“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
Oh, the sweet smell of revenge….
For the vengeful person, that probably feels good to say. I’m actually such a goody-goody I’ve never had a chance to smell that sweet aroma. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to smell it, especially certain times of life (middle school!) but that thing called a conscience has stopped me cold every time. Acts of revenge look especially bad when your main job description is “Mom” and a large part of being a good one is setting a respectable example. What would it look like if I avenged my enemy while simultaneously reprimanding my children for hitting back? Maybe that’s why this new show Revenge on ABC at 10PM on Wednesday (based on the Alexandre Dumas’ book, The Count of Monte Cristo) has been such delicious and addictive entertainment for me.
The show is set beachside in the Hamptons. Flashbacks show Amanda Clarke as a dimpled eight year-old living with her adoring widowed father, David. He says things to her like, “I love you infinity times infinity”. Then their sweet life is turned upside down by a corrupt self-serving group of rich folks. On a dark night, Amanda is snatched from her father in a horrific scene with the FBI aggressively infiltrating their home. She eventually ends up in juvenile detention and her father is jailed for terrorism crimes he didn’t commit. He dies in prison just weeks before Amanda is released. Upon her release, Nolan (a guy whose company her Dad invested in) hands her a wooden box filled with sentimental trinkets from her childhood, access to a huge bank account (she is 49% owner of Nolan’s extremely successful venture) and a pile of her father’s handwritten journals. Within the pages, her father writes the true story of what happened, includes details of every character who contributed to his demise and asks her for one thing – that Amanda do what he wasn’t able to do…forgive.
Instead, she chooses to seek revenge on everyone involved in ruining her father. Every night, she examines the details of her father’s journals. She changes her identity to Emily Thorne (played skillfully by Emily VanCamp), creates the resume of a wealthy young person interested in “good causes,” and settles right in the middle of the wealthy, good-looking and well-dressed Southampton community. In fact, she rents the house next door to the powerful Grayson family, the center of the society there. Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) and the rest of Emily’s enemies, comprise a rich, powerful, partying group involved in high levels of finance and politics.
However, no amount of power, wealth or social standing is enough of a match for hardened-by-circumstances, tough-as-nails Emily – a blonde, winning, beautiful young woman with gorgeous cheekbones, a perfect dress for every occasion and deeply sinister underlying goals. If Emily gets her wish, this group is going down and going down hard.
In other words, revenge is Emily’s fulltime job, and she manages to ruin the lives of at least one or two powerful people per show… all with flawless make-up, perfectly coiffed hair, four-inch heels and a cute perky smile.
Will she actually get retribution? Or will she end up in one of the two graves about which Confucius warns?
With a lead character as compelling and complex as this lady, I’ll be tuning in to find out.