Revenge “Dissolution” snap reaction

Jack Porter“Love built on lies is an arduous endeavor, for wherever passion and treachery meet, dissolution begins. Still we fight to hold our ground in the emptiness, ignoring the fact that every relationship, even the ones we cherish, inevitably dies.”

Of course Nolan does morning hydrotherapy.

Emily is way out of line telling Nolan he can’t be involved with Patrick.

What does Charlotte have against Emily and Daniel get married? I forget.

Victoria lied to Charlotte about who really cut Conrad’s breaks. That is so Victoria to lie to her daughter in order to lie to their father.

Do rich people really get together for fancy breakfasts? It’s just breakfast. Have some Wheat Chex and an orange.

“Good morning kitten, it’s lovely to have you back in the litter.” Weird Conrad.

Victoria’s Pop Tart joke, hilars.

Emily is stupid going to the guest house to see Aiden. This is not how a covert evil-doer would go about her business.

Oooh, way to protect your…art gallery…from Conrad. Oh and then drop the tampered brakes bomb! Is she manipulating him by thanking him?

Daniel wears a tie clip like a sissy.

Hey the car crash girl. Not a bad return, should have seen it coming after the profile bit from a few weeks ago. He deserved that ripping.

Charlotte, this is what I was talking about when I urged you to not turn into your mother. Your brother is right about Sarah, reporting her for being rude is not nice.

“Guess what we have? Foundation issues.” – Emily to Daniel. No kidding.

I continue to believe Emily is far too sloppy with her proximity to Aiden. They shouldn’t be talking at the Grayson’s or at her house.

A beach in the Maldives. Why would they mention that?

“I think he’s the one.” – Really, Nolan? I mean, really? AND THEN STUPID JACK OPENS HIS STUPID JACK MOUTH. Major LMAO at Nolan thinking he was dropping a bomb on Jack about Emily’s identity.

The lighting on this construction scene is exceptionally bad. It’s an interior set and they usually do an okay job but that was bad.

Is there a such thing as a forensic realtor? Because if Conrad had one I have to think you’d be able to tell that a house isn’t really sinking.

Smart play by smart Jack to pretend he didn’t know about Emily. Then trying to turn Nolan against Patrick. Is Emily putting him up to this? I can’t imagine Jack would come up with it on his own. He flipped him from “the one” to an ex in one conversation.

So why bring Sarah back? Charlotte gets her a job, then what? Will she try to put her between Daniel and Emily?

“What do you know Conrad, we’re slipping into the sea!” – Victoria’s second great line.

“This pile hasn’t been a home for years.” – Not as good as the other two, but good. This is a divorce bomb?

There they go holding hands on the beach. How has Victoria, who never trusts anyone, not put a PI on Aiden and caught this yet?

“You know if we can’t sell this place perhaps we’ll just turn it into a home for wayward boys. She’s got her bastard, her Brit…and you.” – Conrad. Sharp stuff tonight.

Charlotte getting Sarah fired was for a good reason? Nice.

Now Emily is mad that Nolan let Jack go to Conrad about Patrick. “circling planet Emily.” Awesome. Nolan and Jack are doing a great job contrasting with Emily to bring out all of her faults this season.

Conrad put the fortune in gold? Didn’t figure him for a Glenn Beck fan.

When you ask how someone learned of damning information, you are confirming it.

Looks like Aiden spooked Emily with this begone and never see them again talk. She won’t want to leave Jack and Nolan behind.

Patrick is too confused by this to stay away.

“In this last bit of time we have…” – Emily to Jack and Nolan.

Oh god. No death faking please.

Photo credit: ABC

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Feeling for Revenge

It was really hard to come up with something to write about Revenge. I re-read a piece I wrote after the season finale and re-watched the two-hour episode to get in the right mindset to think about what will be a make-or-break third season.

I got nothin’. Even though I really liked the finale and believe booting Michael Kelley was the right thing to do I can’t come up with any emotion for the season that premieres Sunday, September 29. Why not?

Maybe it is due to the teaser ABC released showing Emily being shot in the abdomen. She gets shot, but does she really? She doesn’t appear to bleed, in fact the impact appears to give off black residue as if it hits some kind of matrimonial Kevlar. I grew to loathe these teasers during Lost because they are put together by marketing departments with the goal of making you watch the show, not writers with the goal of giving a glimpse of what will happen.

