Around the Water Cooler: “Revenge,” The Season 3 Finale and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: “Revenge” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall/winter Sundays at 9:00 PM and, during this season, spring Sundays at 10:00 PM.

What: “Revenge,” a serial drama in which a young woman, born Amanda Clarke (Emily Van Camp), engages in a high stakes vendetta against the morally corrupt and financially endowed family who framed her father for an act of terrorism, leading to his imprisonment and ultimately to his death (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/revenge/summary.html).

When: The Season 3 finale aired on Sunday, May 12, 2014, on ABC at 10:00 PM.

Where: The show is primarily set in New York State, in Montauk and the Hamptons where these affluent people reside, though sometimes the action travels to the city, specifically Manhattan, when the show’s business-types need a place to work.

Why: I initially passed on this show, but the buzz surrounding it was overwhelming, particularly from trusted TV critics, including Michael Ausiello and writers at TV Guide, as well as from trusted friends. While I don’t normally go in for soapy thrillers that hearken to the days of Dynasty and DallasRevenge layers hints of those old prime-time soap operas with the high octane thrill of 24The result is equal parts addicting and frustrating at times, particularly, as in this viewer’s humble opinion, the writing of the show continues to deteriorate.  I caught up on season 1 thanks to Netflix and began watching the show regularly at the start of season 2.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

Well, color this viewer pleasantly surprised.  With a bleak outlook at the start of Revenge’s third season, this blogger was not certain that this program would remain as interesting or engaging as it has become.  Whether the producers and writers knew they were circling a story drain, whether they feared being on the proverbial “bubble” of cancellation (though, if it happened, it wasn’t for long), or whether this season was part of their storytelling plans all along, the landscape of the show, about a hurt young, doting daughter, who saw her father framed for mass murder and learned of his death, with the singular purpose of seeking revenge against those who conspired to concoct this frame-up, has entirely changed.  Emily Thorne, or Emily Grayson, or Amanda Clarke, has won.  Or has she?  Did she achieve revenge, or did she cause more harm than good and all for nothing?  That was where the season finale left the audience, along with two deaths and a surprisingly still-alive person that was believed to be dead.  In fact, this character’s death informs Emily’s entire reason for being, and his reappearance essentially reboots the direction of the show.

Yet, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let’s back up.  And beware: this entry contains major spoilers as I attempt to summarize the season that was.  You have been forewarned.

The season began with the traditional nod to a mid-season cliffhanger, in which the audience sees Emily being shot, point blank.  As with the other seasons of Revenge, the first half of the season sets the stage for that cliffhanger; the second half traverses the aftermath.  You should know: Emily lives.  Or, more aptly, Emily survives.  It’s not easy for her, though, and the cost is great.

At the end of the second season, Emily’s long-lost childhood friend and love, Jack Porter–having found out who she really was and how she became involved in the death of who Jack believed was Amanda Clarke, who was also his wife and the mother of his baby son Carl–with disgust and the utmost hurt, gave Emily an ultimatum: finish her vendetta by the end of the summer, or he would announce her secret to the world.  Because Emily’s latent love for Jack and regret for Amanda’s death consumed her, she agreed.

We also found out in the beginning of the season that Aidan Matheson (Barry Sloane), who we thought was a spurned lover, was secretly still working with Emily to enact her vendetta, though this relationship could be classified as very much “on again/off again” for the duration of the season.  Though the public saw them as a former item, Aidan infiltrated the Grayson household in the first half of the season by offering his services to Victoria; he proposed using his talents to restore her fortune, since Conrad’s machinations and their subsequent bitter divorce(s) left her bankrupt, as well as providing information at well timed intervals about Emily Thorne, who was engaged again to Daniel. In addition, Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) reunited with the son she gave up for adoption prior to becoming involved with Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny), Patrick (Justin Hartley), and he became her stalwart ally against the rest of her family, who felt they couldn’t trust her.  When the season began, Emily and Daniel Grayson had reconciled and were on track to marry again, much to Victoria’s outspoken chagrin.  Charlotte Grayson couldn’t stand to be around any of her family, Emily included, preferring instead to play auntie to Carl and to help Jack through his grief.

Jack spent most of the season, however, in a serious relationship with Margaux LeMarchal, the daughter of a French media mogul and the editor of budding society and culture magazine “Voulez,” after being introduced to each other by Charlotte through the LeMarchal connection to her family, including Daniel and Margaux’s possible childhood dalliance.  While these two lovebirds seemed mismatched, their initial relationship was actually sort of sweet; however, Margaux wooed Daniel, who began the season on the outs with his father Conrad, to become part of the magazine, since Daniel was looking for a new job and new independence without the availability of his trust fund in advance of his wedding to Emily, as he had sided with his mother against his father.  Daniel’s position at the magazine left Jack feeling threatened for much of the season, as Daniel and Margaux had unmistakable chemistry, though they were strictly platonic in the beginning.

