I have never been to the Hamptons but of this I am sure: there are a lot of very rich people whose lives revolve around holding fund-raisers for animals/psychologically-damaged children/political candidates/victims and survivors of plane crashes and assorted other causes that their hearts desired.

revenge emily vancamp

When I googled the population of the Hamptons, it turns out there’s an approximate year-round population of 75,000 people but you would never know it when you watch REVENGE.  The location may be a popular summer vacation spot, but the fall premiere of this intriguing and addictive new show on ABC has become one of my (and judging from its ratings, enough other viewers to warrant the network ordering a full season) favorite new shows this season.

If you have not checked out this show yet, don’t despair.  Let me catch you up on the highlights so far…

Seventeen years ago, David Clarke (James Tupper) was wrongly accused and convicted of treason for laundering money for terrorists responsible for taking down a plane.  We quickly find out that he was framed by none other than his former boss and neighbors, the almighty Graysons – Conrad (Henry Czerny) and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe).  Chief amongst those who helped with the grand deception are Lydia Davis (Amber Valetta) who was David’s secretary (before they were called “personal assistants”) and Frank Stevens (Max Martini), the Head of Security for the Graysons.

David had a daughter, Amanda (Emily VanCamp) who, incidentally, had a puppy named Sammy.  Amanda was only about six years old when her father was arrested at their Hamptons home in front of her.  She was sent to a children’s home after his conviction, and later to “juvie” (what crimes she committed are unclear but she’s pretty bad-ass).  Amanda was best friends with a local boy named Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler), whose father owned the local Stowaway Tavern until he died suddenly of a heart attack and left it to Jack and his little brother, Declan (Connor Paolo).  After the Clarkes left the Hamptons, Sammy the puppy went to live with Jack.

Fast forward to present day, little Amanda is all grown up and has a new identity: Emily Thorne – orphaned daughter of a wealthy ex-pat who spent her youth travelling all around the world, studying and working with charities.  With her money, it does not take long for her to insert herself right into the middle of the Hamptons social scene, especially when her friend, Ashley Davenport (Ashley Madekwe) seems to be the event planner of choice for every party that “Queen” Victoria hosts.

revenge fashionRevenge Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot Recap

At the first party she attends – on the Grayson yacht, no less – we are introduced to some of the key members of this little Hamptons community.  Emily meets the Graysons’ pride and joy, Daniel (Josh Bowman) and teenage daughter, Charlotte (Christa B. Allen).  We find out that Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann) made his money from the tech boom and has more money than everyone on the yacht combined (so why did he want to buy Jack’s tiny little yacht, affectionately named Amanda, after his childhood friend?).  Turns out David Clarke had invested with Nolan way back when and became 49% shareholder in his company.  Nolan is also the only one who knows that Emily is actually Amanda – well, him and Sammy, the immortal dog who is still alive and wagging his tail, always happily by Jack’s side.  When Amanda was released from juvie, she was met by Nolan with a box left to her by her father containing diaries filled with details of who had framed him.  He urged her to forgive.  She chose to take revenge instead.

First on Emily’s hit list: Lydia Davis.  After David’s incarceration, Lydia and her husband, Michael, bought his Hamptons beach house (what a sweet coincidence) and Lydia is always by Victoria’s side at all her parties…until now.  Turns out Mr Davis can’t keep his zipper closed and has run off with a twenty-something, so the beach house was put up for rent…dun-dun-dun…to none other than Emily Thorne! But it’s not only Mr D who can’t keep his hands to himself – apparently Lydia has been having an affair with Conrad, too! (By the way, David was having an affair with Victoria before his arrest.)  All Emily had to do was make sure Victoria finds out her bestie has been getting it on with her husband and leave it to the Queen herself to send her former friend into exile and out of the Hamptons.

There are a lot of details in the pilot that requires at least one repeat viewing because the series opens three months later and every episode thereafter is a lead-in to what happens in the opening scene – Daniel Grayson is found shot on the beach during his engagement party to Emily, discovered by his sister, Charlotte, while frolicking in the ocean with Declan.  We are not told if he is dead or not.  Hunched over Daniel’s body is a hooded figure – and it’s (cover your eyes if you don’t want to read the next word) Jack!

Revenge Season 1 Episode 2 Trust Recap

Next, comes a hedge fund manager to the wealthy, Bill Harmon.  Bill wasn’t always a bad guy – after all, he was the one who gave little Amanda her puppy seventeen years ago.  With a little help from Nolan, Emily sets Bill up for a big fall causing his company to collapse, sending him and his clients to bankruptcy.  Meanwhile, Emily and Daniel are getting to know each other, much to the chagrin of Victoria, who’s sent Frank to investigate her background.

