The first episode of Revenge‘s third season gets rid of everything unpleasant about the last go-around (adios, Carrion!), introduces some intriguing new folks (bonjour, Margaux and hellllllo Patrick) and reminds us why we rooted for Emily Thorne in the first place. (That last one comes via a huge assist from Nolan; if Revenge were a Nicholas Sparks novel, Mr. Ross, you would be its true north. But then you’d also probably contract a fatal disease or die in a horrific accident, which would seriously bum me out.)
But the more things change, the more they still really get off on drawing Red Sharpie Xs over faces. In that vein, this week’s episode harkens back to the series’ spectacular first season – right down to its takedown-of-the-week — but Revenge isn’t quite there yet. Still, there’s promise! So with high hopes and nostalgic hearts, let’s review the major developments in “Fear.”
RED WEDDING REDUX? | The season opens with Emily, wearing a wedding gown, holding a glass of bubbly and sailing into the sunset on a festively lit boat. Someone approaches – we don’t see who it is – and she tearfully says, “I’m sorry.” A gunshot sounds, and two bullets hit her in the midsection, sending her tumbling off the back of the craft. She bleeds in the water… and we rewind to just before the previous Memorial Day weekend, where an un-Swiss-cheesed Emily and Daniel are being all lovey-dovey at their Manhattan roofdeck pool.
He credits her for planning the upcoming holiday party in his mother’s absence – and for convincing most of his family to attend. We learn that Victoria has been MIA for about six months; Daniel says he hopes his mom is in “such a dark, lonely place, we never hear from her again.”
RIDE THE PONY | Sorry, Daniel; Victoria is not in a pit of despair. In fact, from the sunlit, slow-mo shot of her astride a galloping horse while Justin Hartley rides beside her, she’s been killing time in a Smallville fanfic. As the scene progresses, I’m confused. Hartley is playing Patrick, the son Victoria gave up for adoption when he was a baby, right? So why are they flirting? Why has she squirreled him away from the world for the past six months? And why, when he kisses her on the cheek, does she make what is undeniably a sex noise?
Their not-kosher canoodling is interrupted when Charlotte shows up, sporting blunt-cut bangs and a super-flat, definitely not-pregnant belly. In a conversation so loaded with exposition it would make Rupert Giles polish his glasses in silent awe, they establish that Charlotte graduated high school early, miscarried Declan’s baby and has been in Europe for a while. Charlie assumes the stud she saw leaving the stables is her mom’s new boy-toy, and Victoria doesn’t disavow her of that notion. Later, Vicky tells Emily that she “has no doubt” that Patrick is her firstborn and that the hottie has “changed my heart.”
But then Charlotte swings by the South Fork Inn, where Patrick has decamped in advance of Conrad’s return to the manor, and warns/threatens him when she learns they’re half-siblings. He heeds the bangs; the next time Victoria stops by, she finds him packed up and ready to leave. The conversation they have is much more like a lovers’ spat than a mother-child guilt-trip, and he leaves town.
‘NOLAN 2.NO’ | In my favorite scene of the episode, Emily picks Nolan up when he’s released from jail. You know things are bad if Noles’ fashion choices look more 8-Mile than GQ, but that small detail is completely forgotten by the way Gabriel Mann makes the dialogue almost an afterthought in his haste to have Nolan hug Emily. So sweet. Love them.
More clunky explanation alerts us that he embedded a fail-safe in Carrion that ferretted out the Initiative members and exonerated him. “Let’s never say the words ‘Carrion’ or ‘Initiative’ ever again,” Ms. Thorne suggests. So say we all, Ems. So say we all.
Making good on a debt she owes, Emily buys Nolan a sweet bachelor pad. “For serious?” he coos. (Heh.) While toasting the new abode, Nolan gets caught up: Jack’s been out of town since she went “all birth-name” on him at Conrad’s victory party, and NolCorp has “gone the way of the flip phone.” In fact, Mr. Ross wants nothing to do with cyber-skullduggery anymore. But that doesn’t mean he won’t find new ways to help an old friend…
IT’S EM’S PARTY AND I’LL (NEARLY) DIE IF I WANT TO | Gov. Conrad “Artic Pools” Grayson rolls to the Hamptons for Emily’s party, an event Nolan also attends – but parachuting in and then removing his tearaway jumpsuit (!) to reveal a natty summer ensemble. The dramatic entrance, aside from being awesome, allows him to bypass the strict security measures on which Conrad insisted. Nolan slips Emily a vial, Emily surreptitiously dumps the contents of said vial into Conrad’s water, and soon he’s passing out while giving a speech.
At the hospital, Conrad’s doctor – who was also a guest at the party – gives the sad news that the Grayson patriarch is suffering from Huntington’s Disease. Everyone is shocked… except for Emily, who planted the false test results in Conrad’s file. (Side note: I feel like in Season 1, we would’ve later learned that the doc was in on it, too. The fact that he isn’t felt like a bit of a letdown here, no? Also, even though the illness runs in his family, wouldn’t Conrad inevitably get a second, untampered-with opinion that would countermand what the ER doc told him? And finally, Emily poisoning Conrad for her own gain: sly nod to Season 1 or lazy retread?)
When someone leaks the governor’s ailment to the press, he has no choice but to resign. And when Emily makes the family think Ashley was the source of the scoop, she and Victoria team up to send the hustling Brit packing. (There’s a lot more subtle threatening and fabulous shoes involved in the “Davendeported” plot, but it’s pretty meh and we haven’t even gotten to Jack yet, so let’s bid Ashley Madekwe a fond, you-were-never-properly-used farewell and move on, shall we?)
JACK’S BACK | Emily goes to The Stowaway, which hasn’t yet opened for the season, to talk with a newly returned Jack. He’s very guarded as he muses about all the times she could have told him her true identity – aw, he brings up the night of Sammy’s death and now I’m sad – but he’s moving toward her and bringing up his hand to frame her face and they’re totally going to kiss! The liplock is pretty hot, but he steps back and is stone cold as he tells her he wasn’t sure of his feelings for her until this moment, “and I’m sorry, but I don’t feel anything.” Damn, Jack. With a dismissive tone, he informs his childhood love that he’ll keep her secret, but “It’s just me and Carl now. Leave us alone.” She runs out, understandably upset.
My esteem for Jack’s newfound hardass-ness dies a little when he pops up on Emily’s porch a short time later. How can she leave you alone, Porter, when you won’t stay away? He surmises that she was behind Conrad’s collapse, then makes her feel guiltier by reminding her that Amanda probably wouldn’t have died if it weren’t for Emily. He demands that she wrap everything up by the end of the summer, then leave for good.
GUESS WHO’S BACK? | With Jack’s mandate in mind, Emily returns to Daniel, who is barely holding it together as he Googles his dad’s disease. (Side note: I can barely believe I’m typing this, but I’m kind of moved by Daniel’s plight here. Did Em slip something in my water?) Emily announces she wants to get married on August 8, a date Nolan later notes is the double eights in her infinity tattoo.
Meanwhile, over at Grayson Manor, a perturbed Charlotte announces she’s moving out (new haircut, same wild mood swings, eh Char?). Victoria barely notices, but she perks up when she thinks Patrick has returned. Nope! It’s really Aiden, who says he’s after the “same thing as you: looking to destroy the girl next door.” Dun-dun-dunnnnnnn!
Now it’s your turn. Are you feeling good about the new season? What did you think of Margaux, Daniel’s French friend? Have any early theories on who shot Emily? Sound off in the comments!Follow @kimroots