Emily set her sights on one of Conrad’s former business partners turned priest in the second episode.  While she successfully convinced this man, through her and Nolan’s machinations, to fork over the truth about the plane crash for which her father David was framed and to convince Conrad to do the same to atone for his sins, it seemed, momentarily, that Conrad was not above taking him out to keep his secrets.  At this point, Conrad and Emily both began to question their individual morality.  Conrad, facing death after being misdiagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, realized that he was on a highway to hell, while Emily began to see the shades of gray in her vengeful plans and the collateral damages she was racking up in her quest to topple the Graysons.

What’s more, Nolan accidentally finds himself in a hot and steamy affair with Patrick, who, we find out later in the season, left a first wife because he is gay.  This placed Nolan in somewhat of a double agent role, as he nursed genuine feelings for Patrick while conspiring with Emily to use Patrick against Victoria.   Ultimately, this backfired for him, as Patrick was most loyal to his new-found bio-mom, and as Victoria was not above using the relationship Patrick shared with Nolan to orchestrate schemes against Emily.

Of course, Emily had her share of potshots before the big take-down.  There was that time she had a staged row with Aidan at a costume fete conveniently hosted by Nolan, wherein she was able to announce to all of the Hamptons’ society that the Graysons were bankrupt, even though Margaux wormed her way into that party on Jack’s arm with the hope of making Nolan Ross her new cover story, against the wishes of new partner Daniel.  Charlotte was none too happy by Emily’s behavior, finding her (unbeknownst to her) sister a bit too much like her mom, which was an uncannily spot-on observation for the show’s most superfluous character (sorry).

Conrad’s possible involvement in the priest’s death, by the by, was really just a red herring.  Patrick cut the man’s brake line, killing the to-be confessional priest or so Emily hoped.  Conrad survived with luck only, as Patrick was really aiming to take out this man, who he knew had hurt his mom so much.  Patrick confessed to his mom, and Charlotte took the heat for her half-brother at Victoria’s behest, knowing that Conrad’s soft spot for Charlotte would help him to overlook whatever feeble excuse she offered, as opposed to his ire at the mere thought of Patrick and his existence.  Oh, and PS, that diagnosis of Huntington’s Disease for Conrad, which provided a not-so-convenient exit from the governor’s mansion?  Fake and all part of Emily’s plan, which was tantamount to failure at this point; however she tainted his blood to begin with, she was able to undo it when she decided it was all for naught.  Not to mention the fact that Aidan tried to blame Jack for tampering with the brakes for no other reason than he was jealous of Emily’s relationship with Daniel, which was also fake.  At least, by the fourth episode of the season, Jack was starting to offer to help Emily and Nolan, which happened quite frequently throughout the season, rather than remaining determined to be angry at her.  In fact, he served as Emily’s Jiminy Cricket more often than not, to the extent that any sense of conscience could be her guide.

By the fifth episode, Daniel and Emily’s shaky reconciliation became even shakier when Daniel basically booted Emily for not supporting him and for not being truthful with him.  This episode is worth mentioning singularly because it basically became a meta-commentary on the state of the show in general.  As this viewer noted at season’s start, Revenge was basically in a wash/rinse/repeat holding pattern.  Emily targets someone with her poised red marker; she and Nolan (or some combination of third party helpers) conspire behind the scenes; Victoria waggles her rich fingers menacingly in someone’s direction, most likely Emily’s; and some romantic entanglement finds some superficial fruition for a fleeting moment before it all goes to hell in an episode or two.  What Emily wrestled with this season in the wake of her namesake’s death and Jack’s subsequent betrayal was how her vendetta consumed her beyond the capacity to feel real human emotion, something that Golden Boy Daniel, possibly the most sensitive of the Grayson clan, really began to notice.  Though Emily was able to mend the crumbling fence with a few well placed observations and advice of Nolan, given his not-as-functional-as-he-thinks relationship with Patrick, Emily was able to take down some of her armor in order to reel Danny back in, though at this stage of the game, it was too little, too late.  Aidan remained a morally ambiguous and ultimately selfish fellow, having thrown all his weight behind framing Jack for the car accident in order to protect his love for Emily, though that relationship isn’t healthy either.  Two broken people with nothing but anger between them?

In the next few episodes, Vicky, determined to derail Daniel and Emily’s pending nuptials, with the help of Charlotte, puts Daniel in touch with Sarah, a poor girl with dreams of becoming a baker who was the love of Daniel’s life until Vicky ran her off too, believing that the middle class Sarah was after Daniel’s riches and nothing more. Well, more aptly, she was paid off, as she was in the car that Danny crashed while driving drunk shortly before the series began.  Seems mama Vicky can compromise her lagging ethics when it suits her, though – after all, she continues to keep the secret of David Clarke’s death and the real reason behind it, though she has professed for several seasons now that she loved him.  She blessed Charlotte’s efforts from the wings, as Charlotte also believed that Emily was no good for her brother, and she helped Daniel and Sarah find each other again.  Daniel found in Sarah the love and passion he shared with her during their teenage romance and felt himself pulled even further away from Emily.  Charlotte was even able to help Sarah get a job at the Stowaway working for Jack.  It seemed the plan to derail the marriage train between Emily and Daniel was in full swing, mostly controlled by Charlotte, but Emily was not willing to give up what she perceived to be her best “in” as far as infiltrating the Grayson empire.  So, like any good soap opera heroine, she did what any self-respecting spurned fiancee would do: she faked a pregnancy.

