Revenge: Truth, Part Two

“I’m Amanda Clarke.”

The best season finales have to accomplish quite a bit. They need to wrap up the season’s story arcs; they need to get rid of characters that are not working; they need to structure the remaining stories and characters in such a way that we are impatient for September to see where the story is going to take us next. Revenge had more to do than most and it accomplished that feat -- in spades.

The biggest problem, in a season full of problems, has been the lack of a tangible villain. Yes, the Graysons are the family we love to hate, but all of them this season have shown us their softer side. Not necessarily a bad thing for the antagonist, but the writers took it a bit far this year.

Similarly, the Initiative didn’t work as a Big Bad because it is too difficult to invest emotionally in a faceless organization. To create real conflict, an organization needs to have a person at its core that represents the evil being portrayed. Unfortunately, the characters chosen this season to represent this group, Helen and Trask, simply didn’t generate enough antipathy to make it really work.

And, as it turns out, the Initiative doesn’t even exist. Making the season’s threat nonexistent was a bold choice, but it was a stroke of genius to have Conrad revealed as knowing the truth about the Initiative and as the one who has been behind much of what has happened this season. Moving into next year, we now have someone on which to focus as the villain of the piece.

Another reason that Conrad is such a good choice is that it leaves Victoria as an enigma. She has been the one on whom Emily has been focusing her anger and spite, yet Victoria hates her husband as much as anyone hates him. What I am eager to see play out next year is how much this woman knows about what Conrad has been up to. If she was truly completely in the dark, wouldn’t it be fun to watch her and Emily join forces against him? That, my friends, would be a pairing for the ages.

Victoria’s final scenes were game changing. The fight with Conrad (I cheered when she spit in his face), her facing off with Jack and telling him to kill her, her compassion in allowing Charlotte one more night of sleep before having to face the truth were all moments in which we watched this hateful woman take stock and begin to shift right in front of us.

One of the soap opera tropes that the writers have used this year to make Victoria more sympathetic is that of her abandoned son. Rather than drag on this story, thankfully, he turns up at the end of the episode. Of course, we don’t actually see him (my guess is that he hasn’t been cast yet), but the mystery has gone on long enough and I am glad that the writers are ready to deal with the story immediately.

It is no secret that two of the characters that have never worked well are Declan and Charlotte. Every time the writers have tried to give them stories of any kind, they have only succeeded in making these kids bigger bores. Well, that all changed. Declan’s death moved me more than I would have anticipated for a character I genuinely don’t care about because of the effect it will have on those he leaves behind. Poor Jack has suffered an enormous amount of loss in the past two years; I’m sure his brother’s death will only intensify his feelings of hatred towards all things Grayson.

Which, of course, should be fascinating to watch as one of them is carrying his niece or nephew. I am still not convinced that Charlotte is a necessary character in this story, but I am willing to accept that the pregnancy may add some lovely tension to next year’s story, especially as this child is blood to both Jack and Emily.

Nolan is one of my favorite characters, but too much this season his role has been to step in and solve a tech issue or to cry over a dead character. He needs a great story arc of his own, and I am excited about the fact that he is now under suspicion. Emily needs him and she knows it. I’m sure it will be fun watching her manipulate the world to ensure that her friend is safe and able to continue to help her in her quest.

Emily’s having three men with whom she is involved has become much too convoluted and, dare I say, ridiculous. I’m not sure how I feel about the hint that Daniel has killed Aiden, but I am ready for the latter to go. His story has been told. Having said that, the goodbye scene between Emily and him was beautifully done and I loved the fact that Aiden called her Amanda as he left. He does, at the very least, recognize Emily for whom she really is.

As we all know that Daniel is simply a means to an end for Emily, it is long past time to address the feelings that Emily and Jack have for each other. And, addressed they were in a moment that may be my favorite of this entire series to date. Having Jack remember young Amanda as Emily stood in front of him, the implication being that he figures it out just seconds before she confirms it, was a masterstroke. Gold acting stars to both VanCamp and Wechsler who kept this scene from falling into melodrama; it was pure drama and I loved it.

As I did this entire episode. Four out of four gubernatorial victory parties.

Vengeful Bits:

-- Ashley, bless her, is another character whose story has run its course. And, I genuinely hope we have see the last of Regina.

-- While it is lovely that the next generation of Porters is arriving, two unexpected pregnancies in a year is quite a bit. Guess Mr. Porter failed to stress the importance of condoms to his boys.

-- I love the idea of Emily in a villa in Capri when this is all behind her.

-- If Conrad truly manages to triple his wealth, he will be worth close to $12 billion. Yikes.

-- Declan’s goodbye video was a bit of schmaltz, but it brought tears to my eyes.

-- Padma’s tape is obviously a fake.

Devious Delights:

Conrad: “We are the first responders.”

Nolan: “I trust Emily with my life. So did Amanda. It’s time you did, too.”

Emily: “Part of taking care of Carl means not letting anything happen to you.”

Victoria: “You and I have more in common than either one of us cares to admit.”
Emily: “Tell me.”
Victoria: “Ferocity. An embedded determination to get whatever we want, no matter what the cost.”

Aiden: “You stupid, arrogant boy!”

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.


Billie Doux said...

I agree that they did a lot in this two-parter to fix the problems that the series has had this season. Lots of surprises. I was about to give up on Revenge, but this finale was strong enough that I'll probably be back in the fall.

Terrific review, Chris. Thanks so much for finishing out the season for us.

Panda said...

I really enjoyed this finale, as well. I loved the final scene; it turned the show around. This whole episode did. I'd like to see the show focus on the whole revenge and identity thing more next year, and less on governmental stuff we don't understand.

Anonymous said...

Emily finally revealing her secret to Jack was very moving. Nolan will hopefully be out of trouble with Emily's help.
Declan's death was very moving also. Hmm..Ashley was kinda fun at last. Maybe she'll improve..
Great review.

Anonymous said...

I have also been kind of teetering on the edge of giving up on this show. I loved first season, but this one has been so soapy and a little directionless. So this episode gave me hope for next season, I'll definitely give it another shot.

Just wanted to let you know, Chris your reviews have been lovely, and I think you nailed this two-parter. I agree with pretty much everything you've said. Although I've grown very fond of Declan and Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Your review was great and it reflected my own thoughts about it as well. I think the end may also be my favorite scene of the series so far. It was beautifully done.

I don't think the Padma tape is fake. If you remember, they told her before she was going to see her father, she was going to have to tape something- we were never shown what it was but obviously this is what they made her do before they killed her.

Jolyn said...

Yes, the finale sandwich was better than the big middle chunk of the season, but this has probably been my last Revenge season.

I agree that the love-square has gotten ridiculous. A love-triangle is bad enough, but a story in which the girl loves one guy but he's married, so she's hooking up with the other dude who is in love with her but she keeps it a secret so she can marry yet another guy for revenge ON HIS PARENTS? That is effed up.

And selfish. Daniel was a kid when his father blew up a plane for profit but when Fiancé-Barbie breaks his heart again next season, Conrad sure as heck is not going to feel a thing.

And then there's death on this series. A lot of it, and most of it seemingly unnecessary. Padma, Helen, Declan, Trask, Takeda, Fake-Amanda, Tyler, Nate, Aiden... Wow, this is what I can come up with and it's already way too much. And I really really liked Padma and Declan, by the way.

Can we all please stop pretending Revenge is a quality series with an intricate story? If it walks like a soap and talks like a soap, it probably is a soapseries.