By Tanner Stransky
Updated February 16, 2012 at 07:00 AM EST
Colleen Hayes/ABC
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ABC’s addictive sudser Revenge raises the stakes in each new episode. But last night that edict soared to a new level, as viewers were treated to what they’ve been waiting for all season: the return to the series-opening, murderous beach scene. By the end of the hour it was revealed that — SPOILER ALERT — creep Tyler Barrol (Ashton Holmes), not the much-teased Daniel Grayson (Josh Bowman), was the person who got shot on the sands in the show’s suspenseful September pilot. The revelation is more than your typical Revenge twist for several reasons, but mostly because it transforms how the season’s remaining seven episodes will play out through the season finale in May.

When that body was flipped over in front of the crowd and revealed to be Tyler instead of Daniel, many questions arose: How long had this been planned? Who really murdered Tyler — Amanda (Margarita Levieva) or Daniel or someone else entirely? Who will get fingered for it? What madness is to come in the season’s final shows? To answer those burning questions and more, EW tapped Revenge star Bowman, executive producer Martin Bowen, and coexecutive producer and episode 15 director Sanford Bookstaver to give us the scoop:

+ When was it decided that Tyler would be dead on the beach and not Daniel? From the very beginning: That was always the plan. Daniel was never intended to be the dead body teased in the pilot, despite the Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) screams that (very cleverly) made you think otherwise. “I have known for 15 episodes that it’s not Daniel,” Bowen says. “Structurally, we always know.” Explains Bookstaver of choosing Tyler to be murdered: “He was such an amazing villain on the show that everyone hated him. He was such an intricate character, and he was tied into everybody on the show, so we felt that that he was the best choice to go, at this particular moment in the series. He had reached his peak as a villain.”Adds Bowen, about moving the reveal from episode 13 to episode 15: “The question becomes about leaving it slightly open-ended, so that you can play out some stuff,” he says. “You don’t want to be so rigid that you can’t allow it to breathe the way it wants to. But whether it was episode 13 or episode 15, we knew we were going to get here. There are things you want to explore along the way.”

+ How did the producers trick us into thinking it was Daniel dead on the beach? The body double they got was chosen because it fell somewhere, looks-wise, between Daniel and Tyler. Plus, the pilot episode never actually showed the face of the body laying on the beach — fans just saw Victoria Grayson running to the sands screaming Daniel’s name. In the pilot, too, viewers hadn’t yet met Tyler. “We put a darker wash in Ashton Holmes’ hair, too,” explains Bookstaver, of episode 15, “to mask it.”

+ When did Bowman find out he’d live past the return to the beach scene? Bowman claims he didn’t know his fate when he signed on to do the show. “I didn’t know! I think they f— with me because they like me,” Bowman says with his boyish grin. “I can’t rest on my laurels. There are some people who would like to see me dead, I know that. It’s true!” EP Bowen defends the Daniel Grayson character. “I think that the audience really likes Daniel. They may debate whether they want to see Emily [Emily Van Camp] with Jack [Nick Wechsler], but I don’t think they think Daniel is a bad guy. I think they want him to have a shot.” For his part, Bowman is happy that his character is alive. “I’m glad I don’t have to do pilot season, that’s for sure!” he says. “I’m absolutely happy.”

+ Are the show’s creative minds worried about fan reaction? Not really — the feeling is that the reveal about Tyler being dead will please some and will enrage others. “I think there’s going to be love and hate,” says Bookstaver. “I think there are going to be people who really loved him that are going to be sad to see him go. And then there’s people who hated him who are going to be happy. Every person that has seen this episode, they freak out when that reveal happens. So I think that’s going to get a very visceral response regardless.”For his part, Bowman thinks Tyler’s death will please fans: “I think the majority will be happy that he’s dead, because he played the part so well,” he says. “He’s a great actor, Ashton, and he invested his character from the beginning. I actually sort of felt bad for Tyler, because he had no one. If you look at it from that point of view, you could feel bad for him.”

