Where Season 2 Of “Revenge” Went So Very Wrong

After an underwhelming second season that ends May 12, Revenge showrunner Mike Kelley has been axed. Here’s a look at all the missteps our once beloved series took its sophomore year. SPOILERS, naturally.

1. Emily’s mom showed up for no particular reason.

ABC

The end of Season 1 revealed that Emily’s mom was alive, and her return became one of Season 2’s most hyped plot points. The news that Jennifer Jason Leigh had been cast as the mental matriarch only added to anticipation. And then … nothing happened. Oh, sure, she went off her meds for a while and caused a little mayhem, but it was all but forgotten by the next episode. Not to mention the fact that Leigh always seemed a little off, and not in the fun crazy way. Perhaps it was bad direction or the fact that she wasn’t given much to work with, but no one missed Kara when she left the Hamptons.

2. Emily got soft.

ABC

One of the great things about Revenge was its unique protagonist: We rooted for Emily, but we never really felt for her. She was a single-minded revenge machine, and there was something genuinely cool about a character motivated not by love or power but by vengeance. And yet, Season 2 has seen Emily cry. A lot. She crumpled in Aidan’s arms, she missed her mom, and worst of all, she doubted her revenge plot. While it may not be as easy to like Season 1’s cold and calculating heroine, she was at least more challenging than the watered-down version we’ve gotten in Season 2.

3. There has been endless talk about The Initiative, without any explanation as to what The Initiative is.

ABC

I mean, I kind of get it. Maybe? So much of Season 2 has been spent dreading, confronting, and plotting against The Initiative. But what is The Initiative? They’re evil and they sometimes do very bad things — like down planes full of people — but their motives are murky. To some extent, that’s intentional, but a shadow organization is only interesting if you have a little context. There is never any endgame in sight: We’re just meant to understand that The Initiative is a group of the Bad Guys. And there went any complexity Season 1 had offered.

4. The Ryan Brothers muddled the plot.

ABC

As if Revenge weren’t confusing enough, Season 2 has given us the completely superfluous story of the Ryan Brothers, two men with a revenge plot of their own. Worst of all, very little of this was explained at the get-go, presumably so the audience would eagerly await the big reveal. All that happened was the majority of fans wondering why two new characters were taking up so much screentime. Emily has had enough trouble maintaining focus in Season 2 — the addition of these two only slowed things down further.

5. Emily and Daniel have gone back and forth and back and forth and…

ABC

Daniel was of course supposed to die halfway through the first season, but Revenge realized they had a star (and a total hunk) on their hands. Keeping Daniel around was fine, especially as he learned more about his family’s lies and took a more active role in Grayson Global. So why saddle him and Emily with this pointless on-again off-again romance? We know she’s only in it for the revenge, which just makes the whole thing feel extra tedious. They look good together, but that’s about it. Going to have to agree with Victoria on this one: Break it off for good.

6. Declan continues to exist.

ABC

Sorry, Declan. As little as he mattered in Season 1, Declan became more of an unnecessary presence in Season 2. Like Ashley — who at least gets the occasional bit of juicy material to work with — he’s one of those characters the show seems to forget exists. And then suddenly we’re supposed to care that he’s turned to a life of petty crime, or that he’s worried Charlotte is going to leave him for Amanda’s long-lost foster brother. When early rumors surfaced that Declan was this season’s big death, fans quietly cheered. If only we’d known that was too good to be true.

7. Nolan lost all his edge.

ABC

Like Emily, Nolan has undergone an unfortunate softening this season — and his may have been even more severe. What happened to the bubbly bisexual playboy who delighted us in Season 1? A pathetic pawn to Emily and a lovesick slave to Padma, Nolan went from fan favorite to total dud. It was a severe downgrade: And to those of us drawn to his rich-kid charms and sexual ambiguity, it was an especially painful one. While it’s tempting to blame it all on Padma — and we’ll get to her shortly — Nolan is yet another character who suffers from not having enough to do. His role as Emily’s lackey got dull fast.

8. The show forced us to care about Padma, then killed her offscreen.

ABC

The only thing more infuriating than the amount of time Revenge spent on Padma is how haphazardly it got rid of her. An offscreen death is one of TV’s worst fates, and it’s a particularly weak finish when we’re devoting a fair amount of time to looking for the deceased. At least on The Walking Dead, which pulled the same crap with Sophia, we got to see her one last time as a zombie. But Revenge gave us the briefest glimpse of Padma’s corpse, as if to say, “Our bad. She’s gone now.” In that case, can you return the time I spent watching her pointless saga unfold?

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