I am not up for being teased and misled. Maybe someone wants Emily dead, maybe someone wants someone else to think Emily is dead. We will find out. What is not happening, we can be absolutely sure, is that Revenge is not killing off its main character. Trying to make us think it might is insulting to our intelligence.

Maybe there is a silver lining here. After Emily appears to fall off a yacht the narrator says, “and that’s just in the first 60 seconds.” A lot of people met the second season with discontent as the story meandered in too many directions, but I think the show really started to slide halfway thru its first season. A reminder of how the show began: The first scene of the series premiere was Emily and Daniel’s Labor Day engagement party and what appeared to be Daniel getting shot on the beach. The rest of the episode and first half of the season was a flashback of everything that happened from Memorial Day until the party. Everything worked perfectly for Emily’s plan as she took out one enemy after another. Of course it did. For the show’s purposes, all of it already happened. Some of it was a little far fetched, a little too perfect, but we bought it because it had to have happened for the engagement party to happen.

Once the show caught up to that first scene, things changed. It didn’t have that anchoring moment to build up to anymore. The story had to be told in real-time, and it really began to falter. My hope is that this teaser is a sign the new showrunner will model the first season’s structure and, by extension, get back much of what it lost. If not that then at least a different creative way to shake up the show.

It lost more than its storytelling prowess, though. Its characters sagged. Nolan lost all of his mojo after falling for dear dead Padma and ended last season in jail for the blackout and bombing at Grayson headquarters. Actor Gabriel Mann said Nolan gets his sex on in season three, so presumably his time in jail doesn’t last long. Good. The whole Padma storyline and his sudden rivalry with the hacker Falcon need to be two things the show jettisons from its lackluster sophomore season.

The same goes for Victoria. She was neutered by Conrad becoming the one who plotted Fauxmanda’s downfall and death and further diminished by his run for governor. The show needs her to be the cunning, protective mother she was in season one. The son she gave up for adoption came back in the finale, how will that affect her? Will she be as protective of him as she is Daniel and Charlotte, or will the humiliating way he was exposed knock her off her game entirely? Let’s hope the show has a real purpose for him, the last thing it needs is a useless new character.

Conrad is the governor. He takes a spill in the teaser as if he is having a stroke. That would be cheap. I really feel the show bungled The Initiative’s presence last season. Now that he revealed his role in it to Victoria and Daniel, is it over or will it ascend to a bigger role with the governor and the head of Grayson Global in its confidences?

What about Daniel Grayson? Will he accept what Conrad did and what it means for him? What does it mean for him? It is time for the young Mr. Grayson to become more than Conrad and Victoria’s son. He deserves to fully establish himself as his own person, and the show needs him to. Ousted showrunner Michael Kelley is rumored to have wanted to shorten Revenge into a 13 episode run similar to most cable serials as opposed to the 20-plus episodes of most network shows. He lost that fight, so his successors will have to rely on deeper characters to fill all that time if they intend to reduce the amount of sprawl in the storyline. A better Daniel character can help them do that.

And, no, I still haven’t forgiven them for killing Declan.

ABC, Michael Kelley and most everyone involved with Revenge admitted it went awry in season two. Hopefully that recognition and the new lead writer will get a once a very enjoyable and saucy primetime soap back on track.

I guess I did find an emotion: Hope.

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.

Who’s got a shovel?

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

So Confucius warns us in philosophy, so Emily Thorne warns us on ABC. If they are correct, can one of them be for Revenge? Creator Mike Kelley is out as showrunner, will that satisfy the bloodlust of ABC’s grim reaper?

I defended season two earlier this year when no one else would. That was before dead Padma turned Nolan Ross into a whimpering pile of nerd alert. This show has gone off the rails in so many ways. Let us count them now.

Emily’s mom. The revelation that Emily’s mom was still alive bombshelled last year’s finale. This will change the show and everything for Emily. Where has Mom Clark been? Does she even know she’s Mom Clark? Is she in [scary music] The Initiative? [/scary music]. No. Mom Clark is crazy under the manipulation of the silver-haired man. Aaaaand thaaaat’s allllll. She was in and out of the story so inconsequentially fast that it leaves you wondering why they brought her in in the first place. What a waste of a potential character and storyline.

