Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
During a TCA visit to the elaborate Manhattan Beach set of the ABC primetime soap Revenge, the cast and showrunner Mike Kelley regaled the press with stories of what’s to come on its second season this fall. Not that they revealed all that much. Kelley revealed just enough to whet appetites. “For season two, we flash forward to the end of summer again and then a real terrible event that occurs,” he said, “and then we bring the audience back to the beginning of the summer. We also open with a quote much as we did in the first season. This one is about destiny. It’s about whether you have a hand in your own destiny or whether it’s all laid out for you. So this season is all about free will vs. fate.” Part of that fate (or is it free will?) revolves around Jennifer Jason Leigh, who will have a major story arc in the upcoming season. She plays the mother of lead Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp, who had been presumed dead until the very end of the series’ Season 1 finale. “Yes, mother is coming, and she’s got some deep psychological issues”, Kelley said. “So Emily’s going to do a lot of reflecting on whether she’s genetically programmed to be a little bit unhinged like her mother — who is actually very unhinged. You’ll see the mother in the present day. And it’s a big surprise as to what happened to her”. He added that he would also like to bring back William Devane’s character at some point but that it won’t be happening for a while, as the producers are intent instead on emphasizing the core cast for the sophomore season.
Kelley also spoke of his intention not to play with audience loyalties on Revenge. He recalled watching Knots Landing and Melrose Place as a young man and hopes to engender a similar vibe on his series going forward. “There was such a slow burn” on those shows, Kelley says. “You trusted those writers and felt you were in really good hands. And I feel like we’ve lost some of that because there’s been these big event shows, these big mythology shows, where they’re asking you to go on a ride but they’re not showing you exactly where they’re headed. I felt like because those shows got pulled before the audience could find out what happened, people were just left hanging, I felt like when I started this that I wanted to tell the audience, ‘You’re in good hands, I know where I’m going, sit down and we’ll get you there. So that’s what I’m trying to do”. He hopes to take viewers on a similar ride in season two as he did in season one and hopes they’ll be coming back saying they like the stortytelling.
Revenge also gets a new time period for fall: Sunday nights at 9 beginning September 30. Kelley said, “I’m very excited about the new timeslot. They seem to be really behind the show. And it’s an historic timeslot. It’s a lot of pressure, and we want to perform really well for them, because it’s kind of an honor to be given that slot. But it feels like a night that they thought a lot about so there’s a flow to it. [Entertainment chief] Paul [Lee] said the whole night is about the battle of good vs. evil. So it’s got a theme to it, and I feel good about that.”