I can’t believe it; it’s finally over. Thankfully, it went out on top.
When Revenge first premiered in September 2011, I was captivated by its unapologetic tone and devious deceptions. Throughout the course of the first season, my love for the show only grew stronger thanks to its captivating twists and clever storytelling. Unfortunately, the show became a breakout hit and ABC decided to milk the premise for all its worth. The downward spiral began with the season one finale, an exciting episode that sadly did not bring the story to its natural conclusion. And thus season two produced one of the most annoying and needlessly-convoluted seasons ever, robbing the show of its charm and simplicity in the process. Remember The Initiative? Padma? All the Stowaway crap? Yeah, I wish I could purge those storylines from my memory too.
The show somewhat course-corrected itself in season three and fluctuated between horrendous storytelling, and a masterful final stretch that completely revitalized the show and brought it to yet ANOTHER organic close. Unsurprisingly, ABC got greedy (again) and ordered a fourth(!!!) season. And when David Clarke rose from the dead, the show truly fell apart. After all, his demise was the foundation of the entire narrative, and this retcon proved to be one of the most ill-advised writing decisions I’ve ever seen on television. And that’s what makes Two Graves such a miracle; it allowed Revenge to go out with a semblance of dignity. And after four years of unevenness, isn’t that just wonderful?
I always wondered if Emily Thorne (or Amanda Clarke) would get her happy ending, and I’m thrilled to report that she did, with a requisite dose of darkness to offset any cheesiness. There was no way she wasn’t going to end up with boring-old Jack, but the show’s writers wisely injected the tale with that epic heart-transplant twist. I love this development because it works on several levels: if Charlotte did indeed order the transplant, it makes perfect sense because she’s Satan’s spawn and undoubtedly twisted for life. If Vicky being the donor is just a recurring nightmare, then that illustrates the psychological scars inflicted on Emily after her dangerous vendetta. Whichever way you choose to look at it (showrunner Sunil Nayar says it’s ambiguous, Stowe says it’s absolutely real, and VanCamp claims it’s not), it works and it’s a win-win.
Speaking of the Hamptons villainess, although she paid with her life, she didn’t entirely lose because either way… she gets to haunt Emily forever. That’s a powerful message to bookend the show with, as both women’s journeys were always so intricately linked. Vicky’s story has always been tragic, but Two Graves further amplified her traumatic past by having her face off with her dying mother who revealed that her daughter had actually been molested by her own father. I had hoped rape wouldn’t be the instigator behind Victoria’s maliciousness, but it does make her much more sympathetic. Furthermore, Vicky got to carry out her own revenge by using her mother’s body to fake her death. So there’s that bright side I guess.
Although I was never a fan of David’s return (not to mention Tupper’s performance), his final act of shooting Victoria at least allowed him to serve a purpose: he saved Emily from committing murder. In addition, his last scene as he passed away on the snowy porch (after being granted “compassionate release”) with Emily by his side was spectacular. VanCamp’s performance was beautiful, heartbreaking and incredibly painful.
I can’t possibly bid goodbye to Revenge without discussing Nolan, who ended the show (thanks to Emily) with a new purpose: bringing justice – and possibly a little revenge – to those in need. Obviously the writers tried to set up a potential spin-off here (that will never happen), but it still worked on a thematic level because Emily’s quest truly did help our favorite tech-whiz thrive. As far as I’m concerned, the dynamic between Ems and Nolan was always the heart of the show, and it maintained its emotional resonance far more than any romantic interest Emily ever had. Well played writers.
– Although they were often quite stupid, it was really great to have Emily’s voiceovers return.
– Emily pleading guilty so she could plot her escape from the maximum security prison was brilliant.
– Major deja vu with Emily meeting Nolan outside the prison.
– Louise’s speech at the funeral – lame. In fact, even Vicky’s need to see Louise was contrived and only existed so that her location could ultimately be revealed to Ems. I did laugh at Louise calling Vicky “mama” though.