Padma. Dear, sweet, stupid and dead Padma. [scary music] The Initiative [/scary music] kidnapped her dad so it could force her to steal a piece of unfinished software from Nolan that [scary music] The Initiative? [/scary music] would then use to, well, to something. We got a hint at what the software was, but then dear, sweet Padma found herself at room temperature. Gone from the story and from our lives. How ever will we move on? (This is a marker so if she turns out to not be dead I can come back and say I told you so. They never showed Aden checking her pulse.)

Trask. Trask was the new handler for [scary music] The Initiative [/scary music] in charge of the Graysons. He took over for the sultry Helen Crowley, who Victoria killed. But then Aden killed Trask. Now [scary music] The Initiative [/scary music] has no one.

Wait, what the deuce is The Initiative??? Oh, right, it’s the thing we found out about in last season’s finale that forced the Graysons to frame David Clark. Um, yeah. We know exactly nothing more about it now than we did then except that two of its staff members are dead and it wants some software from Nolan Ross. Oh, and it tried to control Daniel Grayson, too.

Ahh, Daniel. His alignment with his family last season was the high point of the show, and we were so excited (squee!) that he would finally be more than just really, really sculpted muscles. He even orchestrated Conrad’s ouster from Grayson Global…only to fall instantly under the direction of The Initiative. Buzzkill. He started doing Ashely (or was that last year?) but is now so totally hot for Emily again and back to being dumb and hunky.

Speaking of dumb, let’s talk about Jack Porter. He was annoying when he was the barkeep who couldn’t get over a girl he knew when he was 10 – move on, loser – but then when she was killed he started to do some plotting of his own and now he’s even more annoying than when he was the stupid bartender! When he comes on the screen, I swear to god. Can’t there be a freak CO2 canister accident at the bar or something?

Conrad. Is running for governor. You don’t care, and neither do I. Like Padma, this storyline is time that could be better spent on something interesting.

I forgot to mention Emily’s foster brother. I wish they had, too.

Revenge has fallen so far from its first season highs that even Victoria Grayson is a shell of her former self. With her abortion exposed as actually child abandonment, she went crawling to Nolan’s office to ask him to track down her missing son. I used to watch scenes with excitement for what she might do next. Now I feel sad that Madeline Stowe is being given so little to work with.

No one is. The season is half-assing so many storylines that it’s not whole-assing any of them. I touch on the marks above without mentioning Jack losing the bar, faux-Manda’s public outing as Emily, the Ryans or Emily’s secret affair with Aden. Last week it sunk far enough down to have Charlotte making out with another girl at a bar. When it goes lesbian kiss, you know the creativity at rock bottom. They are also killing off another major character in the season finale. I think death can boost a story (see: Boone Carlyle) but others see it as a cheap gimmick boost sagging ratings.

Speculation about Mike Kelley’s ouster includes his push for the show to be in condensed seasons like FOX gave The Following. ABC should look at this season and realize that he was onto something. Had the season picked any few of these storylines and run with them, it could have been very good. But it is really hard to fill 22 episodes and Revenge is showing us exactly why.

Catching up with Revenge, Season 1

Catching up with what I said and thought about Revenge versus what actually happened. The first piece came about halfway thru the season.

I don’t know how many episodes Revenge has left in its first season, and I’m not going to make an effort to find out. I said in my initial thoughts that we are not watching a story unfold, but are being shown a story that already happened. It’s bourne out by the fact that we saw the end of the summer in the very first scene, and it is the only way to have everything go smoothly for Emily Thorne without venturing into the ridiculous. Everything in her plan goes off just as she intended, obviously, or else we wouldn’t have a story.

Post-finale addition:

I think this came out well. The series began with that engagement party looking backwards like it was really reviewing what happened up to that point. Everything worked out in spades for Emily’s plans. But after the party, when the story was going forward instead of looking backward, things started to go awry. Emily’s seeming iron grip on circumstances slowly came undone, from Fake Amanda’s unpredictability to Daniel choosing his family over her hopes for him. This played out during the finale when Emily sent Daniel packing, saw Victoria die and took the ultimate kick in the gut when Fake Amanda showed up pregnant. Oh, and she learned her mom is still alive, which probably she didn’t plan for. /addition

But does it? I’ve watched and re-watched the scene from Emily and Daniel’s engagement party, and it is still too hard to tell what we are seeing. Obviously on some level it is a ‘whodunit’ as we are left to wonder who shot Daniel on the beach. I think we are getting hints there as we get closer to the end of the summer. Looking at screenshots of Taylor wielding Emily’s gun next to a close-up of the gun from the pilot, it is clear even to a non-gun user that they are the same make and model weapon.

