[SPOILER ALERT: If you have not watched tonight's episode of "Revenge" do not read further or else big plot points and surprises will be spoiled.]
"Chaos" was definitely an appropriate title for tonight's episode of "Revenge" since much happened that would bring things full circle from the pilot episode when golden boy Daniel Grayson (played by Josh Bowman) appeared to be the recipient of a few bullets on the cool Hamptons night. Since so much had been leading up to this episode, ABC decided to give a select group of journalists a chance to screen the episode earlier this week along with members of the cast and crew and our Jim Halterman was there.
"I'm very happy I'm not dead," said a cheery Bowman in the gathering after screening the "Chaos" episode. In fact, it was villainous Tyler (Ashton Holmes) who ended up taking the bullet(s) in circumstances that will be surely drive various plotlines in the coming weeks. For Bowman, he admitted to getting a little emotional watching the episode and, for the first time, saw "Revenge" from a different viewpoint. "I see it from a family perspective and how far we've come and grown and it's amazing for the first time right now I watched it from an audience perspective and I really loved it."
While it was a welcome surprise to see the deranged Tyler turn back up after having been carted off by the police a few episodes back, the revelation that he was the one who is killed on the beach was something that should come off as gratifying for the audience, said Executive Producer Marty Bowen. "What you really want is you want the audience to be in the place where they are so threatened by [Tyler's] existence so when he goes down we feel good about it. It's our challenge to be able to reveal as we move forward some of the things we haven't seen yet." Bowen stressed that Tyler's villainy is in a different space than that of manipulative Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) and vengeful Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp). "I know that Victoria is evil but I also know she has a heart somewhere in there. I know Emily should get her revenge but I also know that maybe I don't want her to get all of it because if she does, she could lose her humanity and I care more about her humanity than I do her revenge. Tyler is just fucking evil and at the end of that day I don't want that person spoiling Emily's plan or even becoming a problem for Victoria."
Even though Tyler is presumably out of the way now (is anyone every really gone on a primetime soap?), Emily is still going to hit snags and roadblocks in her schemes moving forward. "You know what they say about the best laid plans," teased Bowen, "but I think to make it interesting, even someone who is as smart as [Emily] is and someone who has had so much time in how she's going to get her revenge, even she is going to find herself with situations that she's not expecting and we will appreciate her ability and her resourcefulness to get herself out of those situations as much as she will to pull them off in the beginning." One of the reasons to make sure Emily doesn't have an easy path to revenge is surprisingly a very human one. "You want to throw some complications at her so she feels real because otherwise I think you'd get bored to her and she'd cease to be relatable... the ultimate wish fulfillment of that is very, very real and we know in our lives that we never get those things in our lives without being thrown a few curve balls."
As one would expect with a show with many story threads, putting all the various pieces together in the "Chaos" episode was not an easy task. "[Series creator] Mike Kelley, on the writing standpoint, wanted to get the story right and," said Co-Executive Producer and "Chaos" Director Sanford Bookstaver. "give away just enough information but not too much because more is revealed in the next few episodes." Bookstaver said that he had some big shoes to fill in shooting many of the key scenes in the episode. "Basically I was recreating the entire pilot that Phillip Noyce shot in nine days and he had 12-to-15 days to film it but we had to recreate the entire Fire and Ice tent, everybody in their wardrobe, going back to the beach and then add the entire story of Tyler and Amanda (Margarita Levieva) and Jack (Nick Wechsler) and Amanda. It was a very challenging shoot but everybody came together and wanted it to be amazing so it was a great collaboration."
One prominent relationship that will go through some changes due to the homicide on the beach is the one between Daniel and his mother, Victoria. Having recently been on the outs due to his impending marriage to Emily, Daniel, seen at the end of the episode with blood on his white tuxedo, may now need his mother's manipulative wiles more than ever, which will more than likely bring new challenges to his relationship with his fiancé. "It definitely complicates the relationship with Daniel and Emily and Daniel and his mother," Bookstaver said, "because it definitely changes the chemistry of that at that moment. That's something we play with in the next coming episodes. It's very fun."
Wechsler, whose Jack became an unexpected part of dealing with Tyler's body since he found Amanda with it and then ushered her away in order to protect her. While Jack will be seeking answers in the coming episodes, don't expect the unrequited attraction between Jack and Emily to go unnoticed. In fact, the actor said Jack's feelings are "always going to be partially with Emily. I feel like we don't talk enough or even get to play because we can't engage that part. I think we both try to play it with little looks and just hope the audience kind of fills in the blanks. I think for the most part he's distracted from that as he has been most of this season by everything else that he's dealing with."
Gabriel Mann, who plays Nolan, said that the good news about tonight's outcome is that "this is the tip of the iceberg." The actor, sporting 'the Nolan' haircut that's become a staple of his character, added about tonight's episode, "This was really almost the 'Revenge' prologue... we get the concept, we get the dynamic, we have the framework and now you know these people and their complexities and everybody's kind of duality so it really launches us into some amazing storylines ahead."
Asked how he would tease what's to come on the remainder of the first season of "Revenge," Bookstaver said that a seasonal change would impact the residents of the Hamptons greatly. "Winter is coming to the Hamptons for a lot of the back order so it's a bleaker side. I went back to the Hamptons last week and filmed photography shooting with stores closed and dead leaves on the trees and boats packed up for the winter so it's definitely a different tone. It's a ghost town and very bleak. We're snowing up sets and keeping windows frosted and it's the bleaker part of the show."
For now, the cast was not able to contain their glee with the early success of the freshman series. "I'm enjoying this ride so immensely," exclaimed Mann. "Like a passenger at an amusement park and like a fly on the wall bystander. It's pinch me moments every day! I figure as long as I keep being able to walk through the door I will and when it's closed I'll go take up organic farming."
Wechsler is also happy that the audience is turning up for the show but admitted to the pressure that comes with a top-rated television series. "It feels great and nerve-wracking because the stakes are so high now. Look, this is the biggest role I've ever played on anything. Usually I'm a rapist or a murderer so it's a different role for me and it's the most successful thing that I've had anything to do with... I don't want to let anyone down and I don't want the show to ever lose its steam. Not that I foresee that but that's what this makes me feel because you feel so lucky. Nobody has this. This is crazy."
Bowman is still adjusting to the success and is taking it in "bit by bit," he explained. "I call it smoke and mirrors. It means a lot to me but mentally I don't really take it too seriously. It's great that people watch the show and we get to do what we do and I get to pay my rent."
"Revenge" airs Wednesdays at 10:00/9:00c on ABC.