Revenge: Reckoning

"Just stay where you are and do not do anything revenge-y until I get there."

It's the rare television show that knocks it out of the park in its first season. In fact, many don't really flourish until their second outings (Buffy being the perfect example of this). Others such as Lost and Alias had masterful debut seasons that were just brilliant on every level. For me, Revenge undoubtedly belongs to the latter group. While its character work may not be as layered as Lost's first season, and its plot twists not as jaw-dropping as Alias' debut, Revenge applies its special dose of soapy thrills and vengeful machinations quite amazingly.

This season has been a joy to watch, a thrillingly enjoyable crusade as one badass protagonist sought to avenge her father's demise. I'm happy to say that the finale was a pretty spectacular hour of television. It might not have resolved things to the degree that I would have liked, but it was exciting and satisfying in a manner that more than made up for the lack of closure.

First off, I can't stress how much Emily Thorne proved to be an absorbing lead this year. Played to perfection by Emily VanCamp, the character was refreshing in her unwavering commitment to vengeance. Yet, her facade gradually began to crack over the year which set the stage for her sparing the White-Haired Man after their thrilling battle. While I would have liked her to go through with it, I can't deny that the seeds had been planted for this event and now Emily undoubtedly finds herself exposed in a manner she never was before, effectively raising the stakes for season two.

The relationship that most benefited from this finale was undoubtedly Emily and Nolan's. Although I wasn't a big fan of the character when the show began, I've slowly grown to really admire Nolan and his loyalty to Emily over the course of the last few episodes. The finale felt like a true culmination of a relationship that was both genuine and strangely familial.

One relationship that I would have liked to see more of was Emily and Daniel's. Their breakup scene was exquisitely acted, but I still wanted Emily to reveal the truth to him (or at least to Victoria or Jack for that matter). I understand that the show does have certain limitations if it intends to stay on for a while, but it was still slightly disappointing for me.

Interestingly enough, for once Charlotte and Declan didn't ruin an episode. Certainly their storyline was the weakest as always, but it was nonetheless amusing to watch Charlotte adopt her mother's malicious ways so effortlessly. Still, I hope that overdose will yield the results we're all hoping for.

Now the real meat of the finale comes with the fantastic final sequence set to the soundtrack of Florence and The Machine's fitting tune, "7 Devils". The plane crash itself was a marvelous development to hold us over until September although I'm pretty sure Victoria isn't dead. Actually, I hope she isn't because Madeleine Stowe is too good a talent to let go of so soon. Here's hoping our sexy demoness made her way off the plane at the last moment (seeing as how Conrad did warn her after all) and our favorite mistress Lydia is revealed to be the crash's deserving victim.

While I wanted Revenge to end on a mind-blowing cliffhanger to really bookend the year, I was nonetheless certainly intrigued by the reveal that Emily's mother is still alive with some sort of link to AmeriCon Initiative. I just hope this storyline is handled carefully, because it has the potential to really ruin the show. This isn't Alias; I want Revenge to retain its focus as one woman's revenge story and not turn into a hodgepodge of shadowy organizations and spy-mommies. Of course I'll reserve any judgements until next year because the show has yet to falter and thus deserves the benefit of the doubt.

In other news, I do hope Takeda comes back next year as I was hoping for some answers where he's concerned. There's still so much to learn about Emily's Revenge-school years and his actions halfway through the season. Nevertheless, I'm guessing he sent Amanda back (with the baby in tow) so we're bound to get some information soon. Speaking of our favorite psycho, her return was quite the jaw-dropper; albeit a bit too soapy for my tastes.

Vengeful Bits:

- Very Lost like opening with the closeup of Emily's eye. I quite liked it.

- Emily self-chloroforming into a flashback was strangely cool.

- I love that even when in chains, Emily maintains her tough-as-nails exterior.

- Nolan telling Emily to "kick his ass" followed by a hug was a wonderful moment for the two.

- Fantastic fight scene with Emily and the White Haired Man. Wonderfully filmed and choreographed. The axe in particular was an excellent touch.

- Creepy/cool moment as White-Haired Man winks at Emily through her spy-cam.

- Victoria slapping Daniel: always satisfying.

- Conrad seemed genuinely sad kissing Lydia goodbye.

- There was a real sense of dread as Emily and Nolan drank champagne in honor of her dad. Things were just too perfect halfway through the episode, as they so often are in finales.

