Who doesn’t like a good ole fashion revenge plot? I certainly do. And I haven’t seen one this well-executed since The Count of Monte Cristo, which is what inspired this modern-day take on getting even with evil.
Basically, Amanda Clarke (Emily VanCamp, “Everwood”) comes to the Hamptons to settle a score with the family that destroyed hers, led by the evil Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe, “12 Monkeys” and “The Last of the Mohicans”), who is absolutely diabolical in this role. When she slings passive aggressive arrows from her posh French script armchair, you’ll hate her so much you’ll want to scream.
And the saboteur moves in right next door to her targets, unabashedly into her childhood house. But she’s covered her tracks so well the Graysons have no idea who she really is, even when she starts dating Victoria’s son to stay close to them. They think she’s Emily Thorne, a woman she secretly traded identities with a few years ago.
Only one in this treacherous community knows who she really is, Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann), who swore to her deceased father that he would look after her. He becomes a willing (though unwanted) sidekick who provides much of the comical relief of the show. Though I’m unfamiliar with this actor, he’s very endearing in this part.
But there is one non-person who recognizes Amanda, her childhood Labrador, Sammy. When the Feds came and took Amanda and her father away for something he didn’t do, the dog went into the care of her childhood best friend, Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler, the funny, Buddha-worshipping jock from “Roswell.” He does well as a wholesome, good-hearted leading man!) And constantly leads Jack to fake Emily’s/real Amanda’s doorstep since he knows his previous owner despite the act. There is an instant connection between Jack and fake Emily he doesn’t understand. And it gets especially complicated when the fake Amanda Clarke/real Emily Thorne (Margarita Levieva) comes to town. Jack thinks he’s reunited with his childhood love, but is somewhat confused when Sammy the dog is put-off by this new and not-so-improved Amanda.
And that’s just the beginning. You’ll get completely sucked into the 22 episodes that are currently available on Netflix Instant. And you can watch all four of this season’s episodes on ABC.com here.
My only critique of the show so far is that the first half of season one is much more satisfying than the second. It’s way more enjoyable to watch the fake Emily/real Amanda set up her enemies to fall like perfectly aligned dominoes than scramble to improvise when shit hits the fan. Her plans start as all hers, but soon other people intrude on her revenge plot (some misguidedly intending to help and some with very selfish reasons to thwart her) and often cause unforeseen complications that totally derail some of her more brilliant schemes. By the end of season one, things are an indiscernible mess. But I guess if her plans worked perfectly from the get-go there wouldn’t be a season two, and I’m certainly glad there is. But I don’t foresee this show going into a third season. It would make this plot just too complicated—when it’s already pretty damn complicated—and hope ABC knows when enough is enough. In fact, the show is so complicated there’s even a whole episode in season two devoted to summarizing the tumultuous plot of season one. It’s linked here, but only watch if you’re not interested in watching season one or have already seen it!