Of course, just before that, Jack and Nolan had a meeting of the minds and confessed to each other that they knew Emily’s secret.  Nolan also had a bit of a “come to Jesus” moment with himself in episode six, and with Emily, by calling her out on the fact that she takes nearly everyone involved in her schemes for granted.  Nolan also had to confront the fact that his loneliness, as an intelligent, eccentric, bisexual man, informs poor decisions on his part.  The three friends worked on their relationship throughout the season.

Aidan managed to regenerate some of the lost fortune for the Graysons, not to mention the fact that assets were released, I don’t remember how.  Nolan tried to seek revenge on a publicist hired by the Graysons who shamed Nolan in the press, leading to estrangement between him and his actual father, a man who did not understand his son or his lifestyle. His revenge wasn’t fatal; he opted to ruin her but stopped short of violence.  The seventh episode was meant, I think, to contrast the steadfast, loyal, and lonely Nolan with the single-minded Emily, who doesn’t consider the collateral damage.  He’s a far more sympathetic character, after all.

Who is not a sympathetic character ever: Lydia Davis, Conrad’s erstwhile paramour, believed to be dead after a plummet out of a window sometime in an earlier season. She randomly shows up in the eighth episode of the season, strutting before former bestie Victoria and flirting her way back into Conrad’s bedroom.  What’s more, she’s still bandying about that photograph of Emily, then going by her real name (Amanda Clarke) and a brunette, stalking the Graysons as a caterer/waitress at a society function some years before she appeared in the Hamptons posing as a millionairess.  In fact, she’s willing to run to Margaux and Voulez to air the Graysons’ dirty laundry and Emily’s dirty little secret, despite Vicky’s best attempts at reconciling with her ex-husband’s lover.  The first half of Revenge was all over the place; this viewer was prepared to write a mid-season recap, but the mere cheesy daytime soap quality of what was formerly a high octane drama full of twists and turns left me a little speechless for a time.  The fake pregnancy angle was particularly desperate and cheap, but the reemergence of a thoroughly unlikable character for whatever reason felt a little too by-the-book and overreaching.

By episode nine, Sarah essentially left Daniel, refusing to be the “other woman” in light of the “baby” and encouraging him to go through with the wedding.  In the meantime, Aiden, feeling very confident that he pleased his vengeful paramour, proposed to Emily, and Victoria vowed not to attend the wedding of Daniel and Emily, since no one still believed her about Emily being a liar and a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Not that Vicky has much room to talk.

So, Daniel and Emily, after much hoopla and obstacles, get married, and Emily Thorne legitimately becomes Emily Grayson.  And when the celebration/reception moves to the Graysons’ yacht, Victoria finally confronts Emily, having been shown the photograph possessed by Lydia, accusing her of lies.  The lie that hits hardest, and what Emily cops to, is that she faked her pregnancy to lure Daniel back from Sarah, which Daniel overhears as he prepares to come on deck.  Drunk and in despair at the thought of being trapped in marriage to Emily, he does what all good, blue-blooded people do.  He finds a gun and shoots her, right in front of his mother.  Emily was planning to frame Victoria and possibly orchestrate an accident aboard this yacht; she did not see this turn of events, and neither did we.  Emily falls overboard, and Victoria promptly moves to do whatever she can to cover up her son’s deed.  And the mid-season finale comes to a close.

When next we find Emily, or more aptly, when Aidan finally finds Emily, she has some sort of trauma-related amnesia.  She remembers Aidan but not much else, and, floating in the water, she begs Aidan to run away with her, despite her intense internal bleeding.  Nolan was behind the times, believing everything had gone according to plan, but when he realized that Emily had been transported to the hospital with gunshots in her abdomen, he set to business, while the Graysons spun their web of lies at the police station.  Victoria cons her way into convincing hospital staff into allowing Emily to be cared for “at home,” at Grayson Manor, right before Nolan successfully guides Emily through the suppression of most of her Grayson-related memories.  The horrors don’t stop there.

Emily is nursed at home by Niko, who, as it turns out, is Takeda’s daughter, on a mission of vengeance herself.  In fact, she is attempting to hunt down the assassin of her dad, who, as loyal viewers might remember, happens to be Aidan circa season two.  What’s even more complicated? While Emily pushes Aidan away, it seems Aidan has some romantic past with Niko, resulting in some hot and heavy make-out sessions between the two.  Aidan is not my favorite, but this pickle in which he finds himself – well, he made that bed.

