Revenge season finale delivers needed change

The season two finale of Revenge was everything its preceding episodes were not: Fast, dramatic, intriguing, surprising. The two-hour ride was creator Mike Kelley’s last time at the helm after having left the show following taping. It was like a game seven of the World Series – leave nothing in reserve. His goodbye was a throwback to the early days of the show that viewers longed for too often in season two.

Like the best season finales it converged its storylines in an explosive fashion that will fundamentally change the show starting next season. Conrad is Governor of New York. Conrad is part of The Initiative. Daniel and Victoria are disillusioned with Conrad. Charlotte is pregnant, Declan is dead. Jack knows Emily’s true identity.

Waitwaitwait – what?!?

Emily revealing her identity beyond her circle of Revenge-minded friends fundamentally alters the show. Fans who hated this season should welcome her confession. I opined earlier that Revenge needs to set a firm ending date so its writers can know how they have to pace the story. It also needs to show that it is about more than when Emily reveals her true identity. The best way to do that? Tell Jack, her childhood friend.

It’s a cat they can’t put back in the bag. For the rest of the series, Jack Porter will know that Emily Thorne is really Amanda Clarke. Their relationship is changed, so is her journey of revenge. So is the story itself. That’s a good thing. Revenge needs this kind of change. Lost’s storylines exploded in every direction when it revealed that getting off of the island would not wait until the series finale. Revenge’s story is flatter than Lost’s was but it can still see improvement from changing one of its fundamental relationships.

Disgruntled viewers can come away encouraged from the finale’s other changes as well.

Conrad’s character had fallen off this season after Daniel ousted him at Grayson Global.  The half-hearted attempt they made at a political storyline didn’t give him much to work with. In this episode, Conrad the mastermind is back. From the midst of the blackout to his closing speech and the bombing at Grayson headquarters Conrad seemed as if he was waiting out a script, not bouncing around amidst chaos. The calm confidence he displayed when Daniel told him the family fortune was wiped out came off as almost crazy, as if the pressure of his campaign and trauma of the bombing had driven him mad.

Then it all came pouring out on the balcony with Victoria. There is no Initiative, only business elites profiting from the creation of fear and Conrad is fully vested in their sick manipulations. The blackout, the bombing, the aftermath, all of it done to create a fear that will drive government to act in ways that the orchestrators are perfectly positioned to reap the benefits from. Billions upon billions of dollars, surpassing the wealth the Graysons earned from framing David Clarke. Even Victoria Grayson, party to David Clarke’s demise and perpetrator of so many misdeeds of her own, cannot seem to stomach her husband’s revelation.

The Initiative’s missing role in season two was one of the things I criticized in summing up where Revenge went off the rails. Now that we know the full story, that criticism has to be re-examined. Was Conrad’s revelation a bombshell? Thru the lens of the story, yes. But dramatically speaking it could have been a lot better if The Initiative had been given a strong presence throughout the season.

Think back to how Lost handled The Others. The entire second season was about building up that mystery and anticipation so that by the time Live Together, Die Alone aired we were practically on our knees begging to know who they were and what they were doing on the island. Revenge didn’t do that and as a result never gave us one of those, “We’re the good guys, Michael” moments. I’m not criticizing the revelation as it affects the story, I think it will be great in that regard. Rather, the way it was handled throughout the season is a clear failure of creativity, which robbed us of the kind of epic dramatic twist that makes a finale memorable.

Setting that aside, it will still change the story. The Initiative (let’s still call it that) isn’t just in position to profit from fear, it has the Governor of New York to help make it happen. Not so fast! Victoria is non-plussed and Daniel doesn’t even know what to think. Dumb Jack (more on him shortly) is clued-in to Emily’s big secret. Nolan Ross is in custody and won’t just roll over and take the fall. There is a lot threatening Conrad’s re-emerged dominance.

Before we chronicle Jack’s Machiavellian ineptitude, a quick sidebar on what happened to Nolan. Someone obviously had this all set up to unravel the moment he drained the Grayson’s bank accounts. But whom? Maybe that’s a mystery to unfold in season three. Padma’s involvement indicates she may not be room temperature after all, but why would she have turned on him? Is she somehow part of The Initiative? I have a bold theory: Aden did it. He was the only one who saw supposedly-dead Padma. But what does he have against Nolan Ross? Nolan is a key element of Emily’s quest for revenge. With his moral support and computer wizardry behind bars, Aiden must see he has a better chance at convincing her to abandon the Hamptons with him. Remember: Aden was the one moving Grayson Global’s money around before Nolan drained it. I refuse to believe that a character we only saw in one episode, Falcon, will be allowed to frame a major character.

Okay, now on to Jack.

Jack and Victoria are together at the bar when the blackout hits, giving us a great look at Jack once again showing he just doesn’t have the brains to compete with the Graysons. He breathlessly tells Victoria that he knows Conrad framed David Clarke, brilliantly reminding her that she loved him. Yes, Jack, she loved him so much and is so clueless about her husband’s life that she had no idea David was innocent. Dolt. Victoria played along the way an adult pretends to enjoy playing Go Fish with a five-year-old.

