“Revenge” isn’t the best new show of the 2011-2012 season — that title belongs to the now-defunct “Luck” — but one would be hard-pressed to say it was not the most intriguing, at times exciting, and downright most guilty of new television pleasures. This is why the year one soap opera finale it delivered Wednesday night was incredibly disappointing.
Not to say it was all bad. It occurred to me a few minutes into the episode that the show’s main character Emily is somewhat of a real-world female Batman. She’s a billionaire, a wizard with martial arts and weapons, and she hides behind a daytime persona of billionaire philanthropy, all while she prowls that Hamptons at night to right the injustices of her world. It’s even replete with a layered story of her motivation and childhood misanthropy.
At the beginning of the episode, as Emily turns herself in willingly to save strange besty Nolan, I was torn — surely she’s got a plan, right? Well, she in fact did. A great plan — all Batmany if you will, reliant on misdirection, calculation, and realistic but cool gadgets.
But everything past her infiltration into the lair of the white-haired man devolves into a mess. Why did Emily so willingly let him live, after he murdered her father, and was the frontman for an organization that would make her pay for doing so? Her breakup with Daniel and swift switch to Jack felt rushed, out of character, and designed to deliver the OMG soap opera cliffhanger — all of which I loathed.
I’ve been trying to persuade a buddy of mine to watch the show — the Batman elements, terrorists, “Revenge” and badassery — but he’s resisted, holding onto his ignorant belief that it’s a melodramatic soap opera. Good thing he didn’t catch last night’s eppy, because it featured the most overplayed soap opera element of all: the-we-know-you’re-not-going-to-really-kill-that-character-but-it’s-a-season-finale-shocking-moment twist. Yes.
Does anyone think for a moment the show plans to kill off Victoria Grayson, played to creepy perfection by Emmy nomination-lock Madeline Stowe? No. We do not. I’m not entirely sure how they’ll write their way out of this one, but this “shock and awe” red herring was an incredible letdown, and the desperate grasp for some sort of season-ending interest that original writing was apparently unable to generate.
The final twist was something of a true shock though: Emily’s mother is alive. Let that one sink in.
I deduced around December that the season finale would likely feature two shocking moments: Conrad would die (he had to, right?), and somehow, David Clarke would resurface, alive.
Wrong on both counts. Right vein, but wrong spouses.
So to resurrect Emily’s long-thought dead mother is an interesting notion. The thing that nags me is that she died when Emily was six or seven years old, has been largely neglected for this season, and the effect this has on Emily is unknown, other than their biological relation. It would seem to generate a true impact, her mother must be somehow tied into the secrecy and plots, though that remains to be seen.
And did you catch that moment between Daniel and Ashley? That’s happening. Eh.
The finale was a smorgasbord of soap opera cliches and did little to advance the plot, and instead felt like a forced pallet cleanser to what was otherwise an excellent first season. Here’s hoping the show can recover from this lackluster closer and deliver a solid second run.