To add insult to injury, Patrick finds the safe in Nolan’s house that contains some of Emily’s personal effects, including the box with the double infinity symbol on it, where she keeps some of the evidence and her most precious mementos of her father.  Patrick, who is as shifty as his real mom, tells Vicky about the safe, which, coupled with the revelation about the fake pregnancy, starts Victoria on the hunt of her lifetime, a more committed, more vicious goose chase with Emily as her prey.  She is determined, and it lasts throughout the second half of the season, to expose whatever truth Emily is hiding.  To start her vicious agenda, she tells the doctors at the hospital after the gunshots pierce Emily’s reproductive organs to do what they can to save her life at the expense of being able to have children in the future.  This blow leaves Emily crippled with indecision and pain unlike anything she has yet experienced save the death of her father, and it takes Niko revealing her true identity and a good, solid, Takeda-taught wallop to motivate Emily to get back on track.

In the end, Victoria’s cruel decision, even if courted by Emily’s own actions, also served to rejuvenate her vendetta, and she resolved to, as long as she remained under the Graysons’ roof, be the biggest pain in the ass for Victoria and Daniel that she could be.  She admits as much when she reveals, before their conniving eyes and ears, that she remembers the fact that Daniel shot her, and that revealing that secret to the press could be devastating to the reputation they’ve tried to hard to rebuild, particularly as Daniel moves forward with his plans for Voulez.

Speaking of the magazine, while Margaux battles her French father from across an ocean, determined to prove herself as a woman in a male dominated industry (and family), Conrad sidles in and begins to take steps to assume control of the mag while schmoozing with Pascal, Margaux’s father.  It seems the Graysons and the LeMarchals are old business rivals.  Publicly, Conrad sidesteps into the magazine and effectively corners Margaux into booting Daniel, all the while promising to Pascal that he will help to orchestrate a reunion with Victoria.  It seems, long before Vicky met Conrad Grayson, she was a young art student in Paris, taken in by the charms of an up and coming publisher named Pascal.

Prior to that clandestine reunion, however, original prodigal son Patrick used Grayson connections and Nolan’s technical prowess to track down his biological father, who, as it turns out, raped Victoria, which is how Patrick came into being and why she gave him up for adoption in the first place.  Patrick’s barely contained rage at this man, who has a wife and children of his own, results in Patrick inviting the man to Vicky’s art house under the guise of potentially performing contractor work.  Yet, Victoria realizes what Patrick is doing and enters the scene in the hopes of stopping him from doing something heinously unwise, but the trauma of remembering the episode causes her to falter, the rapist to get feisty, and Patrick to get retaliatory.  He slams his bio-dad down on the hard floor, effectively killing him.  At this point, Victoria resolves to set fire to her precious art dealership and encourages Patrick to accept an opportunity abroad, to get him away from the Hamptons and potential suspicion concerning the death of his father.  Nolan and Vicky share a moment – they agree that Patrick is too good for this world, but that’s a viewpoint this viewer does not share.

Oh, and as the bile volleyed back and forth between Daniel and Emily and Emily and Victoria, Emily pretends to make good on her threat.  She calls a press conference to name her shooter – and points the finger at Lydia Davis.  Conrad believes that his on/off again lover could not shirk her manipulative ways, and Lydia is carted off to prison.  Good riddance, I say.  Also, as Daniel openly flaunts his relationship with Sarah at Emily, even allowing the latter to catch he and Sarah in bed together, Emily lobs one back by tracking down Sarah’s mom, who does not approve of Daniel and Sarah’s reunion.  The appearance of Sarah’s mother effectively and eventually convinces her to break off her relationship with Daniel, serving to further solidify his enmity against Emily and to finally unite him with his mother.

What’s more, Niko discovers a bloodstained katana under Aidan’s bed, further confirming to her tearful rage that Aidan offed Takeda.  Oh, and Jack tries to buy a house, so that he and Margaux can move in together, but that never comes to fruition because Margaux is too concerned about Conrad, her father, and her magazine.  As if we couldn’t see that one coming, but this blogger digresses.

It seems that Emily started having blackouts after her accident, periods when she does things that she doesn’t remember later.  One thing: she is the one who planted the katana under Aidan’s bed for Niko to find.  It seems her subconscious, possibly a psychotic self-identity on par with the problems suffered by her biological mother, is more jealous of Aidan and Niko than she cares to admit.  She also lures Stevie Grayson, Conrad’s first wife, to the Hamptons as her divorce lawyer. Stevie comes with a few secrets, though.  First, it seems she’s a recovering/ed alcoholic.  Second, it seems she had an affair with Carl the First, Jack’s father.  Third, it seems Stevie is Jack’s real mother, since she tells Jack as much.  As a result of this bombshell, the two spend a few episodes getting reacquainted while Emily works her marionettes of Stevie and Conrad from her shadowy sideline; plus, apparently Stevie is the actual owner of Grayson Manor due to some prenuptial agreement and this and that.  To be honest, this viewer didn’t pay much attention to this subplot, and it was largely irrelevant in the end.

