THAT is how you do a season finale, folks. Revenge has blossomed since its modest pilot to become a campy nighttime drama, and its evolution into a cinematic, genuinely amazing series has been the real arc of the season. What its success means for the future of TV shows that will come after it is thrilling, because the series has handily proved that ambitious, smart writing and truly great actors are (and will always) be the bedrock of good TV (sorry, Wipeout!) and that culturally there is a thirst for amazing, hilariously florid dialogue that needs to be perennially quenched. Season 1 ended with Emily accomplishing her revenge, then snatched the progress away without re-setting the series, no small feat. As for character development, last night completely justified our love of all our favorite characters.
Revenge has always flirted with the notion that Emily is a heartless sociopath who has no problem emotionless-ly seducing Daniel, blithely choke-holding Nolan, and playing her baby-jail bestie faux-Amanda like a broken-down game of Bejeweled. Watching Emily climb into a rape van in broad daylight and sulkily gas herself with chloroform to find Nolan was our first clue that she was about to emotionally transform into a figure with all the depth and heart of Batman (but with banana curls).
Meanwhile, Conrad burst into Grayson manor and Victoria met him screaming and in a daytime evening gown, obviously. It cracked me up that while Emily and Daniel immediately agreed to move from the beach house to Manhattan after a faked break-in, Victoria was completely non-plussed by the rice-grain-sized microphones investigators found simply riddling her house.
Emily quickly got herself strung up alongside hurtin' Nolan in the white-haired man's DIY torture cell, where Nolan had been spirited away after last week's clobbering. Did anyone feel even remotely worried for her at this point or are we all chuckling at how the white-haired man was playing with fire? All she had to do was point out that she'd programmed an email to be sent to the authorities to make him skedaddle off on a wild goose chase. "These kids and their email!" you could see the white-haired man grumbling in his head. You have to wonder if the ability to back up microfiche and secret documents online and transfer everything safely via email has completely changed the spy game. Like, maybe all the James Bond-types were silently decommissioned back in '99 and their swag cars turned over to IT programmers. You hear music industry types whine a lot about Napster but if you got a bunch of former spies in a room you'd get three hours of slurred speeches about what "bullsh-t" Yousendit is.
Touching moment alert: Emily insisting Nolan get himself safely the eff out of there and their hug. Everyone has jumped on me in the comments since way back when I first mentioned this, but the Emily-Nolan relationship is so much closer to an ideal romance than anything Emily has going on with Red Lobster manager Jack or easily confused Daniel. It's for reals the heart of the show and this finale honored that and gave all you Nolan-Emily 'shippers fuel enough for a thousand fan videos to be made over the summer. I am ride or die for Nolan FOR LIFE and we know Emily is too.
I do have to talk about these shoes. I feel like the show's costume designer jumped out of their chair the second he or she saw that Nolan's shoes would get a close-up and immediately spent the rest of the day at Nordstrom, smelling suede and picking out socks. Spiff factor of 50.
Jack decided to take the day and go into New York City to hand Daniel his million dollars back. I'm sorry, WHAT is this guy's schedule like? He spent the whole season waltzing into people's houses with flowers, dogs, and accusations while the Stowaway stood dark and empty. Don't you have a vat of Lobsteritas to mix before Happy Hour?
I could not have been more pleased to see Emily handle the white-haired man with a stainless-steel axe. A stainless-steel axe! She was looking like a true karate star whipping his ass all over the place, but then, straddling him to administer an axe-handle choke hold, she flashed back to that time she and her dad nursed a baby bird back to life. Such bad timing. Of course, she decided to honor her father by letting Karl Lagerfeld live. Obviously this was the only choice the writers could make, because if she had killed him then and there the series would've basically been over, Emily's revenge complete. But also I honestly respect the choice of making our hero ethically incapable of killing someone. Batman has the same philosophy and the same dual high society/high tech vigilante vibe, and after a whole season's worth of Emily exhibiting some American Psycho edge I'm glad she skews closer to Dark Knight on the Christian Bale's Memorable Roles O-Meter.
Meanwhile at the prestigious Hogwarts School of Wizarding, Charlotte cyber-bullied the eff out of the curly haired Yonkers ho. Declan got so miffed, but truly his ethics are as thorny a bramble as that tangled mop atop his head if he thinks he can claim moral high ground after lying in court about Jack, mooching off Gramps Grayson, and narc-ing Charlotte out to the principal.
You know who's also confused about equity in relationships? Daniel confronted Emily in a huff about kissing Jack. Emily, fresh from fighting for her life in a sleeper cell, broke off the engagement. (Better to do it now, before Ashley gets an official commission.) Daniel is so easily lead in any direction, but TRUTH: If I were faced with the choice of boxing up my house to escape a break-in I knew hadn't happened or going through a break up, I probably would have skipped boxing too. It's physically and emotionally exhausting!