Back at the mansion, Jack is so eager to find the computer in the safe Victoria never knew about that he throws his own file on Conrad’s desk without even knowing it. His Brilliancy then accidentally reveals to Victoria that he is working with Ashley to sabotage Conrad’s campaign. First rule of being a schemer: You gotta remember who knows what, Jackie boy.

Why did the good Porter have to die? Revenge fans have lambasted Declan for two seasons, but I dare any of them to not love him and love Charlotte’s love for him after this episode. His death and Charlotte’s pregnancy will probably elevate her as a character, which would be good for the show. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. We will probably never know why Declan was in the Grayson office when it blew up, maybe it doesn’t matter. My only last beef is that he didn’t get to tell off Victoria in their last conversation. It would have been a nice parting gift to the character for enduring all her uppity crap. Here’s to hoping Connor Paolo gets more work.

Speaking of death, is it just me or was Takada’s role in the show severely wasted? The finale briefly diverged from its core storyline to tell us that his fiancé was on the flight The Initiative bombed, revealing that Emily and Aden were really a part of his grand scheme to get revenge for her death. That had a Jacob-like feel to me and could have been used to great effect later in the series, just like Jacob and Man In Black were. A reveal in later seasons that our main character is just a pawn in a larger game would rock our world. Instead it’s a few scenes in season two. Blame it on that failure of creativity again.

For some fans, no finale will be enough to fix the mess Revenge made out of its second season. I think this finale should at least earn a look at season three. With a new show runner coming on board and big changes to the storyline, Revenge has a chance to get back on top as one of primetime’s sexiest dramas.

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5 thoughts on “Revenge season finale delivers needed change”

  1. Where to begin…

    First, it both pleases me and irks me that the season finale for season 2 was probably the only episode of the entire season that was even shades close to the brilliance of season one. There was still poor acting – like, for instance, Nolan doesn’t *have* to say out loud every obvious plot point taking place: “Pick up your phone, Jack!…damn! It’s gone to voicemail…”Jack, listen to me! Get out of the building! You’re being set up!” *hangs up phone* “I gotta get over there!”

    Watching the shitty lines that they give Nolan is like watching a five-year-old play the Imagination Game.

    And there were lines that were so obvious – the moment that Declan told Charlotte that “the next time you see me, I’m gonna be as good as new”, I knew – and even tweeted – that it probably meant he was going to die. Also, can we just stop it with the godparent stuff? Nobody cares if Emily is Carl’s godparent. Nobody even really knows what being a godparent even means anymore.

    I’m suuuuuper happy that Emily finally told Jack that she’s Amanda. I was praying and hoping for it. However, the acting in that scene was shitty, and it’s starting to piss me off. Even when the scenes were good in the finale – when the Japanese Revenge Dude got Sword Kilt in his living room, when Adan told Emily that he Sword Kilt the Japanese Revenge Dude, when Jack found out that his little brother was dead of a bad heart and then basically beat up Nolan about it, it was still…not good. Also, Charlotte is a bad actress. I would like the writers to kill her by way of broken elbow in the same way you killed Declan by way of HOW CONVENIENT, I GET TRAPPED IN A TERRORIST BOMBING AND SUFFER FROM A BLOCKED ARTERY ON THE SAME DAY I FOUND OUT I’M GOING TO BE A TEEN DAD.

    Victoria still wins the acting award for the show, though. Even when she’s dealing with shitty scenes and lines, her acting is FLAWLESS. Also, does anyone else notice that she’s particularly evil yet totally sexy when she’s eating berries or grapes for breakfast? It’s this weird thing she does where she daintily eats half of it and looks up cunningly and it’s the most brilliant mannerism for her character.

    Also, getting pretty bored with the way Jack always beats up Nolan. He just wants to be your friend, Jack! Stop being such a jerk all the time.

    Also, what the shit was with Padma selling Nolan out? I disliked her before, but I hate her a lot for being a spineless wuss now. I DO think your theory about Adan setting it up is kind of brill.

    Also, Victoria’s abandoned son Patrick is back. Snore.

    Also, fuck you Daniel, for never having a backbone about shit. Your dad basically confessed that he’s 100% evil to you, and you still show up for his Governor gig. You better be taking your shirt off a LOT more in season three for us to keep caring about you.

    Also, Conrad Grayson didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know? I thought we went over the Initiative stuff in the beginning of this season, or at least everything we were told is the exact same except that Conrad is now confessing to not being such a patsy for them, which we all basically already knew or at least suspected.

    Adan was arrested for terrorism, then let go, then apparently Daniel shot him, which means he didn’t really shoot him. Also, what WAS Declan doing in the Grayson office when it was bombed? Also, yes, Jack is kind of an idiot – remember when he was a smart tough street-smart boy from the docks in season one? Also, the dumber he gets the more ugly he gets, which is unfortunate.

    1. I totally agree about Nolan’s crappy lines. I thought I was watching Criminal Minds for a second. “There’s the bad guy!” “Why is he doing that?” “It must be for one of these three reasons!” “I agree!” “There is a fourth reason.” “YES! That’s the real reason!” “I agree!”

  2. “I would like the writers to kill her by way of broken elbow in the same way you killed Declan”

    Sorry, I mean *writers*, not you. You didn’t kill Declan, did you?

    Or did you…

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