Another thing that Emily With a Blackout does: schmoozes with Conrad, possibly seductively, though that seems too convenient, even for this messy show.  It appears, however, that she is using some of her feminine wiles to ply Conrad against Victoria, not that he needs much help.

Right around episode 14, Conrad secures a position for Charlotte at Voulez (yawn).  In addition, when Niko confronts Aidan, it doesn’t go so well for her.  She dies as ignominiously as she appeared, and shaky Aidan emerges triumphant once again.

Stevie pays for Jack’s new house with guilt money and jousts with Vicky over Grayson Manor, though ultimately she forks it over to Conrad in the end, as Conrad is working some weird magic of his own.  Daniel sends a private investigator after Emily, which catches her smooching Aidan. Daniel believes this revelation will give him his annulment, and he enjoys being smug about it for a minute.  Nolan also makes a new infinity box, since Emily allowed the wooden one to be commandeered by Patrick to give to Victoria, with evidence planted by Emily designed to lead Victoria away from David Clarke and toward the idea that Emily is solely after the Graysons’ fortune.  Nolan’s box is metal and requires Emily’s fingerprint to open.  Fancy.

Emily counters Daniel’s P.I. by taking control of the divorce situation and releasing the medical records showing that she had never been pregnant to the press, which gave the Graysons an easy out for the divorce and allowed her to escape the Manor once and for all.  Pascal visits New York in an effort to rekindle that old spark between him and Victoria while his put-upon daughter vies for his affection and approval.  In so doing, Emily discovers that Pascal is connected to the scandal surrounding her father, because everybody on this show is seemingly, while Conrad proposes merger of his and Pascal’s once rival companies; in the meantime, Pascal proposes that Victoria and Pascal orchestrate their own merger, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

Stevie senses a kindred spirit in Emily without guessing the truth and offers to help Emily, despite Jack’s mostly hollow protests, since he helps Nolan steal some evidence from Victoria’s lawyers’ law firm.  And an old prison buddy named Javier shows up at Nolan’s door with big dreams and a house monitor on his ankle.  He helps finagle the theft from the law firm and also has this alarming new social media application that presents a virtual self and what that person likes or dislikes as a means to recommend hot new clubs and hot dog stands or whatever that person wants to know about what s/he doesn’t know about him/herself.  Or something.  Nolan offers to help Javier launch this new platform, as long as he retains creative control, but Javier meets Charlotte, and they become a strange romantic item; I guess Charlotte’s type is “much poorer than her.”  Charlotte steers Javier away from Nolan and toward Daniel and Margaux, who appropriate the application launch as a convenient partner project to Voulez.  By the way, when Conrad’s merger idea doesn’t materialize, he suddenly announces his departure from the magazine, allowing Daniel to maneuver back into his old job.

This maneuver proves to be a threat to Jack, who is already threatened by the fact that his French girlfriend is the ultimate career woman, with no interest or time to play house.  Furthermore, Daniel doesn’t trust Jack, what with his closeness to Emily and Nolan and all.  Daniel’s well placed words and Jack’s increasingly jealous behavior effectively drive a wedge between Jack and Margaux, and that relationship disintegrate.  It’s really for the better…they had nothing in common!

Before that fizzle, Emily attempts to sizzle by throwing a charity event that, somehow, includes an invitation to the Graysons, though what Emily is really after is information from Pascal.  Yet, Pascal is not fooled by Emily’s wily seductions, still favoring Ice Queen Vicky, and tries to play Emily while Emily tries to play him.  He also buys his daughter’s fervently passionate suggestion that she be given Voulez and without Conrad after Daniel plays turncoat and suggests that Conrad is in bad with Interpol.  Of course, who isn’t Conrad in bad with?  That was bad grammar, but the gist is there. So, it was Margaux and Daniel at the mag; Pascal bagging Victoria, who fondly remembers their affair and agrees to try again; and Conrad manipulating his first wife out of the deed to Grayson Manor, which he gives to Pascal, who gives it to Victoria, leaving Stevie yearning for brown liquor and escape.  Jack thinks that her departure is well advised and accompanies her back to California.

Emily, unsuccessful with Pascal, decides to search out Aidan, who is off in the Caribbean, drowning his sorrows about both Emily and Niko.  She says she still loves him and wants him to be a part of the big plot.  He throws a tantrum but is eventually won over; after all, Emily is his one true love, or so he thinks.  Though he does suggest he’s no Nolan: can’t push him away and expect him to come crawling back, he blusters.  Except he does crawl back.  As I write this, I find myself despising Aidan quite a bit.  Though he reunites with his mother in England for an episode to discuss the death of his sister, the life of his father, and the existence of a man who knows about David Clarke, according to sleazy author Mason Treadwell, and the moment with his mom is quite touching and gives him some closure and appeasement of his anger. Emily subsequently breaks Mason out of prison with Aidan’s help.  I swear I can’t make this stuff up.