And if she hadn't broken off the arrangement we would have been robbed of maybe my favorite moment on TV ever: Victoria showing up and gently insisting Emily open her engagement gift. Like, hats off to Van Camp for keeping a straight face as Madeleine Stowe explained she had given her a box of nothing. A BOX OF NOTHING! The high-level bitchcraft SLAYS ME. This is the most hilarious thing I've ever seen happen in a drama. Not just an empty box, but like a box with a little white satin scoop in it to clearly emphasize where something would be and was not. I'm sorry but this is all I am giving anyone for the next three years. Christmas, birthdays, Kwanzaas are about to get HILARIOUS. Also you know Ashley had to hot glue that satin into a crocs box while she was still an assistant.
Good thing Ashley's getting promoted to Grayson Girlfriend!! I heartily approve of this match. If Victoria was horrified by her son marrying a hot billionaire who lived next door, how much more awesome will it be when she finds out he's making moves on "the help," her former assistant and no-longer-saddest-party-planner Ashley? And don't tell me Victoria’s dead. Bitch, please.
Let's talk plane crash. For one, Victoria's heroic turn in demanding that the wrongs be righted: a sparkling glint of ethical transformation. Her ruthless bullying of Lydia into testifying Conrad with the immortal line "...it will make your taxi bounce seem like a week in Saint Tropez" is maybe my favorite combination of words ever. Conrad telling her point-blank that the plane would go down and her telling him that she would see him in hell and swirling around in a white trench—like, chills upon chills upon chills. If Hermes had a milk, this storyline would have been weaned on it. The build-up was cinematic as hell ("seeeven devvvvills alll aaaroundyou") and genuinely suspenseful. However, the newscaster said "there seem to be no survivors" and the Graysons are a resilient bunch. Let us not forget this season began with Daniel being shot on camera, so there's a lot of wiggle room in that "seems." I think Victoria seems way too important and beloved of a character for her to go out like this. Even if we did see the white-haired man fiddling with the brakes.
Americon works this poor guy overtime! Doesn't the company have anyone else in the area who can do this kind of monkey work? Shouldn't he be in the hospital with a concussion? He must get some sick days. What kind of cottage industry is the Initiative that it can't bribe a few private plane technicians?
If a Grayson is going out, I'm much more worried about Charlotte than Victoria. Victoria will climb through the seaweed and appear at Emily's door, singed, furious, and looking somehow vaguely 29-ish as she always does. I have to believe that.
The other big shocker: Amanda returned and she's PREEEGS!!! Don't worry, it's not Jack's. The only question is who is going to ask for the DNA test first, Nolan or Jack? And to be honest, this is actually another couple I'm secretly rooting for. WHAT OF IT?! She and Jack have crazy chemistry and Nolan and Emily need to combine fortunes and become secret superheroes. WHAT OF IT?! Nolan backed up the evidence that went down with the plane. OMG! Did you catch Nolan saying that about Jack and then telling Emily not to do anything "revenge-y"?! RIDE OR DIE!!! The awesomest.
So yes, so many amazing developments: fake Amanda's fake Jack baby, Ashley and Daniel making eff-me eyes, how is Victoria going to escape that plane crash, possible teen funeral episode, and above all the most exciting question the series left unanswered is who is going to play Emily's mysterious "fiery" and possibly evil mom? It's truly the biggest opportunity for an actress between the ages of 38 and 50 on primetime TV. Will Emily's mom be:
Two-time Tony nominee Laura Linney?
Humanitarian minx Sharon Stone?
Pulitzer Prize semi-finalist Teri Garr?
Cultural commentator and Women's Rights Worker Courtney Love?
America's MILF, Blythe Danner?
Bi-curious wunderkind Felicity Hoffman?
CANNOT. WAIT. FOR. SEASON.TWO.
So, clearly, the most entertaining show of the year had the most entertaining finale of the season. This nation is still SHOCKED by how much we needed this show and I am forever grateful that I got to see it unfold from pilot to finale and talk about it with you guys. Double infinity grateful.
1. Victoria: How will she survive?
2. Charlotte: down for the count?
3. What was your favorite line from last night?
4. Did you notice how many lines last night were lifted from revenge movies? Kill Bill and Princess Bride just to name two.
5. Faux-Amanda's baby is Jack's or no way in haaayuhl?
6. BOX OF NOTHING: bitchiest present ever!?
7. Are you glad Emily didn't kill the white-haired guy?
8. Emily's mom: What's up with that?