ABC announced Thursday that "Revenge" is returning Sun., Sept. 30, and on a visit to the show's stately Grayson Manor set today, cast members and creator Mike Kelley talked about what fans should expect from Season 2.
"Dynamics have shifted, plots are coming fast and furious, and it's going to be utterly twisted and darker and deeper than even last year, if that's possible," Gabriel Mann said. "And the more twisted, the better!" Can't argue with the crafty Nolan Ross on that one.
But what fans love about the soap is that there are always more grounded, serious scenes mixed in amongst the cocktail party backstabbing and meticulous revenging. This season, the soap is all about "whether you have a hand in choosing your own destiny or whether it's something that's already laid out for you," Kelley said.
Here are the highlights of what Mann and Kelley said during a group set visit with members of the Television Critics Association:
- We'll find out that Emily's mother, who's played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and who we'll see in the present day, has serious mental problems. Kelley said Emily (Emily VanCamp) will start to wonder if she has been "genetically programmed to be a little unhinged."
- When the new season begins, it won't pick up exactly where the Season 1 finale left off. "We open with a flash-forward to the end of summer, again, and a terrible event that occurs, then we bring the audience back to the start of the summer," Kelley said. As was the case with Season 1, the show will revisit that key event about halfway through the season. Kelley said he thinks that format is one reason for the show's success -- the audience is told right off the bat where the story is going, and they feel more confident that the writers have a solid game plan. "There have been these big event shows, these big mythology shows, where they're asking you to go on a ride, but you're not exactly sure where they're headed," Kelley said. "I felt like when I started this, I wanted to tell the audience, 'You're in good hands, I know where I'm going, sit down and I'll take you there.' That's what I'm trying to do each time." Mann, in any event, is glad that it's summer time in the Hamptons again. "It's a return to cocktail parties and pinched smiles," he said.
- Someone "very important" finds out this season that Emily is really Amanda, but that fact is not going to be widely known by most other characters until the very end of the series, Kelley said.
- Mann says Nolan is getting a love interest, and Kelley said this time the character's lover will be female. "There's something about [Nolan] that is so disarming and nobody has said to me one thing about his [bisexuality]. … He's quite open about what he is … It's about the person in front of him." Mann said that "we will start to live a little bit more in the world of NolCorp," his tech company, and it's been reported that we'll meet the billionaire's siblings as well.
- Madeleine Stowe wasn't at the press event on the set ... Victoria Grayson couldn't have died in that plane crash, could she? All Mann said was, "They haven't told us anything about Madeleine. We haven't seen her, she hasn't been around." Having said that, it's early in the season, and I doubt Queen Victoria's reign is over.
- As previously reported, Barry Sloane will also recur this season as someone from Emily's past, someone who also had his share of hard knocks in his early life.
- Could Emily's father actually be alive? Kelley didn't dismiss the possibility, but it didn't sound like we'd be meeting David Clarke (James Tupper) in the present day any time soon.
- Margarita Levieva's character, "Amanda Clarke," or Fauxmanda, is definitely pregnant, in case there was any doubt.
- Speaking of family members, Kelley has said that viewers will meet Victoria's mother this season, and "dream casting" ideas for that role include Sophia Loren or Joan Collins. Other new characters this season will include Conrad's ex-wife and kids from that previous marriage.
- Nolan is definitely on Team Emily as the season begins. "It changes episode by episode, but I think where we ended was a very emotionally genuine spot," Mann said. "We're very much together, we are definitely in it to win it at this point. I would do anything for her, including compromising my own safety and, to a degree, my own morals." Nolan just can't resist helping Emily, as Mann points out. "My favorite thing is when he's telling her, 'Let's not do this, your father wouldn't want this.' [She says,] 'Let's burn down a house.' [He immediately says,] 'Okay!'"
- Mann said he's always thought that Nolan "holds a candle for Emily, potentially romantically. That's how I see it, that's not how anyone else sees it," he said with a laugh. Kelley said he always intended Emily and Nolan's relationship to have a brother-sister feel, whether they're actually related "remains to be seen." Kelley just laughed good-naturedly at the idea of them as a couple.
- Kelley didn't spend a lot of time on the trial because he didn't want the show to turn into "a 'Law & Order' episode," he said. "I felt a little bit handcuffed by the trial, and I wanted to get out" of that story line and do stories centered on winter in the Hamptons a bit more, which he felt was more interesting territory to explore.
- The recession will touch the Hamptonites a bit. "By the end of last season, Grayson Global was dealing with some issues, and it would be very interesting to play with the idea of, what happens to very rich people when they aren't rich any more, and what would they do to get that money back," Mann said.
- Kelley says he knows who Emily's true love really is, but he wouldn't say whether it's Jack (Nick Wechsler) or Daniel (Joshua Bowman).
- I asked if the target of Emily's revenge could ever change, or if it will always be the Grayson family. "I think as she learns more and more about what exactly happened and is at stake, yeah, things evolve. If this show doesn't evolve, it gets boring. The world [of the show] gets much bigger" in Season 2, and if the show gets a third season, it will expand even further. "It'll keep mushrooming," Kelley said.
- My favorite tidbit from the the set visit was learning that Nolan's multi-layered, over-the-top preppy fashion sense came about sort of by accident. The first description he'd seen of the character was "nothing more than a tech billionaire." With popped collars, right? I asked. "No, not even! There was no popped collar!" Mann said that on his first day on the "Revenge" set, he saw that the wardrobe team had laid out "lots of options" for him to try out in his first scene as Nolan. "And I thought, 'Well, I'm going to wear all of it.' And I came out, sort of as a joke, [wearing every item of clothing]. They said, 'Do you want to go on like that?'" And he did. But this year, Nolan's costumes might be toned down a bit. "We are going to keep that feeling and style with him, but maybe say more with less this year."
- Also important to know: Mann got a haircut, so don't expect to see Nolan's nutty pageboy in Season 2. "I felt like maybe people liked Nolan in spite of the hair, and then finally the hair started to grow on them by the end of it. I would like to think it's not the hair telling the whole story, you know? If there's the potential to move into a romantic area with this character," he has to up his game. It's certainly time for Nolan to get a little love, he feels. "I have a tendency to be able to have a lot of fun with this character, but that doesn't work without a real bass note on the bottom of it, and a real heart. I think that dichotomy of heart and snark is what has made Nolan interesting to watch," Mann said. "He's got all the money in the world, and none of the friends. He's a very lonely soul. That's what I really enjoy playing -- going from these moments of real biting nastiness to something very empathetic and true."
CORRECTION: The original version of this article said that Levieva's character was not pregnant. That has been corrected.
"Revenge" Season 2 premieres Sun., Sept. 30, 9 p.m. ET on ABC.