Drawing on Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo as inspiration, ABC's Revenge weaves a suspenseful web of betrayal, duplicity, and duh, revenge. Oh yeah, and puppy love. How could I forget.
This really is my only major complaint about Revenge, an otherwise stellar and addicting show. Charlotte Grayson and Declan Porter, the two teenaged characters in a cast of adults, just seem out of place. "The Grown Ups Are Talking," I silently scream to myself every time I'm forced to sit through another one of their scenes.
It's not that I think that Christa B. Allen and Connor Paolo are bad actors (I'm ignoring Declan's scrappy lil' accent -- that no one else in his family shares -- for the moment as that's more of a directorial choice). They do well enough with the material. I just don't get why they're a part of Revenge in the first place. I'd liken their roles to a stunt on Jackass. Yes, Steve-O sure is good at getting a life-size tattoo of himself across his entire back, but why.
Up until about two weeks ago, I thought I had figured out the reason for Charlotte and Declan's summer at the Hamptons. Understanding the power of tween and teen viewer demographics, the producers must have instructed the writers to introduce characters under the age of 25. The fact that Declan is played by Gossip Girl's Eric van der Woodsen only supports this conclusion.
How good for the Beliebers at home. As someone who DGAF about the preservation of young love, though, I was pretty grumpy.
And then it dawned on me, a brilliant theory that perfectly explains why Charlotte Grayson is given such weight on Revenge. WARNING: For those of you who take TV shows as seriously as I do, what you're about to read will literally blow your mind. No, not metaphorically. Literally.
Charlotte Grayson is David Clarke's daughter.
I'll give you a moment to reconceptualize Charlotte as a character of substance. It's hard, I know. Take your time.
We're back? OK. After watching the seventh episode, "Charade," I realized that 1995, the year of David Clarke's fictional trial, was 16 years ago. Yes, I am willing to admit that I needed to "realize" this, and yes, I am super embarrassed.
Back to me being brilliant: Charlotte is no older than 16, which I inferred from her total nonexistence in the flashbacks. In one from "Charade," Conrad tells Victoria that their failure to convict David Clarke could cause them to lose "everything," which he goes on to explain means: "this house ... Daniel ... I mean everything." In last week's "Suspicion" (I love these titles), Victoria informs David that she wants to talk to her son Daniel, and him alone, before separating from Conrad. Either Charlotte really is the Jan-iest Jan Brady on network television, or she just had not been born at the time of these flashbacks.
She also must have been born by 1995, or '96 at the latest, seeing as how Victoria gives her a $200,000 car in episode 5, "Guilt." Giving an overprivileged kid an exorbitantly priced set of wheels as a material substitute for unconditional love? In American, this translates roughly to: "Sixteen years old."
Let's review: Charlotte is 16. Her mother had an affair with someone approximately 16 years ago. This cannot be a coincidence! Not only does this theory renew my never-there-in-the-first-place interest in Charlotte's storyline, it also gives me faith in Revenge as a long-term investment. Emily/Amanda's plot is limited, as a girl can only exact so much vengeance on so many people. Not to mention the fact that the Hamptons' season is exactly that, a season. Perhaps Charlotte's true identity is but one of many plot twists that the writers have waiting, no, lurking in the wings.
Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Charlotte is purely an avatar onto which teen girls can project themselves. Maybe Declan's Newsies meets "any child actor from the '70s" accent is pitch perfect.
However this turns out, at least I've found a way to invest myself in the weakest link of the Revenge chain, and for that stunning display of ingenuity, I deserve a gold star.