, Kara, played brilliantly by the talented and revered actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. One can only imagine how hard it must be for Emily to be so close to her mother but unable to reveal her true identity.
The Initiative is everywhere this season, even introducing a face and a name to the Big Bad: Helen, played by 24 alum Wendy Crewson. We also get to meet the computer mastermind behind the attack on Flight 197, Nolan’s evil counterpart if you will.
With evil schemes occurring left and right, it is safe to assume that not all characters will make it to the season finale. In fact, more than one fan favorite will leave the Hamptons through character deaths, and even more will leave the Hamptons in other ways.
Bonus Features line each of the five discs containing the season's 22 episodes. There are a variety of available Audio Commentaries, featuring stars VanCamp, Weschler, and Levieva, as well as a handful of executive producers and writers. The set comes with a multitude of deleted scenes, sure to provide die hard fans with extra moments of juicy intrigue, but mostly delving deeper into the show’s different relationships. This makes sense, as it is these more sedate, sweet or emotional scenes that cannot always make the cut into each approximately 43- minute long episode.
Disc 5 is where the real Bonus Feature goodies are stored, including a few excellent featurettes. The first is The Sound of Revenge, a behind-the-scenes look at the composing of the show’s score, starring film and television composer Izler. DVD watchers also get the chance to check out the inside scoop on the show’s styling choices by watching "Haute Hamptons: Dressing Miss Davenport." Show stylist Jill Ohannenson takes us shopping with her to Saks Fifth Avenue and discusses how she dresses the character of Ashley Davenport with actress Madekwe. Lastly, a real gem of the Bonus Features comes in the form of a three-minute long Blooper Reel on Disc 5, providing the audience the chance to see our favorite and almost-always serious actors get goofy and slip up behind the scenes.
‘Revenge: The Complete Second Season’ is now available on a five-disc collection for DVD and BluRay, featuring all 22 episodes from the show’s second season.
Revenge returns for its third season Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. on ABC.
Leave a comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.