Sunday, October 7, 2012

Revenge "Resurrection" Review

How soon will Revenge reach the 'completely convoluted' stage of their storytelling? Next week seems as good an episode as any after "Resurrection." ABC's desperate to feature an iconic villain in their Sunday night soap lineup. The promos for tonight's episode featured the words "Villain" in large font with dripping blood and backdrop of fire (Don't trust me, because I don't actually remember but that's as bad a design job as any you'll see on a network promo video). Victoria was serviceable in her role as Queen Bitch in the Hamptons last season. Kelley tried to craft a complicated and complex character through her past relationship with David Clarke and her maternal feelings for Daniel during the mid-season excitement of 'Who got shot on Hamptons beach?!?' Kelley faked her death and used it to show the diabolical, deceptive and master manipulator aspect of the character; and she's supposed to define the evil of ABC's Sunday night lineup, more so than Lana Parilla and Terry O'Quinn. It's not working.

Madeleine Stowe isn't the strongest character actor in show business. Stowe pretty much has one gear, which is stare at others with a slight flair of the nostrils, a raised eyebrow every now and again, and a bland delivery of her lines. Her wardrobe and look is more important to the character than whether or not Stowe is able to pull off the emotion of the character. Victoria's long black hair and expensive dresses, and her way of looking at a person like they forgot to take off their shoes before entering the foyer, conveys the essence of the character: long, expensive, uninteresting, lack of depth, and as shallow as any other depiction of a rich person on this show. She's just not interesting enough to be The Enemy.

Ashley Madekwe, in my opinion, brings more flair, mystery, duplicity, and manipulation into her two minutes of screentime than Stowe does in an ample amount of screentime. Madekwe express more in a look than Stowe in a four minute scene with Vancamp's Emily Thorne. Ashley the character is basically a pawn in the Grayson schemes while Victoria is in control of the board. Revenge was never a strong show to begin with, and it's significantly weaker because of the rise of Victoria Super Villain.

Now, I know the Graysons were responsible for David Clarke and that they've been bastards since 1995. The plane crash nonsense is predictably nonsensical. I suppose the intention is to soldify the Graysons as the villains, but, also, it's supposed to put Emily Thorne in an uncomfortable place where she's ignorant of their plans. Her mother lives, but she doesn't know where she lives; Charlotte believed Victoria about their plans to run away, but the plan runs deeper, and Emily's unaware of Victoria's true plans; Conrad's trying to steal inheritance money for a mysterious reason; the children are pawns in the Grayson game, a means to an end. Emily just glares menancingly from afar, at her computer, or at nothing specificially at all.

The episode's as up and down as the poor CGIed ocean in the short title sequence. Emily's goal is to learn more about Victoria's plan, which never happens once the silver-haired man threatens the lives of Victoria's and Charlotte's. Daniel turns face when he learns the truth about Conrad's role in keeping Charlotte locked away to drain her trust fund and and then saves Charlotte from forced drug rehab. Victoria and Conrad conspire to frame the silver-haired man for kidnapping and demanding a ransom for Victoria. Victoria returns to the Hamptons as an inspirational figure; her and Conrad become a manipulative team again, right down to the manipulation of her children. It's a retread of season one. Season one loved to tease payoffs and revelations but never paid them off. The Victoria storyline went one way until it went another way and then veered to the left and then to the right like a drunk driver before plunging off a cliff in "Resurrection."

The theme is resurrection, too, which brings to mind the Catholic belief of it. Emily's thinking about her mother during her resurrection narration as evidenced by the flashback of her and her mother driving along somewhere. Emily opines that resurrections are really a new beginning. Victoria is in a sense resurrected; Charlotte, too, is resurrected from the reputation her father paid good money to keep on her daughter; and somewhere Emily's mother lives, she who was once thought dead but now lives. Emily finishes her narration with the truth that one must spend several days in hell before being resurrected. Certainly, the viewer is in narrative hell.

Narratively, the episode makes little progress. Victoria's return was necessary for the future of the season. The writers couldn't do much with her in a cabin somewhere in rural New York. The series will be stalled until Jennifer Jason Leigh makes her return to Emily's life. As I already wrote, this episode's essentially a retread of season one, early season one specifically. Emily needs to get closer to the Graysons; the Graysons harbor dangerous secrets Emily needs to know; Emily sort of learns the truth, but not really, and gets closer to the family, but not really, because Victoria doesn't trust her. Emily lies to Jack. Daniel and Emily seem like a potential couple again. The differences are: Charlotte's less grating, and Declan's downright likeable.
Revenge established important plots and such thus far; now it's time to move forward.

Other Thoughts:

-Nolan hired his accounting analyst as his CFO because the show needed another gorgeous woman on screen. This actress looks like a more exotic Rachel Leigh Cook. While I mostly dread greater focus on Nolocorp, I look forward to Nolan's dynamic with Rachel Leigh Cook lookalike.

-Declan's a worthwhile character but his stories continue to suck. A rich bastard tells Declan to hold an expensive necklace for him in exchange for $500. Declan's definitely going to lose the necklace, or some other item he's tasked with protecting, and find himself in trouble. It'll be like The Outsiders, only worse. I just hope C. Thomas Howell is brought in as rich guy's older brother or uncle.

-Ashley played tennis and I once again lament the blandness of rich folk. They vacation in the most obvious places and play the most obvious sports.

-Fake Amanda and Jack learned he's the biological father; however, Emily lied to Fake Amanda about the Jack not being the father after Fake Amanda called to confirm the results, as Fake Amanda had a one-night stand and wanted to ensure Jack would stick around. Fake Amanda's also involved in Emily's plans for Charlotte. Maybe Revenge is already convoluted.

-Sallie Patrick wrote the episode. David Grossman directed it.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.