I have to agree with much of what critic Daniel Fienberg, said about Emily VanKamp’s performance as vendetta-driven heroine Emily Thorne. (Why didn’t the writers make her character choose a much less harsh sounding assumed surname – like Meadows or Summers?). She’s bland and flat for much of the proceedings, with the exception of her confrontation scene with Nolan Ross, where she threatened to crush his wind-pipe. That was about the only time in the pilot we get to see the steely rage beneath the cool exterior.
Madeline Stowe is fabulously campy as the moderately hissable Victoria Grayson. It is hard to believe this beauty is 53!
Unlike Mr. Fienberg; however, I can’t see why anyone would root for Victoria – it was clearly heartwrenching to see a girl (the young Amanda Clarke, as Emily was originally named) of about 7 or 8 years old physically ripped out of the hands of a loving father by strange armed men, and it was clear from the flashbacks that Victoria was partly responsible, and she admits to as much while confronting her husband about his affair with Lydia, an ex-friend of Victoria’s who’s now “exiled”.
There were several interesting unstated points in the episode that Mr. Fienberg doesn’t mention. Although it’s clear to Victoria that Emily’s exposure of the affair between Lydia and Victoria’s husband Conrad was not the work of an innocent dove – Victoria is seen calling someone, presumably an investigator, to ask for everything he can find out about Emily Thorne. Yet, at the beginning of the pilot we’re treated to the announcement of Emily’s engagement to Victoria’s son Daniel. As Victoria leans in to kiss the bride to be, she asks very tersely and hostilely- “Where IS my son?”. This tells the audience that Ms. Conrad doesn’t like/trust Emily one bit, which suggests that she was forced into acquiescing to Daniel’s wishes. How does Victoria move from suspicion to open hostility while being forced to accept Emily into her home and family? Now THAT promises to be an interesting story…