Remember 2002? “American Idol” was the hot new TV show. Everyone was buzzing about the social networking website Friendster. The real estate market was booming. The nation rallied around President Bush and the war on terrorism. Men wore shoulder length curly mullets. Well, actually that was just one man. But it was one hell of a mullet.
Yes, the “Revenge” flashback episode, “Legacy” lived up to the hype. It’s impressive that a show that has been on less than a season has created such a rich universe that an hour focusing on backstory and the returns of guest stars is not only possible, but extremely entertaining. And, if there is an Emmy category for Best Performance By A Wig, “Revenge” is a lock. (Bad hair related pun intended.)
It’s December 28, 2002. We’re in a Manhattan nightclub which the soundtrack helpfully establishes by playing “In Da Club.” A pre Emanda Amanda, (Emily VanCamp) fresh out of juvie, gets into a fight with her date. When he leaves with another girl, she follows them into the bathroom, then beats the hell out of both of them with a toilet seat. No, really. If you are trying to figure out how that’s possible, watch the clip. It would make for a gritty Lysol ad.
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The bouncer throws Amanda out of the club. Nolan (Gabriel Mann), doing his best Chuck Bass impression, except, since it’s 2002, Chuck Bass does not exist, rolls down the window of his limo and invites her to join him for Moo Goo Gai Pan. At the restaurant, we establish that they haven’t seen each other since he gave her a ton of money when she left juvie. He implores her to read David’s journals and learn who her father really was.
In the Hamptons, a younger Conrad shows a younger Victoria a blood spattered card inscribed “Shame” allegedly signed by David Clarke. Frank, blissfully unaware that he is a decade away from being murdered by a stripper, is with them. They decide that they will figure out who is gaslighting them by inviting every possible suspect to a New Year’s Eve party and letting Frank work his investigative magic. Someone’s been reading a lot of Agatha Christie.
Amanda, taking Nolan’s suggestion to heart, drops by the Stowaway where she is served by a quirky bartender, Becca (Tara Platt). Then it happens. Jack’s Wig — picture Wayne’s hair from Wayne’s World after a half hour with a curling iron — walks into the room attached to Jack’s(Nick Wechsler) head. He and Emanda lock eyes, and she does not appear to be wondering why someone is wearing a mullet 15 years after they went out of style. When Jack kisses Becca, Amanda leaves.
Amanda returns to her old house and flashes back to her childhood when she spent New Year’s Eve with her father before he left for a New Year’s Eve party. In 2002, Amanda reads David’s journals. On New Year’s Eve, Amanda returns to the Stowaway. Papa Porter won’t give Becca a night off to work the Graysons party. Amanda offers to take the gig. Nolan catches her patting Sammy the Wonder Dog, who does not look any younger.
At the Grayson party, Lydia arrives with her husband Michael. There is dialogue about how the neighborhood is full of riff raff since the Feds lowered interest rates. If the world’s poor ever revolt again, streamed episodes of “Revenge” will be the new Das Kapital. They exposit that a dummy corporation bought David’s beach house.
Victoria goes to the empty beach house and flashes back to meeting David at an earlier New Year’s Eve party. There is an instant attraction. In 2002, Conrad finds Victoria in the house — he tells her he is selling it because she still loves David.
Mason (Roger Bart) gives Victoria the photo from the day David died that we saw in the prior episode. As Amanda sets out place cards she remembers what David said about each guest in his journal. An unattractive man asks to be seated in a corner and for a bottle of bourbon. He is Roger Halsted, David’s one true friend. She tells him she wants to know about her father, David. He does not want to tell her anything.
Nolan flirts with Becca. He tells her she’s off the market. Nolan apologizes and shakes his hand, and it was the start of a beautiful friendship. Jack tells Nolan his tale of woe: his family lost their house and had to move into the bar thanks to rich people buying all the houses in his neighborhood. Nolan tells Papa Porter he bought his house and all the surrounding ones. He had not thought about the people who would be hurt. He offers to pull out of escrow. Mr. Porter tells him he can’t keep it anyway because his wife asked for a divorce and wants half of everything, but has no interest in seeing her kids. He doesn’t want them to find out. Becca overhears and decides she would rather date a rich guy who will get her the hell out of Montauk. She kisses a startled Nolan at midnight. Jack punches him. Their friendship ends for another decade.
Mason and Dr. Banks have a hilarious passive aggressive conversation that demands to be transcribed.
Dr. Banks: I read your profile in The New Yorker about the D.C. Sniper. Want to know what I think?
Mason: No, But don’t let that stop you. Let’s talk about your book on Attachment Parenting instead. I just read it.
Dr. Banks: Really?
Mason: No. Not really.
There should be a spin off talk show hosted by Mason in which he undermines and belittles all of his guests.
Frank tells Conrad he thinks Roger sent the letter. Lydia (Amber Valetta) interrupts them. He tells her he and Victoria own David’s house. She says she backed up his testimony at the trial not because he paid her but because she wanted to protect him. She kisses him, not realizing that in a decade their affair will lead Frank to push her off a roof.
Roger drunkenly says the Graysons destroyed a lot of innocent people to protect their lifestyle. Frank escorts him out of the party. He shows him the note that says shame. He has not seen it before.
During his New Year’s toast, Conrad admits that he brokered a deal with the title holders to sell David’s house to Lydia. Victoria confesses to Lydia that she owns the house and apologizes for lying to her about it, unaware that Lydia is going after her husband.
Amanda finds a note in her pocket from Roger. She reads it, then goes to the pool house where she finds Roger dead in the tub, having seemingly slit his wrists.
As the police take away the body, Mason metas to Victoria that he feels like they’ve been cast in “10 Little Indians”. Victoria realizes that he wrote the note. He admits he was hoping to stir up trouble so he would have juicy material for his next book. Sorry Roger, but Mason seems to enjoy being alive a lot more than you did.
Emanda calls Nolan to tell him about the first Grayson party with a body count. She wants revenge!