‘Revenge’ Season Premiere Recap: The Queen Bees Are Back

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Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) is back with a vengeance. Well, obviously, given the title of her show, right? But so is Victoria (Madeleine Stowe), as the second season premiere of ABC’s Revenge wasted barely any time in revealing.

Come on, you didn’t really think they’d kill off a talent as big as Stowe, did you?

Even with Emily learning that so much of what she grew up believing wasn’t actually true (cough, not-dead mother, cough) and setting up an even angrier arc for her character, Victoria was so much a part of her early anger, the show wouldn’t be truly satisfying if she was taken out so soon. Especially considering Emily had no part in that plane crash anyway.

So where does that leave us?

Note: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched Revenge’s second season premiere, “Destiny.”

“Destiny” opened over Labor Day Weekend, with a deep sea dive searching for survivors through some wreckage. But despite the similarities in situation as one of the searchers pointed out that a “fire or explosion brought her down,” what was on the ocean floor was not actually Victoria’s plane but instead Jack’s (Nick Wechsler) boat. That’s right, someone sunk the Amanda! And with it, yet another dead man to remain a mystery for the first part of the season. Is it too soon to play “Guess who the body is this time?” We may not yet have theories, but we certainly have hopes and dreams!

Jumping backward in time three months, Emily was in Japan, training with the new Takeda (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and trying to unlock memories of her mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh), determined to bring down anyone who kept the two apart. It didn’t take long for her to make the rounds with her former Hamptonites.

Starting with Nolan (Gabriel Mann), she found him training in a boxing gym and caught him up on Takeda’s training of both her and Amanda (Margarita Levieva). For someone who spent Season 1 cowering behind bodyguards, it was nice to see him taking charge of his own life for a change. If he’s going to continue to mess with Emily’s plan — and now if he’s going to be her roommate while his own house is in escrow — he’s going to continue to be in the line of fire.

Nolan and Emily visited the now decrepit hospital in which her mother once lay sick in a mental ward. It turned out that the building was boarded up — the patients supposedly moved — at the same time her father was arrested years earlier. As they hunted for her mother’s patient file, though, Emily literally retracing steps she took as a child, new memories were unlocked. But more importantly, Nolan found the visitor log, uncovering that Victoria had a hand in both Emily’s parents’ demises.

For the time being, Jack is with Amanda on paper but not really physically. He has been sneaking down to his boat, drinking a lot, planting the seed in the audience’s mind that you should worry it is him on the ocean floor in just a few months. But it could potentially be Declan (Connor Paolo), too — who has been stepping in and stepping up where the bar is concerned but overstepping his bounds by trying to parent his older brother.

Nothing Declan did was enough, though. The bar was closed — deemed a health hazard — and Jack continued to avoid the question of whether or not Amanda’s baby was even his to just try to “do right” by his new family.

The Graysons, meanwhile, were mourning Victoria. Apparently there was a funeral we missed, though we’re back right in time for the party — err, memorial. Grieving son Daniel (Josh Bowman) is spending too much time staring at her perfectly preserved room, even with temptress Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) hanging on his arm and prancing around the Manor.

That’s right: the opportunistic wannabe socialite is now hooking up with the businessman and attempting to be the new Mrs. G, though we all know she is not nearly ready to fill those shoes. And as learned in the season premiere, he is still pining a bit for what never ended up being with Emily.

Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) survived her overdose and spent the last sixty days in sober living, “overachieving,” as her father not-so-compassionately put it. Unfortunately, a drug test after she was let out to attend her mother’s memorial came back positive, removing her from the equation (at least momentarily) again. Thankfully, though, she managed to slip Emily a key piece of information before she was pulled away. Charlotte told Emily where she could find Victoria. Though, why she chose to confide in a woman who is no longer engaged to her brother — and who she still doesn’t know is her real, biological sister — is beyond us, though we’re thrilled nonetheless.

Without Victoria, Conrad (Henry Czerny) really stepped up in the bastard department, being ruthless at work and at home. Conrad decided to lift the contingency on Daniel’s trust fund, only if his son would turn around and invest all of the funds back into the company. Conrad turned a blind eye to his son’s drinking, but he paid to have the blood work tampered with — if not outright drugged his own daughter — just so he could throw her back into rehab and keep her from selling her own stock in the company.

Back in Japan, though, Takeda worried about Emily taking off, but his seeming protégé Aidan (Barry Sloane) offered to bring her back, his subtext implying so much more about his own feelings for the woman who keeps her cards so close to her chest.

Neither man should worry about Emily, though. She proved that she could still see through her emotions last season, and even though she has been tested harder already this year, she is doing so again. When she showed up on Victoria’s hideaway doorstep (and um, did anyone else think Victoria might just have run off with that artist, Melrose Place’s Peter and Amanda style?), she managed to keep the icy cool demeanor of a woman just worried about a friend. Emily and Victoria may have made nice for now, focusing on helping Charlotte instead (at least externally), but that kind of “truce” can only last so long.

After all, Emily got Victoria the information she needed about the doctor at Charlotte’s rehab who is under Conrad’s thumb but planted a “clam cam” in her hideaway in the process. And while they partnered as reluctant allies, Victoria had another ace up her sleeve: She was secretly working with the White Haired Man. As if Emily needed another reason to continue after this woman!

Buzz Moments

OMG!: Daniel’s sad puppy dog eyes when Emily left him with Ashley on the boat at the memorial made us equally want to hug him and slap him. Dump that British chippy who has probably also screwed your father and try to woo Emily back!

Thank you, TV gods: Revealing Victoria not only as alive, but also as even more conniving than we could have ever imagined in just the first episode back? That’s not something a primetime soap would have done so soon even a year ago, and we’re personally very happy Revenge’s storytelling moves at a brisk pace.

Awk-ward: So, does Revenge just hope we’re all racist enough to assume that Hiroyuki Sanada and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa are the same person? The former played Takeda last season, but the latter does this season… with barely a mention of the recast to be found.

Hotness: A shirtless and sweaty Nolan getting into shape in a boxing ring, cut tragically short by Emily’s impromptu and unannounced return.

Fab-u-lous: Nolan’s white pants, black and white pinstripe jacket, and skinny black tie was the perfect attire for a nautical memorial during cocktail hour.

Can. Not. Wait.: Just what does Victoria hope to gain by staying “dead” and she’s really playing the White Haired Man, too, right!?

Celebuzz Meter (1-10): 8

What character surprised you the most in the Revenge season premiere? Let us know your thoughts about “Destiny” in the comments below!

Danielle Turchiano