Addition:
This was irrelevant. The show was a whodunit for about one episode. That’s a good thing, it was better off the way they did it. /addition

We also learned that Charlotte is Emily’s half-sister from her dad’s affair with Victoria Grayson. This came in the same episode in which Daniel tries to get at his trust to hell his mother in her divorce from his father. I don’t think this is a coincidence. If Daniel dies, his inheritance would probably fall to Charlotte. That gives Emily an angle at the Grayson’s fortunes. It also gives anyone close to Emily hundreds of millions of reasons to move her closer to them. Emily clearly wants to exact ultimate revenge on the Graysons, particularly Victoria. I don’t think that includes killing her prized son, but getting her hands on both shares of the family fortunes definitely could be part of her plans.

Addition:

Never came to be. Way off-base with regards to Emily’s intentions and the storyline.

Initial review:

I had very, very low expectations for ABC’s racy Wednesday night drama “Revenge.” That’s probably why I like it so much. I didn’t even intend to watch it, but after I downloaded ABC’s iPad app I figured I would only be out 42 minutes if I watched the pilot and confirmed that it sucked.

I ended up watching the entire first season to date in one day.

Revenge is set in The Hamptons, one of the few places in America where it could be set. The story relies on its characters having bottom-less bank accounts, which most residents of The Hamptons do, and the seaside summer setting doesn’t hold back anyone from being sexy and vivacious. Revenge would be flat and missing its flare if it were set on Wisteria Lane or even in Beverly Hills.

That flare comes from the leading character, Emily Thorne, played by Emily VanCamp. Just like I can’t imagine the show set anywhere other than The Hamptons, I cannot see anyone but VanCamp playing Thorne. She plays a character who is driven, cunning, wealthy, sexy and a tad bit evil, and she mixes all of them perfectly. That’s no easy task. Neither is her character’s agenda: exacting revenge on the people who set up her father to take the fall for financing a terrorist attack. No easy task, but doable if you have unlimited funds courtesy of your massive inheritance.

Thorne finds her equal next door in Victoria Grayson. Or does she? For years, Grayson has played herself off as the queen of The Hamptons, throwing the ritziest parties, living the magazine life with her hunky husband, the head of an international finance conglomerate, and two beautiful children. But underneath the facade she is nothing. Victoria’s best friend is also her husband’s mistress, her daughter hates her, her son’s drinking nearly killed a girl, oh, and she was having an affair with Emily’s father. All the Grayson’s dirty work, and there’s been a lot of it, is done by their hired henchman, Frank Stevens. Over time, Victoria seems to have convinced herself that she is the brains behind the family’s illicit operations. In reality, she isn’t smart enough or resourceful enough to complete with Emily Thorne.

Addition:

We saw toward the end of the season that Victoria was definitely not nothing. She is very much capable of cunning and manipulation. In hindsight, my saying she was just an empty dress was totally wrong. The video of her, Conrad and the Silver-Haired Man showed that she was every bit a part of the David Clarke conspiracy as Conrad. The question that remains to be answered now is (look, there’s no way she’s dead) did she work with SHM to take down the plane so that there would be no testimony and no evidence against the Graysons, thus preserving her children’s fortunes? Or was SHM working for Conrad and Victoria just plan outfoxed him? /addition

At first it’s easy to take issue with the plot for always working out in Emily’s favor, but then you realize this game of revenge between her and Victoria Grayson has already been played. We are just watching what happened, so it’s not that it does workout in Emily’s favor, but that it did. They’ve already shown us that, by the end of the summer, Emily and Daniel are engaged — the show opens at their engagement party. Daniel is murdered on the beach while Emily is inside, mysteriously wiping bits of sand off her wrist. The open ends with Victoria wailing over her son’s lifeless body and leaves us wondering if killing Victoria’s beloved son is the climax of Emily’s revenge, or if it’s her plan gone horribly awry. Everything shown after than is the lead up to this event, which you have to imagine will be resolved in the season finale.