+ How complicated was it to direct this episode? Very, very complicated, of course, according to Bookstaver. I was re-creating an entire pilot in nine days,” he says. “Most of the shots were not from the pilot at all. We reshot almost every single scene. I had to study the pilot and the script and I had to map out a blueprint of it all. We had to rebuild that entire Fire & Ice tent. We went back to the beach. We had everybody in the same wardrobes. It was really complicated. We had the pilot on my iPad. We would sit and watch it, look at a frame, and make sure this was the right way. We did intercut probably 10 cuts from the original pilot because we also thought that would be fun, to see the actual footage with the new footage. I wanted it to be a retelling, visually. The same scenes, from a different perspective, subtly, just enough to make a difference.”

+ Are fans supposed to assume that Daniel is a suspect for Tyler’s murder? Sure — fans can certainly assume that, if they want. “There are definitely a lot of suspects,” Bookstaver says, “but yes, the blood on his clothing should indicate that he could have been involved.” Bowman adds: “Daniel had blood on him!” Says Bowen: “I think you can assume that, I think that’s fair to assume. But I think you can assume that the Graysons aren’t quitters, and they never go down without a fight.”

+ Who are other suspects for Tyler’s murder? “I would rather not say right now,” Bookstaver says. “There are many of them. That’s the fun of the next few episodes.” Adds Bowen, cryptically: “Rich people sometimes do get away with murder…”

+ Will Takeda (Hiroyuki Sanada) show up again? It seems likely, but the producers aren’t going to confirm that. “That I can’t say,” Bookstaver says. “He’s either in it or he’s not. Take what you want from his appearance in this episode.”

+ What happens in the next new episode, “Scandal,” which airs Feb. 29? “It’s the aftermath,” Bookstaver explains, “and we start to reveal more of what happened that night. So we only wanted to reveal just enough in episode 15, and then we continue more secrets and how it all comes together and who is really involved.” But, details, please? Episode 16 is a darker episode,” he elaborates. “It starts off with a direct cut from what happened that night on the beach and figuring out the pieces of the puzzle. It was shot almost like a film noir. It’s a darker episode of Revenge. The tone has shifted. Episode 15, ‘Chaos,’ the Fire & Ice Ball episode, was big and splashy and felt like a movie; the next episode is smaller and darker and more about the characters, the intrigue, the pieces of the puzzle. It’s starting to put more of it together.”

+ Last night’s episode 15 was titled “Chaos,” but it sounds like that slug could describe the rest of the season? Definitely. “Completely, yes,” says Bookstaver.I, too, thought this would be the close of a chapter, as well. Then [creator] Mike Kelley started pitching it to me, and no: It actually opens up a whole new story. Everybody is going to think it goes one way, but then it’s a whole different complex story that ends up going in a different way.”Bowman promises it’s only going to get more nuts on Revenge. “I just read episode 18 — it’s crazy,” he says. “It’s crazy! It’s going to go to the next level.” Bowen echoes that sentiment: “You have to understand, you can expect the unexpected,” he says. “That’s honestly what you should take from this. As we progress, the emotional relationships between these characters gets more and more complicated. A Grayson now is potentially going to be fingered for murder. Victoria will stop at nothing to make sure that he doesn’t go down.”

+ Did producers think that whale-cam would be so useful when they launched the show? Not really. “I can’t speak for Mike Kelley, but from my perspective, I didn’t think it would,” says Bookstaver. “I directed episode 7, which is when we first revealed the real Amanda Clarke as a stripper and we have the big whale-cam scene. I thought this is a cool little device. Maybe I’ll never see it again. Now it’s definitely this fun thing. It’s for the fans, too. Everyone cheers when they see it. I don’t think we expected that.”

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

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Welcome to the Hamptons, a glittering world of incredible wealth and privilege, where smiles hide secrets—and nothing is colder than revenge.
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