Revenge Season 1 Episode 3 Betrayal Recap

Given the scale of the original crime, there had to be some important people involved. And so, we are introduced to Tom Kingsley who was the Prosecutor in David Clarke’s trial, now a US Senator running for re-election. During David’s trial, Victoria had approached him with claims that she had evidence David had been set up but Conrad paid him off to keep his mouth shut.  At a fund-raiser for his campaign hosted by the Graysons, the good Senator’s pregnant mistress turns up, and so, instead of announcing his campaign for re-election, was forced to announce his retirement.  As a new story arc, Daniel’s college roommate, Tyler Barrol (Ashton Holmes), turns up, starts dating Ashley (the event planner) and begins to sabotage Daniel’s blossoming romance with Emily.

Revenge Season 1 Episode 4 Duplicity Recap

Back on Emily’s journey of revenge, we meet Dr Michelle Banks, therapist to every Hampton socialite.  This was a more personal target to Emily in that Dr Banks was the psychologist at the children’s home who was bribed by Victoria to make sure little Amanda never got to see her father again. This week’s take-down was at a mother-daughter fundraiser for mental healthcare for disadvantaged children. During the presentation at the event, a little DVD shows up of the doctor’s appointments with her wealthy patients, including that of Victoria confessing she wished she’d never had a second child. Oops! Say goodbye, Dr Banks! If you’re curious, you can actually watch those therapy sessions right here at http://www.hamptonsexposed.com/!

Revenge Season 1 Episode 5 Guilt Recap

In the diary he left to his daughter, David advised his daughter never to underestimate the power of guilt.  After the plane crash caused by the terrorists whose money Conrad was responsible for helping launder, Victoria convinced her husband to create a charity to help the families of the victims the crash.  The rich and vengeful never stay away too long, even with $10million in the bank from Conrad. And so, Lydia decides to surprise Victoria by returning to the Hamptons and turning up at the Open Arms gala (what a fantastic name for a charity).  In a case of “the past will always catch up with you”, Lydia discovers that Emily Thorne is not who she says she is but before she could find out more, Nolan comes to the rescue once again. Frank, the ever-loyal security man who is, perhaps not-so-secretly in love with Victoria, takes matters into his own hands and sends Lydia literally over the edge.  Meanwhile, Emily and Daniel (recently separated from his trust fund from Daddy Grayson) take their relationship to the next level, if you get my drift.

Revenge Season 1 Episode 6 Intrigue Recap

In the Hamptons, miracles can happen.  For example, falling five stories in a ball-gown and hitting the roof of a cab won’t kill you but is enough to put you in a coma long enough to miss a couple of Grayson parties. Thanks to Nolan’s conveniently-planted video camera in Lydia’s apartment recording Frank’s attack on Lydia, Emily’s attention turns to Mr Security himself.  Nolan sends the surveillance video to Conrad, prompting him to fire Frank.  One would never expect Frank to let sleeping dogs lie and it did not take long for him to find out who was responsible for the video.

In the meantime, scheming Tyler invites Daniel and Emily to go on a double date with him and Ashley, whereupon he was served as the main course when Emily picks holes in every tall tale he tells over dinner, leaving us to ponder over just who this scheming little so-and-so is and what he is after.   The next night, at the Graysons’ Fourth of July shindig, Jack turns up to declare his love for Emily, who begrudgingly reminds her childhood friend that she is already taken.  Tyler pays a visit to Daniel, now employed by Jack at the Stowaway Tavern and shows us just what a psychopath we already suspected him to be.

Revenge Season 1 Episode 7 Charade Recap

revenge season 1Having been rejected by the Graysons, Frank is even more determined to dig into Emily’s past, declaring to Victoria, “I’m going to redeem myself with you, or I’m going to die trying.” His tenacity pays off when he finds the real Emily Thorne.  Having met the fake Emily Thorne and seen what she is capable of, you would think that Frank would not be foolish enough to underestimate what the real one may be capable of.  Poor Frank – haven’t you heard of self-fulfilling prophecies?

While Frank is busy searching for the truth, the Hamptons’ “Most Perfect Couple” celebrate 25 years of happy union with just an intimate dinner at the Grayson Manor.  Daniel and Emily declare they are falling for each other; Charlotte brings home Declan who delivered one of the best lines of the evening to Victoria: “I’m sure you slaved over the stove in the kitchen all day” to which Her Majesty replied with a big smile: “Oh you’re funny!”  Missing from the party is Tyler who is busy locking lips with…(gasp) Nolan!  Yes, Nolan has uncovered the truth about Tyler but just who is conning who?

I am extremely excited about REVENGE returning this Wednesday to ABC.  Is Emily’s surprise visitor going to help, hinder or threaten her plans?  How much will Lydia remember? Is it really over between Jack and Emily? Oh so many questions!  This series, created by Mike Kelley and executive produced by Phillip Noyce is one that engages and intrigues.  The ensemble cast manages to make you cheer for them and be suspicious of them at the same time.

If all of this has been a little confusing, I thought I would help with a little character map to give you an idea of who’s who in this crazy, Hamptons beach-side zoo. View it: Revenge Characters Chart

Written by Valerie Leung. Read her blog LibraGirl Rules and follow her on twitter to  talk about great TV @ValShopaholic

We have a REVENGE Review every week, so don’t forget to stick around to Small Screen Scoop.