REVENGE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Emily VanCamp as EMILY THORNE
Madeleine Stowe as VICTORIA GRAYSON
Gabriel Mann as NOLAN ROSS
Henry Czerny as CONRAD GRAYSON
Ashley Madekwe as ASHLEY DAVENPORT
Nick Wechsler as JACK PORTER
Josh Bowman as DANIEL GRAYSON
Barry Sloane as AIDEN MATHIS
Connor Paolo as DECLAN PORTER
Christa B. Allen as CHARLOTTE GRAYSON
Studio: ABC Studios
Created by: Mike Kelley
BY KEVIN CARR
In many ways, the second season of a popular and cool television series is like the sequel to a popular film. It’s a result of how television is produced, starting with a pilot, getting the show green lit for the first thirteen episodes, having good enough ratings to get an order for the back nine, then to get the go-ahead for season two.
At every one of those points along the way, the show could simply die at the whim of the studio. It’s a tightrope balance for the showrunners to manage, keeping the series fresh enough to keep viewers interested but not so comfortable with itself that it alienates new viewers.
Then there’s sometimes a hiccup in season two. The second season often has a full order of more than 20 episodes, and there’s a lot more wiggle room. More time is afforded for character development and long-form story arcs. However, it’s a bear trap as well. The second season often finds diversions from the original premise of the show, for no other reason than to avoid burning through the ultimate set-up. Because, let’s face it, most series premises are not cut out to drag on for hundreds of episodes. This is why procedurals like cop shows and medical dramas work so well.
“Revenge” had a hell of a first season, getting a lot of people interested in the show and twisting plot lines around to a deliciously intricate web. However, once the show continued into its second season, it became clear that there’s only so far Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) can plan ahead and grease the wheels of revenge for the Graysons and everyone else involved in the ruining of her father’s life.
This seasons sees Emily going a bit off the rails in this season. The realization that her mother is actually alive puts her revenge plans on hold, begging the question of whether the show should be re-titled in mid-season. Emily’s distractions include more detective work than revenge this year, tracking down the man who murdered her father and dealing with the drama of her doppelganger’s child.
It’s not that the meandering road of Emily’s saga isn’t interesting. It is, but it feels a bit cheap, kind of like how soap operas suddenly started throwing in secret agent storylines when the “General Hospital” juggernaut took over daytime television in the 1980s. The stories are fine, and the skullduggery that happens through the season works to a degree. However, this second season doesn’t quite hold together as well as the first one did.
The good news is that by the end of the second year, there’s a strong indication that Emily will be back to her vengeful plotting by the start of season three… at least until she’s derailed again by anything from a desire to avoid the finality of her plan to a writers’ strike.
“Revenge: The Complete Second Season” DVD set includes audio commentaries on select episodes, as well as bloopers and deleted scenes. There are two featurettes: “The Sound of Revenge” about the scoring of the show and “Haute Hamptons: Dressing Miss Davenport” which spotlights Ashley Madekwe’s wardrobe for the season.
The final featurette is interesting in the grand vision of the show. “Schooled in Revenge” is really nothing more than a teaser for the book of the same name, but it gives a bit of insight into the revenge training that Emily went through under the tutelage of Master Takeda.