Vicky tries to set a trap for Emily, and while Emily is wise to her games, Victoria does start connecting the dots in the last four episodes of the season.  First, she figures out, with her own photograph and marker, that Emily is targeting people related to David Clarke.  Victoria also agrees to marry Pascal, who apparently can’t live without her ever again.

Yet, unexpected things begin to happen.  First, Charlotte starts to receive letters from an unknown source, and the handwriting looks remarkably similar to David Clarke’s.  What’s more, Jack flies off to investigate and finds an empty cabin with a ring once belonging to Mr. Clarke, though Victoria, in a separate scene, talks to someone who admits to staging the cabin to make it seem as if David is still alive; however, the letters are not part of the scheme, and no one can figure out who is writing them.

Second, Emily decides to up her game and stages a kidnapping of her bio-sister, Charlotte, after torpedoing Javier’s application at Voulez and causing Danny to throw him out on his behind, even as he crawls back to Nolan with his tail between his legs.  Aidan does the dirty deed, and Emily poses as a homeland security agent to notify Conrad that Charlotte has been kidnapped.  Nolan runs the tech, while Aidan pretends to roughhouse poor Charlotte, as Emily watches from behind a two-way mirror.  This was after Conrad confronts Pascal about the leaked letter that Pascal seemingly wrote to David Clarke and pushes him head-on into the very active propeller of an airplane prepared to fly Pascal and Victoria to France.  Conrad professes that Pascal’s death was an accident, but neither Victoria nor Margaux, who was just starting to enjoy a relationship of mutual respect with her father, believes Conrad, with his slimy and somewhat maniacal record.  Though the police investigate and find no evidence that Conrad was involved, particularly since the pilot was paid off by Conrad, Victoria’s grief and misery toward full force toward her hatred for Emily, and Daniel comforts Margaux.

Jack, on the other hand, sniffs out the location of Emily, Aidan, and Nolan and nearly loses his head when he sees that Charlotte has been kidnapped.  While Emily solicits Aidan and Nolan’s help elsewhere, Jack’s guilty conscience plays right into her plans.  He dresses up as the kidnapper and helps to free Charlotte, without realizing that Nolan has fitted her with a camera.  Jack leaves Charlotte on the beach not far from her house, and when Charlotte finds Conrad at home, only to reveal that the kidnappers told her all about his actions in framing and murdering her actual father, David Clarke, Conrad becomes feisty and threatens his adopted daughter’s life while admitting his crimes on camera.  Nolan conveniently hacks the feed inside the manor and pipes it to waiting press and media, and Conrad’s confession is played on fictional news outlets around the world.  He is sent to prison, while Charlotte is left in a state of confused trauma; Emily appears before Conrad to let him realize that she was behind it all, though he does not seem to put two and two together about her real identity, unlike his ex-wife.

Finally…The Season Finale

Victoria, after three years, connects the dots – or, more appropriately, the red X’s.  Emily Thorne is really Amanda Clarke.  When Emily tries to involve the psychiatrist who claimed her father suffered a psychotic break, leading to his alleged terrorist activities, it becomes clear that Victoria got to her first.  Aidan poses as a patient in a quest to help convince the psychiatrist to help Emily, but after Emily leaves, the psychiatrist invites Victoria into her office.  “He’s all yours,” she announces. As it turns out, the psychiatrist laced his water with poison; Vicky finishes the job with a pillow to his struggling-for-breath mouth.  RIP Aidan Matheson.

When Emily finds Aidan, she is beside herself with grief, anger, and rage.  Yet, she can’t be stopped now.  Next, we see Emily digging a grave, and Victoria coming up behind her.  Victoria nails it: the doting daughter of David Clarke would be the only person with so much motive for deeds done.  In an epic confrontation, in which neither woman backs down, Emily spews at Vicky all the vitriol she has bottled up for years, while Victoria resumes her place as key villain of the piece and attempts to defend her actions by suggesting that Emily is just as bad as she is.  So, Emily does the only sensible thing she can do: she whacks Vicky across the face with the shovel she was using to disturb the earth around “Amanda Clarke’s” grave, where the real Emily Thorne and former Mrs. Porter, now deceased, is buried.

In the meantime, Conrad’s time in prison is short.  Though he is threatened by guards for show, his escape is paid for by, what he believes to be, the many allies he thinks he still has. Yet, as Conrad walks out of prison, unscathed, and hikes down a dark, night-filled road expecting to meet a driver that will take him away, the person who emerges from the car is someone no one could possibly be expecting: David Clarke himself.  And, to make good his new lease on life, he stabs Conrad in the heart with a knife.  RIP Conrad Grayson.

