It may be autumn in the real world, but it's summer in the Hamptons -- at least, the "Revenge" version of the Hamptons, where the weather's wonderful and the people are all manner of messed up. And what have our delightful schemers been up to? Well, there was some grieving for Grayson matriarch Victoria (Madeleine Stowe), of course, whose plane blew up as she was on her way to rat our her ex-husband, Conrad. Our vengeful protagonist Emily (Emily VanCamp) ran off to Japan to brush up on her secret scary ninja training in case the white-haired man pops up again, which is more likely than not. Nolan (Gabriel Mann) learned to box, Charlotte kicked drugs and her brother Daniel became a drunk. Really, it was all very relaxing season of self-improvement, despair and decadence. It's important to rest up for all the scheming ahead.
 
There's absolutely no way to recap this episode without lots and lots and LOTS of spoilers, so consider yourself warned. Last season, Amanda learned her mom is still alive, and that's added a twist to her otherwise methodical payback scheme to avenge her dad's death. She wants answers, and she knows the Graysons must have them, so she may just have to drag out this nicey-nice act for a while longer to get access. Too bad Daniel broke up with her last season -- and has now taken up with Ashley, Victoria's former assistant. Ironically, Ashley's probably a good match for Daniel, as she's so excited about moving into Victoria's empty seat of power she really doesn't care if he drinks himself to death, which he seems pretty determined to do. 
 
On the other hand, his sister Charlotte has gotten clean, eager to be an upstanding citizen her late mother could look up to. After giving a weirdly impassioned speech at the tribute/charity fundraiser honoring Victoria (which seems awfully tacky to me, sort of like having a garage sale at a funeral), Charlotte is told by her entirely sketchy rehab doctor (her required date to the event) that she's tested positive for drugs. Before she's dragged out kicking and thrashing, she whispers something in Emily's ear, something that leads Emily to pay someone a visit. And who is that someone? Victoria, of course, looking perfectly healthy and none the worse for wear for being dead and all. 
 
Victoria is surprised to see Emily, but is quick to recruit her to her side. She faked her own death to give the government time to build a case against Conrad -- of course Emily will keep her secret, won't she? Well, no, as she tells Nolan everything, but she nods and smiles sweetly anyway. Emily even goes so far as to run a background check on Charlotte's doctor in order to confirm her suspicion that Conrad is using him to keep Charlotte locked up. It seems like Emily and Victoria might really be frenemies, at least on the surface. But more on that later.
 
On the poor side of town, Jack and Amanda are still unhappily together due to Jack's sense of loyalty to Amanda's unborn baby and Amanda's desperation to hold on to the only nice guy she's ever known. Even Jack's brother Declan is annoyed by Jack's raging stupidity in sticking to Amanda's side, knowing he's doing so out of a misguided sense of duty. When Jack visits Emily one night to apologize for having kissed her all those months earlier, it's really a cry for help, as he practically reeks of sadness and early-onset midlife crisis. Emily very delicately suggests that he may want to make sure the baby is really his, which for some reason has not occurred to him previously. When he asks Amanda the tough question, her reaction suggests (at least to me), that there's a decent chance it isn't Jack's kid. I can see this coming back to bit Emily in the ass, but I'm sure she can handle Amanda, who is an annoying cockroach she can't quite get rid of, but ultimately always figures out how to control. 
 
After determining that Victoria played a role in having her mom locked up in a creepy (and now abandoned) mental hospital, she plants a clam cam (really, these people in the Hamptons have to get rid of the ocean-themed tchotchkes) in Victoria's hide-out and sees her new bestie plotting with the white haired man to get rid of her, as she doesn't need anyone other than Charlotte knowing her true location. 
 
It seems that, despite some big twists, not the least of which being that Emily's mom will be played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, we're back in the Emily-pulling-the-strings business, which can be great fun but tends to get a little one-note after a while. Victoria, being dead and having an alliance with the white-haired man, could go more fully on the attack. Seeing Emily on the ropes could add a little more texture to this campy melodrama, so I say bring it on.
 
One plot line which I'd like to see unraveled a bit more just so I can determine if it makes any sense at all is the role of Takeda in Emily's vengeful plot. In this episode, he trains Emily by tying her to a post that's under the tide line, forcing her to free herself or, well, drown. He's sort of like the reverse Yoda, in that he wants her to stop letting her heart motivate her actions so she can become a heartless ninja or maybe an investment trader, I don't know. It all seems a little odd for her to be traipsing off to Japan, "Kill Bill" style, every once in a while, only for Takeda to seem way too wrapped up in the destruction of a little scumbag empire halfway across the world. A guy who is also hanging out with Takeda promises to keep Emily on the ninja warrior path, which Takeda agrees to -- though he threatens that his failure will mean the end of the mission. Whatever the mission is. 
 
What did you think of the episode? Were you surprised to see Victoria or did you suspect there was no way they were dumping Madeleine Stowe after just one season? What do you think Takeda's involvement is, anyway?