Revenge Season 3 poster

So it looks like Revenge is back… I mean REALLY back!

I’m in DVR catch up mode at the moment and after watching the last few episodes of ABC’s Sunday night soap pretty much back to back I’d confidently say Revenge is better than ever. It’s like that whole second season never even happened. Thankfully!

I’ve talked about Revenge countless times here on Remote Patrolled and have had an up and down history with the show. Like millions of others I loved Season 1, which set up the show’s soapy premise as Emily Thorne (aka Amanda Clarke) returned to the Hamptons to wreak vengeance on the Grayson family for framing her father. Revenge’s first series was fantastic – exciting, glossy, soapy and so much fun.

But it also ended with a worrying sign – The Initiative. Yep, in an effort to expand the series scope the Revenge writers cooked up a ridiculous conspiracy theory, which made the Graysons pawns in a grander scheme. Before season 2 started I warned that this was a worrying direction to take the show and sure enough The Initiative plotline soon fell apart. Revenge became ridiculously complicated, turning Emily into an action hero, wasting the reappearance of her long lost mom (a miscast Jennifer Jason Leigh) and losing millions of viewers along the way. Thankfully the second half of Season 2 was a vast improvement, but the damage was done…

So Season 3 has really become make or break for the show. Creatively the show is now firing on all cylinders – but those lost viewers haven’t returned. And I’m not sure that they ever will. ABC are already moving the show to 10pm in the New Year, away from the ratings juggernaut that is The Walking Dead. New viewers are unlikely to come at this point but if you’ve given up on Revenge, well it’s worth a second look.

In a nutshell, Revenge has embraced its soapy roots – and it’s all the better for it. It’s what I’ve been saying the show should have done a long time ago!

The fact is we don’t want ridiculous conspiracy theories from Revenge. We want to see Victoria (the fabulously vindictive Madeline Stowe – still the show’s greatest weapon) going head to head with Emily. The pair’s scenes just crackle with tension and bitchiness and this season Revenge has given us plenty of them!

Then there’s the decision to give the show’s main cast greater depth. Jack’s no longer spending whole episodes serving drinks at The Stowaway – now he’s part of the action, and himself morally compromised (having Jack learn of Emily’s true mission in the Season 2 finale was a vsuper smart move). Grayson daughter Charlotte is now a mini-Victoria in the making – she’s ten times more interesting now that she’s become a scheming little minx. Then there’s Aiden who’s character has really clicked this season now that’s he been freed from all that Initiative nonsense.

Revenge has smartly lost some of its more extraneous characters – Declan, Faux-manda and Ashley (though I rather liked the latter) and added just two key characters this year – Victoria’s long lost son Patrick (the stunning Justin Hartley) and magazine editor Karine. Both feel as though they belong in the Revenge world.

Revenge-Patrick : Justin Hartley

More proof of the show’s soapiness this season? Check out how many times the Revenge guys are shirtless this season – and how much better shape they’re all in! ABC have finally figured who’s watching the show – women and gay guys!

Heck, even this year’s flash forward is working better this season. Revenge had a great tease in season 1 – who was the body on the beach – that kept viewers hooked. But season 2’s sneak peek – the dead body at the bottom of the ocean – was so weak it was barely featured most weeks. But this year’s flash-forward – who shot Emily in her wedding dress, what was their motive and what happens next – is a great cliffhanger. Sure it’s ridiculous – but all great shows are!

Of course the big challenge for Revenge is long term. As the show heads towards a potential season 4 (no longer a sure thing sadly) it’s become very clear that the series was based on a fatal flaw from the start. Emily can never truly exact her revenge until the show reaches an end. Which means no matter how many twists and turns happen along the way she can never achieve her goal or the show will be over. For this reason it would have been much better for the show if the series was created with a definitely end goal and date in mind – i.e. 5 seasons. But of course network TV doesn’t work that way. And we’ve seen what happens when the show’s writers try to expand the series beyond Emily’s personal vendetta. Seeing how the Revenge team handle this challenge is definitely going to be interesting…

So I’m exited to see where Revenge heads to next – and it’s great to see the show firmly back on track. I love a good soap and Revenge is certainly delivering at the moment. So if you gave up in Season 2 maybe now’s the time for a second look. Don’t worry, The Initiative is long gone!