‘Revenge’ returns to basics
Season three opens with new showrunner Sunil Nayar streamlining much of the plot and moving the narrative back to the first season
SUNIL Nayar talks about cutting back on last year’s storylines, staying the course with the flash-forward formula and writing out Ashley Madekwe. By many accounts, Revenge took a few questionable turns during its sophomore season. And while the finale seemed to tee up several more complicated storylines, the show’s season three premiere (Thursday on M-Net at 7.30pm) found new showrunner Nayar streamlining much of the plot and moving the narrative back to the show’s first season.
“There were certain plot points that maybe could have given us a great story, but they would have taken us away from the luxury, romance, fun, seduction and deviousness of what the show is and what the Hamptons are in the summer.”
Taking over from creator and exiting showrunner Mike Kelley, Nayar also used the opportunity of the third season’s start to dispense with an original cast member (Ashley Madekwe), reunite sparring leads Emily (Emily VanCamp) and Victoria ( Madeleine Stowe) and bring back the flash forward vehicle with a decisive shot of Emily, dressed in a wedding grown and getting shot in the stomach.
Nayar spoke about the minor reboot, what characters he expects fans to sympathise with this season and how the writers plan to use new cast member Justin Hartley.
What made you decide to keep the flash forwards as a storytelling vehicle?
I know it’s become a device that many shows use, and I think it pays homage to how well this show did it in the first couple of seasons. This show lives in a place where you have a percussive engine that takes you to something that you are stunned by in the first minute or two in the show, and one of the things I wanted to do is to really make sure to honour this magnificent show that Mike created. And when we came up with what the flash forward was, we thought it was too good not to do it.
It’s a lot less vague than the openers in the first two seasons.
That was one of the main things we wanted to do. Last season’s was so moody and almost ethereal. The audience knew something was going to happen, but they weren’t sure what. We wanted to show them exactly what happens to Emily Thorne and for it to be something that feels very definitive. You still don’t know who pulled the trigger and why it happens – so those are the more fun questions to answer.
Writing out Ashley Madekwe was one of the first big events under your tenure. Why was it time to write her out?
She’s such a wonderful actress, and we kept trying to find the place for her in the show. She became integral to so many storylines, but we never really found a way to make one of her own. For us to try to find other ideas as to what Ashley Davenport can do in this world just seemed a little bit selfish. It was too late, two seasons in, to recreate her completely. People knew who she was.
She gets a pretty great sendoff.
I love the way it was shot. I thought it came out perfectly. We wanted to give Ashley a really legitimate send-off. The way we thought would be the most fun is to make her worthy enough of these two women who can’t stand each other joining forces to do it – and to see how wonderful Emily is at what she does because she essentially manipulates Victoria into joining her take-down.
There were a lot of storylines in the air at the end of last season. How did you decide which to tie up and move on?
What we wanted to do was make sure the ones we really gave story engines to were the ones that brought us back to the world of the Hamptons. There were certain plot points that maybe could have given us a great story, but they would have taken us away from the luxury, romance, fun, seduction and deviousness of what the show is – and what the Hamptons are in the summer. We decided to embrace the ones that allowed us to get back to that version of the show.
How much of an obstacle is keeping your narrative in that three-month span when everyone is in the Hamptons?
It’s a tricky thing. It’s one of the reasons that the flash forward you see in the season premiere doesn’t happen on Labour Day. We made it a little bit early, which gives us a little bit of run-off into the second half of the season for the rest of the summer.
What character or dynamic were you most excited to explore this season?
One of the people we’re really looking to explore is Aiden Mathis (Barry Sloane) and to start grounding him more in the world of the Hamptons. There are scenes in the preview that he’s had with Madeleine coming up that are so wonderful, and it’s such a different energy. It’s been exciting for me and the whole writing staff to now slow it down and really investigate where our characters are now that the action isn’t so propulsive.
The premiere does seem to tee up Aiden as a big player this season. How big an obstacle is he to Emily?
It’s a big role. He’s a major character and the kind of moves he’s making are really surprising. Barry’s such a wonderful actor, and we’re just really blessed to have him and be able to put him more into the world of the show now.
Patrick Hartley is a pretty clean slate for the writers to work with. How do you want him to function in the show?
H e functions as a confident newbie in this world. He’s not a shrinking violet by any means – but, by the same token, what fuels the people in the Hamptons doesn’t make any sense to him whatsoever. The Victoria he’s got to know is not the Victoria who is at their mercy.
Through Patrick, I think we’re going to see what happens to an innocent when they get involved in the world of the Hamptons. – THR
MINOR REBOOT: The cast of
SEND-OFF: Ashley Madekwe is written out of