Buckle up: The second-season premiere of "Revenge" was a scheme-y night. Emily, Amanda, and the Grayson Gang have had a busy few months since last we saw them. After a mysterious flash-forward opening that includes a burnt body and the Amanda underwater, here's Emily herself, also underwater. Em's gone back to Japan for a ninja refresher course, and she's lashed to a piling and drowning -- while trying to unearth a buried memory about her mother, Kara. Takedo mutters disapproving koans to the British cutie, Aiden (Barry Sloane), who's tasked with protecting her.
What does Em remember? First, that her mom is played, amazingly, by Jennifer Jason Leigh; second, that Kara was confined to a psych ward. (Driven around the bend by an abundance of cutesy flashbacks, I suspect. Notice it's never a scene where David is ripping a strip off Emily for getting marker on the couch?) Emily digs up an article about the hospital closing, and she and Nolan go for a look, thereby setting this season's Rube Goldbergian plot contraption in motion. Nolan finds a visitor's log that states "Charlotte Clarke" visited Kara the day before David got arrested -- but "Charlotte" had Victoria's handwriting.
Meanwhile, over at Castle Greyskull -- er, "Grayson Manor" -- Victoria, of course, is dead. … Well, "dead." Hold that thought. As the summer Hamptons season gets under way, Ashley has her gold-digging shovel buried firmly in Daniel's skull -- not that he notices, as he's too busy getting drunk and flinging a stream of barbs at Conrad about his alleged role in the plane's explosion.
He's not the only one. Amanda is still pregnant, the baby still probably isn't Jack's, and Jack is spending nights on the Amanda, self-medicating. Amanda is up Jack's nose about that; Declan is up Jack's nose about Jack's living a lie because he doesn't really love Amanda, and about Jack's not taking care of Stowaway business. Declan was known as "Fast Forward" at my house last season, because that's what we were usually doing when he was onscreen, but he makes a great point. If Dec's next move is to point out that nobody strokes their bellies as much in real life as the conniving pregnant ladies of film and TV do, he's officially our favorite character.
That honor currently belongs to Nolan, however. Nolan has a new haircut, and no place to stay. Emily pretends to be reluctant to let him bunk with her until he finds a new house, which is absurd, because Nolan is rad.
Charlotte is also showing signs of awesomeness -- she's got 60 days of sobriety, and she's eager to attend her mother's memorial. Her rehab minder, Dr. Thomas, isn't keen on the idea, or on letting her graduate from the program. Dr. T seems like kind of a creeper, and sure enough, he's using one of his many aliases to conspire with Conrad to fake a positive drug test for Charlotte, so that Conrad can get power of attorney over Charlotte's portion of her inheritance from Victoria.
Not that that's legal anyway, exactly, because as you probably guessed if you've ever watched television before, Victoria is totally alive. Before getting dragged out of the memorial, Charlotte screeches that Conrad blew up the plane and Daniel is in on it; then she whispers something to Emily, who heads right over to the queen's witness-protection cottage to tell her Charlotte's getting set up. (And also to palm a seashell ornament so that Nolan can rig it with a camera he calls "clam cam." Love it.) Victoria breaks down Conrad's master plan to Emily -- blow up the plane to destroy the evidence against him; pull Charlotte's purse strings -- and claims the government is protecting her until they can build a case.
As the episode winds down, Jack visits Emily and expresses vague regrets, while Emily suggests that he make sure Amanda's baby is really his, an accusation Amanda clearly resents. Daniel broods in the direction of Emily's house. Emily broods at the sea. Jack broods at the ceiling. And the White-Haired Man comes to see Victoria, and Clam Cam catches them plotting. Dun!
Nolanism du jour, as he warily eyes a portrait of Victoria at the memorial service: "You think she's somewhere looking … up at us?"
Over-the-shoulder shots of characters "hugging" while plotting: zero, technically, which is quite disconcerting; first-season eps usually had at least three.
Next week, Charlotte probably gets kidnapped, or pretends to.
Watch the Season 2 premiere of "Revenge" in full:
"Revenge" airs Sundays at 9 PM on ABC.