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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Revenge

AS ANY student of Marxism knows, the best way to fight bourgeois oppression is to make millions on technology shares, dye your hair blonde as a disguise, move to the Hamptons and make the hunky son of a local socialite fall in love with you.

This is, of course, what Marx recommended in Das Kapital and it's exactly what Lenin did in 1917 (Lenin looked quite beguiling as a blonde ... as the Tsar found to his cost!).

In Revenge, the soapy melodrama running for weeks now on Channel 4, but launched last night on RTE 2, Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) employs these tactics against a set of rich Hampton residents who framed her father for a terrible crime.

Each episode of Revenge features Emily's cod-philosophical musings about the nature of "revenge" as she elaborately destroys the lives of her dead father's enemies.

Meanwhile, she continuously moves closer to local Queen Bee, Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), who orchestrated the plot against her father, and whose aforementioned hunky son Daniel proceeds to fall in love with her.

As Emily ingratiates herself into this wealthy community, she spends much of her time directing fake smiles at people. Then, whenever those people turn away or leave the room, she glares darkly after them and contemplates her "revenge". She did this so often in the first episode, that several times since I've found myself darting around suddenly in case otherwise friendly people were glaring darkly at me. As a television reviewer you can make enemies (note to self -- could my wife actually be a vengeance-seeking Craig Doyle in a wig?).

As well as becoming involved with the ultra-rich Grayson family, Emily also reacquaints herself with her first love, saintly townie Jack Porter, who doesn't recognise her because she is blonde now.

He is so saintly that in the first episode he is planning to yacht down to Haiti to volunteer with the Red Cross, but he ends up selling his boat to help his father's struggling bar business.

Sadly, because he no longer has a yacht he cannot go to Haiti (there are no commercial airlines in the Hamptons).

Emily also thinks often of the good times she had with her father, who tells her in flashback that he loves her to the power of "double infinity".

Emily even has the symbol for "double infinity" tattooed on her arm, even though mathematically speaking "double infinity" is just "infinity" (personally I'd be annoyed if someone expressed their love for me using a redundancy).

By the end of the first episode, we have flashed forward to the future, where Jack appears to kill Daniel on the night of Emily and Daniel's engagement party.

In the meantime, Emily has outed an affair Victoria Grayson's husband is having with Lydia, Victoria's best friend and a former secretary to Emily's father. Before long, Lydia is banished from the Hamptons.

"I HAVE HAD MY REVENGE!" Emily doesn't literally say, but you know she's thinking it as she glares around the place monomaniacally.

"There's something not right about that girl," thinks Victoria perceptively and hires a private detective to investigate her.

Revenge is the kind of opulent, melodramatic tele-novella that was once reserved for daytime soap operas, but which has been given a veneer of respectability in self-aware, ironic programmes like Desperate Housewives.

Unlike Desperate Housewives, however, Revenge is played entirely straight. Which is refreshing, and entirely in keeping with the forward momentum of Historical Materialism set out in Das Kapital.

If Emily Thorne put all that avenging energy elsewhere who knows what she could achieve? In the likeable documentary series London Calling, for example, we see Olympic hopefuls juggling ordinary lives with amazing feats of athleticism. And none of them were part of a complex revenge plot.

As far as we know.

Revenge HHHII London Calling HHHII

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