– I can’t say that Emily and Jack FINALLY having sex was really all that satisfying. I just never rooted for them as a couple.
– I wish we got more of White Gold throughout the season’s final stretch. Her stabbing Jack was very cool, and her stabbing Nolan’s hand was even better. But the greatest thing of all? Nolan electrocuting the super-assassin.
– Although I never liked Margaux, Karine Vanasse had a good scene in the finale as she sobbed to Nolan about all the people she lost. Plus her willingly giving herself up to the police was a fitting end to her arc.
– I was really caught off guard by a dying Vicky shooting Emily in the back. A very small part of me wishes the show took the risk and ended the finale with the haunting sight of both women bleeding out on the ground – demonstrating the enormous ramifications of their choices.
– It took the show far too long but Charlotte and Emily finally bonded. I liked seeing them at David’s grave with the infinity engraving.
– The Grayson Plot with Conrad, Vicky and Daniel’s graves was a really poignant image. That’s what happens when you mess with our girl!
– Kudos to the show for reusing “For You” by Angus and Julia Stone. The song was perfectly utilized in the pilot, and I believe it gorgeously encapsulates the show’s emotional center. It also provided the ideal soundtrack for Jack and Emily’s wedding featuring Charlotte, Stevie, and little Joe.
– Adored the final toast to all our fallen characters: Declan (shudder), Amanda, Aiden etc… And there was a nice finality with Ems and Jack leaving on the boat that David restored for them. And Sammy 2.0! Perfection!
– That final panning shot above the beach was gorgeous wasn’t it? I’m pretty sure it was a purposeful tribute to the show’s opening credits.
Emily: (voiceover) When I was a little girl, the delineation between good and evil was as clear as night and day. But as life grows complicated, that line blurs, and we learn to justify our actions when we believe we’ve crossed it. If we aren’t careful, those choices can fill us with darkness, leaving us destined to never see light again.
Emily: Tell me you have something.
Nolan: What, other than your great escape trending on Twitter?
Emily: I’m not gonna put Victoria in prison. I’m gonna put her in the ground. And don’t you dare try to stop me.
Nolan: I won’t. Do it. I’m gonna take care of the bitch Margaux paid to do this.
Emily: Nolan, you can’t. She’s dangerous.
Nolan: So am I. I trained for four years with the most dangerous sensei I know; I can handle her.
Victoria: You deserve to burn in hell.
Mary: We’ll continue the conversation there.
Emily: I believe that the people who hurt my family deserve to live in agony, not pay with their lives. But you… You are the one exception. For you, death is my only true revenge.
Victoria: I died long before you were born. This… is just a formality.
Nolan: You know the best thing about white gold? It’s an excellent conductor. (He electrocutes her)
Emily: (voiceover) Upon embarking on a path of revenge, Confucius warns that one should dig two graves. Confucius was right. The second of the two graves was meant for me. I was only saved by my father’s infinite love. I know now that revenge brings only darkness. I couldn’t see the light until I considered my father’s advice to try and forgive. It’s not easy, but my father once said that nothing worth doing ever is. Well, with one exception.
Nolan: I was thinking about that first night at the beach house, called you out.
Emily: Yes. I believe I threatened to crush your windpipe.
Nolan: I think you’ve made Jack wait long enough. Don’t you?
Emily: Very funny.
Emily: (voiceover) I consider myself lucky. Most morality tales don’t have a happy ending. For some reason, karma saw fit to spare me, but not without leaving deeply etched wounds.
For You by Angus and Julia Stone
Two Graves was a thematically powerful and satisfying end to the story. Deep down, I think I’ll always love the show. Although its creativity was placed in a long-term chokehold that pretty much sucked the life out of it (thanks ABC), I was always invested in Emily’s journey – not to mention VanCamp and Stowe’s marvelous performances. So long Revenge, I won’t miss you (enough is enough), but I’m truly glad I met you.