What’s more, Gideon LeMarchal, Margaux’s brother, arrives in the Hamptons, secretly hoping to make a bid for the magazine that his father gave away to his sister, or so he hints to old buddy Daniel, but in reality, Gideon harbors revenge plans of his own.  He teams up with like-minded Nolan and somehow gets Daniel drunk on absinthe and into bed with some random girl who happens to be dead.  Why?  That much hasn’t been explained, beyond a deep seated hatred that Gideon claims to have for Daniel.

The piece d’resistance?  Given Victoria’s murderous impulses, Emily is able to sway the sellout psychiatrist back to her side long enough to sign Vicky into an institution, straight-jacketed, raving that Emily Thorne is really Amanda Clarke.  Emily explains to the presiding physicians that she found Victoria, babbling this nonsense while digging up Amanda’s grave.  Thus, Vicky has been committed, as Emily, unbeknownst that her father is alive, strolls down the flickering corridors of the nuthouse, smugly satisfied that though she is alone, her vendetta has been realized.

Except that her dad is alive! Also, Charlotte, at Jack’s comforting touch, and suddenly remembers the kidnapper who left her on the beach as opposed to the one who actually kidnapped her (Aidan). So, she calls the cops, and Jack is hauled off to jail, just when he and Emily are starting to have some sort of understanding, or, at least, a softer side to their ongoing relationship.

At the start of the season, this viewer noted that Revenge was in serious danger of becoming a mockery of itself, feeling very one-note.  Emily Thorne, the alias for Amanda Clarke, and her vendetta ultimately created more harm than good – the victim became as reprehensible as the perpetrators in this little play, and now, the reason for all of these deplorable machinations on Emily’s part has effectively become null and void with the reappearance of his father, who may not be the saintly man of her memories, even if his “eye for an eye” stabbing of Conrad may have been justifiable in the land of television drama.  What’s more, this season was truly an uneven affair, starting off with all sorts of missteps, only to culminate in six really good episodes that effectively rebooted the series, though possibly in a “too little, too late” fashion.  I’m glad that everyone (with the exception of Charlotte) finally knows Emily’s secret, but this viewer is a bit concerned that one of the show’s best villains, Conrad, may be dead, and that the motivation for the main character’s entire reason for being was really a non-motivation all along.  Where does the series go from here? While the last two episodes of the season were largely satisfying, this viewer does not see Revenge maintaining its expert balance of sudsy nighttime soap opera and high octane action drama if the vendetta is really over. Also, what’s Emily or Charlotte going to do when they find out their father is alive?

We have a season four to find out.  Let’s hope the writers take this new lease on longevity and really do something good with it – and let’s hope the network considers a shorter overall season, as Revenge would no doubt benefit from a trimming of the fat.  Twenty-two episodes leave too much room for inconsistent writers to set a myriad of unresolved and/or anticlimactic stages, even though most of the ensemble is doing their level best to work with the material, with the possible exception of Christa Allen (Charlotte), as she probably cannot be redeemed from a performance standpoint, as seems unable to deliver her lines like a real person (sorry again).

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) I think the creators of this show have concocted their own “Who shot JR?” or “Who shot Mr. Burns?” scenario.  The primary question is “Who will shoot Emily/Amanda?”  Of course, the bigger question is does she really deserve it?  After all, haven’t her antics placed her at the same level as the Graysons?  How would her father look upon her if he were alive?

Answer: Daniel shot her, and, no, she probably didn’t deserve to be shot, but she did fake a pregnancy, and that got Daniel sore when it lured him away from twue wuv Sarah.  It’s not nice, but it’s understandable from his perspective.  As to the second half of the question, since David Clarke IS alive, we’ll have to wait and see just what he thinks of Emily’s efforts, trials, and tribulations that she has done in his name.

2) I think Jack’s reaction is spot on.  I want Emily to have that love she so desperately seeks in Jack, but Jack is a good man, and it can’t really be said that Emily is a good woman. She may have her reasons, but her tactics have created destruction, though not necessarily loss of life, which is where she, Conrad, and Victoria differ.  Still, since Jack may be the character with the best of intentions and the purest of hearts, is it fair or right for her to want him or to expect him to want her back?  And should the viewer sympathize with her plight?

Answer: Emily is the antihero of the piece, and the writers, much to the credit of their uneven if single-minded storytelling, have developed sympathizing with Emily as a viewer choice.  Jack clearly loves her, and she clearly loves him, but his morals/ethics and her actual deeds are separated by the chasm of a lifetime of experiences that neither shares with the other.  The show wants us to cheer for them as a couple, but somehow, I don’t see how it could happen given everything that has transpired to date.

3) Victoria is deliciously evil – but her world view is so askew, that I still cheer for Emily’s quest against her.  Particularly since she seems to be beyond redemption.

