Before You Set Out to Watch Revenge, Pour Two Glasses of Wine

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Revenge's pilot set up a lot of great elements: Amanda Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) and Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) hate each other, someone in a white jacket got shot (they want us to think it's Daniel, but I have my theories), and Emily may have murdered her own fiance to hurt Victoria—or she may have simply been pawing through the sand. We have two rich-man/poor-man romances on the horizon and a murder to solve! Basically, the premiere hit that "Lifetime movie" tone of campy melodrama that almost begs you to open a bottle of wine and start cackling at the TV. Nothing pairs with a chardonnay like Madeleine Stowe speechifying about "primal bookends" and then clutching her skirts and shrieking to the CGI skies of the "Hamptons."

I mean, how recession-era is this whole show? I can already see clips of it being played in a film class in 2078. Its appeal is grounded in a combination of wealth porn and the total vilification of the rich, yet it is the poorest show about upper-class people I have ever seen. Part of Revenge's campy appeal is its brave attempt to portray staggering wealth with a modest budget, which I totally applaud. It's not the show's job to waste money; it's to entertain us with a soapy mystery. The pilot definitely left me with several intriguing questions, though probably not the ones the writers had in mind:


QUESTION 1: What exactly does it mean to "destroy" someone?
Emily has returned to the "Hamptons" to destroy her father's former business partners, who set him up as the fall guy for an embezzlement scheme connected to 9/11. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center seems wildly inappropriate as a story device, but it gives enough explanation as to why her dad was driven to suicide/died of shame and why Emily had to grow up in jail (where she apparently dyed her hair black in the cell toilet). I buy Emily wanting to destroy the people responsible for her dad's ruination. But if the person she "destroyed" this episode was Lydia, the blonde lady whose face Emily x'd out at the end while surveying her photo of People To Destroy, I don't know if Lydia was "destroyed" so much as mildly inconvenienced. Yeah, Victoria announced that Lydia's house is on the market (which is in no way legally binding) and gave her a painting worth several million dollars (take that, b*tch!). I guess the idea was to knock out Victoria's support system, but Lydia was clearly shown testifying against Emily's dad, and yet she was basically up by several million at the end of the episode.


QUESTION 2: Who's the "British" lady?
Emily's sidekick, an event planner with a fake British accent, made my wine-soaked brain tingle. Maybe this is going to be a midseason reveal! Maybe her friend isn't British at all but has some ulterior motives of her own! Or she's just S.T. Rugglin' through her lines in a fake British accent? Yet to be seen!


QUESTION 3: What is your witchcraft, Madeleine Stowe?
How does this lady look so amazing? Madeleine spent the entire pilot changing into different bandage dresses, including a nude-colored one for the $10,000-a-plate yacht party (on a parked boat, obviously, did you think yachts leave the harbor during yacht parties? Not in the "Hamptons.") And she. Looked. Good.


QUESTION 4: What clown college is Revenge getting its extras from?
At the parked-yacht party, one of the extras had taken off her heels, and they were just chilling in-frame when Emily first spotted her fiance-to-be, Daniel.

They're posing as billionaires, but extras are ultimately people willing to stand around for hours in exchange for Fig Newtons, so the contrast makes for some pretty delightful scenery.


QUESTION 5: Why would Emily put Nolan/Mark Zuckerburg in a choke hold?
Isn't he her business partner and the source of all of her money? Yikes! Save that ish for the yard, girl!


QUESTION 6: How are we supposed to hate Daniel and his sister?
The actor playing Daniel is adorable. The actress playing his sister is crazy likable and cute. As notoriously maligned as rich kids are, one way to make them very lovable is to have them care about each other and to assign very appealing actors to play them. Are these two actors possibly dating?


FINAL QUESTION: Are we actually going to see Emily do any of the cool stuff?
Revenge established at the end that Emily had pulled a wig and a waitress costume out of thin air, but how did she manage to intercept the room-service tray? I want to see at least a little montage of her changing in a bathroom stall and sneakily pulling a tray out from under a heat lamp.


IN SUM:
... As I said, I don't think the murder victim in the white jacket was Daniel, and I'm honestly curious to see who it is.
... I'm also intrigued by Emily's emotional journey (hopefully she drops the revenge, embraces some form of forgiveness, and just enjoys spending her huge amounts of money).
... The repeated references to "an unforgettable summer" make me wonder if Revenge was originally a summer series that was bumped up to primetime status because of good testing or strong writing. As long as I don't have to take a drink every time the show works in that silly double infinity symbol, I plan on staying for the whole season in the "Hamptons."


Questions:

… Did you like the pilot?

… Was Daniel the person who got shot in the beginning?

… Have you ever worked as an extra? Wasn’t it horrible/fun?

… If you had piles of money, would you even care for five minutes about anything besides renting out water parks and naming your island?

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