- I quite enjoyed Declan telling Charlotte off.

- Victoria revealing her engagement present to be an empty box and then wishing Emily "the best of luck in her future endeavors" was just oh so cold.

- Who here actually believes the baby is Jack's? The man is obviously too kindhearted to question it.

- Emily breaking down outside the bar broke my heart. She's just been so restrained all year long and VanCamp is beyond amazing.

- We're never gonna get rid of Ashley huh? She's bound to find herself on Emily's hit-list next season if she shacks up with Danny-boy.

- Gorgeously framed shot of Emily staring at her infinity box in front of the fire. She seems so broken. Definitely the most iconic shot of the season.

- Victoria looked quite badass walking up that plane in slow-motion. Loved spotting the White-Haired Man doing God knows what to the aircraft.

- Conrad burning the picture of the two women who betrayed him is a very sinister moment in retrospect.

- Nolan made a copy of the evidence: thank God.

- "Let it play." Brilliant ending as Emily's stone-cold intensity resumes once more.

Devious Delights:

White-haired Man: I might let your friend live.
Emily: Actually, he doesn't concern me.
Nolan: Gee. don't sugarcoat it, Emms.

Victoria: I have done some heinous things in my life. But now I have the chance to right a terrible wrong and nothing and nobody, not even you, my darling son, will stand in my way. Do you understand?

Jack: Are you okay?
Emily: I'm fine. You should see the other guy.

Charlotte: Has getting retribution ever made you feel better about yourself?
Victoria; Yes, when the other party deserved it.

Conrad: If you board that plane, it will be the last thing you do!
Victoria: Then I guess I'll see you in hell!

Thrilling and strangely satisfying, "Reckoning" is a fitting finale for this year's strongest new show.

4 out of 4 White-Haired Men.

Previously posted at Nad's Reviews.

8 comments:

PlatinumRosebud said...

Gorgeous review, as always, Nadim. Emily VanCamp, et al, really made Revenge's first season a truly enjoyable one. The storytelling, the acting... all merged together to create a damn good TV offering that makes you clamor for more each week. Like you, I can't wait for the next season to see what's our Bad Ass Gal's bag of tricks will reveal. Have a marvelous day, Nadim.

Nadim said...

Thank you PlatinumRosebud. I'm glad you enjoyed the review. Here's hoping for an equally spectacular second season!

Panda said...

This was a really great finale, and a great review too, of course ;)

I loved that fight scene, too, and I loved that she gave in to her father's wishes in the end and let WHM go.

I saw the twist about her mother coming. Not at that particular moment, but just in general since everything surrounding her mother was so closed ended, there was obviously more to the story.

Phew, can't believe I managed to cram a whole season in a week. Can't wait for season two.

Nadim said...

Panda I'm super proud of you for being such a good addict. And you're right I'd been waiting for the mother thing for a long time simply because I'm so used to that kind of twist after Alias etc... oh well, let's hope it works. But truly a wonderful debut season!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting it in the index Nadim!! It really does make the whole viewing experience more fun when I get to read your review at the end!

Billie Jo.

Nadim said...

Thanks Billie Jo. I'll be rewatching the episodes I didn't review in detail soon! Just need to finish my Nikita re-watch first!

ChrisB said...

Whew! What a show. I was discussing this show with my sister earlier today (who never misses an episode) and we were musing about why we like it so much.

Seen rationally, it is astonishing that one would root for a woman with such intense Daddy issues, such rage and hatred, such sociopathic tendencies. Yet, root for her we do -- week in and week out. We cheer when she destroys lives (which is a bit sick); we cry when she cries; we cringe when she is in danger. The fact that the writers have pulled off this sleight of hand is nothing short of brilliant.

But, while Emily Thorne is a great character and Emily VanCamp plays her to perfection, the show would not be what it is without such a strong cast of characters surrounding her. I agree that Emily's growing fraternal relationship with Nolan is one of the highlights of this season. And Madeline Stowe's Victoria is worthy of every award out there.

Great reviews, Nadim. Thanks for posting them.

Nadim said...

I just saw this post Chris. It's wonderful. That paragraph concerning why we root for Emily is pure perfection! I constantly found myself wondering the same thing and that's the utter brilliance of Revenge! I really am so glad you discovered this excellent show!