Answer: Emily is definitely the lesser of two evils, to the extent that she is evil at all. Vicky wins the villain crown; though she has had a hard life, with rape and poverty and other things to survive and move past, she crossed the threshold of being despicable a long time ago, regardless of how much she professes to have loved Emily’s father.

4) Declan, Jack’s younger brother’s death in season 2, was a blow.  Jack is a broken man, and Charlotte’s relationship to him is going to present an interesting dynamic, given all they have in common.

Answer: Meh.  It wasn’t that interesting in the end.  And now Charlotte believes that Jack kidnapped her.  Soap operas.

5) Will Emily reveal her secret to her biological sister Charlotte this season?  I think she should.

Answer: She hasn’t yet.  That bombshell seems likely next season.  I don’t think the show’s creators can hold out any longer on that front.

6) What is Patrick’s endgame?  I don’t believe he is present purely for re-connection with his mom.  I’m not even convinced he’s the Patrick that she gave birth to and gave up for adoption.

Answer: Patrick is really Victoria’s son, and he really did just want to reconnect with mom, so much so that he committed murder – twice – for her this season.  In the end, however, his character was mostly superfluous, and he’s left to Italy without so much as as second thought by his once doting mother, who is now in a mental institution.  Maybe he’ll come back to break her out.

7) Nolan continues to be the comic relief and promiscuously bisexual.  Now that he’s broke, however, what part will he have to play?  And really…doesn’t it seem like he and Patrick are flirting?!

Answer:  Um…they were doing much more than flirting.  And he wasn’t that broke. Emily set him up, and Nolan’s pretty smart.  Apparently, he was able to stash some of his own assets, and he is still the ever-present, technologically savvy sidekick, loyal to Emily even as he constantly acts as her conscience for some of her more radical decisions and deeds.

8) I must admit, I was convinced that Aidan was out for revenge against Emily – but now that he’s on her side, what does he want?  Something to do?  Is he holding out hope that Emily will be his one true love in the end?

Answer: In the end, I think Aidan was really all about loving Emily, but his shades of gray were even murkier than Emily’s.  He was a broken man, having lost his dad and his sister, and he never really recovered from these losses.  He took Takeda’s teachings to their most extreme and paid the price, including the ultimate price for his unwavering allegiance to Emily (and Barry Sloane’s new fall show premiering on ABC next season).

9) This show is messy.  Most soap operas are, but this show and its story lines are particularly messy.

Answer: I stand by this.  It’s one of the messiest shows on television, but a guilty pleasure is a guilty pleasure.

New Questions

1) Is Conrad really dead?!  I mean, he seemed pretty stabbed and all, but this is Revenge.  Not even David Clarke is really dead, so forgive the question.

2) How did David Clarke survive, and what’s he been doing all this time?  Has he any idea what Emily/Amanda has been up to?  Does he still have feelings for Victoria? Does he truly know about Charlotte, and was he writing those letters?  And what’s he going to do now that he’s reappeared? That’s the biggest question of all.

3) Is Emily/Amanda going to find out that her father is really alive?  What will that do to her, given everything that has happened and everything that she has done in the past three seasons?

4) Is Victoria really going to stay institutionalized next season?  If she gets out, how will she retaliate against Emily?  Will she even try?

5) Jack released Charlotte, and she was blindfolded.  How can there be any evidence to land him in jail?  He can’t possibly stay there for long.

6) Now that Aidan’s gone, and Margaux is mourning Pascal while flirting with Daniel, does this mean that Jack and Emily are free to explore their childhood affections for each other?

7) Do we even care about Daniel anymore or the fact that Gideon LeMarchal is after him?  Daniel is kind of a tool, even if he had a right to be mad after finding out that Emily lied to him for three years.

8) What will Nolan do when he finds out that his mentor and champion is alive?

9) Is David Clarke really a good guy, as we’ve been led to believe?  Or, was he a convenient patsy because he is actually more morally ambiguous, given Victoria’s past allusions to a side of David that others didn’t really see?

PARTING SHOTS

As this viewer opined before, Revenge started off as a thrilling, addicting, impossibly voyeuristic guilty pleasure that brought the lives of the rich and wealthy into a world of intrigue, greed, and corruption. Emily was a sympathetic character with, at least, a pure motive – to avenge the death and reputation of her beloved father.  Yet, her journey has rendered her character as morally ambiguous as the rest of them, and now, that motive has been rendered cloudy and moot with the emergence of her believed-to-be-dead father, very much alive and feeling kind of vengeful, apparently, himself.  Also, can a show called Revenge be interesting if the key “revenge” has been executed?  The potential new direction for the series could be very satisfying or even more messy and contrived than the past two seasons have been.  This viewer will tune in next season to find out, with the hope that the solid final two episodes of the third season provide a stable launch pad for a whole new and engaging story line for this program.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Revenge was renewed for a fourth season and will return to ABC in fall 2014.  The show is officially on hiatus.  Until fall, Revengeheads!

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One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · May 22, 2014

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