Addition:

Way wrong on this one in regard to the story arc. The shooting was not the climactic event of the season, just the thematic turning point. Huge difference with huge ramifications. /addition

Week to week we see Emily nipping around the edges, picking off one ancillary character after another who somehow wronged her or her father, while slowly tightening the circle around Victoria as her ultimate target. This gives the show an ability to have short-term resolutions while Emily plays out her long con. Without them it would be easy for the show to become a drawn out mess. There are secondary characters who are actually enjoyable like Declan Porter, the boyfriend of Victoria’s daughter. Connor Paulo plays Declan as a teenage gangsta wannabe who you can’t help but like and root for as he plays in societal circles far above his roots. Declan’s brother, Jack, was Emily’s childhood best friend and, though he hasn’t yet recognized who she really is, he has quite the crush on her. You have to think at some point his memory will kick in. It might happen soon. He is the one who killed Daniel Gayson in the opening scene. Did he do it out of jealousy? As a favor for his friend? Or was Emily’s plan about go spiral out of control and he stepped in to put it right?

Addition:

Emily’s ultimate target is now bigger than Victoria. It is the Grayson family, Daniel included. I was also off about assessing Declan. He’s not a gansta wannabe. I like him quite a bit as a character, much more than Jack, and I hope they can find a better role for him than Charlotte’s sidekick. I would be interested to learn how many episodes of Revenge were in its initial order from ABC to see how well that lines up with when they moved away from Emily’s target-of-the-week storylines. /addition

We don’t know, and that’s what makes Revenge intriguing, and worth watching.

Now my reflective thoughts on the finale.

Revenge season finale

As it wore on I started to think ABC’s marketing machine had over-hyped the Revenge season one finale. It really lacked punch and didn’t even have the kind of story-altering action that finales need. The sterling final 10 minutes made up for it as characters rose (Victoria, Daniel) and fell (Conrad, Emily) and the writers set the state for season two.

Wait…Victoria is a rising character? Is that some kind of allusion to how she died in an airplane crash? No. Victoria Grayson is not dead. If she is, the writers are either profoundly stupid or very, very confident in what they are doing. Victoria is far and away the best character of any show I’ve watched this year and Madeline Stowe deserves all the awards she is qualified for. Her character is rising because we saw – in the final scene with Nolan and Emily – that Victoria was far more involved in the David Clarke conspiracy than they had revealed to that point. She wasn’t the love-struck victim of her husband’s jealousy and greed, she was an orchestrator in on it from the beginning. The video of her, Conrad and Silver-Haired Man established that.

That means he may not have been at the hangar on Conrad’s behalf to eliminate the evidence against him. He could very well have been there in tandem with Victoria, taking down the plane to eliminate Lydia and the evidence against the Graysons while faking Victoria’s death so she can be free to continue pulling strings. This is what I would bet on. In the confrontation scene at their house, Conrad was way too out of sorts to be putting on a ruse to scare her out of going to Washington. That is why he is a falling character. Likewise, Victoria was far too composed and confident to have not known something was going to happen. The only questions now are how soon will we learn Victoria’s fate and how long will it be hidden from the characters.

Revenge matured as a show during its first season. It started as a sexy primetime soap and ended a well-crafted television drama worthy of the Sunday timeslot it will inherit from Desperate Housewives. Again the turning point really seemed to be when the story caught up to the engagement party and moved into the winter. Viewers had every right to be skeptical about whether the show could survive snow and cold. It not only survived, it improved.

The scene that exemplified this most for me was Daniel’s television interview after returning from prison. His character emerged as more than a hunk who walks around looking dreamy. By virtue of voicing loyalty to his family, he adopted the Grayson mantle and all that comes with it. The camera pacing across each character’s face during this pivotal moment was real television met by great acting by each cast member to convey their reaction to Daniel’s commitment. The finale’s climax further delivered the dramatic punch it needed to in order to put the show into its restless summer break.

The big reveal – the snake in the mailbox, if you will – is obviously that Mom Clarke is still alive and possibly an integral part of The Americon Initiative (oh please with the name) to the point that Emily might not like what she finds. I am excited to see who they cast to play that role, it will be a key piece of entertainment news to watch for over the summer.

I labeled Emily as a falling character. Why? She fell apart emotionally in the finale. From the moment she spared SHM nothing went right for her. She let an enemy live, her intended confession to Jack blew up in her face and Victoria’s death spun her dizzy. She was so in control and confident all season. Sitting on the couch in her cottage watching news of the plane crash she was totally and completely undone. It is a good change.

Conrad is facing his worst nightmare: justice. He has only Daniel on his side now. Victoria is long gone, Lydia slipped away and is likely dead, his daughter is unconscious having overdosed after hearing about her mom’s death.